Catalog scan of Filson duckbill caps
From the archives Shopping From The Present

Duckbill Review

Original Filson duckbill offerings

A duckbill cap was the first item I ever purchased from CC Filson. A decade ago, you could buy a Filson duckbill cap in tin cloth, shelter cloth, cotton poplin or wool. Filson even offered a short billed model (my personal favorite). The original duckbill version was fitted and came with a leather sweatband. Filson has dropped the wool and poplin models and switched over to a one size fits all model with a cotton sweatband.

I have a small collection of caps that I rotate through the seasons: poplin for summer, tin cloth for fall, wool for winter and shelter cloth cloth for spring. The duckbill cap makes for an ideal cycling cap. The long bill keeps the sun and rain out of your eyes and the low profile, four panel crowd closely hugs the head (making it possible to tuck the hat under a bike helmet).

I’m unclear on the origin of the duckbill style but there may be a military connection. A gent at the Pacific Aviation Museum in Honolulu once mistook mine for a WWII military reissue.

Unlike a baseball cap with a stiffened brim, the pliable, unstructured duckbill takes on an origami shape that makes it ideal for carrying in coat pocket or bag. Perfect for protection during a sudden squall.

A few sample duckbill caps from my archives:

Original Filson duckbill in tin cloth
Filson duckbill in cotton poplin
Filson short duckbill
Filson wool duckbill

13 thoughts on “Duckbill Review”

  1. I had the filson shelter cloth cap and maybe it’s me but after wearing it for a month or so, it stunk like hell, the cotton sweat band and all smelt so bad I felt nauseous. I’ve worn other caps made of waxed canvas in the past and they didn’t develop any stink, so I’m not sure what to think.

    I also feel like the filson caps have a “tiny head” look. though I may get a windfowl hat, I’m sure the layer of wool will keep it stink free.

  2. I had a waxed shelter cloth cap and had the same problem after a while as well. The smell was kind of a swampy funk that nothing would wash out. I have a couple of feather cloth caps instead now. My greatest complaint about them is that the adjustable back strap slips. It broke my heart when the Laurenites got rid of the individual sizes.

  3. they don’t make the short duck any more do they? I like the styling but find the “duck bill” too long…like it short like on a bicycle cap…can you make one?

  4. About 20 years back LL Bean did the swordfish cap in cotton, I ordered a dozen in three different colors, today I have two left. Quaker marine supply company were the original manufacturer who did these for Bean, they now have them avilable on their own website, its a great cap with a distinct look. The Filson waxed version is nice too but better for winter I think.
    The oysterman is also available through Quaker and has all the hallmarks of Ernest HEMINGWAY on the Pilar, but who knows where to get a good white tennis visor so loved by the original PAPA?

  5. All – I have all three duckbills currently on offer from Filson, and I haven’t had any stink problem, aside from the normal kerosene whiff from Filson’s new (imported) Tin Cloth (which wears off after a month or two). I’ve worn them all pretty hard for nearly a year – no stink yet…

    @Rally – Nope, they discontinued the short duckbill. Believe us, if we had our druthers, we’d bring back the short bill and offer both styles in fitted sizes rather than the back strap. Email Filson and tell them to collaborate with us!

    -Tom, Archival Clothing

  6. This is insane…I literally just ordered some run-of-the-mill tan longbill/duckbill cap this morning. I used to have a nice little collection of these back in the 90’s…one of my favorites being a tan Patagonia one with green underbrim and packable cloth covering for your neck and cheeks. I will definitely scoop this one up.


  7. My dad had an old Filson Short-Billed hat that he bought in 1990 that he had travelled with to Australia and in Africa. A few weeks ago I was in Yosemite and managed to loose it!! I was wondering if you knew any places where I could purchase another one (I was not able to find any for sale on ebay)?

    1. Ethan- I’m sorry to say I don’t have an alternative source for you for short duckbilled caps. The best thing to do would be to keep trolling ebay and email Filson asking if they have any remaining inventory. You might also bug them to bring back this terrific cap.

      Good luck and keep me posted.

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