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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.

TO VIEW FULL SIZE IMAGES: USERNAME and PASSWORD are both "mm"

Arc'Teryx LEAF Atom LT Jacket

11/7/09 - New for fall 2009 from the LEAF (Law Enforcement and Armed Forces) division of Arc'Teryx is the Atom LT Jacket. The Atom LT is a mid layer that functions as light outer wear. It's designed to be modern, warmer and more water-resistant alternative to the old M65 field jacket button-in liner, to which some manufacturers added buttons in the front so it could be worn as a stand-alone garment. It's a trim-fitting insulating jacket that can be worn as a layer under a hard shell to provide warmth, or by itself as a wind and water-resistant jacket. It is very lightweight for the warmth it provides and is highly compressible. I see it replacing a lot of mid-layers, sweatshirts and light weight fleece sweaters.

Material - The Atom LT has a composite construction, utilizing different materials for the shell on the main body and side panels. The matte outer shell is made of super light Luminaria nylon weave which is thin yet durable, and treated with a DWR finish for water resistance. The smooth and silky inside liner is also made of Luminaria. The Atom LT is essentially the same jacket as that offered on the commercial side, but for LEAF, it's available in one additional colour - Crocodile (shown here), which is a khaki-ish olive and a subdued Bird logo on the left chest.

The side panels are made of Polartec Power Stretch with Hardface Technology, which is a body-hugging 4-way stretch fabric with two unique surfaces - a soft fleece inner layer for warmth and comfort; and a smooth outer layer that is abrasion and snag/pick resistant.

The main body and arms are insulated with 60g/m2 Coreloft which has a high warmth to weight ratio and rebounds quickly after compression. It is made up of two sizes of polyester fiber - the large fiber provides resilience and the small fiber provides air pockets for thermal efficiency. It has high loft in its normal state yet compresses down easily.

Here's a summary of the features on the Atom LT Jacket, size medium shown:

  • Trim fit - The Atom LT is designed to be close-fitting, to minimize the amount of bulk when worn under an outer shell garment. It is of hip length with a drop back hem (longer in the rear).



Collar open

Closeup, collar closed

Side view

Side panel

Rear
  • Stand-up collar - The 2" stand-up collar is lined with very soft, brushed fabric.
  • Full front zip - The full front zip has an insulated wind flap for added protection against the elements.
  • Gusseted underarms and articulated elbows
  • Two hand warmer pockets - You may not notice the entrance to the side hand warmer pockets as it's hidden, with the zipper opening tucked neatly into the seam.
  • Inner chest pocket - There's an inner chest pocket on the left side with a zipper closure.

Collar details

Inside collar detals

Hidden side pocket

There it is!

Inner chest pocket
  • Polartec side panels - These are the aforementioned panels made out of Polartec Power Stretch with Hardface technology. Smooth on the outside, comfy fleece on the inside, and very breathable. A thin band of tape/webbing is laminated across the bottom of the panel, so it doesn't stretch out and to keep the bottom of the jacket snugged around the hips. The side panels are also treated with a DWR and water will bead up and run off.
  • Stretch wrist gaskets - The cuffs are made of a stretch fabric and are very low profile. Much more so than a ribbed knit fabric, and also extremely comfortable. It's a very smart design with the stretch fabric extending up the wrist a bit to provide a bit more stretchiness when pulling it over the hands. The cuffs can also be pushed up the fore arms.
  • Weight 11.5 oz

Exterior/interior fabrics

Close up of side panel

Cuffs

Highly compressible

Sizing, fit etc - The Atom LT is a 'trim fit', which on me is just about perfect. I'm not skinny nor chubby - sort of in the middle/average. It's designed to fit close to the body to minimize bulk when worn under other jackets/shells, and works very well in this role. On me, I wouldn't wear much more than a T-shirt or thin base layer under the Atom LT. If a heavy base layer is to be worn under it, going up a size might be warranted.

With garments that aren't designed as mid layers, there can be a lot of excess material that bunches up or folds when worn under a jacket. Even those that are designed as mid layers can be bulky under the arms, if they're made of the same material throughout. The PCU Level 3 half-zip pullover had thinner panels on the sides to reduce bulk, but was not wind resistant and didn't perform well as a stand-alone garment when there was wind. The Atom LT's thinner side panels made out of Powerstretch minimize bunching at the armpits (also due to their cut), and allow air to pass through for ventilation when worn as a mid layer under a shell with pit zips, while the rest of the jacket is very wind resistant for stand-alone use.

General notes and thoughts - The first thing I noticed when I picked up the Atom LT was how light it was. It's reminiscent of an insulating 'puff' jacket, but much lighter, more streamlined and less bulky. I also observed that the outer shell is completely matte. These no shine or reflection from it. When worn under a shell (like the Arc'teryx Alpha jacket), it's low profile enough that you don't feel like the Michelin man. I have full mobility without feeling any restrictions or stretching. It's not surprising that the Atom LT excels as a mid-layer/insulating layer under a shell, as that's what it was designed for. The low profile fit also makes it suitable for wearing under armour.

As a stand-alone jacket/light outer shell, I predict that it's going to replace a lot of sweatshirts and fleece garments out there as the cool weather go-to top hanging by the door. Warmth is approximately equivalent to a 200-weight fleece garment but it's lighter, more comfortable, warmer (without being stuffy) and wind/water resistant - something sweatshirts or most fleece garments aren't.

I tested out the water resistance of both the shell and side fleece panels and water just beads up and runs off (it's still new, of course, so that's to be expected with the DWR still fresh). Comfort is exceptional, as the inner fabric has a silky smooth finish and the fleece panels are very soft. Even the cuffs are more comfortable than regular knit cuffs. (It just occurred to me that this is sounding more like a bedsheet review than one for a jacket, but it's that comfortable).

Another thing I like about the Atom LT is that it's very compressible for a 'puffy' jacket and more so than a fleece garment of equivalent warmth. It'll compress into the approximate size of a USGI canteen, which makes it quite easy to stuff into a bag or pack. It'll fit into my TNT bag side pockets, which are sized for the USGI canteen. More than a few times, I've left fleece jackets at home because they were too bulky to bring along, then regret my decision later when the weather turned colder than I expected. This is jacket that you want to stuff into your bag 'just in case' you might need it. It's light enough not to be a burden if you don't. Everyone has different needs and applications, but the Atom LT is one versatile garment which I feel most people will have use for quite often once cooler weather rolls around.

 

 


Arc'Teryx LEAF Atom AF Jacket

2/11/11 - Another new jacket from the LEAF (Law Enforcement and Armed Forces) division of Arc'Teryx is the Atom AF (Armed Forces) Jacket. At first glance, the Atom AF looks like just a puffier, oversized version of the Atom LT, but there's more to it than that. It's intended for use as a breathable, super-warm mid layer under a shell on frigid days, or as a stand-alone jacket. Also, instead of the trim fit of the Atom LT, the AF is cut roomy enough in the torso to wear over light body armour or a compact rig. This allows it to provide warmth and some protection from the elements when wearing gear, yet enables it to be removed without taking your gear off.

Material - The Atom AF does not have the composite construction of the Atom LT (with its different side panels), but uses the same material for the entire shell. The outer shell is made of Gossamera, a 100% nylon ripstop fabric treated with a DWR finish for water resistance. It feels just slightly heavier than the Luminaria used on the shell of the LT, which makes sense as the AF is intended more for use as an outer garment than a liner, with increased abrasion resistance. It's also very wind resistant, as the informal 'blow test' finds a lot of resistance. The inside liner is also made of same smooth and silky Luminaria as the Atom LT. The Atom LT is essentially the same jacket as that offered on the commercial side, but for LEAF, it's available in one additional colour - Crocodile (shown here), which is a khaki-ish olive and a subdued Bird logo on the left chest.

The Atom AF is insulated with 100g/m2 Coreloft (vs. the 60 g/m2 used on the LT) which has a high warmth to weight ratio and rebounds quickly after compression. It is made up of two sizes of polyester fiber - the large fiber provides resilience and the small fiber provides air pockets for thermal efficiency. It has high loft in its normal state yet compresses down easily. While the AF jacket is definitely bulkier and more 'puffy' than the LT, it still compresses down to a very manageable size.

Here's a summary of the features on the Atom AF Jacket, size medium shown:

  • Over-armour fit - Unlike the close-fitting Atom LT, the Atom AF is designed with a much roomier fit around the torso to allow it to be worn over low profile body armour or chest rigs/gear. What it will fit over, of course depends on the size of the person to begin with. The sleeves however, are 'regular' size, and have normal sleeve lengths. The jacket comes down below my hip with a drop back hem (longer in the rear).


Worn over APC





  • Stand-up collar - The AF has a taller collar than the LT, and is 3" tall. It's lined with very soft, brushed fabric. There's a 2" x 1" velcro patch on the back for IFF.
  • Full front zip - The full front zip has a wind flap for added protection against the elements.
  • Gusseted underarms and articulated elbows
  • Two hand warmer pockets -The entrance to the side hand warmer pockets are parially hidden, with the zipper opening tucked neatly into the seam. The zipper is shrink wrapped for easy gripping.

Collar details

Inside collar detals

Velcro patch on collar

Bicep pocket and velcro

Side hand pocket
  • Bicep pockets - Theres a very roomy 10" x 9" pocket on each bicep/shoulder, with a vertical zipper closure. On the outside of each pocket is a 4" x 4" velcro patch for patches or IFF tabs.
  • Stretch wrist gaskets - The cuffs are made of a stretch fabric and are very low profile. Much more so than a ribbed knit fabric, and also extremely comfortable. It's a very smart design with the stretch fabric extending up the wrist a bit to provide a bit more stretchiness when pulling it over the hands. The cuffs can also be pushed up the fore arms.
  • Adjustable hem drawcord - The cord pulls for the elastic shock cord hem adjustment are located at the inside bottom of the side hand-warmer pockets. To cinch up the hem, you just pull on either cord end. To loosen it, you press the cord lock.
  • Stowable in own pocket - I had not read the manufacturer's features/description when I got the AF, so I was unaware of this feature for a while. I discovered it when I examined the side pocket zippers more closely, and noticed that each of them had an additional zipper pull on the inside. 'What are those for?' I wondered, and looked it up. The jacket stows inside either hand-warmer pocket by turning it inside out, stuffing the jacket inside it, then closing the zipper with the 'inner' pull. This compresses the jacket nicely, into a very packable and manageable size, as shown below.
  • Weight 17.8 oz

Cuffs

Stowed in its own pocket

Sizing, fit etc - As previously mentioned, the Atom AF has an overall relaxed fit, and is generously sized around the torso to fit over gear. The sleeves are regular length, so when buying the Atom AF, you buy your regular clothing size. In my case, a size Medium. It is not necessary to select a larger size than normal in order to accomodate body armour underneath. With its more relaxed fit, the Atom AF will fit over a bulkier underlayer, like a sweat shirt, whereas the Atom LT would only accomodate a thin base layer.

General notes and thoughts - My first impression of the Atom AF was that it was just a more heavily insulated version of the Atom LT reviewed above. However, upon further examination, the differences in the details revealed themselves. Like the Atom LT, the AF is very light weight for a jacket of its insulating value. It reminds me of a L7 loft jacket, only it's lighter, and compresses to a much smaller size. I'm very impressed so far with the Coreloft insulation, as it readily springs back after being compressed after a while, and scrunches down easily. If possible, however; I store the jacket uncompressed when not in use just to be safe.

The extra room in the AF is immediately noticeable when compared to the LT, as well as the additional warmth it provides. While the LT can be worn much like a sweat shirt, the AF is more of a cold weather jacket, and provides insulation to lower temperatures. The wind resistant qualities of both the Atom LT and AF are very effective as the shell materials have very low air permeability numbers. I've been using the Atom LT underneath a mesh motorcycle jacket on cold mornings on the ride to work, as it sometimes gets much warmer in the afternoons. The Atom LT has worked wonders to protect my upper body me from the frigid morning air that chills my hands and legs.




Worn over STRIKE rig



The Atom AF is about twice as warm (and bulky) as the Atom LT, based on my guestimation and wearing both around on the same day to compare them. I wore the Atom AF out on a desert trip and got a chance to try it out over gear (in this case, my STRIKE recon chest rig. It actually has a hydration carrier attached at the rear, giving me a hunchback look. The Atom AF fit comfortably over the gear, and zipped up completely without any issues. I was able to cinch up the bottom hem and place it above my holster for access. Access to the gear depends on how far the front is zipped up. Either way, it provides warmth when needed. The shell material seems relatively snag resistant to bushes, twigs and rocks, and is relatively quiet for being nylon.

It did drizzle out in the desert, but not enough to challenge the water resistance of the shell. A few weeks later, we had some very heavy rain, and I wore the Atom AF on some walks. The water resistance of the Atom AF shell is very good, which is to be expected with the DWR still fresh. Water would soak into the shell fabric in some places eventually, but it doesn't seem to make it past the shell fabric, and I didn't notice any water make it through to the liner. The Atom AF fits under the Alpha and Alpha LT hard shells without feeling restrictive, if additional rain protection is needed. As with the LT, comfort is exceptional, as the inner fabric has a silky smooth finish.

Just like the Atom LT, the Atom AF is very compressible for a 'puffy' jacket and more so than a fleece garment of equivalent warmth. It doesn't compress into as small a package as the LT, of course, but stuffed into its own pocket, it's still very compact. If you're heading into cold, windy, or wet weather that a fleece jacket might not be up to, try the Atom AF as a stand-alone jacket, or underneath a hard shell.

 

 


TAD Gear Gen 2 (V2.0) Ranger Hoodie (this version discontinued)

4/7/07 - Patterned after their feature-laden tactical soft shell, the Stealth Softshell Hoodie; TAD Gear has yet again outdone themselves with the Gen 2 Ranger Hoodie. This is now by FAR, my favourite fleece jacket. I like my SPEAR and USMC Peckham fleece jackets, but I think they'll be gathering dust in the closet as the Ranger Hoodie just offers so much more. It's also a great-looking jacket to boot.

TAD Gear did a smart thing, in my opinion, by incorporating the utility of the successful Stealth Softshell's features into their Ranger Hoodie. By doing that, they've set it apart from the rest - no other tactical fleece offers this many standard features. The features were carried over from both the Gen 1 and Gen 2 Stealth hoodies. The general cut and size is that of the Gen 2 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 Ranger Hoodie:

  • Material - The Ranger Hoodie is constructed out of Malden Mills/Polartec WindPro fabric. WindPro is 4 times more wind resistant than traditional fleece fabric. It has a very tight construction to reduce the effects of wind chill, a problem with traditional fleece. The inside surface is pebbled which traps the air for a high warmth-to-weight ratio. It's also highly breathable - maintaining 85% of the breathability of traditional fleece. The smoother outer surface is also pill-resistant and more durable. My first impression of it was that the material was dense - more 'compact' and less bulky than my SPEAR or USMC fleece jackets (traditional fleece) - see the photo below. It felt just as warm, though, as the density of the fabric traps the warmth better than the traditional fleece, with less bulk.
    I did a quick water test and found that the fabric does not want to hold water like natural fibers. I soaked it all the way through, squeezed out the excess and it felt almost dry against the skin. Is it water-resistant? Actually, quite. After prolonged soaking, water will eventually penetrate. The good thing about it is that the fabric keeps the moisture away from the skin so you don't feel wet. If you anticipate really wet weather, bring a shell to wear over it.
    The best quality of the WindPro is that it is wind resistant, which makes the Ranger Hoodie block wind that would pass through the USMC or SPEAR jackets with ease. I usually test relative resistance to wind by taking a ride on my motorcycle where I can simulate different 'wind chills' by riding faster or slower. Cold air just cuts through the SPEAR fleece jacket, whereas the Ranger Hoodie does a very good job of blocking it up to about 35-40mph before I feel it start to come through.
    The Ranger Hoodie is available in V3.0 M.E. Green and V2.0 Desert Khaki (shown here). The shade of Khaki is very close to the MJK ("Matt Johnson Khaki") cordura used by Eagle Industries (see photo comparing the two below), which is a great all-round colour.
  • Top-stitch and 4-panel construction - Seams are top-stitched for added strength and to make the seams sit flatter. The four-panel construction (additional side panels) make for a better fit, especially under the arms.
  • High, stand-up collar - When zipped up, the hood opening forms the rear part of the collar and seals against the back of the head, keeping the neck warm. It's non restrictive, and the zipper has a neck guard for comfort.
  • Drop-tail waist - the tail is cut a bit longer than the front, and ends up just below the butt.


Colour comparison to Eagle MJK

Fabric comparison to USMC (Peckham) fleece

Front unzipped

Zipped up partially

Zipped up fully

  • Aero hood - The TAD Gear Aero Hood folds neatly against the back when not needed. The Ranger Hoodie hood is of the Gen 1 type - without the rain bill. It's more form fitting to keep the draft out and the head warm. Saves having to carry around a beanie cap.
  • Velcro swatches on shoulders - on each shoulder is the Gen 2-sized 4" x 3" loop velcro patch for attachment of ID or flag patches.

Collar/interior detail

Hood up

Side view of Aero hood


Side-entry pockets
  • One-handed bottom hem drawcords - In the bottom hem are elastic waist drawcords on each side, with cord-locks. They're cinched up just by pulling them tight with one hand, as the cord locks are sewn down.
  • 2 High-rise side entry chest pockets - Unless otherwise mentioned, pocket dimensions match that of the Stealth Hoodies. The high-rise location allows access to the pockets when wearing a pack waist belt. Inside each pocket is a plastic D-ring attached by webbing, for dummy-cording contents. The D-ring is attached to the rear of the pocket like the Gen 2 instead of near the opening like the Gen 1, where it could interfere with the closing of the zipper. There's an additional internal mesh pocket for holding your cell phone, iPOD etc. Also standard are TAD's media pass-through slot, for iPOD, cell phone, or radio cables/wires and the hideaway pen/slim flashlight pocket. There's a loop on the inside of the jacket below the collar for routing the cable that comes through the media pass-through slot in the pocket.
  • 2 large sleeve pockets - These are accessed via vertical zippers and also have the internally attached D-rings and media pass-through slots. There's the full-sized pen pocket on the left upper arm with a reinforced opening for the pen clip.
  • Quick-access sleeve pocket - This is located on the left forearm and is sized for ID, keys and smaller items.
  • Thumb hole cuffs - the cuffs are of the Gen 1 design, with the thumb holes for keeping the back of your hands warm and to prevent the sleeves from riding up. The sleeves are 1" longer to accomodate this feature. Gloves can be worn over or under the cuff.

Waist adjustment

Shoulder pocket

D-ring in shoulder pocket

Pen/slim flashlight pocket and pass-thru port

D-ring and mesh pocket in side-entry pocket

Sleeve/forearm pocket and thumb-hole cuffs

Sizing - The Ranger Hoodie is sized like the Gen 2 Stealth Softshell - form fitting, but with enough room for an additional light insulating layer underneath. The medium size is shown here. I can wear it over the Scout Hoodie or a sweatshirt. For wind and rain protection, the Predator fits over it with room to spare (because of its low bulk and fit), as does the PCU L4 windshirt and other shells. The only additional feature I think would be nice to have are pit zips, in case you're wearing gear over the jacket and can't really open up the front for ventilation. Mobility is great; and movements are unrestricted.

The Ranger Hoodie has a wide usable temperature range - it's breathable so it doesn't get stuffy, even when it's a bit warm for a fleece jacket. If the weather doesn't call for a wet-weather jacket, I predict that the Ranger Hoodie will be the go-to choice as a general use jacket as it's so dang comfortable, and has all the pockets you'd ever need to organize your stuff.

 


TAD Gear V3.0 Ranger Hoodie (discontinued)

2/28/08 - Updated and improved for 2008 is TAD Gear's V3.0 Ranger Hoodie. It's the follow-on to the V2.0 Ranger Hoodie shown above, which after about 10 months of use, remains my favourite fleece hoodie (until this V3.0 came out). As before, it's patterned similarly to the Stealth Softshell Hoodie, and some of the updates for the V3.0 follow those seen on the new SS V3.0 Stealth Hoodie and Jacket.

TAD Gear did a smart thing, in my opinion, by incorporating the utility of the successful Stealth Softshell's features into their Ranger Hoodie. By doing that, they've set it apart from the rest - no other tactical fleece offers this many standard features. The features were carried over from both the Gen 1 and Gen 2 Stealth 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 V3.0 Ranger Hoodie (some of which are unchanged from V2.0, but repeated here for completeness):

  • Material - The V3.0 Ranger Hoodie is constructed out of the same premium Malden Mills/Polartec WindPro fabric as the V2.0 - it works very well, so no change was necessary. WindPro is 4 times more wind resistant than traditional fleece fabric. It has a very tight, smooth construction to reduce the effects of wind chill, a problem with traditional fleece. The inside surface is pebbled which traps the air for a high warmth-to-weight ratio. It's also highly breathable - maintaining 85% of the breathability of traditional fleece. The smoother outer surface is also pill-resistant and more durable. The fleece is more dense than some other fleeces, resulting in a more 'compact' and less bulky garment than my SPEAR or USMC fleece jackets. Note that because it's dense, it's not a very compressible garment, so you won't be rolling up into a little ball and putting it in a Nalgene bottle pouch.
    It's also surprisingly water resistant, as I found out when I got caught in some recent rains. In the quick water test I performed on the V2.0, I found that the fabric does not want to hold water like natural fibers. I soaked it all the way through, squeezed out the excess and it felt almost dry against the skin. This was confirmed in medium rain. Raindrops beaded on the surface of the fleece and would not penetrate all the way through. Those of you who already own Ranger Hoodies, try this out at home. Sprinkle some water on it, and you'll see it runs off or beads. Now, take a palmful of water and dump it on the fleece. Massage it into the fabric. You'll be surprised how long it takes to soak in, unlike a cotton garment. It's also very wind resistant, and over the past year I've worn my V2.0 in some chilly, windy weather and been very impressed and happy with its performance. I have not noticed any pilling or wear on the material.
    The Ranger Hoodie is available in V5.0 M.E. Green, D.F Gray (which is essentially Black, shown here) and M.E Brown, which replaces the Khaki shown in the V2.0 above. A word to cat or dog owners - get the green or brown as pet hair won't show up as much as on the gray.
  • Top-stitch and Alpine-cut 4-panel construction - Seams are top-stitched for added strength and to make the seams sit flatter. The four-panel construction (additional side panels) make for a better fit, especially under the arms.
  • High, stand-up collar - When zipped up, the hood opening forms the rear part of the collar and seals against the back of the head, keeping the neck warm. It's non restrictive, and the zipper has a neck guard for comfort.
  • Drop-tail waist - the tail is cut a bit longer than the front, and ends up just below the butt.
  • Colour-matched YKK zippers - All zippers now match the colour of the Hoodie - before they were all black.


Front view, thumb holes used

Thumbs/hands out

Side view

Extended bill on hood


Rear pocket access
  • Aero hood - The TAD Gear Aero Hood folds neatly against the back when not needed. The V3.0 Ranger Hoodie hood now has the extended bill which offers more protection. Some people don't like attached hoods - I do. It saves having to carry around a beanie cap and I've never had one get in the way.
  • Velcro swatches on shoulders - The size of the velcro shoulder patch has been increased to 4" x 4" from 4" x 3", and moved to the shoulder pockets instead of above them.

Collar/interior detail

Side entry chest pocket

Sleeve pocket and velcro patch
  • One-handed bottom hem drawcords - In the bottom hem are elastic waist drawcords on each side, with cord-locks. They're cinched up just by pulling them tight with one hand, as the cord locks are sewn down. I'll note here that there isn't much adjustment, as the Hoodie is already quite snug at the bottom. For some people with bigger 'behinds', they won't have much use for the drawcords.
  • 2 High-rise side entry handwarmer chest pockets - The V3.0 pockets are pretty much the same as the V2.0 with minor changes noted here. The high-rise location allows access to the pockets when wearing a pack waist belt. Inside each pocket is a plastic D-ring attached by elastic webbing (non-elastic on the V2.0), for dummy-cording contents. The D-ring is attached to the rear of the pocket like the Gen 2 instead of near the opening like the Gen 1, where it could interfere with the closing of the zipper. There's an additional internal mesh pocket for holding your cell phone, iPOD etc. Also standard are TAD's media pass-through slot, for iPOD, cell phone, or radio cables/wires. There's a loop on the inside of the jacket below the collar for routing the cable that comes through the media pass-through slot in the pocket. The slim flashlight/pen pocket has been increased in size and will now accomodate 1" diameter flashlights. On the V2.0, it'd only fit the slimmest lights or a pen.
  • 2 large sleeve pockets - These have been moved up about 1.5" higher on the sleeve than the V2.0 ones and are accessed via vertical zippers. They each have the internally attached D-rings (with elastic webbing) and media pass-through slots. The pen pocket on the left upper arm of the V2.0 has been deleted and you can now get an optional velcro-attached pen tube if you choose, available separately. They're also double needle stitched now, but I've never heard of any problems with the older pockets.
  • Quick-access ID forearm pocket - This is located on the left forearm and is sized for ID, keys and smaller items.
  • Lower back dual zippered 'Duck pocket' - This is a new feature from the V3.0 Stealth Hoodie. It's a large 10" x 10" pocket, sort of like a 'poachers pouch' (hence the name 'Duck pocket) on the lower back of the jacket for storing soft items like beanies, gloves etc. It's easily accessible from both sides. A secondary use for the pocket zippers is that they can be opened for small-of-the-back ventilation when the pocket is empty, as the lining is mesh and allows airflow.
  • Thumb hole cuffs - the cuffs are of the Gen 1 design, with the thumb holes for keeping the back of your hands warm and to prevent the sleeves from riding up. The sleeves are 1" longer to accomodate this feature. Gloves can be worn over or under the cuff. This actually came in handy in February, when I was out in the desert at SHOT show at night. It was cold and windy, and I was wearing my Ranger hoodie and used the thumbholes over my gloves. However, I'd rather have a velcro wrist tab so I can tighten the cuff around my wrist to seal out the wind if I'm not using the thumbholes.
  • Armpit vents - These are a new addition for the V3.0 - there are four small buttonhole slit vents under the arms. Since they're small and just slits, I have not been able to discern whether they make a difference. A short pit zip would be more effective, but also more expensive.
  • Removable logo - Last but not least is the glow-in-the-dark embossed TAD logo patch which can be removed from the small velcro patch on the lower right of the jacket.

Quick-access sleeve pocket

Inside of Duck pocket and waist adjustments

Removable glow-in-the-dark logo on velcro patch

 

Sizing - The V3.0 Ranger Hoodie is sized the same as the V2.0 - like TAD's 2 Stealth Softshell - 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 its low bulk and fit). Mobility is great; and movements are unrestricted. By the way, the cool patches shown in the photos are available from TAD here.

Like the V2.0 Ranger Hoodie, the V3.0 has a 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. As I predicted, if the weather doesn't call for a wet-weather jacket or soft shell, the Ranger Hoodie has become one of my favourite go-to choices as a general use jacket in cold or chilly weather because of its comfort, and all-round utility. It's even pretty good in the wet. It just keeps getting better with each version.

 


TAD Gear Scout Hoodie

4/1/07 - TAD Gear's Scout Hoodie is a lightweight fleece hoodie for stand-alone use in warmer weather or layering in cooler weather. For now, it's only available in the version 3.0 Multi-Environment green. The M.E. green is the Scout has slightly more yellow in it than that of the Stealth Softshell - but it's pretty close for a different fabric from different manufacturers.

Here's a summary of the features of the Scout Hoodie:

  • Material - Malden Mills Polartec Classic 100 Fleece in 3.0 M.E. green. Polartec 100 is a 100% polyester velour construction fleece suitable for a first layer or lightweight sweater. It provides warmth without the bulk and weight of traditional insulating fabrics. It dries quickly and is highly breathable. It's not wind-resistant, and is best worn under a light wind-proof shell under windy conditions. It's also VERY comfortable and soft against the skin.
  • Kangaroo Through-pocket - At the front of the Scout is a large 'Kangaroo' hand warmer pocket. Inside the Kangaroo pocket right in the middle is a 4" tall x 3" wide stash pocket for keys, change or cell phone.
  • Aero Hood with bill - The Scout has TAD's trademark Aero hood with bill - the same design as on the Stealth Softshell. It lays down flatter on the back than a regular hood, and gives the Scout a more unique look.


Overall front view


Hood down

  • Thumb Hole cuffs - The wrist cuffs have a thumb hole, so that the cuffs can be worn over the hand. The sleeves are slightly longer to accomodate that feature. They prevent the cuffs from riding up when gloves are worn over them, or the Scout is worn under a shell.

Under Predator hard shell

Colour comparison

Thumb hole cuffs

Sizing and wearing - The Scout has a generous cut but doesn't look overly baggy when worn alone over a t-shirt. I'd estimate the warmth of the Scout to be equivalent to a lightweight sweatshirt when worn alone - just right for spring or summer evenings when the sun goes down. The material is not wind-resistant (and is very breathable), so a shell is recommended if it's cold and windy. That's where it works well as an insulative layer. It's lightweight and low bulk, and I found it to be a perfect compliment to the Predator Hardshell featured below (almost like it was made for it). The thumb holes prevent the Scout sleeves from riding up when putting a shell over it. I also tried it under the PCU Level 4 Windshirt and Level 5 jacket and it didn't feel bulky or restrictive at all. Whether it's for hard outdoor use under a shell or worn at home relaxing, the Scout will work well in either setting.

 


 


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