Insulated Soft Shells Page 1 2 3 4

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.


OTTE Gear Alpine Jacket

5/17/08 - This is something a lot of people have been waiting for (I, for one) - a MultiCam Soft Shell. It's been a couple of years since I saw the prototype at the 2006 SHOT show in OTTE Gear's booth, and it's finally available now. OTTE's Soft Shell line is called the Alpine line (their hard shell/Patrol Parka is in the writeup below). Featured here is OTTE Gear's Alpine Jacket, in Crye MultiCam. It's also available in Black, Coyote and Foliage Green. A matching softshell pant is also available.

Material - The OTTE Alpine Jacket is made of Tweave Durastretch fabric, which is a technical stretch woven with 91% nylon and 9% spandex for the shell/face material. It is a durable, abrasion resistant, water and wind resistant, low-bulk, breathable fabric with excellent stretch and recovery properties. The Multi-directional (4-way) permanent-stretch spandex has 100% memory for shape retention. It's laminated to a light lofting knit for some insulation. The moisture-wicking lining material is 90% polyester and 10% X-static fiber, which is a pure silver bonded to the surface of a textile fabric. The X-Static fiber is antimicrobial, which helps inhibit bacterial and fungal growth in the garment, reducing odor. It's also advertised to have excellent thermodynamic (temperature regulating) and moisture transfer properties that keep you "warm in winter and cool in summer" (not necessarily on the same garment, though). It eliminates static charges as well.

Editor's note 7-25-09: The Alpine Jacket with this fabric (X-static and nanosphere) is no longer in production, and the fabric has been swapped for a lighter weight stretch woven with DWR for the newer Alpine Jackets. It is not lined with X-Static fabric. I have not seen this material. Only the DK Jacket Heavy will be available in the Tweave with X-Static. Contact OTTE directly for details if you're unsure of what you're getting.

Here's a summary of the features on the Alpine Jacket soft shell, size medium shown:

  • Material - Besides MultiCam, the Alpine Jacket is also available in Black, Foliage and Coyote. I've had experience with Tweave Durastretch before, with the Arc'Teryx Bravo pants, and I like the material. The Arc'Teryx pants weren't lined like the Alpine jacket is, though. In the photo above, you can see the coyote-coloured lining material with thin grey bands (the X-Static fibers. It's a very comfortable material, and provides just a bit of insulation. The grey mesh is the side pocket material. The Durastretch fabric has a Schoeller NanoSphere DWR coating, which I found it to be very water resistant and slick to the touch, even though the fabric is textured. Water beads up on the surface and it doesn't wet out when soaked for long periods. The nanoparticles in the NanoSphere finish form a fine structure on the textile surface. Water or substances such as oil or ketchup simply run off the NanoSphere surface which is naturally self-cleaning, and any residue can easily be rinsed off with a little water. The NanoSphere coating has a high level of abrasion resistance, and the protective function is retained even with heavy-duty use. The jacket therefore requires less frequent washings at lower temperatures (wash resistance is up to 100 washings). No fabric softener or dryer sheets are to be used.
  • Climbing-inspired cut - The climbing inspired cut is relatively form fitting without having a lot of excess material. The tail of the jacket is slightly longer in the back than the front of the jacket.

Hood stowed, collar up

Hood stowed, collar open

Hood deployed, collar open

Side view

Rear, hood stowed

Rear, hood deployed
  • High-mobility stowable hood - The hood rolls up and stows inside the stand-up collar. Instead of a zipper, there are three small velcro patches to keep the compartment closed. I originally thought that it might not be very secure, but it has yet to open by accident yet. The hood has two adjustments instead of the three of the Patrol Parka. The size of the hood opening is adjusted with the shock cord loops at the front of the collar. The horizontal adjustment is located on the back of the hood - pulling the cord in the back pulls the opening rearwards for peripheral vision. The stretchy fabric allows the hood to move with the head. The product literature stated that the hood is helmet compatible - it's meant to be worn under a helmet as it's a compact hood, not over a helmet. If I wanted to name only one thing that needed improvement, it'd be OTTE's hood design (for both the Patrol Parka and Alpine Jacket). I know it's supposed to be a compact hood, but they do run a bit small and don't provide as much protection from the elements as some other designs. Just like I mentioned in the Patrol Parka writeup below, I think the addition of a rain bill or brim would be great for providing added protection against the rain for the face. Also, the face opening cannot be cinched up small enough to cover the chin and only leave an opening for the eyes.
    Another thing that I'd like to see redesigned is the hood opening shock cord adjustment. The hood is supposed to be tightened by pulling on the small pull tab on the exposed loop of shock cord, which exits and re-enters the hood through two grommets. The end of the shock cord is sewn inside the lower grommet. Pulling on the plastic pull tab results in trying to stretch the bottom, sewn-in part of the loop. I asked Todd at OTTE about this and he said that I could just cut the end of the shock cord and use it as a pull. So, that's what I did and it works much better. I added a little ITW toggle on the end for a better grip (see photo below on the right). I like the adjustment on OTTE's Patrol Parka hood below, that has a pull instead of a loop.

Side pockets

Hood views

Hood stowed

Inside collar/ hood details

Collar/ hood details

Modified hood adjustment on right
  • 2 deep side entry chest pockets - The side entry pockets are positioned higher up so that a pack's waist belt will not interfere with access. They're roomy, at 8" wide x 12" tall and lined with the grey mesh material. The zippers can be opened up to provide additional ventilation.
  • 2 upper sleeve pockets - These measure 6" tall x 6" wide, with bellows at the back. They're accessed through a front zipper; flight suit style.
  • Velcro patches on upper sleeve pockets - on each upper sleeve pocket is a 5" tall x 4" wide loop velcro patch for attachment of ID, or flag patches.
  • Double layer reinforced elbows - There's a patch of fabric on each elbow to provide some protection/padding, but they're located too far to the outside on the elbows. In the prone position, resting on my elbows, they're off the patches, which end up on the outside. They should be made larger, or rotated more to the inside to be effective. I've provided this feedback to OTTE already.
  • Velcro adjustable wrist cuffs - Same-fabric velcro tab and the cuffs are also elasticized so you don't have to loosen the tab everytime you slip the cuffs over your hands.
  • Bottom hem shock cords - The bottom hem can be adjusted one-handed, and are located at the sides.

Sleeve pocket details

Side entry pocket

Wrist cuffs

Bottom hem

Sizing, fit etc - Shown here is the Medium size, and as I mentioned before it's a very comfortable fit (on my build - 155 lbs, 5' 7") that's not too snug nor loose, and without excess material so it fits under rigs or body armour. The shape of the rear panels that are sewn together to make up the jacket are a bit unusual - instead of a single piece of material to form the back, or two with a horizontal seam, there's a middle panel and two side ones that follow the shape of the shoulder blades (and also make up the sleeves). I can't feel the seams under a pack or rig, so that's not a concern. The sleeves also have flat panels under the armpits, for comfort and mobility.
I really like the texture of this material; it has a slightly coarse texture which actually makes it quieter than some other tighter weave nylons. It has a lower pitched nylon 'swish' to it, is the best I can describe it; more like canvas. The texture also makes this jacket completely matte - there's no nylon 'sheen' or reflection whatsoever. The MultiCam pattern also looks very good with it, and all dyes are IR compliant.

General - The lining with X-Static feels very comfortable against bare skin and provides some insulation by relying on reflection of the body's heat back to it, rather than by trapping warm air like with a fleece layer. I also found it to be very breathable. Since it has less insulation than some fleece-lined softshells, it's comfortable up through the mid 70's, wearing just a t-shirt underneath for relaxed activities. The Alpine jacket was originally designed for movement-intensive operations in cool conditions but the comfort range will depend on the level of exertion and conditions.

Beyond Tactical Clothing

1/24/08 - For over a decade, Beyond Clothing (formerly separate sites - Beyond Fleece and Beyond Tactical) has been a supplier of high-end custom made cold-weather fleece and soft shells for the outdoor/mountaineering community. With the launch of their new website in May 2007 and a move from Oregon to Seattle, WA, Scott Jones and the Beyond crew now offer an entire line of custom cold weather clothing, from base layers to insulated and wet weather garments. They also integrated their Tactical line into the Beyond Clothing site.

Camber Layering System - In July 2007, Beyond was announced as the official manufacturer and supplier of the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) Custom PCU Cold Weather Layering System. This is based on the current PCU (Protective Combat Uniform) system, but integrated with Beyond's custom manufacturing and fit system, their garments and PCU-specific fabrics and materials. The Beyond PCU - Customization System (PCU-CS) includes 26 integrated garments and is officially available to those members of Special Operations Forces (SOF) who do not fit into the standard grades of the original PCU kit. For anyone who is not an SOF soldier, Beyond has developed the Camber Layering System, from which the garments here are featured. The Camber Layering System parallels and overlaps all the different levels in the PCU-CS. The PCU-CS served as the basis for the Camber, and the main difference between the two systems is that PCU-CS is restricted to govt-specified PCU-specific materials, whereas with the Camber system, Beyond is pretty much unrestricted in their fabric/material choices, being a commercial line.

Custom Fit System - What sets Beyond apart is their Custom Fit system. All garments are made to order through their website. Each garment has different options like colours, fabrics and features. You supply your measurements and pick the features you want, and Beyond will build the garment for you. What you get is a perfectly fitting garment with the options of your choice from their available menu for each garment.

It's important to provide accurate skin measurements and not to compensate for a snugger or baggier fit in your measurements. Your preference in fit can be specified and Beyond will adjust the fit of the garment accordingly. For example, if you want a more relaxed fit at the waist for those big dinners, provide your correct waist measurement then later specify you want a looser waist or an inch (or whatever) added, and they'll take care of it. It's not complicated, and Beyond's website walks you through the entire process with clear instructions. It's also helpful to get someone to help with some of the measurements.

Why bother with a custom fit? Well, some people don't fit into most off-the-shelf garments perfectly; one or two dimensions might be off at times. I'm lucky to be an average, medium size, and most off-the shelf garments fit me just fine. However, I have a shorter torso and jackets will sometimes end up being too long. I also have shorter legs, and wear medium-short. More often than not, I'll have to get the legs shortened. With Beyond's Custom Fit, you'll get a garment that fits you perfectly without having to get it altered and the wasted time and hassle. If for some reason the garment still doesn't fit right, Beyond has a 100% Right-fit guarrantee and will take it back and remedy it provided it's returned within 14 days of receiving it.

.Cold Fusion Shock Jacket with Attached Hood option (note that this is what the jacket was called at the time of this writing. This same jacket is now called the Cold Fusion Tactical Jacket, which didn't exist at the time of this writing, and some of the options have changed. The link has been updated to point to the Cold Fusion Tactical Jacket) - Beyond's main soft shell is the Shock Jacket. The Shock comes in three main models, differentiated by material. The Cold Fusion is Winter Weight Schoeller WB-400 w 3X dry. The Cold Play is Spring/Fall Weight Schoeller Dry Skin Extreme w 3X dry. The Steel is lightweight Schoeller Dynamic. Beyond explains all the different fabrics on this page.

Shown here is the Cold Fusion Shock Jacket in Desert Khaki with Attached Hood option. I prefer my soft shells to have hoods, as if I'm in need of some kind of weather resistance, I've found that I use a hood more often than not.

  • Material - As mentioned above, the Cold Fusion Shock is made of Schoeller 4-way stretch WB-400. A soft layer of fleece is laminated to a comfortable stretch outer creating 98% wind protection without a membrane. The winter weight fabric is warm enough for use in cold weather over layers, but breathable enough for use in spring. The DWR offered with Schoeller fabrics is called 3X Dry, and is designed to make the fabric water resistant, quick drying and comfortable when wet, by moving moisture against the skin to the outside of the fabric for evaporation. Like other DWRs, it will wear over time, from abrasion etc. It can be renewed with Nickwax sprays or wash-in treatments if necessary.
  • Two-way separating zipper - The main zipper has a storm flap behind it and can be opened from the top or bottom. All zippers have neat molded little plastic pulls that are easy to grab.
  • Gusseted arms and articulating elbows - Underarms are gusseted and elbows articulated for unrestricted range of motion and less excess material.


Collar open

Collar zipped up

Rear view

Hand pockets
  • Attached hood - I can honestly say that this hood is one of the most effective designs and shapes that I've used. It doesn't roll up or fold down flat, but when in use, it just fits right and provides excellent protection against rain. The brim extends far enough forward to be very effective and the hood moves with my head, instead of my head moving inside it. The hood has two adjustments for the face opening - one that goes around the opening, and another to pull the sides back for increased peripheral vision. The front drawstrings end up on the inside of the collar, which I found curious. Normally, the ends can be accessed with the collar fully zipped up. In this case, the collar must be opened to make adjustments. I question Scott about it, and he explained that many end users use the Camber Layering System in high wind conditions, or are in HAHO or HALO situations. Loose cords, plastic parts, etc will injure, or in the least annoy the user if left to flap about in high winds. For this reason, Beyond has tried to implement design policy that keeps all loose cording or other items perfectly contained at all times; thus the cording inside the collar. Note that it is possible to tighten the hood from the outside, only you have to use both hands (pull on the exposed cord with one while the other releases the cord lock). Beyond's waterproof breathable shells, to alleviate going 'inside' during a deluge, locates the cord on the inside of the water flap, yet on the outside of the main zipper. The Shock can also be had with zip-off hood or roll-up hood options. Personally, I like the hood attached and had never found it to get in the way.
  • Pit zips (optional) - Dual pulls on the pit zips allow you to position the opening anywhere along the zip. The opening is substantial - 15" long. I'm a huge fan of pit zips on soft shells, and I think they're essential to prevent overheating during aerobic activity. If the jacket is more for casual around-town use, then maybe you may not need them. Only the top pull has the molded plastic pull attached.


Side and rear views

Collar zipped up

Hood adjustment details

Pit zips

Underarm gusset and pit zip details
  • 2 Raised Hand pockets - The raised hand pockets are spacious at 16" high x 9" wide. They're positioned a bit higher to allows access to the pockets when wearing a pack waist belt. Inside each pocket is the end of the bottom hem shock cord adjustment. They're lined with tricot brushed mesh material.
  • 2 sleeve pockets (optional) - These neat pockets are 7" tall x 6" wide. When empty, they lay flat. There are two pleats sewn into the pocket to allow for expansion, and they work very well. They're much more streamlined than bellows pockets, with no leading or trailing edge to snag.
  • Embroidery - You have multiple choices in colour for the Beyond Hex logo, or you can choose not to have any at all. I chose the 'same as body colour' option for a subdued look.
  • Bottom hem elastic adjustment - The bottom hem has an elastic draw cord and can be cinched tight to keep wind out. The draw cord ends are routed into the bottom of the hand pockets, so you can tighten the bottom hem with your hands in the pocket. Loosening the draw cord must be performed at the cord lock at the hem. The rear of the jacket is cut lower than the front for added protection when bending over or squatting.
  • Die-cut velcro adjustable wrist cuffs - The cuffs are adjustable with the rubberized die-cut tabs. Under each tabs is a little loop of webbing. This is for attaching a loop of 550 cord or something similar to use as a thumb loop. This prevents the sleeve from riding up when the Shock is worn under a dry suit.

Embroidered logo (same as body colour)

Sleeve pocket

Sleeve pocket stuffed

Waist drawcord

Wrist cuffs

As expected, the Cold Fusion Shock jacket fits perfectly and just an extremely comfortable feel and fit. It's not snug, but just relaxed enough to layer over another garment without an excess of material. The sleeves have more room than some other soft shells, which some people prefer. We finally had some rain over the past month or so, which gave me a chance to try it out. Soft shells, as I've mentioned before, give up absolute water proofness in favour of breathability and comfort and the Schoeller WB-400 material used in the Cold Fusion is very breathable. Soft shells are meant for active use in cool or inclement weather where light insulation is needed at times of low activity, and venting/breathability is needed during exertion to prevent overheating. Soft shells usually depend on their fabric's quick-drying and wicking properties to keep the user comfortable even if he gets wet. A hard shell will be waterproof, but much less comfortable under strenuous activity if you perspire. I wore the Shock out in light drizzle/medium rain, and also in heavy rain. The DWR worked just fine under the light rain and water beaded on the jacket. I was both comfortable and dry. During a downpour, I decided to try it out, even though it wasn't really meant for heavy rain. As expected (and this is true for most other soft shells I've tried), prolonged exposure to heavy raindrops penetrated the DWR to the inner fleece on the top surfaces. I was, however, comfortable as any moisture inside the jacket was warmed by my body heat and the fleece lining kept it away from my skin for the most part. Static comfort level for the Cold Fusion (for me) was 65° and below. In chillier weather (mid 50's) it provides decent insulation when all zipped up and excellent ventilation during exertion with the pit zips wide open.

As I've always mentioned, soft shells are not 100% waterproof rain gear and should not be expected to perform as such. Another thing to note is that if you're going to get wet under the soft shell, wear a synthetic like the Base Line top, not cotton, or something that absorbs the moisture. A proper top will aid in keeping you warm and comfortable even if water makes it through the soft shell. U.S. Navy SOF have been using a similar Beyond jacket in the same fabric for the last four years as their Level 5, and has been their go-to jacket ever since its inception.

In summary, Beyond offers something no one else currently does - custom fit and semi-custom features on high performance and tactical wear with prices on par with off-the-shelf garments (depending on the number of additional options chosen above the base garment) and a quick turn-around time from when you order. Granted, you're limited to the options that Beyond offers for each garment, so you still may not get a completely custom garment with ALL the features you want. A fully custom garment would be prohibitively costly for most (any new or non-standard feature has to be R&D'd first, which requires time and effort). But, Beyond has considered their menu of options carefully and based them on more than a decade of experience, so the feature options they offer are very practical and should cover the majority of users' needs. They're also adding more options as time goes on, and certain requests become more popular. Another thing that I noted is the high quality of construction. These garments do not look custom (in other words, there are no wavy lines of stitching like some custom, hand-made, or even factory garments) - you can't tell until you put them on and feel the fit. They've got this custom thing down to a science, and it's pretty impressive.




TAD Gear Stealth Hoodie SS v3.0 and Stealth Jacket

2/9/08 - Triple Aught Design's (TAD Gear) Stealth Hoodie SS v3.0 and Stealth Jacket v3.0 are the next generation of their successful Gen 1 and 2 Stealth Hoodie Soft Shells covered here. The only difference between the Hoodie and the Jacket is that the Jacket lacks a hood, having a stand-up collar instead. With water resistance approaching that of a hard shell, but having the stretchiness and breathability of a soft shell, the new v3.0 Stealth Hoodie and Jacket end up somewhere in-between - a hybrid of sorts, further blurring the line between hard and soft shell.

Shark Skin Material - In comparison to the Gen/Version 1and 2 Stealth Hoodies, the first thing I noticed about the v3.0 was that the material was lighter and thinner. The v3.0 uses TAD's new "Shark Skin Soft shell" material, which is a 4-season, 3-layer laminate. Instead of the textured outer shell like the v2, the Shark Skin outer shell has a very fine weave. It's not as thick or stiff, but very soft and supple, and also stretches. The smoother weave also makes it slightly quieter. The DWR-treated outer shell is bonded to a waterproof-breathable membrane middle later, with a wicking Coolmax inner facing. TAD claims that this is one of the "toughest, most water-resistant and breathable soft shell fabrics available." I can't vouch for the toughness yet, but it really is VERY water-resistant and also seems to be quite breathable. It's also completely wind resistant. When I first handled the jacket, I was a bit surprised that the material was as lightweight as it is, and it wasn't 'heavier'. Typically, I've come to expect soft shells to be somewhat stretchy material with a low-loft fleece or brushed inner face to provide some insulation. So, when this lightweight jacket came, I was expecting something more 'substantial'. However, after wearing the v3.0 Hoodie and Jacket around for a while, I've come to appreciate the route that TAD took with this material. It all lies with what you want from a soft shell jacket - a jacket that provides some warmth and protection against rain and wind, or more of a layering shell over an insulated base layer. It's more convenient to have a jacket that does double duty, but layering allows more versatility over a wider range of temperatures. The v3.0 also compresses into approximately half the size the previous versions did.

TAD intended the v3.0 to be a 4-season soft shell that could also be worn in the summer during thundershowers, sprinkles or tropical areas of operation. Soft shells are not waterproof; they sacrifice absolute waterproofness for comfort and breathability. In heavy rain, it's not unusual for a soft shell to let some water through to the inner layer and get it damp. The more heavily insulated the jacket material is, the longer it takes to dry when wet through. A lighter shell will dry quicker, and also give the user a chance to change to a dry base layer.

Sharkskin fabric

Stealth Hoodie SS v3.0 - The only difference between the v3.0 Stealth Hoodie and Jacket is that the Hoodie has an attached hood, with TAD's familiar Aero design (more on the hood later). All other features are common to both the Hoodie and Jacket.


Pit zips

Stealth Jacket SS v3.0 - The Stealth Jacket is the hood less twin to the Hoodie, for those who don't feel the need for or like an attached hood. The stand-up collar is 3" tall at the front and 2.6" tall in the back. There's a chin guard behind the zipper in the front.


Rear pocket access

Here's a summary of the features on the Stealth Hoodie and Jacket SS v3.0. Unless otherwise mentioned, all of them are common to both jackets:

  • Material - 3 layer smooth face, quieter ALL-Season Shark Skin Soft Shell Fabric with a DWR treated, pique textured woven highly abrasion resistant outer shell, a waterproof-breathable membrane middle layer, and lighter weight wicking Coolmax inner facing. The Shark Skin material is available in TAD's M.E. Green, M.E. Brown (shown here, which is basically khaki), and Dark Field Grey. I did my normal water test on the fabric by lining a sink with the jacket and filling it up with water, and leaving it for a few hours. I saw absolutely no soak-through at all. A better test is rain, to see if the DWR or fabric can repel the positive pressure exerted by falling raindrops. We were lucky to have some very rainy weather lately with heavy rain, and I wore the Hoodie out for about 45 minutes in pelting rain. I was VERY impressed at the water resistance the Shark Skin fabric demonstrated. The DWR worked well to bead up the water, and no moisture made it through the middle membrane. If I didn't know better, I'd have thought this was a hard shell. Only a bit of moisture made it at the seams, which aren't sealed. By far, the best water resistance I've encountered in a 'soft shell' fabric. The inner Coolmax face also dried quickly. I'm not sure whether it's because the material is thinner (and the addition of pit zips), but I didn't notice any reduction in breathability from the added waterproof membrane. I have not yet felt stuffy in the Hoodie or Jacket. Granted, it's winter right now and the air is generally cold and dry.
    The Shark Skin material also has quite a bit of stretch in it, unlike a hard shell. In the photos above, there doesn't seem to be much extra room in the jacket. This can be quite deceiving. I was outdoors, wearing/carrying my 2-month old son in a Lascal baby carrier, which is a front-carry type. I was wearing my Stealth Hoodie v3.0 over it, keeping it open in front. It started to rain quite heavily, and worrying about my son, I zipped it up at the bottom. I was completely surprised to find that I could keep zipping it, until the zipper had reached the top. I was able to zip the Hoodie up completely closed over my baby carrier, completely enclosing and protecting my son from the rain! I would not have expected it to be able to stretch as much as it did. You can't do this with the Gen 1 and 2 Stealth Hoodies. I've snapped a couple of pics of me wearing my son with the Hoodie over it, just for illustration:

  • Cut - Articulate 4-panel body "Alpine Cut" construction for mobility and superior fit. "Extreme-reach" sleeve cut prevents creep when raising arms or in the prone position. I also think that the v3.0 Hoodie and Jacket are cut slightly looser than the previous versions to allow for layering. They're not as snug around the upper arms.
  • New corded, low profile AERO Hood (Hoodie only) - If I had to think of something to improve on the original AERO hood design, this would have been it. Elastic shock cords allow the hood face opening to be adjusted (loosened or tightened) with one hand. The brim protrudes outwards, providing good protection without coming too low to restrict vision. This is by far the best TAD AERO hood yet, and I'm glad they finally added the cords. Worn down with the collar zipped closed, the brim sits against the back of the head to seal in warmth.
  • Full venting pit zips - Yes! Another feature I wanted to see on the previous versions has been added to v3.0. While you can vent jackets by opening up the main front zipper, I'd rather have pit zips to allow additional airflow. I'm a big fan of them, even on soft shells and fleece jackets. In my opinion, they just increase the usable range of temperatures a garment is usable in. The new v3.0 has 12" pit zips.
  • Colour matched YKK zippers - All zippers match the material now - on previous versions black zippers were used no matter what colour the hoodie was. Some liked the contrast, some didn't.
  • 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 large 10" x 10" pocket, sort of like 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.

Jacket collar

Hoodie hood


Chest pocket

Rear 'duck pocket'
  • Upper sleeve velcro swatches - These were above the upper sleeve pockets on the previous versions and they've been moved down to the sleeve pocket. They 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 v3.0 has the same media pass through slots as the previous versions for headphone/cell phone cords. There's also a small loop on the inside of the left collar for wire retention.
  • Die cut Tuff Grip Velcro adjustable cuff tabs - The same die cut rubberized tab as on the Gen 2 hoodie is used, this time with colour-matched velcro instead of black
  • Reinforced elbows - New for v3.0 is the addition of an elbow reinforcing patch.
  • 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 patches

Upper sleeve pocket

Velcro tab on cuff, lower sleeve pocket

Reinforced elbow

Pit zip details

Waist adjustment

Soft shells on the market range from the single-layer PCU L5 shell, to the insulated SORD Hardface jacket. The v3.0 Stealth Hoodie SS and Jacket fall somewhere in between the two; more towards the lightweight side. The addition of a waterproof breathable membrane puts the v3.0 close to hard shell territory, except that the seams aren't sealed. The v3.0, however, is much quieter and less 'crinkly' than a hardshell - also more comfortable because of its breathability and stretch. As I mentioned before, I was fooled by the lightness of the Shark Skin fabric into thinking it was 'cheaper' and somehow less 'substantial'. How wrong I was. The more I wear the v3.0, the more I prefer it to the previous versions, which were also great jackets. The v3.0 just kicks the previous versions' asses in water-resistance while still remaining very comfortable with its stretchy fabric. It also retained heat better than I expected, for its thickness, when the pit zips and main zipper were closed. The Coolmax inner layer contributes a lot to its comfort - providing both light insulation and moisture transport/wicking away from the skin.

TAD designed the v3.0 as a 4-season shell, which can be used in warmer weather and climates as a stand-alone soft shell, or a highly water and wind resistant outer shell over an insulating layer in colder weather. They've done their job, from the looks of it. In my opinion, this is the best Stealth Hoodie version to date.












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