Pants (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.
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Arc'Teryx LEAF Sphinx and Gryphon Pants
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1/23/11 - Two of the latest offerings from the Arc'teryx LEAF line are the Sphinx Pant and the Gryphon Pant . Both use a combination of different fabrics, anatomical patterning, and a host of integrated features to offer outstanding versatility across a broad range of weather conditions. I would normally do completely separate writeups for each pair of pants, but it made more sense to compare them to each other at the same time so the differences (some of them subtle) and shared features could be better pointed out. In a nutshell, both are combat pants designed for inclement weather use, with the Gryphon having an edge in water-resistance, and the Sphinx in breathability.
The Sphinx pant is a durable, breathable, wind and weather-resistant combat pant intended for comfort and mobility under inclement conditions. The Sphinx features mechanical-stretch textiles and anatomic patterning, integrated knee pad pockets, reinforced knees and integrated gaiters. Like the Sphinx Halfshell, it utilizes a combination of materials to provide protection in the more exposed areas and more breathability in the less exposed areas.
Material - The Sphinx Pant utilizes two weights of soft shell fabric in its construction (Crocodile shown here):
Tweave® Durastretch 520e for the majority of the pant - 520e is a technical, 4-way stretch woven with 91% nylon and 9% lycra spandex. Durastretch 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. The Tweave Duratretch 520e used for the Sphinx is not laminated to a lining fabric - it is a single layer material. It is designed as a breathable shell material for wind and moisture resistance rather than an insulating material. This means that it can be used in warmer temperatures, and is very packable. It is treated with a DWR (durable water repellant). This is the same fabric used for the Arc'teryx Combat jacket and pants. Note that the DWR (water repellant treatment) will have to be 'renewed' after some time, with a spray-on or wash-in treatment. I prefer the spray-on treatments.
Tweave® Durastretch LT 536n used internally for the pockets, seat lining, gaiters and knee pad pockets - This material is lighter and stretchier than the 520e for freedom of movement, and is actually the same fabric as the LT 520e (lighter weight version of 520e) used on the yoke, shoulders and sleeves of the Chimera Shirt LS. It was just named differently due to a marketing inconsistency. It is a technical 4-way stretch woven with 84% nylon and 16% lycra spandex. 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.
Like the Gryphon half shell, the Gryphon pants are a combination of hardshell and breathable softshell fabrics that offer versatility across a broad range of weather conditions. Waterproof Gore-Tex is used in high-wear areas like the thighs, knees, shins, seat and cuffs, and 4-way stretch Tweave is used in less exposed areas like the back of the legs and crotch gusset. The use of Gore-Tex gives the Gryphon an edge over the Sphinx in water-resistance.
MI270 Gore-Tex® XCR® for the main pant construction - XCR is a 3 layer fabric with great tear strength and abrasion resistance with a DWR finish for water repellency. It is also the fabric used for the Gryphon Halfshell, Alpha Jacket and Alpha bib, and is engineered to excel in extended/extreme conditions while being tough, breathable, waterproof and wind proof. Gore-Tex® XCR® has 25% less resistance to moisture vapour transmission than Classic Gore-Tex which means that you stay drier inside. The fabric has a DWR finish for water repellency. Note that the DWR (water repellant treatment) will have to be 'renewed' after some time, with a spray-on or wash-in treatment. I prefer the spray-on treatments. The Gore-Tex is used on the more exposed areas of the Gryphon pant; subject to the most moisture.
Tweave® Durastretch 520e for the waist, upper butt, side cargo and calf pockets, back of the legs and crotch gusset - See Sphinx description for fabric details. The Tweave panels are used in the less exposed areas, and offer more stretch and breathability than the Gore-Tex panels.
Tweave® Durastretch LT 536n for the pocket liners, gaiters and knee pad pocket - See Sphinx description for fabric details. It is only used internally in the Gryphon. It's a lightweight but strong fabric, and is perfect for the pockets.
Here's a summary of the features on the Gryphon half shell pant (size medium shown here in crocodile):
Sizing, fit etc - Arc'Teryx pants usually fit a bit tight in the waist for me, like the Alpha and Bravo pants, but the Sphinx and Gryphon are a bit more relaxed. I believe that both the Sphinx and Gryphon have the same fit and cut as they both fit me just the same; although they're made up of differently shaped panels. There might be a slight bit of difference in the butt, though. Arc'Teryx pants (especially the hardshells) always seem to look a bit funny in the seat on me, as theyo have a bit more material there to facilitate squatting and moving. This seems to be true with the Gryphon, with the hardshell-covered seat. It looks a tad bit roomier on me than the Sphinx, since the Sphinx's seat is made of stretch fabric. Functionally, both are unrestrictive and comfortable.
I'm 5' 7" with a short 30" inseam and 32" waist, and the medium pants fit me just fine. They're regular length, with a 30-1/2" inseam. A little extra length is not a bad thing for wet weather pants. The cuffs on all the Arc'Teryx pants are normally a bit wider than BDU pants, and the cuffs for both the Sphinx and Gryphon measure 10". This is because they're designed to fit over any boots; including plastic mountaineering and ski boots.
General notes and observations - For the Sphinx and Gryphon garment design criteria, the Arc'Teryx LEAF team was given a worst case scenario of a helo or HAHO insert followed by 10-15k movement to target in mountainous terrain, in a winter storm; followed by CQB and 5-15k movement to a LZ for extraction, all in a single period of darkness. To accomplish this, the users needed to wear a full CQB load out plus full mountaineering kit; hence the feature set.
Quality and construction is typical Arc'Teryx; outstanding. Same tiny stitches and micro bartacks as seen on the Alpha garments. The Tweave 520e fabric is more durable than I initially thought, after using it on various Arc'Teryx garments. Its stretch qualities let it 'give' some when snagged or rubbed, so that it's less likely to tear. I wore the Sphinx pant out on a desert trip in the 50's and low 60's, scrambling over rocks, running around and shooting from various positions (prone, kneeling etc) to see how they felt. I used them with and without the Arc'Teryx Knee Caps installed. I like the fact that the knee caps are inside the pant, rather than outside, as I can keep the straps relatively loose without the caps sliding down. The soft layer of Tweave LT536n between the inside of the knee cap and your knee keeps it comfortable. The knee caps make a big difference when kneeling, but the webbing on the knees without the knee caps installed isn't too bad either. The brief drizzle out in the desert that day wasn't enough to dampen the pants.
I didn't get the chance to wear the Gryphon out in the 'field' as it arrived a couple of weeks after I went out with the Sphinx. At the first opportunity, I will. However, we had some uncharacteristically heavy rains this winter, so it took the opportunity to wear both the Sphinx and Gryphon pants out in the wet whenever I could. Like the Gryphon top, the Gore-Tex panels provide better water resistance than the Tweave 520e, so the Gryphon will keep you dry longer under the same conditions. As neither are water proof, but water resistant, and without taped seams, the Gryphon and Sphinx pants will get wet in some areas eventually, and that will depend on how heavy the rain is, and the duration spent in the wet. During the heavy rains, I was dealing with some roof and wall leaks in my house and spent a lot of time outside trying to find the sources and manage the water while it was raining. The Gryphon performed very well - I was in heavy rain, climbing up and down a ladder (not on the roof - just on the side of the house), wearing an Alpha LT jacket over the Atom LT jacket as it was chilly (in the low 40s), and my legs stayed dry. The shell fabric did eventually 'wet out' in a couple of areas after more than half an hour but I didn't detect any dampness on the inside. When I came back inside the house, the pants dried very quickly. The Sphinx also performed well in the rain, shedding most of it. I did feel a bit of dampness in the cargo pocket area after being out in the rain for a while but it wasn't uncomfortable. If I were to wear either pant in colder weather, I'd probably wear a very light wicking base layer underneath for additional warmth and comfort if condensation inside the pants make them feel clammy to the skin. If more rain protection is needed, there's always the Alpha pant or bib.
The calves on the Gryphon are Gore-Tex, they do have a nylon 'swish' sound when I walk. I asked a friend about whether nylon 'swish' is a concern under combat conditions, and he said 'not really', since the it'd be used under rainy/bad weather conditions and if you're that close to the enemy to hear that, you've got other things to worry about. The Tweave calves on the Sphinx pants are quieter. As far as breathability goes, the Sphinx should be more breathable than the Gryphon, but honestly I didn't notice a difference when I wore them; they were both comfortable under all the conditions I wore them (temps ranged from the 40s to the 60s). Like most of the other Arc'Teryx LEAF garments, the Sphinx and Gryphon pants aren't cheap, but that's not surprising when it comes to specialized equipment tailored to certain users' needs and missions.
Arc'Teryx LEAF Atom LT Pant
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4/5/12 - The Atom LT Pant from the LEAF (Law Enforcement and Armed Forces) division of Arc'Teryx is the companion pant to the Atom LT Jacket. It's an insulated, light weight, water and wind-resistant pant that's ideal as an over-layer for colder conditions and low activity.
I've been using the Atom LT jacket for two years straight, at the time of this writing, and it's become an essential part of my wardrobe - the 'must have' snivel gear item. It provides both water and wind resistance that fleece garments don't, while being much easier to compress. The same is true for the Atom LT pant shown here; the matching bottom to the Atom LT jacket.
Material - The Atom LT pant is made of the same lightweight fabric as the Atom LT jacket. The matte outer shell is made of super light Luminaria nylon weave which is thin yet durable, and treated with a DWR finish for water resistance. The smooth and silky inside liner is also made of Luminaria. The Atom LT pant is available in Crocodile (shown here) or Black. The Arc'teryx subdued Bird logo is screened on the right thigh. Ripstop nylon is used in areas like the storm flaps and cuff tabs.
The Atom LT pant is insulated with the same 60g/m2 Coreloft used in the Atom LT jacket, which has a high warmth to weight ratio and rebounds quickly after compression. It is made up of two sizes of polyester fiber - the large fiber provides resilience and the small fiber provides air pockets for thermal efficiency. It has high loft in its normal state yet compresses down easily.
Here's a summary of the features on the Atom LT Pant (medium in crocodile shown here):
Sizing, fit etc - The Atom LT pant is sized to be worn over BDUs as an outer shell, so it's sized accordingly; not snug nor baggy. It's loose enough such that it doesn't restrict movement, but without having much excess space or material. The Atom LT pant can also be worn alone (if you choose to).
I'm 5' 7" with a short 30" inseam and 32" waist, and the medium pants are a good fit on me. With elastic waists, it's sometimes hit or miss as they're sometimes too tight or loose. But with the Atom LT pants, the elastic waist is just right (for me).
General notes and observations - Just like with the Atom LT jacket, my first impression of the Atom LT pant is how light it is for an insulated 'puff-type' garment. Like the Atom LT jacket, the outer shell is completely matte.
As expected, the Atom LT pant performs just like the jacket when I tested the water resistance of the shell fabric. Water beads up and runs off, after a couple of months of daily use. The inner fabric has a silky smooth finish and is very comfortable. The shell material is also very wind resistant. These past couple of months were a good opportunity to utilize the Atom LT pant's water and wind resistant properties, as I was 'forced' to ride my motorcycle to work (until it got totaled in an accident in mid March). My car was out of commission, being worked on by a friend (who's taking much longer than originally planned), so I had no choice. Back in October, my pre-dawn commute to work in the chilly air had been made bearable by wearing the Arc'teryx Wraith pants over my regular pants. However, as the weather got colder I was glad to have the Atom LT pant to wear over my pants instead. Rather than make it just 'bearable', the Atom LT pant made it comfortable. With the Atom LT jacket under my leather motorcycle jacket, and a neck gaiter, I felt insulated against the cold wind and morning air. I got caught a few times in the rain, and the Atom LT pants kept me dry. I can see how these garments can be life-savers for those who are exposed to the elements out in the field.
The full side opening zippers make donning and doffing easy. There's one thing I wish the Atom LT pants had incorporated - side zippers like on the Wraith pants that allow you to access your pant pockets, or to use as vents. Since the Atom LT zippers open from the bottom, they cannot be partially opened at the top for venting if needed. I suppose that they could be opened at the bottom, but I don't think that's as practical. The snap button cuff closure and elastic draw cord keeps the pant cuff secured around my boot ankles, and the wind out. The elastic draw cords are a bit long, so I roll them into a coil to keep them from popping out the bottom of the cuff.
When I saw that the internal pocket was designed to be used as a stuff sack; I thought to myself 'no way it'll fit in there', but it did; much like the Atom LT and AF jackets. They really compress down well, and the combination of Atom LT jacket and pant don't take up much space in a pack. Less space than fleece garments of equivalent warmth.
With the Atom series, I think that Arc'teryx has almost made my fleece mid layers obsolete. For warmth, the Atom LT jacket and pants are as warm as mid-weight fleece garments, but are wind and water resistant. I no longer need a wind shirt to repel wind and water over fleece garments, as the Atom LT garments do both. I'd also go as far to say that I'd pick the Atom LT jacket and pants over a poncho liner.
S.O.D. Gear Stealth Pant ADP
1/20/12 - The Stealth Pant ADP from S.O.D. Gear is a water-resistant softshell pant designed in collaboration with the Italian Army's Mountain Corps (4th RGT Alpini Paracadutisti). It's not just a softshell fabric version of S.O.D.'s Para One Combat pant, but a completely different design; optimized for climbing and compatability with climbing harnesses, with a streamlined fit.
S.O.D. - As mentioned in my previous writeups (repeated here for those haven't already read them), S.O.D. Gear 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 - they're like Italian-made suits. The one drawback to S.O.D. gear are the hefty import taxes when purchasing from Italy, and bringing them into the U.S. This should change soon, though, as U.S. based Four Spears is working on bringing the S.O.D. line to the U.S.
HCS (Hybrid Coyote Sage) - The Stealth Pants featured here are in HCS-coloured fabric They're also available in black. HSC (Hybrid Coyote Sage) is exclusive to S.O.D., 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 - see my original writeup on the S.O.D. Combat Line in HCS. HCS is also suitable for LE as it doesn't look as 'military' as a camo pattern. S.O.D. offers most (not all) of their products in quite a few different colours, including Crye MultiCam, Hyde Definition PenCott, and the desert and woodland versions of Italian Vegetato.
Material - The material used for the Stealth ADP Pant is Dynamic from Schoeller® in Switzerland. It's very similar in look and feel to Tweave Durastretch, with its matte, slightly textured finish. It's uninsulated and does not have a lining or backing. It's a durable, hard-wearing, breathable, water repellent stretch fabric.
3XDry® - Another Schoeller® technology, 3XDry® is a moisture management treatment that makes textiles water and stain repellant on the outside and water absorbant on the inside. The outside of the textile is finished with a water repellant treatment (hydrophobic), and the inside of the textile has a hydrophilic finish to absorb perspiration. Garments finished with 3XDry® keep the body drier and more comfortable by absorbing perspiration from the inner side of the textile and transporting it away from the body to the outside, where it's distributed over a large surface area to dry faster. Both the face fabric and tricot backing on the Stealth LT are treated with 3XDry®, which creates a system that repels water, dirt and stains on the surface while absorbing moisture and perspiration on the inside. The treatment does not affect the appearance, hand or air permeability features of the fabric.
coldblack® - Yet another Schoeller technology, coldblack is a new textile technology which was launched in summer 2008 by Schoeller and Clariant International AG. Clariant is a global leader in the field of specialty chemicals. Schoeller is responsible for the sales, marketing, branding and patenting of coldblack; while Clariant is responsible for the sale of chemicals, technical support and quality control for the coldblack finish.
coldblack® is a proprietary chemical finish for textiles that are exposed to direct sunlight over a long period of time. It is fully wash resistant and will not wash out. coldblack® prevents textiles from heating up as much and offers protection against UV rays. In other words, coldblack® is a sun reflector+ UV protector. In general, dark coloured textiles absorb both visible and UV rays of sunlight, heating up more than light coloured textiles, that reflect both light and heat. coldblack® reduces absorption of heat rays, particularly in darker colours, and in all treated textiles, resulting in better heat management.
Black textiles can absorb up to 90% of the heat rays when exposed to direct sunlight, and heat up accordingly. When treated with coldblack®, textiles reflect up to 80% of the heat rays and stay noticeably cooler. Test performed in the lab showed that a black coldblack® shirt stayed approximately 9° F cooler than a non-treated shirt when exposed to simulated sunlight. Tests also showed that users sweated half as much when wearing a black shirt with coldblack® technology vs. a conventional black shirt during activity. Besides garments, coldblack® technology has been applied to automotive seat covers, sun shade/awnings, and tents, keeping those items cooler when exposed to direct sunlight.
The Stealth LT face fabric is dyed in a process that incorporates the coldblack® treatment, which reduces overheating of fabric in the sun. It not only helps keep the wearer cooler by reflecting UV rays, it also prevents the garment from fading due to sun exposure.
Features - Here are the features of the Stealth Pant ADP (size Medium/short shown):
Observations/Notes - As mentioned in previous writeups, S.O.D.'s Para One Pant is designed and manufactured in Italy, and has a less baggy fit than US BDUs - more like Crye's Combat Pants. The Stealth Pant ADP has an ergonomic cut similar to the Para One Pant, but fits slightly more closely. This was done on purpose to streamline the pant and eliminate excess material that could be uncomfortable under a climbing harness or get in the way when climbing. If you look at the photos of me wearing them, they're neither snug nor loose; they just don't have a lot of excess space. Because the Schoeller fabric is very stretchy, the pant remains completely unrestrictive in any position - even more so than looser fitting pants made of non-stretch material. Let's just say that the Stealth Pant has more range of motion and stretch than I do. The rise is also higher than on the Para One Pant. I really like the fit of the Stealth pant, especially the slimmer lower legs. I dislike having a lot of excess fabric below the knees and wider than necessary cuffs.
The Stealth pant can be layered over light or mid-weight base layers for use as a water-resistant shell in colder weather. I was also surprised that I could wear a PCU L2 Gridded fleece pant under the Stealth Pant without it feeling snug or restrictive - something I wouldn't really be able to do under a non-stretch pant as comfortably.
The pocket layout is different from their Para One pant, and most other BDUs or cargo pants, for that matter. No flaps (other than the cord cutter pockets), bellows nor pleats. No rear pockets either. Shown in the photos below is why the pockets were configured like that - so that they'd be accessible when wearing a climbing harness such as the CTOMS M-Harness pictured. The waistband of the Stealth pant is unpadded and also very low profile to minimize bulk. The result is a very low profile, streamlined pant. It's made way in the direct action arena as well, due to its streamlined profile.
I found the properties of the single-layer Schoeller Dynamic to be very similar to Tweave; it's very breathable and wind resistant. Water resistance is good (usually more dependent on DWR than mechanical properties of the fabric), but it's not water proof, nor meant to be. It's mainly a cooler weather pant for inclement weather that can be vented during high-exertion activities. It'll definitely protect from the weather better than regular BDUs. Even though breathability is excellent, I don't think it's as suitable for warmer, humid weather as the Para One pants The elastic Dynamic fabric is also very durable, as it'll stretch rather than tear when snagged. We had some rainy weather recently, and with my car being repaired in the shop, I was forced to ride my motorcycle to work. I wore the Stealth ADP pants in the wet, and they kept me dry. It wasn't raining too hard, but mostly sprinkling.
At the range, the Stealth ADP pant is one of the most comfortable pants I've worn, especially when going from standing to kneeling to prone, or squatting. The vents work pretty well when I got hot after running around some.
The Stealth ADP pant was designed for a particular purpose in mind, so the pocket layout may not be as practical for daily wear around town as the Para One pant or other cargo pants like the VERTX or TAD Force 10 pants.
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