Insulated Soft Shells 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.
TO VIEW FULL SIZE IMAGES: USERNAME and PASSWORD are both "mm"
Military Clothing Systems
Over the past decade, we've finally been seeing the
military take notice and adopt some of the advanced technology/high
performance fabrics and clothing that civilian mountaineers and backpackers
have been using for quite a while. Lighter, more compressible, breathable,
quick drying and wicking fabrics now clothe the soldier, doing their
part to make a tough job a bit more efficient and a bit less uncomfortable.
Clothing the soldier presents a unique challenge as temperatures in
certain regions may range greatly over a 24 hour period, or missions
might start off at low altitudes and end up much higher. Soldiers
most often have to be self-sufficient, carrying everything in their
rucks and on their person, so light weight and clothing versatility
rank high in importance. Unlike most sporting events, the soldier
might have to wear the same clothing for days or weeks on end, and
subject them to abuse that civilian use won't.
Typically, there can be several different manufacturers/contractors making the same garments. Sometimes different manufacturers make different levels in the same program, and I hope to feature more of them here. I'm also learning that the item of the same name might vary by manufacturer with differences in materials and features. I was surprised to find this out, and expected the garments to be more standardized.
PCU Level 7 Loft Garments
- Level 7 is the warmest of the PCU clothes, meant for extreme conditions.
SEKRI's Level 7 Loft garments are fully insulated, water and wind
resistant, breathable and washable. The shell is constructed of the
same lightweight alpha green/grey EPIC® nylon
(called 'Praetorian', a 2.8oz fabric) by Nextec,
as the Orc Ind. Level 5 soft shell. Nextec uses their encapsulation
process to encapsulate the individual fibers of the fabric with silicone-based
polymers to provide all-weather protection without coatings or laminates.
Note that Epic® Nylon is water resistant, not 100% water
proof. For use in wet conditions, the Level 6 Wet weather
suit is recommended to be worn over the Level 7.
PCU Level 7 Loft Jacket - The SEKRI Loft jacket shown below is of a medium-length, hooded parka design. The front zipper is a YKK water resistant coil type with plastic splash guard. The removable zip-off hood is also fully insulated and quilted, with an elastic shock cord opening adjustment. It attaches behind the 3" tall collar. Both the jacket and hood are lined with soft, ripstop nylon material. On the front are two slanted slash pockets, with water-resistant zipper closures. The pocket openings are further protected by a flap to prevent water from dripping into them. The sleeves have elasticized cuffs. Inside the jacket are two large mesh pockets. The bottom of the jacket hem can be tightened around the hips with the elastic shock cord drawstring. The tops of the shoulders have Epic 'Glacier' (5.8 oz) non-swish material patches for abrasion resistance when wearing a pack.
PCU Level 7 Loft Pant
and Vest - The matching Level 7 Pant is also completely
constructed of Epic® Nylon with Primaloft Sport insulation. It
has a zipper fly and heavy duty snap waist. The waist is elasticized
but also has velcro tabs on each side for adjustment. The pants don't
have any pockets. The sides of the legs can be fully zipped open (actually,
completely unzipped at the top), for ease of donning or a bit of ventilation
if partially opened. The pant legs are pre-curved at the knee to better
match the anatomy of the leg and bend more easily. The bottom of the
pant leg cuffs are elasticized and have a velcro tab that protects
These garments are surprisingly easy to move in, despite their loft. I would have thought them to be more restrictive than they are. One minor nitpick (and it applies in general to most smooth nylon garments, not just these) is that they Epic® Nylon fabric is 'swishy' (might be because they're new) and might be of a concern to those who need stealth. The sound is most apparent when the inside of the thighs rub past each other when walking. On the shoulders of the jacket are two panels of Nextec® Glacier fabric that are different from the rest of the Epic® Nylon. It's a less 'swishy' sounding material. If SEKRI put a panel on the inside of each leg, from the crotch to the bottom of the knees, I believe this would really help in alleviating the noise. The 'swish' is a problem common to most smooth synthetic materials; that's why hunters wear silent fleece clothing when hunting.
Despite their 'loft', these garments compress quite nicely (one of the main features of the Primaloft® Sport insulation). I was quite surprised to find that I was able to stuff both the jacket with hood, and pant into the Kifaru back pouch shown below. The whole suit can be carried attached to the outside of your pack in a relatively compact package.
ARC'TERYX LEAF (Law Enforcement and Armed Forces) Products
Note that the product line is subject to change - some of the items below may be discontinued or changed from the time the review is written.
Vancouver, BC, Canada-based Arc'Teryx
is a well-known name in the outdoor world, producing the latest, high-end
outdoor clothing, gear and accessories. Up till only a few years ago,
military clothing technology has usually been a step behind what's
been available on the civilian market. It makes sense that leading
manufacturers of 'technical' outdoor clothing are entering the military
market but it's more complicated than just producing civilian clothing
in 'military' colours. The Arc'Teryx
LEAF (Law Enforcement and Armed Forces) Purchase Program makes
special versions of their product line available to military and LE
Bravo Jacket - The Bravo Jacket shown here in black (also comes in crocodile and foliage green), is a weather-resistant, lightly insulated soft shell. The Bravo Jacket is based on a commercial style, the Gamma SV Jacket with the addition of sleeve pockets and internal pockets to the LEAF version. The Gamma SV is the jacket that started the softshell revolution in the outdoor industry back in 1998. Thousands of these have been produced since, and it remains one of Arc'Teryx's best sellers. In combination with the Gamma Salopette, it was one of the original garments ever made with PowerShield®. Arc'teryx and Malden Mills worked together to commercialize this fabric. So the Bravo jacket really is still the original softshell, updated.
Constructed of Polartec® Power Shield ® and Tweave® Durastretch® ( pockets), the exterior of the fabric feels similar to the Bravo Pant, except that it is laminated to a thin insulating layer of fleece on the inside. A DWR finish provides water-resistance. Note that the DWR (water repellant treatment) will have to be 'renewed' after some time, just like Goretex, with a spray-on or wash-in treatment. As with the Bravo pant, the tight weave of the fabric is highly wind resistant, but not completely wind proof, as air can still be forced through. The Bravo jacket is designed to be worn alone, or with a light base layer. It combines the insulation of a light base layer with the protection of a soft-shell layer into one compact, quiet garment.
The brushed-lined 3" collar closes with a one-way
zipper. The rubberized front/felt-backed storm flap behind it is folded
over at the top to form a soft chin guard. The bottom hem of the jacket
can be tightened using the shock cord drawstring with pulls on each
Like the Bravo Pants above (an most other Arc'Teryx
designs, I'm finding out), it's a very streamlined design, with very
little to snag or get in the way. Much of that is due to the low profile
of the pockets. Even when full, there are no flaps or bellows to catch
on anything. The jacket shares the high 13-stitch per inch count as
the pants, conveying the same impression of quality and neatness.
ATTENTION! PLEASE DO NOT LINK DIRECTLY TO MY IMAGES -
IT RESULTS IN MY BANDWIDTH ALLOCATIONS BEING EXCEEDED,
AND MY PAGES GO DOWN. THANKS!
/ . PLEASE OBSERVE AND RESPECT OUR COPYRIGHT! . /
©opyright by MilitaryMorons.com. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction, Duplication, Distribution Strictly Prohibited.
Unless mentioned otherwise, content and images are the property of militarymorons.com and are not in the public domain.
They are not to be used without permission. Please Contact me for permission to use any images or content herein.