Non-Shell Jackets Page 1 2

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.


TAD Gear Merino Stealth Coat (discontinued)

3/7/08 - Triple Aught Design's (TAD Gear) new 'Green Label" (natural fibers) Stealth Coat is patterned similarly to their Ranger Fleece Hoodie and Stealth Hoodie soft shells shown above, but with a twist. Instead of being constructed out of synthetic fleece or the latest soft shell material, it's made out of 500 gram New Zealand Merino Melton wool. Similar in weight to the familiar Navy Pea Coat, TAD intended the Stealth Coat to be a modern take on the classic car coat or hunting jacket.

New Zealand Merino Melton - TAD Gear is introducing more styles and garments this year in merino wool because of the many benefits of this natural material. Wool is naturally fire resistant, breathable, durable, used in both hot and cold climates, odour and static resistant, and will keep you warm even when wet. Melton wool is a classic fabric typically used for winter jackets, coats and blankets. It's thick and tightly woven, with a heavily brushed nap with no warp and weft (weave) visible, like felt. The 500 gram 19 micron Merino Melton is very dense, and currently available only in TAD's D.F. (Dark Field) Grey. The Stealth Coat is actually a medium-dark grey, whereas the D.F. Ranger Hoodie is pretty much black. As I've mentioned in previous reviews of wool garments, I have very sensiitve skin and fall in the small percentage of people that can find even Merino wool scratchy. However, this is not the case with the Stealth Coat - I don't find it itchy or irritating on my bare skin at all, which is a relief as it's a nice coat. A micron count for the individual wool fiber thickness is typically required to be under 19.5 micron for it to be itch free. TAD's is 19, which puts it in the middle of the industry classification for 'fine' Merino of 18.6-19.5.

Sizing - Usually I deal with sizing at the end, but wanted to make sure people see this before ordering. Somehow, the run of Stealth Coats ended up with the wrong tags, and are labeled one size down. The Stealth Coat is cut generously for wear over thick winter layers, and I'd say it's about one and a half sizes larger than marked, if used as a stand-alone jacket with thin layers underneath. I'm usually a size 'Medium', as are my Ranger and Stealth Hoodies. The coat I'm wearing here is labeled 'Small'. Even so, it's still roomier than the Ranger Hoodie. One of the reasons for the more generous cut is that the Melton wool has practically no stretch to it. This is noticeable in the wrist cuffs, as they're cut long enough to cover the hands when the thumbholes are used, but not elastic enough to be retained at the wrist. I'd have preferred velcro adjustment tabs to keep them at my wrists, but found that the issue was easily solved by folding the cuffs back once. So, make sure you order one size smaller than you normally do, at least. More about sizing further down.

Coat with thumbholes in use

Cuffs rolled up once

Hi-rise chest pockets

At first glance, the Stealth Coat is easily dismissed as a clone of the Ranger Hoodie, made in wool instead of fleece. However, closer examination of the details reveals that it also shares elements with the Stealth Hoodie, and even so, not quite exaclty. So, it's actually a blend of both jackets with some features unique to itself.

Hood up

Rear duck pocket

The summary of features on the Stealth Coat is as follows:

  • Material - 500 gram, 19 Micron New Zealand Merino Melton Wool, cold weather weight.
  • Cut - Similar to the Ranger Hoodie and Stealth jackets, but more generous for layering over thicker insulation.
  • New corded, low profile AERO Hood - The Stealth Coat hood is similar to the Stealh Hoodie's, but not quite the same. It's got elastic shock cord (which the Ranger Hoodie doesn't) which allows the hood face opening to be adjusted (loosened or tightened) with one hand. The brim is not as abrupt and as extended as on the Stealth or Ranger Hoodies, having a smoother transition instead of being a distinctly separate feature. It's also fully lined with mesh fabric. The shock cord adjustment is also slightly different, but works the same way. Worn down with the collar zipped closed, the brim sits against the back of the head to seal in warmth.
  • YKK covert zippers - Matte Black zippers and corded zipper pulls.
  • Hi-rise large main chest pockets - Designed for LBE and pack waist belt clearance. There are two additional 'stash pockets' inside. A larger mesh one that fits PDA, cell phones etc, and a smaller one for slim flashlights or pens. I like putting my sunglass case or phone in the larger one to keep them separate from the other contents of the pockets.
  • Rear dual-entry 'Duck pocket' - This is a larger than the 10" x 10" pocket on the Stealth Hoodie, and is rectangular instead of slightly tapered. It measures 13" across and 9" tall. It's a 'poachers pouch' 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.

    Hood closeup

    Mesh lining

    Hood adjustments

    Chest pocket interior
    • Upper sleeve velcro swatches - These are located on the sleeve pockets and measure 4" x 4".
    • Upper sleeve pockets - The upper sleeve pockets measure about 7" tall x 6.5" wide.
    • D-ring keepers in pockets - The upper sleeve pockets and chest pockets all have plastic D-ring keepers sewn to elastic at the back of the pocket, for dummy cording critical items from loss.
    • Media Pass-through slots in pockets - The Stealth Coat has the same media pass through slots as the other TAD jackets for headphone/cell phone cords. There's also the small loop on the inside of the left collar for wire retention.
    • Thumbhole Cuffs - The cuffs are of the Ranger Hoodie 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. Because the Melton wool is not stretchy, the cuffs are a bit loose and cover my hands. 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. As I mentioned above, turning back the cuff once solves that issue.
    • Reinforced elbows - Double-layer elbows via a reinforcing patch. Cushion most of the forearm as well.
    • Bias cut bottom hem with cord locked draw cord - The back of the jacket is cut longer in the back and there are elastic draw cord locks on both sides to seal out the wind.

    Upper sleeve pocket

    Rear duck pocket

    Inside of coat back showing Duck pocket

    Reinforced elbow

    Compared to the fleece Ranger Hoodie, the Stealth Coat definitely has a more 'urban' than 'outdoors/military' look to it, because of the way the Melton wool drapes. It tends to have straighter lines, for a smarter look. The Stealth Coat is a slightly heavier jacket, but a little less warm than the Ranger as it has less loft due to the denser material. However, due the the breathability of the wool fibers themselves, you're less likely to get stuffy when you sweat than with a synthetic fleece top (synthetic fibers do not soak up moisture - they wick it away. Wool fibers actually absorb moisture).

    Now, the care label on the Stealth Coat says 'dry clean only'. I usually shy away from high-maintenance clothing. If it's meant to be worn outdoors, sweated in and expected to get dirty, 'dry clean' only doesn't work for me. I decided to be the guinea pig and see what would happen if I machine washed and dried the Stealth Coat. Now, wool is notorious for shrinking when exposed to the combination of wet, heat and agitation. I decided not to try the warm/cold wash cycle, but to just use the cold cycle, mainly to get it soaking wet. I also chose the 'gentle/delicate' cycle. Note that I have a front loading machine, not a top loader/agitator. I would not recommend using an agitation washing machine for this. After the cycle, I checked it out, saw no visible damage or change, and threw it in the dryer with a fabric softener sheet on 'medium' heat. I let it go for about 20 mins, and checked on it again. It didn't seem to shrink at all, and still looked fine. I cranked it to the 'high heat/cotton' setting and let it run for another 20 mins. When it was dry, I took it out and checked it over. The result - I'd estimate about 5% shrinkage with no bunching or damage to the fabric or components. I put it on and it doesn't fit as baggy anymore, and fit me better than before. The sleeves and wrist cuffs are a bit snugger and maybe 0.5" shorter than they were. Note that all the photos above were taken before I washed and dried the coat. I don't think you'd notice the difference in photos, but I can feel it in the fit.
    Like all wool garments after a wash, it's barely noticeably more 'fuzzy' than when brand new. Another side benefit is that it's also softer and even more comfortable than before. So there you have it, it's possible to machine wash and dry the Stealth Coat, and shrink it a little without damage (at least using the same settings and machine that I used).
    i'm not recommending you do the same thing I did (and neither does TAD) and ignore the manufacturer's care label - this is just FYI and you're on your own. Use your own judgement. Don't come blamin' me if you accidentally put yours in the hot/cold cycle in a top-loading machine and end up with a GI Joe-sized mini-coat. That being said, I'm glad I did it and will repeat what I did the next time it needs washing.

    So, if you're looking for something along the lines of the Ranger Hoodie, but prefer TAD's 'Green Label' line of natural fibers, the Stealth Coat offers an option. With its urban cut and colour, and the 'classier' look and drape of Merino Melton Wool, you'll get a coat that doesn't look out of place downtown, but also has the typical TAD technical features and extras that make it a practical piece in the outdoors. Just make sure you understand the sizing before you order.





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