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S.O.D. Gear Combat Line
7/7/10 - S.O.D. (Special Operation Department) is an Italian manufacturer of military clothing that collaborates with and produces clothing and equipment that is used by Italian and allied military units in a variety of theatres. Shown here are some of the offerings from their Combat Line of clothing in their new colour, HCS (Hybrid Coyote Sage).
S.O.D. has been making clothing since 1938, so they're not newcomers to the clothing industry. I first caught wind of them a few years ago when I saw one of their articles of clothing that had MultiCam zippers, tape and buttons. Take about attention to detail! Also, they cropped up when the topic of the Italian Vegetato camouflage came up. Through mutual friends both in the U.S. and Italy, I was introduced to Max at S.O.D. over email and eventually met up with him in person at the 2010 SHOT show, where he was sharing a booth with TangoDown. Also with him was one of the end-users of S.O.D. clothing, a huge but friendly gentleman in the Italian SF.
S.O.D. actively participates in the development of its raw materials, together with its own collaborators and suppliers. This results in near perfect colour matching between various fabrics and components; something that most manufacturers will agree is not only expensive, but difficult to do. The attention to detail and workmanship (all S.O.D. items are designed and manufactured in Italy) are some of the best I've seen in garments. All materials used by S.O.D. are of Italian, U.S. or Canadian origin.
Navigating the S.O.D. website to find their products can be a bit confusing, so here's a direct link to their Store site which shows all their products.
HCS (Hybrid Coyote Sage) - S.O.D. offers their products in quite a few different colours, including Crye MultiCam, and the desert and woodland versions of Italian Vegetato. HSC (Hybrid Coyote Sage) is a new colour exclusive to S.O.D. that has just been introduced, and is in service with the Italian SF. As the name implies, HCS is a hybrid of coyote brown and sage green. The end product is a brownish-green shade that works better than sage or OD green in arid areas, and very well around dry grass and shrubs. There is no blue in the HCS. Depending on the light, it can take on a greyish cast, which helps it blend in rocky areas as well. I have not tried it in green areas, but testers were pleased with the results during testing done in green environments in Italy. While it may not be as effective as camouflage patterns in some environments, it's surprisingly good for a solid colour, both in rural and urban areas. It's probably the most versatile solid colour for a uniform I've seen yet. What's also pretty impressive is how S.O.D. has been able to match the components used to construct their garments. HSC is also suitable for LE as it doesn't look as 'military' as a camo pattern.
Spectre D.A. Combat Shirt - The Spectre D.A. (Direct Action) Combat Shirt is, like others of this genre, has a form-fitting torso of soft, wicking stretch fabric and arms of tougher BDU material. A hybrid concept first seen in the original Crye Combat Shirt, the Spectre D.A. is designed to be worn under body armour. When worn over regular BDUs, an armoured vest or plate carrier usually limits the utility of the pockets on the chest or torso, while the seams and extra bulk of a loose-fitting BDU top might prove to be uncomfortable. The Combat Shirt concept streamlines the torso area by eliminating torso pockets (which provides more comfort under the armour) and helps keep the user cooler and better ventilated in warm weather than if he were wearing a regular BDU top. S.O.D.'s design is very refined with great attention to small details.
Features - Here's a summary of the features of the S.O.D. Spectre D.A. Combat shirt:
Additional Notes and Observations - For hot weather use, I'm convinced that a 'Combat Shirt' style shirt is the way to go under gear or armour. It's just that much more comfortable than a BDU top. The main drawback with all of them is durability of the torso vs. the arms, but that's just a consideration that needs to be factored into the buyer's decision. The photos above illustrate the HCS colour in a couple of different environments. It's almost lost against the dry grass, and does well against rocks and dirt. The torso fabric wicks well, and due to the close fit prevents any chafing or discomfort from bunched up excess fabric under gear. The elbow pads work extremely well - the best internal pads I've used in a shirt.
Spectre Shirt 1.2 - The Spectre Shirt 1.2 is a BDU shirt style version of the D.A. Combat Shirt illustrated above. Fully constructed from the same 50/50 NYCO rip-stop fabric as the arms on the D.A. Combat Shirt, the Spectre Shirt is also more comfortable and breathable than other NYCO BDU shirts I've used in the past. The Spectre Shirt 1.2 is cut short, and is designed to be worn untucked. However, it's up to the user as it can also be worn tucked into the waist.
Features - Here's a summary of the features of the Spectre Shirt 1.2 (some are shared with the D.A. Combat Shirt but included here for completeness):
Additional Notes and Observations - For cooler weather, or if a full BDU top is mandated, the Spectre Shirt 1.2 would then replace the D.A. Combat Shirt. The obvious advantage is overall durability as the 1.2 has full NYCO construction. The 1.2 is slightly tapered at the waist for a more athletic fit. Out in the desert, I swapped out the D.A. Combat Shirt for the 1.2 and found it very comfortable as far as BDU tops go. The fabric is just that much more breathable than regular NYCO, plus the pit zips also make a difference. The bi-swing back provides full range of motion for the arms without binding in all positions.
Para One Pant 1.2 - Now to the Para One Pant 1.2. If you're familiar with my website, then you're probably familiar with Crye's Combat Pants and their Field Pants. The Crye pants have internal/external knee pads and have a myriad of features while the Field Pants are closer to regular BDUs. The S.O.D. Para One Pant is somewhere in-between. Also fully feature-laden, they have internal rather than exposed knee pads, relying instead on the 500D Cordura knee pad pockets to take the brunt of the abrasion. The Para One Pant looks like it's no less complex to manufacture than the Crye Combat Pant, and the end result is just as impressive in its own, unique way.
Features - Here's a list of the features on the Para One Pant. Size M (European size 50), short is shown here:
Additional Notes and Observations - The Para One Pant is designed and manufactured in Italy, so it follows that it has more of a European fit than an American one. Typically, Euro cut pants are closer fitting than U.S. ones, but the Para One Pant is actually quite relaxed (when compared to European pants). However, I do feel that the rise should be made higher for the American market, for a higher waist, and more room added in the butt. This was the same sentiment echoed by many about the Crye Combat Pants, which were designed to fit with a minimum of excess material. Americans are used to a baggier fit, and would probably find them a tad snug around the butt and hips. The legs are perfect on me. As with the D.A. Combat Shirt and Spectre Shirt 1.2, the knee pads inserts are impressive for their light weight, comfort and effectiveness.
Overall, the attention to detail of these S.O.D. garments is apparent when the clothes are examined closely. There are little 'extras' all over. Pocket corners and flaps have angled corners, everything is double stitched, mini-bartacks everywhere, all components are closely colour-matched or compatible, and the HSC NYCO material is very soft, yet durable feeling.
As of this writing, the S.O.D. items are only available directly from Italy. The only drawback to buying them is the cost (on par with Crye's products). They're not cheap to produce, and international shipping costs are always a consideration. S.O.D. is currently working with TangoDown for U.S. distribution/retail, so it's going to be a lot easier for U.S. folks to get them. What you're getting is akin to the Ferrari of combat clothing with Italian tailoring, top-notch fabrics and craftsmanship, and unique camo patterns/colours with features not available elsewhere.
S.O.D. Gear Combat Line in CB62
9/14/10 - Most people are familiar with the two main Italian camouflage patterns currently in use at the time of this writing - Vegetato (woodland) and Desertico E.I., which is a desert variant of Vegetato. Featured here is some of the S.O.D. (Special Operation Department) Combat Line clothing in a less well-known pattern - Desertico CB62. S.O.D is an Italian manufacturer of military clothing that collaborates with and produces clothing and equipment that is used by Italian and allied military units in a variety of theatres.
The Italian Vegetato E.I. woodland and Desertico E.I. were introduced in 2004 and are the current issue patterns for the Italian Armed Forces. When Vegetato first came out, it was mistaken for a digital pattern from the earliest photos. It isn't a digital pattern, but includes small dots or blobs in the pattern which could have looked like small pixels from afar. The colours in the pattern are solid - there is no fading or blending from one colour to another. Vegetato and Desertico make use of both macro and micro patterns. The macro pattern incorporates larger areas of a particular colour to break up the outline from afar, instead of being uniformly distributed over a medium sized area. The micro pattern breaks up the outline of the individual fields of colour when seen up close (instead of having smooth lines of separation as in the old U.S. woodland or 3-colour desert camo patterns). The outline of each colour is broken up by a very small, jagged pattern made up of small blobs or dots instead of the square pixels of a digital pattern, but essentially achieves the same effect.
While Desertico E.I. was introduced as the official Armed Forces desert pattern, the Italian Air Force and Navy wanted something a bit different, and developed their own desert colour scheme. This became Desertico CB62.
Desertico CB62 - The pattern that resulted is referred to as Desertico CB62 in honour of the Italian Naval Special Warfare unit that first used it. A couple of years ago, all Italian Special Forces switched from Desertico E.I. to Desertico CB62 for their desert pattern of choice. Both E.I. and CB62 are four-colour patterns. E.I. has what appears (to me) to be a desert sand as the base, with khaki and tan, and a reddish brown (similar to AOR1). CB62 is more muted, with light sand or 'natural' as the base (it looks like white in the photos, but isn't), sand, khaki, and a chocolate brown that's a hair darker than flat dark earth. By the way, these are my own descriptions, not official colour designations - I have no idea what the FS 595 specs are. The khaki and dark earth are quite close in shade, so they provide a more subtle change in colour. The light sand colour is usually placed right next to the chocolate brown, which I assume is intended to provide the illusion of highlights and shadows in terrain. This combination of colours works very well in rocky, arid terrain. Also shown above is a side by side comparison between CB62 and Desert MARPAT photographed together at the same time. You can see that the individual blobs on CB62 are much smaller than the pixels in MARPAT and that they are quite different in shades, with desert MARPAT leaning towards the greyer tones for the base colours.
Combat Line in CB62 - Like the Combat Line garments reviewed above in the HCS colour, the items in CB62 share the same attention to detail. The 500D cordura reinforcements, velcro and zippers are printed in a matching camo pattern and even the slotted buttons are CB62 camo. Colour matching on the velcro and zippers are not an exact match for the colours on the fabric, as they have a slightly more reddish brown tinge (they look more like Desertico E.I.). Considering how difficult it is to colour match different materials, they still match better than solid colours would, and contribute to the overall effect of a continuous camo pattern. The CB62 items are made from the same 50/50 NYCO rip-stop as the HSC reviewed above, with the nylon made by Cordura combined with a top cotton fiber. The rip-stop grid is Cordura.
For all the details and features of the Combat Line apparel, please read the writeup above - the CB62 and HCS clothing are identical in features/function.
Notes and Observations
I wore the CB62 uniform out on an overnight desert trip and we took the photos below. The first set was just the uniform itself; wearing the Spectre Shirt 1.2, Para One Pant 1.2 and Boonie hat. The terrain was mostly as seen below - sand with small rocks and shrubs. Rock colour varied - some were lighter and some were more reddish. This environment happened to be a perfect match, coincidentally, for the CB62 pattern. I doubt we'd have found anything closer. I'd have liked to have tried it out in different terrain but didn't have a chance to do so. Anyway, as I was walking away from camp, as in the first photo, one of my buddies commented that he was chatting with another buddy, then turned to see what was going on, and when he looked in my direction, he didn't see me at first, but then realized that I was walking away because of my shadow on the ground. I had literally disappeared into the terrain - it was pretty amazing.
In this lighting, shadows were the biggest factor in giving away my position in the flat areas. This would be the same for any other camo pattern - it's unavoidable. You can see in the pics taken from further away that the macro pattern still works quite well to create the illusion of texture, without blending together into a solid blob.
The Spectre DA Combat Shirt has the same stretch torso as the HCS Spectre Combat Shirt, and is shown below with my old BH STRIKE recon rig (still one of my favourites for summer), misc EMDOM pouches (IAP, double M4/AK mag pouches, GPS pouch, baby shingle) in coyoteish. Attached to the back is the new Source hydration Diamond 3L Low Profile Armour Hydration system in coyote. It's a baffled reservoir with a carrier designed to interface with the USMC MTV, or just about any other armoured vest or rig. Against this particular environment however, the coyote colour stood out the most as it was too dark. In the photos, the CB62 melts away into the background while all the other items of equipment stand out a lot more. We had planned to take some pics against some rock formations but forgot to do so the next day as we were busy shooting, but the CB62 blended very well with darker, mottled rocks as well. As an optimized (vs. 'universal') pattern for the desert goes, CB62 is very effective in the arid, rocky environments that it was designed for, and continues to serve Italy's special forces units in the field.
S.O.D. Gear Combat Line in Hyde Definition PenCott
11/24/11 - S.O.D. (Special Operation Department) has teamed up with Hyde Definition to offer their existing range of clothing in PenCott camouflage. All three PenCott colourways will be available - GreenZone, Badlands and Sandstorm.
S.O.D. - As mentioned in the previous writeups above, S.O.D. has been making clothing since 1938, and designs and manufactures all their clothing in Italy. The quality and workmanship are some of the best I've seen in garments. The one drawback to S.O.D. gear are the hefty import taxes when purchasing from Italy, and bringing them into the U.S. There's hope, though, as U.S. based Four Spears is working on bringing the S.O.D. line to the U.S.
Hyde Definition - Hyde Definition is an English company founded by Dominic Hyde in 2008, and specializes in digital camouflage design. I visited Dominic's camo blog, and read how his childhood interest in camouflage grew into his hobby, then into his current business. I can relate to a certain extent, as we're about the same age, I also grew up in England as a boy, loved all things military and played with Action Man. While I didn't pursue that line of work, I still have an avid interest in camo patterns. Dominic's growing interest in camo design was augmented by his time spent in the British military as part of the Territorial Army (TA). He's also a member of the International Camouflage Uniform Society.
Besides designing camo patterns for clothing, Hyde Definition also offers consulting services for non military, site-specific visual signature mitigation requirements. One of their projects was to design a camouflage scheme to reduce the visual impact of domestic wind turbines. Over here in the U.S., we see similar attempts, like making cell phone towers look like trees (some more 'organic-looking' than others).
Base PenCott Pattern - The PenCott pattern is named after two influential WWII British camouflage experts; Sir Roland Penrose and Hugh B. Cott. Penrose was an artist who used art to trick the eye of the beholder using contrasting colours and disruptive shapes, whereas Cott was a zoologist and used a scientific, analytical process.
When developing their own pattern, Hyde Definition made a list of design goals, some of which were to:
- Conceal more effectively at those distances that conventional camouflage works best at
- Conceal at a longer distance than most other camouflage
- Conceal at a shorter distance than most other camouflage
- Conceal in a broader range of environmental backgrounds than most other camouflage
The PenCott pattern is a result of studies done from artistic, scientific and historical perspectives, and the analysis of hundreds of patterns and thousands of natural tones. HD calls the PenCott pattern a 'hybrid digital' camo pattern, which incorporates micro, midi and macro patterns for disruption at different distances. From their press release, PenCott's effectiveness is attributed to:
- Naturalistic textured micro-pattern for close quarter
Geometry - The smallest element of the PenCott pattern is basically a square 'pixel', or what looks like a little dot until you look closer an see that it's square, not round. They're much smaller than the pixel size used on MARPAT. The density of the pixels is varied to create the micro and midi patterns. Pixels are dithered in varying densities to create shapes of different sizes, and of different colours which are mixed into and set against one another, to give the illusion of several more colours (just as varying the concentration of black dots on a while sheet of paper creates all the shades of grey). The density of the dithering determines the 'concentration' of each particular colour. Some of the pixels are spread apart, and others are combined to make small, solid rectangular blocks. This creates a combination of blurred and sharp edges and shapes. In turn, the blocks are combined to make larger areas of colour. The dithered pixels are also combined with the blocks to create the illusion of 3D shapes. The illusion of depth is further created by the juxtaposition of high contrast shades with light tones (light and shadow). The shapes can be small, medium or large, which are then combined with 'empty' shapes of solid colour (with sparser dithering) to create the macro pattern. An extreme example of a 'macro' pattern would be to wear lighter coloured pants with a darker coloured jacket to break up the easily recognizable shape of the human figure in half.
A Family of Patterns - Rather than try to design a universal camouflage that works for different environments, HD stuck to the tried and true method of designing patterns and colours optimized for specific environments, to come up with their PenCott Multi-Environment Camouflage Pattern Family. The closest thing to a truly universal pattern is still Crye MultiCam (in my opinion), but Crye also concedes that if you have the luxury of an optimized pattern for a particular environment and don't expect a great change in terrain, that's hard to beat for concealment alone. While there is no truly universal camouflage that works well in all environments, there are still logistical and cost considerations to having patterns for each environment. This means that more uniforms and matching gear is needed.
The PenCott Multi-Environment Camouflage GreenZone (temperate/woodland) pattern has been available since February 2009, and this year, DH announced that their Desert and Transitional patterns went into production, called 'Sandstorm' and 'Badlands' respectively. 'Snowdrift', designed for snow-covered environments is in the works at the time of this writing.
The fabric is printed by Duro Industries, the same company that does all of Crye Precision's MultiCam fabrics, on Berry-compliant, mil-spec, NIR resistant 50-50 Nylon/Cotton ripstop fabric. 500D and 1000D Cordura nylon fabric, and commercial-grade 65/35 poly/cotton ripstop is also available. Check the HD website here for details and availability.
Each colourway consists of only four colours with no gradients, fading or blending of one colour into another. The pattern is also omni-directional, which means that it can be rotated 90° in any direction. The PenCott colourways all share the same base pattern, with the different colourways being achieved by changing the colours. This is illustrated below, where you can see the same geometric base pattern in the Badlands shirt and the Sandstorm shirt. When the area is overlaid, this shows how the base pattern remains the same while the colours have been changed.
PenCott GreenZone (woodland, not shown here) - During the development of the PenCott pattern, HD noted that traditional Western woodland camo patterns are too dark for any terrain other than dense woodland or forest, which in itself is easier to conceal a person in. Infantrymen needed their personal camouflage to be effective in more open ground or at roadsides, where there was a lack of effective concealment. The colours that make up GreenZone are: Stalk Grey, Shadow Brown, Grass Green and Hay Brown. It's designed for verdant environments; temperate grassland, forest and woodland; tropical forest and woodland; and boreal forest.
PenCott Sandstorm (desert) - Sandstorm is designed for barren arid environments: scrub-desert, rocky desert, desert, or dry season savannah. The colours that make up Sandstorm are: Pale Sand, Scorpion Brown, Fennec Tan and Khaki Grey. Sandstorm is shown below next to the Italian Desertico CB62 and USMC Desert MARPAT. CB62 is more muted than Sandstorm, and MARPAT is darker overall.
PenCott Badlands (Transitional) - The Badlands pattern is designed for the dry and semi-arid environments that account for approximately 1/3 of the earth's land mass, and the majority of the world's current armed conflicts. This includes environments like scrub-brush, dry mixed terrain, high plains, dry pine forests, off-season woodland or rocky, mountainous areas. Badlands works where a traditional desert pattern is too light and a woodland pattern is too dark. The colours that make up Badlands are: Pale Sand, Dark Earth, Scrub Green and Mushroom Brown. Badlands is shown below next to Crye MultiCam, and while the Badlands has less green in it, they're actually quite compatible with each other.
S.O.D. Gear Combat Line in PenCott Sandstorm and Badlands - The S.O.D. Gear Spectre Shirt 1.2 and Para One Pant 1.2 are reviewed above in detail, so please read the previous writeups for an in-depth description and list of all the features. Like the Combat Line garments reviewed above in the HCS and CB52 colours, the garments in HD PenCott share the same incredible attention to detail and quality. They also have a more 'athletic', 'tailored' fit (at least on me) than US BDUs, rather than being overly baggy. The main difference between the HD PenCott S.O.D. garments and the same ones in CB62 are:
- The elbow and knee reinforcements/pad pockets are
made from the same 50/50 NYCO ripstop material, not 500D Cordura.
Shown below are the S.O.D. Gear Spectre Shirt 1.2, Para One Pant 1.2, and Boonie hat in Hyde Definition Sandstorm PenCott camo pattern. Velcro fields are light sand coloured. The photo on the extreme right illustrates Sandstorm with Crye MultiCam gear. It's not a bad match.
Shown below are the S.O.D. Gear Spectre Shirt 1.2, Para One Pant 1.2, and Boonie hat in Hyde Definition Bandlands PenCott camo pattern. Velcro fields are OD-green colour. The same MultiCam gear is paired with the Bandlands top in the right photo, and from anywhere but the closest distance, blends together very well.
Operative Field Parka
S.O.D. Gear's Operative Field Parka is S.O.D.'s version of a combat smock. Like the rest of the Combat Line I've reviewed, it's chock full of features, with attention paid to the smallest of details. It's no wonder that the quality and workmanship is like a fine Italian suit, as all S.O.D. garments are designed and made in Italy. I do hope that when S.O.D. gear is made over here in the U.S., the quality can be duplicated. Shown here is the size Medium (the smock is slightly oversized for use as an outer garment over thermal layers). The Operative Field Parka has 15 pockets and is intended to carry equipment, emergency gear etc, while distributing the load over the torso.
Features - Here's a summary of the features of the S.O.D. Gear Operative Field Parka:
Since the S.O.D. Operative Field Parka is unlined and uninsulated, it's not as bulky as it might look visually, with all its pockets. At first glance, I thought that it'd be too bulky to wear under an armoured vest or plate carrier, but I was wrong. Since it's made of the same material as a BDU top, there's not too much more around the torso other than the thickness of the internal pockets, and the upper chest pockets. The upper chest pockets fold flat when compressed, and I'm easily able to wear a plate carrier or chest rig over the Parka. When worn with a plate carrier or chest rig, the only pockets I'm not able to access are the ones on the chest. All the lower pockets are at or below my waist level, and I have unrestricted access to the lower front, side and poachers pockets, as well as the sleeve ones.
The Operative Field Parka is not a heavyweight jacket; S.O.D. Gear describes it as a 'long utility BDU jacket'; adding a lot more load-carrying space without too much added bulk or warmth. While it's a bit warmer than the Spectre shirt, it's defintely nothing like the old USGI M-65 field jacket. For cold weather, the Parka will accommodate insulative mid-layers underneath, like the Arc'teryx Atom LT or 782 Gear Smokin' Sweater.
Notes and Observations
The 50/50 NYCO mil-spec fabric that the Sandstorm and Bandlands garments are made out of is the hardy-feeling stuff. It's not light weight, thin material, but quite stiff when brand new. I'd say that it takes about 3-4 launderings to 'break-in', and soften up a bit. The good news is that they don't feel like they'll wear out anytime soon. The colours will also fade slightly; just like any other brand-new camo garment, and lose some of the newly-dyed 'vibrancy'. This can be seen in the pictures below when I'm wearing the Badlands pants with the Operative Field Parka. I've washed the pants at least a half dozen times, and the Parka only once, and worn the pants much more often. The Parka's colours look more vibrant; especially the yellowish tinge, and the pants are slightly more muted.
As in my previous writeups on S.O.D. Gear, I'm impressed with the quality and workmanship of their Italian-made garments. The only drawback, for those who live in the U.S. are the import duties that customers have to pay, on top of the shipping. This surprised quite a few folk who ordered direct from Italy. Over the past year or so, TangoDown has been working with S.O.D. to set up U.S. based manufacturing, to make their designs more accessible. TangoDown has set up a company called Four Spears to head this effort up.
While I was unable to make it out to the desert this season to take some photos of Sandstorm in a desert environment, I was able to make a trip to the mountains/hills, which had some pretty varied terrain, ranging from high desert, to woodland, to brush and mountain. I had dragged my wife along on this trip as my photographer, along with my 4-year old son. So, they stayed in one spot while I moved around. This limited the angle from which the photos were taken in relation to the sun, because of terrain etc. As evidenced in other writeups, shadows are the biggest factor in identifying the human form out in the open. This would is the same for any other camo pattern - it's unavoidable. Even if the camo matches the terrain exactly, a shadow is hard to eliminate. I could have laid down flat, but decided to walk around or sit, without making too much of an effort to conceal myself behind anything.
I'd call the two types of terrain I wore Sandstorm in 'scrub desert' and 'dry grass/scrub hillside'. Here, Sandstorm was extremely effective. Without the shadows and exposed hands and face, I doubt that I'd be noticeable against the terrain. Laying my jacket on the ground was pointless - it couldn't be seen. If the sun were directly behind the photographer, with the shadow behind me, I'd be much harder to detect. Then again, in reality, you don't always have the luxury of being directly in line with the sun and the observer you're trying to conceal yourself from.
Up in the mountains, there was a wide variety of terrain, and a lot of vegetation; some dry, some still green, and some turning fall colours. The Badlands camo, with its scrub green and dark earth (the slightly yellowish tone) did better than I expected against the mixture of dry brown and green vegetation. I'd have liked to have camo patch covers for the velcro patches on the shoulders, but even so, they blended in decently with some of the sage colours in the background. One thing I also noticed was that while the boonie hat breaks up the rounded outline of the head, it casts a very noticeable shadow under the brim. It'd be more effective in areas with a lot of shadows and contrast, rather than exposed in the open against a light background.
I'll mention again that in these Badlands pics, my pants have been washed more times than the Operative Field Parka or Spectre shirt, which is why the colours are more muted on the pant. The pant is more representative of what Badlands will look like after some use. In the photo below on the left, Badlands actually worked well amongst dry leaves on the ground in the woods, which would be considered 'off season woodland'. The pictures in the more open area would probably be representative of dry scrub brush or high plains. Badlands was a bit dark against some of the lighter dry grass areas (made worse by the harsh lighting and shadows), which Sandstorm did very well against, but would be very effective in more rocky, darker terrain. We just didn't have an opportunity to gain access to that kind of terrain on this outing. As with the other photos, the shadows and lighting are the biggest factor in defining the human form; half my body is in shadow in some of the photos below. That's a MultiCam backpack I'm wearing in the pics.
There's no doubt that for almost every environment, there's a camo pattern that will blend in very well. The challenge is to increase the variety of environments that a particular pattern will be effective in, because unless you're sitting in one area, chances are that you'll encounter changing terrain if you're on the move. By creating a family of patterns to work well in the four major environments, Hyde Definition is off to a good start covering the bases with their PenCott camo.
Arc'teryx LEAF Talos Pant Patterned
(Note: username and password are both 'mm' to view full size images)
9/12/11 - The Talos Pant from the Arc'teryx LEAF line is the BDU fabric version of the Sphinx Pant . It's designed as a hot-climate combat pant made of no-melt, no-drip lightweight breathable fabric, with heavy-duty webbing knee reinforcement. Like the Sphinx pant, the Talos has articulated patterning and a loose cut for freedom of meovement, and a host of combat-ready features.
In Greek mythology, Talos was the bronze giant protecting Europa on the Island of Crete. I'm not sure how Arc'teryx comes up with the names for their products, but I find them a refreshing change from the normal tactical names. The Talos shares the same cut and most of the features as the Sphinx Pant, differing only by the use of no melt, no drip 50/50 Cotton/Cordura® nylon ripstop from Duro Industries instead of Gore-Tex or Tweave. It's the same fabric that the Crye Combat and Field uniforms are made of.
Here's a summary of the features on the Talos Pant Patterned (MultiCam) pant (size medium shown here:
Sizing, fit etc - The Arc'Teryx Talos pant fits just like the Sphinx pant - a bit more relaxed than the Alpha or Bravo pants. They fit similar to other 'tactical pants' on me; just a bit less baggy than BDU pants in the front and seat. The legs and cuffs are very roomy, though, especially the cuffs. The cuffs on the Talos, Gryphon and Sphinx pants are wider than normal at 10". By comparison, the cuffs on the Crye Combat Pants are narrower at 8.5". VERTX pants are 9". While the Gryphon and Sphinx pant cuffs were wider to fit over bulky boots, I'd have preferred that the Talo cuffs would have been made narrower. LEAF may tweak that down the road if the end users ask for it.
I'm 5' 7" with a short 29-30" inseam and 32" waist, and usually wear a medium/short in BDU pants. The Talos pants have a regular length inseam and are about an inch long on me. I'd love to see different lengths as options for Arc'teryx pants.
General notes and observations - While the Sphinx and Gryphon pants are designed with inclement/cold weather in mind, the Talos is suited for warm/hot climates. As I mentioned above, the Talos is made out of the same Crye MultiCam fabric as used on the Crye Combat and Field uniform, so folk that have them will be familiar with it.
Like the other Arc'teryx LEAF garments, quality and construction is outstanding, with the same tiny stitches and micro bartacks. The can be used them with or without the Arc'Teryx Knee Caps installed; inside or out. The advantage to wearing the Knee Cap inside the pant, rather than outside, is that I can keep the straps relatively loose without the caps sliding down the leg. While the knee caps make a big difference when taking a knee or spending time on your knees, the webbing reinforcements on the knees do provide more protection than regular BDUs.
I recently wore the Talos pants for a 2-day class in hot weather, and they performed well, as expected. They were very comfortable and unrestrictive in every position because of the ample leg room. The simple flaps on the thigh cargo pockets make it easy to shove stuff in them without dealing with a lot of velcro or buttons, and I used it as a dump pouch for light items. Since the flap is sewn down at the ends, the pockets are always semi-secured, even without the velcro. They're similar to the VERTX tactical pant pockets, which Arc'teryx designed as well, and I wish the VERTX pants had the small velcro patch to secure the flap a bit more. Like most of the other Arc'Teryx LEAF garments, the Talos Pants are not cheap, as they were designed with specific users' needs and missions in mind.
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