High Performance/Tactical Clothing - Page
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This section features High-Performance Wear that is not specifically targeted for overt military use, but could be used anywhere.
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.
Many of the professionals (and civvies) I know are avid outdoors enthusiasts, and are not always looking for military-styled clothing when they're out backpacking or around town. While they will work just as well for Military or Law Enforcement use, the garments listed on these pages will definitely be of interest to anyone just looking for high-performance outdoor clothing.
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TAD Gear Limited Edition Striker Leather Flight Jacket
12/4/07 - Just like they did with their Legionnaire Classic pants and Garage Jacket, TAD Gear has yet again given another classic design the TAD Gear treatment. The Striker Leather flight Jacket is patterned after the German military (Bundeswehr) issue flight jacket (flieger jacken), which is issued to pilots in the Air Force (Luftwaffe), Navy (Marine) and Army (Heer). It's a superb example of current issue military style and design that's versatile enough for every day wear just about anywhere you can think of. Patrick at TAD Gear bought his first current issue Luftwaffe jacket back in 1987, and really liked the design as it was unlike anything else on the market. The cut was designed for every day wear, like a baseball or letterman jacket. It was a more casual fit, and less restrictive than a close-fitting motorcycle jacket, but still a great military/”industrial” function-first type design. He had been wanting to do a higher quality version for a long time, so finally, the Striker jacket was born.
TAD Gear's website states that "Our Striker Flight Jacket is perfect for everyday street wear, adventure travel, motorcycling, pilots, 4 wheeling, and anyone looking for a totally distinct, and excellently made EDC leather jacket. Looks great with your favorite pair of jeans, khakis, or cargo pants. From the first moment you put it on, you'll feel like you're wearing an old broken-in favorite." I'm inclined to agree.
Material - The Striker jacket is cut on the exact same pattern as the current issue German Pilot and Air Crew Flight Jackets, and custom made in one of the finest bespoke (tailored) leather shops in the USA, specializing in Motorcycle Police and Competition Racing leathers. TAD chose select American Free Range Goatskins for their superior strength to weight ratio. Goatskin is a strong, supple leather with a proven track record for durability and its long-lasting properties. Compared to cowhide, it has the same durability for less weight compared to cowhide and even more comfort from their supple characteristics. The Striker jacket is constructed out of 3 oz goatskin. Many foreign-made leather jackets and coats are made of 1 oz leather. It's determined by taking a 1 ft x 1 ft sample cut from the finished hide and weighing it, and comparing that weight to the thickness. 2.5 oz or 3 oz leather is considered the optimum leather weight for flight jackets, providing a good balance between durability and suppleness. Each goatskin hide is unique and displays distinct grains & textures from free range goats.
Instead of the gray colour that the German flight jackets are made of, the TAD chose a unique colour they've dubbed as 'Terra Green'. It's difficult to pin down as it looks different depending on the lighting conditions. It looks more brown under yellowish light (in the late afternoon light above, for example) and greenish-brown under artificial (fluorescent) light and overcast days in the photos below. Whatever it is, though, it's a smart-looking shade that goes well with just about any other colour. In the far right photo below, the Striker is shown right next to a dark brown leather A2 flight jacket.
The main features of the Striker Jacket are as follows (size 42 shown):
The Striker jacket is cut right at "flight jacket length" - just below the waist. The fit is relaxed (on me); not tight at all, but not baggy either. As mentioned above, it fits very much like a letterman jacket. There's enough room to fit a sweatshirt or the TAD Scout Hoodie under the jacket for added warmth. The Striker has no insulation other than the lining. TAD spared no expense on the Striker, and it shows. The materials, stitching and workmanship (even inside the jacket and pockets) are simply excellent. The leather is thick, yet supple with an attractive grain and that scent. I don't find it heavy or too warm; I find it very comfortable for temperatures around 70°F and below. It's ideal for cool or windy conditions, as leather stops the wind completely, yet remains breathable. The collar can be worn open or zipped up to form a turtleneck.
My only other non-motorcycling leather jacket is a 17-year old Avirex "AVG" A2, which is still going strong and a nice jacket (even though the Avirex A2 is only a loose approximation of the original A2 design, which I didn't know back then). I tended to wear it less over the years as it became such a common design, with cheap knockoff 'bomber jackets' sported everywhere. The Striker/German flight jacket style is much less common than the A2 or G1, and is classy, stylish and functional. Overall, it's a more streamlined jacket without the shoulder epaulets and flap pockets. This jacket will not go out of style anytime soon. The Terra Green shade further adds to the uniqueness and distinctive look of the Striker. I've been wearing it all over the place - every day wear to work, around town, on my motorcycle, and have found it to be a very comfortable and versatile jacket. The colour also goes well with the pants I wear most often; OD green, khaki and jeans. While I love my synthetic jackets made of the latest high-performance rain-shedding breathable membrane materials, they just don't have the character of a well worn classic leather jacket.
Shown below is the Striker Jacket with MM graphic designed and custom printed by Andrew Bawidamann. This is the same graphic as found on the MM T-shirt.
TAD Gear V8 Garage Jacket
9/9/07 - So the story goes, the "Garage Jacket" had its origins as a simply-styled jacket worn by mechanics working on cars - both as protection from the cold concrete floor of the garage and when it was chilly at the drag strip. This "working-man's" jacket has become a classic American garment used for casual outerwear, no longer worn only by gear-heads and hot-rodders but by anyone appreciating its simple and practical style and cut. For the debut of their first dedicated urban street wear jacket, TAD Gear has taken this classic American garment and "supercharged" it without changing its familiar, smart, straight lines.
As you can see from the photos below, the TAD Gear V8 Garage Jacket is a great looking jacket, but doesn't look too unusual at first glance. TAD took the subtle route with the V8, infusing it with neat TAD features that are more covert than overt.
The V8 is made from rugged 100% cotton canvas, and only available in True Black. It's a substantial fabric - but not so thick as to be stiff. What sets the V8 fabric apart from other cotton jackets is that it's Epic Nextec treated, which encapsulates the fibers in silicone. This produces a highly water-resistant, windproof, breathable and washable cotton. Water beads up and doesn't penetrate the fabric, and it's also much quicker drying than standard cotton as the fibers don't want to hold water.
I took the photo above one and a half hours after putting the water on the jacket. After I shook the water off and felt the fabric, it was completely dry with no 'wetting out'. In my experience with other Epic-treated fabrics, I've found that they are highly water resistant as advertized, but not water proof, so take note of that distinction. The V8 is not intended to replace rain gear, but it will defintely keep you drier for longer than a regular jacket.
Here's a rundown of the features on the V8 Garage Jacket (medium size shown):
One thing I've really begun to appreciate with just about all of TAD Gear's clothing is the organization offered by 'pockets within pockets'. So much so that I miss those features when I wear 'normal' pants or jackets. I like being able to segregate my keys, cell phone, pager, sunglass case and change instead of putting them together to collect at the bottom of my pockets. Having separate compartments also keeps movement of items within the pockets to a minimum when running around. The V8 offers the same kind of organization in a more subtle manner and I'm sure will be popular with those wanting TAD's features in a non-tactical looking jacket. I'd rate V8 as a light-medium to medium jacket, as far as usage in cool weather. For colder weather, TAD showed the V8 layered over their Scout Hoodie, which needs an outer layer if there's a wind blowing. The V8 is sized more generously than TAD's stealth hoodies, and cut such that the lightweight Scout Hoodie layers underneath without feeling bulky, and looks good when worn as a combination.
The V8 is a great urban-casual jacket with a Classic American look, but with the added bonus of modern features and fabric technology.
TAD Gear Force 10 Cargo Shorts
6/7/07 - At first glance, I thought that TAD Gear's Force 10 Cargo Shorts were simply a short version of their Force 10 "Legionnaire' Classic Cargo Pants. Upon closer examination, I found that the shorts combine features from both the Legionnaire pants and the Force 10 Cargo Utilities.
The Cargo shorts are available in two fabrics - a Desert
Tan 100% 7.5 oz cotton twill gabardine (like the Legionnaire pants),
and a lightweight 100% nylon 'Amphibious Cloth' in Khaki. TAD Gear's
Green and Black labels refer to their garments made of natural fibers
and blends/synthetic fibers respectively.
The Cargo shorts come in even waist sizes from 30" to 44" , with a 10" inseam for sizes 30" to 34" and 11" inseam for sizes 36" to 44". On me, the size 32's come down to mid-knee level.
Here's a rundown of the features on the Force 10 Cargo shorts (size 32 shown):
If you own one of TAD Gear's pants, you'll be familiar with the features and build of the shorts. The shorts have no less than 58 bartacks for reinforcement in high-stress locations! I found both the cotton and nylon shorts to be equally suitable for every day, casual use. I found the heavier cotton fabric sways a bit less when carrying stuff in the pockets but the nylon ones are a bit cooler in hot or humid weather. If there's a chance I'd encounter water or needed light weight and packability, I'd pick the nylon ones. For dry, rocky environments, I'd pick the cotton ones. It also depend on personal preference whether you prefer traditional cotton or high-tech nylon. Either way, I'm well-equipped for summer.
Rocket World Force 10 Spartan Shorts
7/31/09 - Just in time for the rest of summer, the Rocket World Force 10 Spartan Shorts from TAD Gear are the short version of their Spartan Pants with some newly incorporated features. Like the Spartan Pants, the Spartan Shorts are sans side cargo pockets, which result in a more streamlined version of the Force 10 Cargo Shorts featured above.
Rocket World is another outlet for the creativity of TAD Gear's owner, Patrick Ma. Rocket World special edition TAD Gear apparel will often have subtle (or not so subtle) details that inject a little humour or fun into a tactical world that sometimes takes itself too seriously. With the Rocket World Spartan Shorts, the bartacks are done in green contrast stitching, and the buttons are taped using the same colour. It's a very subtle effect.
The Spartan Shorts are available in two colours - Arid Earth (shown here), and M.E. Green in a light weight 100% cotton ripstop. The fabric used is in between the heavier cotton twill gabardine Cargo shorts and the light weight 100% nylon 'amphibious cloth' in the previous writeup.
The Rocket World Spartan shorts have 'California Cut', with a slightly slimmer leg and longer inseam than the Force 10 Cargo shorts. If you look at the photos in the Cargo shorts review above, you'll see that they end right at mid knee. The Rocket World shorts have a 2" longer inseam (so they below my knee) and aren't as baggy.
The Spartan shorts come in even waist sizes from 28" to 44" , with a 12" inseam for sizes 28" to 36" and 13" inseam for sizes 38" to 44".
Here's a rundown of the features on the Rocket World Force 10 Spartan shorts (size 32 shown):
Observations/Notes - Like the TAD Gear Force 10 Cargo Shorts, the Spartan shorts are bartacked at all stress points and are just some of the most practically designed shorts I've owned. The rip stop fabric on the Spartan shorts seems a bit lighter weight than the fabric used on the ODRP pants in the writeup below - but that was a couple of years ago and the current ripstop pants should have the same fabric as the shorts. It's really good stuff for hot weather, and when wet, it dries faster than the heavier ripstop or twill fabrics.
The new hypalon knife clip pocket reinforcements can work for, or against you, depending on the tension of the knife clip. Hypalon is very grippy material. It really does help increase the purchase that the knife clip has on the pocket, reducing the chances of it slipping out accidentally. However, on knife clips that are tight to begin with (like ZT knives), the hypalon can make it difficult to extract the knife quickly. The pocket wants to follow, and it requires a good tug to free the knife. On some other knives with less 'aggressive' clips, the feature works great.
As mentioned above, the Spartan shorts have a 'California cut', and they do have a bit of a board short look and cleaner/smarter appearance because of the lack of cargo pockets. I like this less baggy cut as I have skinny legs. After a few washings, the fabric breaks in nicely, and they're great for everyday wear or outdoor activities in spring, summer and fall.
TAD Gear ODRP Force 10 Cargo Utilities
7/14/07 - This is TAD Gear's 100% cotton OD Green ripstop version of their Force 10 Cargo Utilities, reviewed here previously in Crye MultiCam Twill. While externally identical, the 100% cotton OD ripstop Force 10's (also available in MultiCam NYCO ripstop and 100% cotton tan twill) differ slightly in some details from the MultiCam twill version.
I'm glad that TAD came out with these pants, as 100% cotton ripstop is one of my all-time favourite fabrics. I've got a 15 year old pair of OD green ripstop BDU shorts which I still wear frequently, as they're faded and worn just like I like 'em. While I like the feel of old BDU pants, I do prefer the 'modernized' features that the Force 10 Cargo Utilities offer. But before I continue, I must mention that these pants run about a half size large. This applies only to the OD ripstop, not the other fabrics. I normally wear a size Medium, with 30" inseam, so that's what TAD sent out first. TAD sized them on the larger side to account for shrinkage of the 100% cotton duing washing and drying, based on past experience. However, this particular fabric didn't shrink as much as anticipated, even after washing and drying on hot settings. I washed and dried the size Mediums, and the waist would fit about 34" to 37" (BDU size medium fits 31" to 35"). Patrick at TAD sent out a size Small, 30" inseam and I washed and dried that. They fit my 32" waist perfectly with a little room to spare. I'd say they'd fit to about a 33" waist and adjust down to 31". So I kept the Smalls and sent back the Mediums. As you can see from the photos below, they're a great fit all around. TAD tends to size all their pants generously, to accomodate inside-the-waistband holsters and such.
Here's a rundown of the features on the 100% Cotton Ripstop OD Green Force 10's (small/ 30" inseam shown):
Construction and workmanship are excellent, with all points of stress bartacked.
One note about the taped/slottted buttons on the side cargos; I found myself grabbing the tape between the buttons sometimes when accessing the pockets. I trimmed off the tape between the buttons, about half an inch from the button, and used a lighter to seal the cut edge. The ones on the back pockets didn't bother me.
I found that the OD ripstop Force 10's are a lighter weight alternative to the Legionnarie Classic Cargo Pants, which I've been wearing frequently for the past six months. It's summer now, and the lighter ripstop material is better suited for the heat. However, I did find that the ripstop is pretty wind resistant, as I've worn these riding my motorcycle to work in the early mornings (6am) when it's still chilly. 100% cotton ripstop does tend to wrinkle in the dryer, so if you're the type that likes smartly pressed slacks, you're going to be doing a lot of ironing. Personally, the wrinkled look of cotton ripstop is one that I like and find comfortingly familiar, and I look forward to these pants wearing in like old BDUs. These pants are another 'instant fave' from TAD Gear.
TAD has also introduced their T-Pro Impact Knee Pads, shown below. These are made in the U.K. by T-Pro, who specialize in body armour for motorcycle racing and other sports. The material slows down the impact and disperses it, very much like the visco-elastic foam from Oregon Aero that I've used in their Shockblockers insoles. TAD has the grey, 5.5mm thick material custom die-cut to fit all current versions of their Force 10 Cargos with knee slots. Aven though they're less than 1/4" thick, they'll take the impact of a medium-force punch when placed on a hard surface. They're highly flexible quite unnoticeable in the pants until you take a knee - then they're much appreciated.
TAD Gear 100% Nylon Amphibious Cloth HP Force 10 Cargo Utilities (2007)
7/7/08 - This is TAD Gear's 100% nylon Amphibious Cloth version of their Force 10 Cargo Utilities, which is one of the fabric choices for their Force 10 Cargo Utilities 2007 model. The previous models were reviewed here in Crye MultiCam Twill and above in the OD Green 100% cotton ripstop. Just as the 100% cotton OD ripstop Force 10's differed slightly in some details from previous generation MultiCam twill version, the 2007 evolution of the Force 10 Utilities have some slight updates from the previous version.
My previous experience with the 100% nylon Amphibious cloth was with the TAD Gear Force 10 Cargo Shorts reviewed above on this page. The Amphibious cloth is a lightweight yet tough fabric with a DWR (Durable Water Repellant) finish.
Let's talk about sizing first
- The previous version of the Force 10 was available in S, M,
L (and so on) sizes. The newest (2007) models are available in
even waist sizes. Knowing that TAD's pant waists are sized generously
with extra room for inside-the-waistband carry of a pistol, I
wasn't sure whether a size 30 or 32 would fit me best. I'm a 32
on a good day and 33 after dinner. So, I asked them to send me
both a 30 and 32 to try out.
Features - Here's a list of the features on the 100% Nylon Amphibious Cloth 2007 model Force 10's. Much of it is the same as the previous version, but I've pointed out the differences where applicable. (32" waist, 30" inseam shown):
Construction and workmanship are excellent, with all points of stress bartacked (over 60 reinforcing bartacks).
Weather, and other considerations - The molded TAD logo that was sewn at the rear of the pant is now removable and located on a small velcro patch on the right cargo side pocket. It also glows in the dark. The Nylon Amphibious cloth Force 10s are even lighter weight than the OD ripstop Force 10's that I've been wearing. But, I wasn't sure which one would be better suited for hot weather, so I wore them on alternating days for comparison. The 100% cotton ripstop is pretty light material, but still thicker than the nylon, so it's slightly warmer due to the thickness of the material. However, the nylon is a bit less breathable, so it can feel a bit more stuffy than the cotton. Frankly, I couldn't really tell the difference in perceived temperature between the two under normal circumstances, wearing them on alternating days.
So I tried switching between them back and forth
during some mild exercise - just enough to get a sweat going.
I'd jog around the block with one pair on, change pants, then
continue, then switch back again. This is when I noticed a difference.
When I had worked up a sweat and was hot and sticky, the nylon
pants were more comfortable. The nylon fabric is lighter and
doesn't really absorb sweat, so it doesn't get heavy and damp
with moisture. It remains light weight and airy which I think
offsets the slight difference in breathability. It doesn't stick
to my skin like I thought it would, and remains easier to move
in. So, for hot weather, I give the edge to the nylon Force
For traveling, the nylon Force 10s are the most compressible/packable of the difference Force 10 fabric offerings, which include the cotton ripstop and cotton twill. If you need to pack light and wash and wear, the nylon ones will be easiest to do that with.
Another thing to consider is that the nylon will not fade like cotton, so it depends on what kind of look you want. My cotton ripstop pants are wearing in nicely the way cotton does, but they definitely don't look brand spanking new. The amphibious cloth Force 10s will probably look the same, even after numerous washings and wearings, just like my Force 10 amphibious cloth shorts which pretty much look the same after one year as when I got them. The cotton and twill pants get softer and more comfortable over time whereas the nylon doesn't change much past the first few washings. It's comfortable in a different sort of way.
Which to get? - So, which Force 10 to get - ripstop, twill or amphibious nylon? Well, I'd pick the twill for cooler/moderate weather or if you're bouldering or around rocks, as the thicker fabric provides more protection against scrapes and bumps. The heavier twill also carries/conceals items in the pockets a bit better. Ripstop (cotton or blend) for lightweight comfort, general use and warmer weather. Nylon for warm or hot weather or if there's any chance of exposure to water. Whichever one you end up picking, it's hard to go wrong - they're all great pants
TAD Gear Force 10 Cargo Utilities, Rip Stop H (2009)
10/9/09 - TAD Gear has released their latest (2009) generation of their popular Force 10 Cargo Utilities in 100% cotton ripstop, with the addition of hypalon reinforcements on the knees and knife clip pocket patches. The new model is called the 'Rip Stop H'. Another update is that everything is colour matched, including the zipper, Canadian style slotted buttons and other hardware.
Materials and sizing - I've had the previous version called the ODRP Force 10 Utilities (reviewed above) for two years now, and they've worn in very comfortably, which is expected of 100% cotton ripstop. I expect no different from the 2009 version, which is made in custom-dyed TAD colours - ME Green (shown here) Arid Earth and Crye MultiCam. The ME Green is a grayer shade than the OD green fabric that the ODRP was made out of (see photo below). The new green and Arid fabric is also slightly lighter, which makes it suitable for warm/hot weather or those looking for lighter weight trousers.
The Rip Stop H is available in even waist sizes, while the older ODRP came in S, M, L etc with adjustable waist tabs. I normally wear 32 waist with a 30 inch inseam, and that's what I got in the Rip Stop H. Cotton rip stop tends to shrink after the first washing and dry (I use medium heat), and the 'shrinkage control' fabric is estimated to shrink about 3%; about 1" in length. The length is cut longer to accommodate this shrinkage, so don't be alarmed if they seem a bit large when new, before they're washed. I found that the 32/30 fit me perfectly after the first wash. All cotton rip stop I've owned gets wrinkly in the dryer, and these pants weren't any different, ending up with a familiar 'lived-in', casual look of cotton rip stop.
Features - Here are the features of the Force 10 Cargo Utilities, Rip Stop H 2009 model. Many of them are the same as the 2007 Force 10's, but there are some detail differences. (32" waist, 30" inseam shown):
Construction and workmanship are excellent, with all points of stress bartacked (over 60 reinforcing bartacks).
Observations/Notes - The first thing I noticed on these new Rip Stop H pants is that everything is colour-matched on them. Buttons, tape, D-rings, zipper, velcro all match; even the webbing for the D-ring inside the cargo pocket is now made from the same fabric as the pant instead of the contrasting nylon webbing of previous versions. The lighter weight of the Rip Stop H pants were welcome during the past few weeks of summer, which were hot and more humid than normal. They're cooler in hot weather than the Force 10 ODRPs, and the twill versions. I also perceived that they're more breathable than the nylon amphibious cloth, and feel less stuffy in humid weather. If I sweat, the fabric absorbs it, rather than let it sit on my skin. The new custom dyed ME Green is more remminiscent of Paraclete smoke green than the OD of the ODRPs, and is a very nice colour. As I mentioned above, the Rip Stop H pants aren't going to give you a smart, pressed look (unless you iron out the wrinkles), but more of a relaxed, outdoor/casual look that conveys their comfort and unrestrictiveness.
The new feature on these pants are of course the hypalon reinforcements. Hypalon is a very rugged, yet flexible material that feels rubbery and is used in Zodiac boats, mountaineering equipment and maritime/amphibious combat gear. I first came across hypalon on Kifaru backpacks, which use hypalon in their construction. The 10oz hypalon TAD Gear uses is a very flexible, thin and light weight version of hypalon. I was initially concerned that it'd make my knees sweat more, but I didn't really notice that to be the case. The hypalon patches on the knees are there more for abrasion resistance than padding, as they're so thin. Used for the knife clip reinforcements on the pockets, they do double duty by protecting the pocket from knife clip wear (which usually tears up my pant pocket edge), and adding some 'gription' so the knife clip grabs onto the pocket more securely. As I learned with the Rocket World Spartan Shorts reviewed above, which also have hypalon reinforcements, this can be a double edged sword, as very stiff/tight knife clips grab the hypalon so well that the knife can be hard to extract. I've found myself choosing folding knives with slightly looser clips to use with these pants.
The Rip Stop H pants have a 'action fit; roomy but not too baggy with a straighter leg', which is consistent with most of the TAD Gear pants I have. It's a very comfortable fit with a medium rise, and not as baggy as standard BDUs. The great fit and cut is something I really appreciate in TAD's pants, and combined with the practical layout of their pockets, make these another instant favourite.
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