The Woodsman shirt by Prometheus Design Werx (under their Danger Ranger Bear line) is billed as being “like your grandfathers favorite outdoor shirt he wore to the cabin”. True to form, trying this on was very reminiscent of borrowing my father’s, or grandfathers, wool shirts for hunting in the Alaskan wilderness when I’d grown big enough to fit them. For all the advances in miracle fabrics and camouflage patterns over the years, few can match the durability, versatility and visual concealment provided by good old-fashioned wool.
I should say upfront that you won’t find this shirt at your local store. This ain’t some mass-produced, rips-in-a-weekend flannel junk. These are handcrafted in the good ‘ol USA, with triple stitching and reinforced elbows. The quality is evident from day one and only continues as you wear it in. Wool is well-known for its insulating properties. Keeps you warm, even when it’s wet. Wool also does a good job of helping to regulate body temperature even when it’s warm out. Prometheus advertises this as a 3+ season shirt for this reason. It’s good from freezing cold up until the day you hit the beach.
The Woodsman does feel like an upgrade to my Grampa’s old wool shirts in some ways. More of a natural evolution of the style and design. The buttons are held on with a material that has a little give to it, which combined with the slight natural stretch of wool makes for a very comfortable fit. Back in the good old days, front pockets were sized appropriate for a small notepad. Now, they’re sized up for a smart phone. The shirts from a generation or two ago often limited your range of motion at the outside edges of stretch, whereas the Woodsman offers a liberating sense of flexion in the materials.
With regards to those who still hunt in wool over Gore-Tex, you’ll like to know that the Woodsman shirt I received (in Owl Gray) performs much like the wool overalls and shirts of old. There is a mesmerizing effect of the fabric alternately reflecting or absorbing light, creating the sense that the shirt is really a number of close shades blended together instead of one solid color. Much like how many animal pelts appear to be one color but manage to blend effortlessly into their surroundings.
The only downside to the Woodsman? Dry clean only. Wool does pick up animal hair with ease, so I’m looking forward to a long summer of camping with this thing and a few “creek side/drip dry” laundry washings. I’ll update if that presents any issues.
Prometheus Design Werx has managed to produce a product with 1920’s American quality combined with 2017 American refinement. These are called heritage outdoor shirt designs, not just because they are descended from the clothes our forefathers wore, but because this may well be the shirt you hand to your grandson when he’s old enough to head out to put meat on the table. The Woodsman is available here and retails for $159.