Signature Materials: Rugged Twill

machine parts in a tan filson duffel bag hanging from a hook in the middle of a shop

Filson Rugged Twill – Legendary Toughness

Filson’s 123-year legacy is outfitting miners, loggers, ranchers, and sportsmen with durable apparel and goods that provide unfailing protection. For more than two decades, we’ve applied more than a century of manufacturing experience to build luggage and bags to transport their gear there and back, without fail. Our Rugged Twill fabric is a large part of why our bags are so dependable – this article examines what it is and where it comes from.

Tight & Dense – More pliable than Canvas

Filson Rugged Twill is a very dense, 100% cotton fabric made from 2-ply and 3-ply yarns woven in a 2×2 twill pattern. In a 2×2 twill, the weft (horizontal) yarns alternate crossing over and under two warp (vertical) yarns. Each successive row of weft yarns is offset by one warp yarn, which creates a pronounced diagonal line in the weave. A notable characteristic of twill is that that the fabric tends to be more pliable than a canvas (or plain-weave) of similar density and weight. Using a 2×2 pattern optimizes the density of yarns while maintaining excellent tear strength. It takes specialized expertise and machinery to manufacture fabric as tightly woven as our Rugged Twill, and we scoured the earth to find the absolute best manufacturer to make it for us.

olive green filson brief case on workshop bench with many tools hanging on the wall

From England’s Iconic British Millerain

Filson Rugged Twill is produced by England’s iconic British Millerain, the storied mill since 1880. British Millerain is one of the pioneers of waxing cotton for weather protection. They’ve supplied fabrics for military uniforms around the world and have received patents and awards throughout their history. In short – British Millerain is one of the best in the business, and we’re proud of our long-standing partnership.

Abrasive-resistant finish that softens with use

After weaving, Filson Rugged Twill fabric is given a special wax treatment that is long-lasting and very water-resistant. The fabric is not saturated with wax – it is more of a surface treatment that has a non-oily, dry-hand feel. This wax treatment also serves to harden the surface of the fabric, increasing its resistance to abrasion. Initially, Filson Rugged Twill is a fairly stiff fabric that softens with use – somewhat like breaking in a stout pair of leather boots.

From field bags to briefcases

Filson luggage made with Rugged Twill was originally introduced in 1991 with a collection of Small and Medium Field Bags and a Small Carry-On Bag that also served as a briefcase. In the next few years, we expanded our luggage line to include Duffle Bags, Briefcases, Tote Bags, and Gun Cases. Many of these original bags are still available today. Since we chose to use Rugged Twill to manufacture these highly-durable bags, it only made sense to also use the best leather available, to ensure durability. Vegetable-tanned Bridle Leather from Wickett & Craig was the natural choice, coming from one of America’s oldest and finest vegetable tanneries.

Relative to our 123-year history, Filson luggage and bags are fairly recent additions to our product line – yet in nearly three decades have become one of our most prominent product categories. In large part due to its legendary durability and classic styling, our Rugged Twill assortment has expanded to include a vast range of briefcases, rucksacks, duffles, totes, wallets, and rolling carry-ons and duffles.

Caring for your Rugged Twill

Rugged Twill fabric requires very little in terms of maintenance. If it gets dirty, simply wipe it down or brush it off. We don’t recommend spot cleaning with any type of soap or detergent. The wax treatment makes the fabric a bit darker than in its raw state, and cleaning with anything but water will strip out the wax, leaving a light spot. Filson Rugged Twill products will develop a wonderful patina – a character that tells the story of its travels, service, and longevity.

Some Filson customers have rewaxed their Rugged Twill bags with Filson’s Oil Finish Wax, the same way they retreat their Tin Cloth. Though this is not an officially recommended practice, it will not damage the fabric. Waxing Rugged Twill will improve its water resistance– however, it will also completely transform its character and appearance, making it dramatically darker and stiffer than the original.

Filson’s Rugged Twill has played a major role in our growth in the last few decades, with our luggage and bags bringing Filson’s legendary dependability to a much broader market. Now you know a bit more about where it comes from and what makes it so special.

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green filson bags lying next to a wooden wall SHOP RUGGED TWILL