Military Clothing (Non Uniform) Page
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This section features Military clothing that are not uniforms/BDUs.
As a sizing reference: I'm 5'7", 155 lbs (yeah, I'm a little guy), medium build (BDU top medium/regular, BDU pant medium/short), waist 32", chest 43". Keep this in mind when you read my comments with respect to sizing, so you have an idea of how the garments featured below will fit on you. ALL garments in these pages are size Medium, unless stated otherwise.
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TAD Gear Stealth Hoodie Reloaded (2009)
11/1/09 - Triple Aught Design's (TAD Gear) longest running softshell, the Stealth Hoodie, has been updated for Fall 2009. The new version is called the Stealth Hoodie Reloaded. Significant changes in design and construction have been implemented on the 'Reloaded', making it the most advanced Stealth Hoodie yet. The Reloaded uses the new 3-layer waterproof Shark Skin Soft Shell fabric in the heavier 'classic' weight, with a quieter smooth face and technical fleece inner lining.
The new Stealth Hoodie Reloaded is a 3+ season (depending on where you live, of course) garment, with design updates such as colour-matched components, less seams for better water resistance, reinforced elbows and welded areas.
For those familiar with the previous generations/versions of the Stealth Hoodie, the Reloaded retains the familiar Stealth Hoodie silhouette with its distinctive AERO hood, sleeve pockets and upper arm velcro patches. The differences, however, are in the details.
Here's a summary of the features on the Stealth Hoodie Reloaded, 2009 model:
Observations/Notes - One of the first things I noticed about the Reloaded is the colour-matching of almost all components throughout the garment. The inner fleece, welded reinforcements, zippers, shock cord, cord locks, velcro, zipper web pulls, are all very closely matched in colour for monochromatic uniformity.
Like the thinner Shark Skin material used on the v3.0, the new Shark Skin in heavier classic weight is waterproof (not water resistant); further crossing over into hard shell realm. As I mentioned above, I found that the Reloaded is most similar to the Gen I Stealth Hoodie when it comes to fabric feel. It's a bit stiffer, with more body, but also more durable feeling, especially with the welded elbow reinforcements. The elbow reinforcements, combined with the thickness of the classic material, provides both abrasion resistance and some protection from hard surfaces in the prone position. The fit of the Reloaded is the same as the previous Stealth Hoodie versions - not snug, but there isn't much excess space either. I'm able to wear a form-fitting mid-weight mid layer underneath the Reloaded, but wouldn't wear anything thicker and baggy, as it'll be tight under the arms.
I'm ambivalent about the hood opening elastic cord adjustment. On the Gen 3, the ends were exposed, so the hood could be tightened with one hand. On the Reloaded, since the ends are inside the chest pockets, it requires unzipping the pocket to pull them, if you want to adjust the hood with one hand. The hood can still be adjusted externally, but with two hands - one to pull the elastic and another to hold the cord lock. But you'll end up with a loop of shock cord at the collar unless you pull the end into the pocket. So, it's a toss up between ease of adjustment and a cleaner look with no exposed ends blowing around in the wind.
We were fortunate to have some rain recently, and I took advantage of the wet weather to try out the Reloaded. I went out in light drizzle to medium rain, and as expected (because of the waterproof membrane), I stayed completely dry. The water beaded up on the nylon outer fabric mostly, with only a few very small spots showing signs of saturation. What surprised me is how breathable it felt, even when wearing it where I expected it to get stuffy - in my car after coming in from the rain. Typically, when I get into my car from the rain, and it's not that cold outside, I'll tend to feel stuffy in rain wear if I don't take it off. It's warmer than the outside, and humid due to the moisture in the air and from my wet jacket. I wore the Reloaded while driving after getting into the car from the rain, and I didn't feel stuffy in it at all. The pit zips had a lot to do with it, I'm sure, but my arms were comfortable, even with the welded elbow reinforcements. The Reloaded feels noticeably more 'breathable' than the Gen 1 and 2 Stealth hoodies.
The 'Classic' weight fabric is more suited to cooler (under 70°F) to cold temperatures than the light weight v3.0, and (in my opinion) works well as a stand-alone jacket instead of a thinner 'shell' over a mid layer. Quality of construction and stitching is excellent, and this really seems like a more robust jacket than the previous versions. The reduction in exposed stitching contributes to that impression, much of it due to the welded reinforcements around all pocket zippers. The colour matched components, reduction in exposed seams, and welded reinforcements make the Reloaded the most technically advanced, refined, weather resistant and feature-laden Stealth Hoodie to date, continuing TAD Gear's trend towards improving their products.
TAD Gear Ranger Hoodie v5
2/28/09 - TAD Gear's popular Ranger Hoodie is now in its fifth iteration. With the Ranger Hoodie v5, TAD Gear continues to refine one of their most popular and recognized garments. The Ranger Hoodie is still the tactical fleece jacket with the most standard features I've seen.
Before the Ranger Hoodie was available, the SPEAR and USMC fleece jackets were the popular cold-weather fleeces of the day. When TAD Gear introduced the v2 Ranger Hoodie, they set it apart by incorporating the utility of their successful Stealth Softshell's features into the Ranger Hoodie design. No other tactical fleece offered this many standard features. Features were carried over from both the Gen 1 and Gen 2 Stealth hoodies, with more added or refined with each generation. Some of the changes to the v5 are subtle: 1" longer than the v3 in overall length, and 1" shorter than the v4 in sleeve length. Also, 1" added to the bottom sweep width at the request of many customers. For all Ranger Hoodies, the general cut and size is that of the Stealth hoodie, with 1" additional length in the sleeves and 1" wider in the arm pit.
Here's a summary of the main features on the v5 Ranger Hoodie (some of which are unchanged from v3 and v4, but repeated here so you don't have to go back and re-read the previous writeup):
Sizing, additional observations - The v5 Ranger Hoodie is sized the same as the previous versions - like TAD's Stealth Softshells - form fitting, but with enough room for an additional light insulating layer underneath like the Scout Hoodie or a sweatshirt. I've worn the Predator and other hardshells over it for additional cold weather protection, which fits over it with room to spare (because of the lack of excess material and bulk). Mobility is great; and movements are unrestricted. As mentioned previously, the v5 is 1" longer than the v3, and 1" shorter in the sleeve than the v4. The elbow patches of the v4 are gone.
The only thing I'd change (and I've mentioned this on the previous Ranger Hoodies) is to have adjustments at the cuffs. Since they're longer, and wider to accomodate being worn over the hand, they're a little loose around my skinny wrists, so a draft can blow up my sleeves if it's windy. If I'm not using the thumbhole feature, I simply roll up the cuff once, which shortens it and makes it tighter around my wrist. I'd like a little elastic, or the same kind of velcro tab that's on the Stealth Hoodie cuffs.
The M.E. Green shown here is a very pleasant sage-like colour; more on the greyish green side than 'green'. Like the previous versions, the v5 Ranger Hoodie has a pretty wide usable temperature range - it's breathable so it doesn't get too stuffy, even when it's a bit warm for a fleece jacket. When it's cold and windy, it outperforms other fleeces like the SPEAR and USMC jackets as it stops the majority of the wind and retains body heat better. Even in wet weather, they're surprisingly effective. For the past few years, if the weather doesn't call for a dedicated wet-weather jacket or soft shell, the Ranger Hoodies have become some of my favourite go-to choices as a stand-alone general use jacket in cold or chilly weather because of their comfort, performance and all-round utility.
TAD Gear Spectre Hoodie LRP MultiCam (2009)
1/8/09 - The Spectre Hoodie LRP MultiCam (now sold out) is Triple Aught Design's (TAD Gear) 'flagship' U.S.-made softshell, with more pockets and volume than their Stealth Hoodie Reloaded. Designed as a robust softshell for protracted field use encountered in Long Range Patrol (hence the "LRP" designation); the Crye MultiCam version of the Spectre is a limited edition of one run only, and will not be available again. It's TAD Gear's first and last MultiCam softshell (as of this writing), due to the high cost of developing and manufacturing the soft shell fabric in MultiCam . The MultiCam Spectre differs from the solid colour Spectres by its material - it's thicker and warmer, and suited for colder weather, or as a stand-alone jacket instead of a light shell + mid insulating layer. It is designed for aerobic activity with breathability taking precedence over water resistance.
The Spectre Hoodie LRP (MultiCam) has similar general features and lines as the other TAD soft shell/jackets, but with a different pocket configuration, and more space in the upper arms pockets. This is to account for the chest pockets being rendered uselss when a plate carrier or armour is worn over the jacket.
Observations/Notes - The first thing I noticed about the MC Spectre was that the fabric was thicker and warmer than any other previous version of TAD's soft shells. I asked if this was unique to the MultiCam version, and the answer was 'yes'. The solid colour versions of the Spectre as made of material more similar to the Stealth Reloaded, which has less lofty fleece insulation. The MultiCam Spectre was intended as a high-aerobic alpine (cold and dry snow conditions rather than rain) soft shell jacket for units needing a good camouflage pattern, warmth, and protection from the wind and occasional moisture. As mentioned above, breathability/vapour transmission was emphasized over water resistance, so the MultiCam version has approximately half the water resistance of the solid colour versions.
The MultiCam fabric has a soft hand and is also quieter than some other fabrics, with a lower pitch nylon 'swish'. It's also slightly stretchy, both for comfort and range of motion. The loftier fleece lining gives it a bit of a padded feel, like a sweatshirt, and helps cushion the elbows where it's doubled up. Due to the thicker fabric, the hood does not roll up as compactly as the thinner fabrics, and makes for a bulkier roll around the neck. I usually prefer to leave the hood down; unrolled.
Sizing feels a bit more generous than the Stealth Reloaded, especially in the arms, and the Spectre will accommodate a medium weight mid layer underneath.
The Spectre hood opening elastic cord adjustment is like the Stealth Gen 3, with the ends were exposed, so the hood can be tightened with one hand. On the Reloaded, since the ends are inside the chest pockets, it requires unzipping the pocket to pull them, if you want to adjust the hood with one hand. The tradeoff for ease of adjustment are the loose ends, which I sometimes grab by accident when I reach for the main zipper pull or Napoleon pocket pull.
If you're on the fence about which to get; the Spectre LRP or Stealth Reloaded, the difference is in the details, really. At the time of this writing, the MultiCam Spectres are sold out, so this review applies to the main features of the LRP Spectre in solid colours. The Spectre is made domestically, has more load capacity and a is bit more generous in fit than the Reloaded. The Reloaded is made overseas but is more technically advanced, with its welded features and is also slightly lower in price.
I'd estimate the usable temperature range for the MC Spectre to be about 65°F and below, depending on level of activity and layering. Anything above that, and it'll be a bit warm. As advertised, breathability is excellent - this is a trend I'm noticing with TAD's soft shells. The material is getting more water resistant (with the exception of the MC Spectre) without being stuffy. I wore it in the desert in the mid-40's and it was comfortable over just a t-shirt when I was moving around. I used Crye field shirt elbow pads in the Spectre and they fit perfectly.
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