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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.

D.A. Combat shirt

Features - Here's a summary of the features of the S.O.D. Spectre D.A. Combat shirt:

  • Stretch fabric torso - The 4-way stretch-knitted fabric reminds me a bit of the Zensah stretch garments, which were also made with fabric made in Italy. The S.O.D. fabric is a bit thicker with a more prominent knit pattern on the body, and very stretchy. The fabric is stain resistant, hypoallergenic, with silver particles to inhibit bacterial growth. There are actually two patterns in the fabric - the main tight pattern, and a looser one which forms a mesh, under the arms, for increased ventilation. The fabric is very soft, stretchy and comfortable. I asked about durability and was told that it's pretty decent, but not meant to be very abrasion resistant. After testing and production with some other materials, the end users preferred this fabric as it is very light and comfortable in theatre. There is also another version of the combat shirt with a FR fabric torso. Note that loop velcro will snag and make it pill.
  • NYCO arms - The rest of the Spectre D.A. is made from 50/50 NYCO rip-stop, with the nylon made by Cordura combined with a top cotton fiber. The rip-stop grid is Cordura. This is not the NYCO I'm used to that BDUs are normally made out of. I noticed the difference when I first unpackaged the garments. The NYCO fabric didn't feel thinner than regular NYCO, but it had a softer hand and wasn't as stiff. After the first wash, it felt like well broken-in 100% cotton BDUs. I looked more closely at the fabric, and noticed that it's not as tight a weave as regular NYCO. Just slightly so. This makes it softer, and also more 'porous'/breathable, which I could feel when I held the fabric over my mouth and blew through it. Regular NYCO doesn't let much air through, while the Spectre NYCO lets the air through more easily. This means that heat is allowed to escape better in hot weather, for which this garment was designed. The fabric is soft without feeling thin or unsubstantial. But it's the most comfortable NYCO fabric I've worn to date.
  • Rounded collar - Instead of the Mandarin collar or zipper found on other combat shirts, the Spectre D.A. has a smooth, elastic knit mock collar, which is very comfortable and doesn't chafe the neck. What you give up with a lower collar is some protection from a sling or the sun on the back of the neck. It's snug enough that stray brass won't fly down you neck. I find it more comfortable than a stand-up Mandarin collar.

Under arm closeup

Shoulder pocket

Pen/chemlight pocket

Elbow pad pocket

Shaped elbow pads

Fore arm pocket and elastic cuff
  • Flight-suit style shoulder pockets - The shoulder pockets have vertical zippers and are flat, flight-suit style for a lower profile. They're quite a bit more substantial than flight suit pockets, as they're roomy at 8" tall and 6" wide. There's also a separate pen/chem light slot pocket right beside the main pocket.
  • Reinforced elbows/pad pockets - The elbow and bottom of the forearm is covered by a 500D cordura patch, which doubles as a pad pocket. It'll accommodate the included S.O.D. shaped foam elbow pad (more on that below). The pocket is shaped; not just a flat pice of fabric sewn onto the elbows, and has darts which give it a 3D shape to wrap around the elbow. A small drainage hole is provided at the bottom of the patch to allow sand or water to escape. It measures about 9.5" x 8" at the widest point. The patch provides more protection than a standard BDU against abrasion and knocks when going prone, and also gives the user to remove or include the elbow padding, depending on his needs. It is much more comfortable than wearing strap-on elbow pads.
  • Shaped elbow pads - These are probably the best internal elbow pads I've used. Rather than being a flat foam cutout, the elbow pads are a very light weight, semi-rigid molded material with a nylon fabric layer laminated to the outside and terry cloth-like material on the inside. The channels form natural fold lines and allows the pad to articulate/fold around the elbow and forearm, providing very good padded coverage and protection. The pads are sewn to form a cup shape that cradles the elbow. There is a left and right pad - they are not symmetrical, which is further evidence of S.O.D.'s attention to detail.
  • Fore Arm pockets - Inside each forearm is a 5" x 4" pocket for small items like a cell phone, small gadgets etc. They're there to give the user more storage options since the torso has no pockets.
  • Velcro shoulder patches - a loop velcro 6" x 4" patch is sewn to the outside of the shoulder pockets for ID, flags, etc.
  • Elastic cuffs - The wrist cuffs and bottom cuff are elastic; just a slightly stretchier knit. By having elastic cuffs, the sleeve is effectively sealed from dust and dirt.
  • Covert zippers - All zippers are 'covert' (reversed). There is a 'zipper garage' to park the zipper pull and protect it in the closed position. A cord pull is looped through each metal zipper pull.
  • Details - All points of stress are mini-bartacked and all seams double-stitched, even the pockets. High-tensile nylon thread is used in the construction of these garments.

At the range

In the desert

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.

Collar open

Collar up

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):

  • NYCO fabric - The entire Spectre Shirt 1.2 is made from 50/50 NYCO rip-stop. Like that on the D.A. Combat Shirt, the fabric has a soft hand without feeling thin or unsubstantial. It's the most comfortable and breathable NYCO fabric I've worn to date.
  • Mandarin collar - Instead of the rounded collar on the Spectre D.A., the Shirt has a tall 3" stand-up Mandarin collar. This collar provides protection for the neck all-round, and has a velcro closure in front. The collar can also be folded over and worn down/open. On the rear of the collar are two 3" x 1" velcro strips for mini name tapes/ID/glint tape.
  • Zipper/Velcro opening - The front opening has a zipper which ends about 4" from the bottom hem of the shirt. The zipper is covered by the overlapping front of the shirt, which protects it when prone. Three velcro tabs keep the overlap fastened. It's also possible to secure the front of the shirt with just the velcro tabs and leave the zipper open, for added ventilation
  • Napoleon chest pockets - There are two front-entry pockets on the chest, each accessed with the opposite hand (Napoleon style). They're pretty substantial in size; about 7" x 7". The pockets are angled slightly down at the bottom towards the outside, which helps keep items from falling out towards the center when the zipper is opened.
  • Velcro tabs - In the center of the chest is a 4" x 2" velcro patch for ID and above each chest pocket is a 4" x 1" velcro name tape patch.
  • Bi-swing back - The bi-swing back (bellows behind each shoulder) ensures unrestricted range of motion when reaching the arms forward and up. This is probably one of my favourite features of this shirt.
  • Pit zips - Now this is something I don't see much on BDU shirts; a 7" pit zip for ventilation.

Collar details

Rear of collar

Napoleon pockets

Pit zips

Shoulder pocket

Elbow pad pocket

Velcro cuff
  • Flight-suit style shoulder pockets - The shoulder pockets have vertical zippers and are flat, flight-suit style for a lower profile. They're more substantial than flight suit pockets, but just a bit shorter than the D.A. Shirt pocket, at 7" tall and 6" wide. There is no separate pen/chem light slot pocket either.
  • Reinforced elbows/pad pockets - The elbow and bottom of the forearm is covered by a 500D cordura patch, which doubles as a pad pocket. It'll accommodate the included S.O.D. shaped foam elbow pad. The pocket is shaped; not just a flat piece of fabric sewn onto the elbows, and has darts which give it a 3D shape to wrap around the elbow. It measures about 9.5" x 8" at the widest point. A small drainage hole is provided at the bottom of the patch to allow sand or water to escape. The patch provides more protection than a standard BDU against abrasion and knocks when going prone, and also gives the user to remove or include the elbow padding, depending on his needs. It is much more comfortable than wearing strap-on elbow pads.
  • Shaped elbow pads - These are the same pads as used in the D.A. Combat shirt, illustrated above. Rather than being a flat foam cutout, the elbow pads are a very light weight, molded material with laminated fabric covering on the outside and terry cloth-like material on the inside. The channels form natural fold lines and allows the pad to articulate/fold around the elbow and forearm, providing very good padded coverage and protection. The pads are sewn to form a cup shape that cradles the elbow. There is a left and right pad - they are not symmetrical, which is further evidence of S.O.D.'s attention to detail.
  • Velcro shoulder patches - a loop velcro 4" x 4" patch is sewn to the outside of the shoulder pockets for ID, flags, etc.
  • Velcro cuffs - Instead of the elastic knit cuffs on the D.A. shirt, the Spectre Shirt 1.2 has an adjustable velcro tab closure.
  • Covert zippers - All zippers are 'covert' (reversed). There is a 'zipper garage' to park the zipper pull and protect it in the closed position. A cord pull is looped through each metal zipper pull.
  • Details - All points of stress are mini-bartacked and all seams double-stitched.

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:

  • Material - 50/50 NYCO ripstop fabric (same as the Spectre Shirt 1.2).
  • Zipper fly and button waist - The waist has a zipper fly and the typical European two-button waist tab. The buttons are taped slotted buttons.
  • 7 belt loops - The sturdy belt loops fit 2.5" belts and are made of 500D Cordura. They have D-rings loops sewn at the bottom.
  • Padded Waist - The waist is lightly padded/quilted for comfort when wearing a belt rig. The padding doesn't add much bulk or thickness yet makes a different in comfort. The rear of the waist is also slightly higher than at the front.
  • 2 Internal Security/E&E pockets - There are actually two internal security pockets for small valuable items (coins, folded cash, a key, button compass etc) that can be secured from pickpockets or loss, then retrieved in case of emergency. There are on external stitches showing where the pockets are located. The first one is located just below the waist line on the inside right. It is 4" x 3" in size and closes completely with velcro. The second pocket, I didn't discover until I was searching for the sizing tag/label inside the pants (which I never did find). Inside the leg, behind the right side cargo pocket (and hidden by the hanging slash pocket on the inside), is another velcro-closed security pocket, 4.75" x 3.25" in size. This one is of course difficult to access unless you take the pants off, but very secure nonetheless.
  • Side slash pockets - The side entry slash pockets are deep and roomy with large openings. The inside hem of the opening is reinforced with 500D Cordura, and there's also a little Cordura triangle 'web' at the bottom of the entrance. My only complaint with the pocket design is that when a folding knife is clipped at the bottom, the clip can interfere with the side cargo pocket flap. A small slot or opening in the flap seam to allow the knife clip to pass through would be nice.
  • Double seat - self explanatory.
  • Rear pockets - The two rear pockets are an unusual shape, extending and narrowing downwards towards to side of the pants to channel smaller objects to the outside so you don't sit on them. They are secured by flaps with two slotted/taped buttons. The buttons are covered by a the outer flap when closed. There are two large buttons, with one located almost in the middle of the flap, and the other close to the outboard edge. I found the outer one difficult to secure with one hand as it's so close to the edge of the flap. It got a bit easier once I developed a feel for it but would prefer it moved in about half an inch.

Waist details

Rear pocket and belt loops

Side entry pocket

Double seat/crotch

Internal hidden pocket
  • Side cargo pockets - The side cargo pockets are roomy, measuring about 9" tall x 9" wide at the bottom (they're 8" wide at the top). The entrance is slanted down in the rear slightly for easier access. The opening of the pocket has elastic at the rear, and a two-button flap closure. The buttons are both slotted/taped, and are large enough to manipulate with gloves. The front edge of the flap is sewn down. I sometimes leave the middle button or rear button undone, depending on what I'm carrying in the pocket for quicker access. There are two larger expansion pleats on the side of the pocket, and a smaller pleat in the rear. The bottom of the pocket is bellowed, with two drainage holes at the bottom. One thing I'd like to see, especially with such roomy pockets, is the addition of some internal organization. I'd be happy with two internal slot pockets, one about 2" wide and the other 3.5" wide. This would help keep everything from collecting at the bottom of the pocket, especially smaller items.
  • Knee pad pockets/reinforcements - The knees are covered in colour-matched 500D cordura which greatly increases abrasion resistance and also provide pockets for knee pads (included). The 500D reinforcement is more durable than same-fabric patches and provides better protection for the knee, even without a knee pad. Using knee pad inserts is lighter and more comfortable than wearing external knee pads.
  • Articulated knees - Actually, the entire cut of the pant is designed for freedom of movement and mobility without restriction. The knees are a good example of this, with their multiple panels and pre-bent shape.
  • Knee pad - The included knee pad is made of an amazingly light weight, fabric-covered closed cell foam. The knee pads don't have the terry cloth lining that the elbow pads do, but have a breathable nylon face. The knee pads are molded and sewn into a 3D shape, with built-in lines of articulation that allows the knee pad to bend and form to the knee. They provide the most coverage of any knee pad I've used, in any position. They're about 13" tall and protect the shin as well. At the top, they wrap around, providing side coverage as well as front coverage. Quite surprisingly, I didn't find them as hot as some other thinner knee pads, and they really worked effectively in all positions. Like the S.O.D. elbow pads, I think that these are the best knee inserts I've used to date.
  • Internal cuff with elastic shock cord closure - Inside the bottom of the pant leg is an inner cuff that can be tucked into the boot or secured outside it. It has an elastic shock cord with cord lock adjustment. It's similar to the elastic snow cuffs found on some snow skiing pants, which prevent snow from getting into the boots. Same idea here - keep dirt, bugs and debris out of the boot (when worn outside the boot) without having a bloused look. The bottom of the outer cuff is reinforced with 500D Cordura for abrasion resistance. No more ragged cuffs with these pants!

Side cargo pocket

Bottom drain holes

Knee pad pocket

Knee pads

Bottom cuffs

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 concealment
- Organic looking midi-pattern (mid range) to foil detection at mid-range
- High contrast macro-pattern for long distance disruption
- Natural palette synthesised from many real-world colours and tones
- High-difference boundaries and hypoacuitive colour dithering that creates false edges and the illusion of 3D

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.

Same pattern; different colours

Area overlaid

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' and 'HD' incorporated into pattern

Compared to CB62 and MARPAT

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.

'PenCott' and 'HD' incorporated into pattern

Next to MultiCam

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.
- The buttons, zippers and velcro patches are solid, not camo.


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.

At the range with MultiCam gear

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:

  • NYCO fabric - The Parka shown here is made from 50/50 NYCO rip-stop in Hyde Definition Badlands Pencott camo. The parka is unlined.
  • Adjustable Hood - The hood of the Parka has front-back and face opening adjustments. The front-back adjustment is located at the rear of the hood. There's a little 'cave' that covers the cord lock, pull tab and elastic shock cord. Pulling the shock cord pull tab draws the sides of the face opening towards the rear, for better peripheral vision. The face opening adjustment is more unusual. Instead of having shock cord pulls located down on each side of the collar, there's a single shock cord pull at the top front of the hood. A small velcro-closed pocket with tab (which can be tucked inside so it doesn't stick out like in the photo above) allows the shock cord and cord lock to be stuffed back in after adjusting the opening size. The hood has a brim for protection. The hood is sized to be worn under a helmet - it's not big enough to fit over one. It's also non-stowing, but I don't find that it gets in the way.
  • Zipper/Button opening - The front opening both a zipper and slotted buttons. There's a stiffener sewn in along the zipper that keeps it 'straighter', making it easier to zip up. There's a storm flap behind the zipper. The outer storm flap covers the zipper and is secured by the five slotted buttons going up the front of the jacket. The zipper can be left unzipped and only the buttons used to close the front of the jacket should some ventilation be needed.
  • Mesh armpit vents - Rather than pit zips, the Parka has mesh underarm vents.
  • Velcro fields - The Operative Field Parka has velcro galore. This was by request of the SF community. S.O.D. gear actually makes same-fabric cover patches for their Vegetato and CB62 clothing, and might also make patches for the PenCott clothing to cover up the velcro. I'd like that, as the velcro fields on the shoulders are huge, and it'd be nice to cover them up, at least partially, when not in use. Over each chest pocket is a 1" x 5" strip for nametags. Above the right one is 3.5" x 2" field. On each shoulder/arm pocket is a 6" x 4" field.
  • Bi-swing back - The bi-swing back (bellows behind each shoulder) ensures unrestricted range of motion when reaching the arms forward and up. This is common to the Spectre shirt and probably one of my favourite features as it allows unrestricted arm movement.
  • Reinforced elbows/pad pockets - The elbow and bottom of the forearm is covered by a same-fabric patch, which doubles as a pad pocket with velcro-secured opening. It'll accommodate the S.O.D. shaped foam elbow pad, or Crye elbow pad. It measures about 9.5" long x 6.75" at the widest point. A small drainage hole is provided at the bottom of the patch to allow sand or water to escape. The patch provides more protection than a standard BDU against abrasion and knocks when going prone, and also gives the user to remove or include the elbow padding, depending on his needs. It is much more comfortable than wearing strap-on elbow pads.
  • Velcro cuffs - the Parka cuff has an adjustable velcro tab closure.
  • Internal chest mesh pockets - There are two internal mesh chest pockets with vertical zipper openings; one on the left and the other on the right. The right one measures 8" tall x 5" wide and has an internal velcro divider, which separates the pocket into a smaller upper compartment, and a larger lower one. The velcro can be separated, and the whole pocket used. The left side pocket is larger, measuring 9" tall x 7" wide.

Hood adjustment

Collar details

Mesh underarm vent

Elbow reinforcement and velcro cuff

Right internal chest pocket

Left internal chest pocket
  • Upper chest pockets - The upper chest pockets are of a 'box' construction for volume, and measure approximately 8" tall x 6" wide x 1.75" deep. The opening of the pocket extends up to become part of the flap, so that it folds over and shut when the flap is buttoned down. This keeps the contents more secure than they would be with a normal opening and flap. The flap is secured by a single slotted button.
  • Upper chest Naploeon pockets - Behind the upper chest pockets are Napoleon pockets with a vertical zippered opening. They measure 10" tall x 7" wide.
  • Lower front pockets - The lower front pockets measure 8.5" tall x 7" wide x 1.5" deep, and are of the same box design as the upper chest pockets.
  • Lower side pockets - These measure 8.5" tall x 5" wide x 1.5" deep, but instead of the folded flap closure, it has a conventional flap and and elasticized opening.
  • Rear poachers pocket - This is a single, large pocket spanning the rear of the Parka, measuring 8.5" tall x 13" wide x 1.5" deep. It has the same folded flap as the other pockets, and three slotted buttons. There's also access on the left side of the pocket through a vertical zippered opening.
  • Flight-suit style shoulder pockets - The shoulder pockets have vertical zippers and are flat, flight-suit style for a lower profile. They're more substantial than flight suit pockets, at 7" tall and 6" wide. There are two pen slots at the top of each pocket, and there's also a separate pen/chem light slot pocket right behind the main pocket. Inside the pocket is a patch of loop velcro, and a dummy cord loop. The internal velcro patch was a request from a customer to have a way to secure a strobe inside.
  • Fore arm pockets - There is a 6" x 5" flat pocket on each fore arm, with two pen slots.
  • Waist and bottom hem drawcords - The waist and bottom hem both have elastic shock cord cinches. The pull tabs and cord locks for the waist cinch are located inside the upper chest Naploeon pockets. The pull tabs and cord locks for the bottom hem cinch can be found at the bottom of the lower front pockets. This keeps them out of the way and snag-free.
  • Covert zippers - All zippers are 'covert' (reversed). There is a 'zipper garage' to park the zipper pull and protect it in the closed position. A cord pull is looped through each metal zipper pull.
  • Details - All points of stress are mini-bartacked and all seams double-stitched.

Upper chest pockets

Lower front pockets

Rear poachers pocket

Side pockets

Arm/shoulder pocket

Fore arm pocket

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.

Scrub desert

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.

Mixing and matching at the range



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:

Front pockets

Back and thigh cargo pockets
  • 50/50 NYCO ripstop fabric - Breathable and durable.
  • Anatomical shaping and articulated patterning for fit, comfot, and mobility.
  • Zipper fly with dual snap closures.
  • 2-1/4" belt loops - Five extra wide belt loops to accommodate the weight of a loaded belt.

Waist detail

Inside waist



Knife pocket

Gusseted crotch
  • Suspender tabs - There are two suspender tabs in the front and one in the back for use with the LEAF pant suspenders (not included). The LEAF suspenders are low profile elastic Y-suspenders made of 3/4" wide black elastic. They attach and detach quickly via stainless steel hooks to the suspender tabs.
  • Articulated knees and seat - The knees and seat are articulated for unrestricted movement.
  • Gussted crotch.
  • Two hand pockets - There are two 'jeans-style' hand pockets at the front of the pant with angled openings.
  • Two knife pockets - To the rear of the hand pockets are separate knife pockets, reinforced with Cordura nylon. On the Sphinx, the pocket was very shallow for the initial version. On later versions of the Sphinx, and on the Talos pant, the knife pocket empties into the main pocket, so running out of depth is not a concern. It is designed to be used with knives with a clip. Depending on how much tension your knife pocket clip has, it might not grip the pocket very well, since there's not much of a 'lip'. One thing I'd like to see is the opening folded over a couple more times to increase the thickness so a kinfe clip won't just slip off.
  • Two thigh cargo pockets - There are two 9" tall x 8" wide cargo pockets with bellows at the rear for expansion, located on the side of each thigh. The entrance is covered by a velcro-secured flap, with the single velcro patch in the middle, and the flap sewn down at both ends.
  • Calf pockets - On each calf is the same pocket as on the Sphinx, sized to fit a USGI 30-round M4 magazine without an additional base pad. It's a snug fit in height as the pocket is a bit short; and I'd like to see them about 1.5" deeper for mags with magpuls or taller mags like Pmags or ARC mags. They were designed for quick magazine access while seated in a vehicle, but can obviously be used for other items (I was told that they're commonly used for flex cuffs). The pocket itself is 5" tall with a 2" gap from the opening to the flap. The flap doubles as a strap loop when the knee caps are worn.
  • Reinforced knees and integrated knee pad pockets - The knees are reinforced with 3" wide webbing. The webbing adds abrasion resistance and a bit of padding. Inside the knee is a knee pad pocket sized for the Arc'Teryx knee caps or Crye combat/field pant knee pads (not included). The knee pad pocket is quite unique, with a velcro-secured opening at the bottom and a flap that folds up and retains the knee pad. There are also four knee cap strap slots, through which the knee cap straps are passed through. The flap of the calf pocket goes over the bottom knee cap strap.
  • Adjustable pant cuff and integrated gaiter - The bottom of the pant cuff is adjustable via the elastic drawcord and cord lock in the integrated gaiter. The end of the shock cord has a plastic pull on it, and can be tucked inside the gaiter. The gaiter is to be used over the boots to help keep bugs and debris from getting into the boot tops.
  • Weight 1 lb 9 oz

Thigh pocket

Knee reinforcement

Knee cap

Knee pad pocket (inside)

Kneecap installed

Flap used as strap guide

Calf pocket

Gaiter cinched up

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.

Talos pant with Chimera top

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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