I’m often torn between frugal living — buying all my clothes, etc. at Costco and Goodwill — and a desire for top-quality stuff. Today I yield to the latter, sharing a collection of links to purveyors of quality products, from clothes to hats to pens to camping supplies.

Recently at AskMetafilter, somebody said “What other brands would appeal to a Filson man? Old school preferred. Gold stars for companies that have existed for more than a century.” Because I love Filson stuff, I followed the thread with great interest. I visited the web sites of all the recommended companies and sent away for catalogs when they were available.

This weblog entry is an attempt to collect information on the most appealing of the companies recommended in the original thread, as well as information on other companies I’ve discovered over the past few weeks. Most of the following are still “Filson man” material, though some — like Bob’s Red Mill — are wholly unrelated.

All of the companies here provide quality goods via mail order. All of them have web sites from which one may order their products. Not all of them provide a means for requesting a print catalog. (I’ve provided a link to each company’s catalog request page, if one exists.)


  • David Morgan (Seattle, 1962) is an an outfit from which one can buy products produced by several of the companies (Filson, Akubra, etc.) listed elsewhere in this entry. (Good website, catalog available.)
  • Filson (Seattle, 1897, “Might as well have the best”) for outdoor clothing, hats, bags, and accessories. I own two Filson hats, a Filson vest, a Filson jacket, and a Filson bag. Each piece was moderately spendy, but well worth it. Filson makes high quality products. (Great website, catalog available.)
  • The J. Peterman Company (Kentucky) for expensive, oddball pieces of clothing. But still stuff I want. Who wouldn’t want Italian genius pants? (Good website, catalog available.)
  • Woolrich (Pennsylvania, 1830, “The original outdoor clothing company”) for outdoor clothing. I am not familiar with this company, but look forward to browsing their catalog. (Good webiste, catalog available.)
  • L.L. Bean (Maine, 1912) for clothing. I’ve always been aware of L.L. Bean, but never shopped there except at the outlet mall in Lincoln City. (Good website, catalogs available, outlet store on the coast.)
  • Kevin’s (Georgia, 1979, “Fine outdoor gear and apparel”) for outdoor clothing and hunting supplies. This catalog came yesterday. It contains several things I want: canvas trousers, a pocketwatch, etc. (Good website, catalog available.)
  • Patagonia (California, 1965, “Committed to the core”) for active outdoor clothing and gear. I bought one piece of Patagonia gear at the last REI sale. It has served me well. (Good website, catalog available.)
  • Devold (Norway, 1853, “Quality outdoor clothing”) for, well, quality outdoor clothing. I’ve only glanced at Devold’s web site, and cannot tell what to think of their offerings. (Fair website, no catalog.)
  • Barbour (England, 1894) for outdoor clothing. After browsing the catalog, I don’t think this company’s stuff is for me. (Fair website, catalog available though it lists no prices.)
  • Holland & Holland (London, 1835) for upscale outdoorswear. Looks similar to Barbour. Again, not my type. (Fair website, no catalog.)
  • Le Chameau (France, 1927) for hunting clothes and riding gear. See last two comments. (Fair website, no catalog.)
  • French Creek Sheep and Wool Company (Pennsylvania, 1970) for woolen coats and sweaters. These are a bit too wooly for me. (Poor website, catalog available in theory.)
  • Pendleton Woolen Mills (Portland, 1909, “Good for life”) for shirts and blankets. I own one Pendleton hat; it’s the one I wear most often (the brown one). I’ve owned Pendleton shirts, and have always been impressed. (Great website, catalog available, many stores around Portland.)
  • Timberland (Boston, no specific date, “Make it better”) for boots. My only exposure to Timberland is through the pair of work boots I bought last fall. They’ve served me well during the past year, and I’d be happy to purchase Timberland again. (Decent website, no catalog, outlet store in Woodburn.)


  • Hartmann (Tennessee, 1877) for luggage. They even have some cases that George Bailey might have liked. (Good website, catalog available.)
  • Duluth Pack (Duluth, 1882) for bags, packs, and camping gear. The web site has some keen-looking stuff. (Good website, catalog available.)
  • Tilley Endurables (Toronto, 1984) for hats and travel clothing. I intend to order at least one Tilley hat before the end of the year. I admire their products. (Good website, catalog available.)
  • Akubra Hats (Australia, 1874) for hats. Many of these look too, well, Aussie for me, but I’m willing to spend more time at the site. Lord knows I love hats. (Poor website, no catalog.)
  • Geier Glove (Seattle, 1927) for gloves. These gloves look durable and stylish. (Good website, no catalog.)
  • Hardy (England, 1879, “Tackling the world”) for fishing supplies. I’m not a fisherman, but some of this stuff still looks appealing. (Fair website, no catalog.)
  • Frost River (Duluth, “Reliable softgoods”) for all sorts of outdoor supplies. This would probably be a good place to stock up on camping equipment. (Good website, catalog available.)
  • Bosca (Ohio) “Accessories in leather”) for leather goods. All of Bosca’s stuff looks tempting. (Fair website, no catalog.)
  • Breitling (Switzerland, 1884, “Instruments for professionals”) for watches. I’m not sure these are the sorts of wathces I want. I’d love a pocketwatch! (Terrible website, no catalog.)

Furniture, Etc.

  • Gandolfini (England, 1885) for large-format cameras. In my dream world (the world where I have unlimited funds), I’d shoot only large format. (Poor website, no catalog.)
  • Stickley (New York, 1900, “Collector quality furniture since 1900”) for furniture. I’m currently shopping for a new chair for my library. I’ve considered a Stickley piece. (Decent website with fun extras (including a video tour), catalogs available for a price.)

Paper Products, Etc.

  • Waterman (Paris, 1883) for pens. I’ve never purchased and expensive pen of any sort. (I’d probably lose one if I did.) I don’t know if the extra cost purchases extra quality. (Weak website, no catalog.)
  • Moleskine notebooks are fantastic, but there is no one centralized source for infromation on them. This site is good, though based in England.
  • Smythson of Bond Street (London, 1887) for products, including bespoke stationery and featherweight paper. Expensive, but appealing. (Good website, PDF catalog available.)
  • Dempsey & Carroll (New York, 1878) is another stationeer. I’m tempted to try them. (Decent website, no catalog.)
  • Library of America (New York, 1979, “America’s best and most significant writing in durable and authoritative editions”) for classic American books. I own several LoA volumes, and have been impressed by each. (Great website, catalog available, subscription available.)
  • The Criterion Collection for feature-laden, authoritative film transfers to DVD. If you must ever choose between a Criterion version of a film and a non-Criterion version, choose the former. (Decent website, no catalog.)


  • Bob’s Red Mill (Portland, “Whole grain foods for every meal of the day”) for inexpensive, quality cereals, flours, and more. I just visited the actual Bob’s Red Mill store this afternoon and bought a case of my favorite cereal. (Great website, no catalog.)
  • Glory Bee Foods (Eugene, 1979) for natural foods and crafts. Excellent honey. (Good website, catalog available.)

One commenter in the original AskMetafilter thread suggested using eBay to find used items from quality compnaies. For example, one might search for vinatage Woolrich to find high-quality used items from that company. This is something I’d like to play with. I did search for Filson products last fall, but ultimately bought new from the shop down the street.

If you know of other sources of quality food, clothing, whatever, please let me know. I’d love to find a good source of globes.


On 28 September 2005 (07:41 PM),
Ron said:

I agree with the Filson recommendation. Everything I have purchased from them has met or exceeded my expectations. 10 years after the purchase of some of the items they are as good as when I bought them.

On 28 September 2005 (08:22 PM),
John said:


If you’re not aware of it, http://www.kk.org/cooltools is a great place for wishlist daydreaming.


On 28 September 2005 (08:33 PM),
Lisa said:

A few years ago, I snagged a classic, vintage red and black plaid Woolrich coat. It was lightly used and $20 at a thrift store where I was wasting time before an appointment. I think it was one of my best purchases ever–I love that thing. If nothing else, a good quality, lightly lined wool coat is the perfect weight for most of our weather. Mmmmmm!

As for Filson, I’ve always admired their long, waxed canvas duster coat. Not that I think I have the presence to pull it off, but they sure look cool.

On 28 September 2005 (09:19 PM),
Chris said:

JD – Try Fountain Pen Hospital for many brands of high end fountain pens and other writing instruments. They have both a website (www.fountainpenhospital.com) and a paper catalog. You will no longer think that Waterman pens are expensive after visiting this site.

On 29 September 2005 (08:03 AM),
Peter said:


In my opinion you can’t get much better than Mountain Equipment Co-op for outdoor clothing and gear.


On 29 September 2005 (08:34 AM),
J.D. said:

It looks like Fantagraphics Books (the fantastic Seattle-based comix publisher saved from bankruptcy by The Complete Peanuts) has a free catalog, too

On 29 September 2005 (07:13 PM),
J.D. said:

Ugh. I just removed Orvis from the list. I can’t believe that it was recommended in the original AskMetafilter thread. Their catalog came in the mail today, and after looking through it, the stuff is nothing like Filson or L.L. Bean or Tilley or Waterman. It’s, well, catalog junk.

3 Replies to “The Good Stuff”

  1. Woz says:

    http://www.whitesboots.com Fantastic handmade boots for nearly all occasions. I own 2 pairs and have had the oldest pair for over a decade.

  2. gsifrbbkse says:

    Hello! Good Site! Thanks you! ltulganrgmiui

  3. The pen is a great companion that probably gets left behind a lot more now (by many people) with the advent of computers. As I read this I wondered if you had ever made your own ink. Just thought it might be like a gift from you to your ‘companion’ … or rather, your comPENion.

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