Pattaguccier

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There’s very few quality full-pattern combat shirts out there on the market, so I scoured around for one of these Patagucci.. er.. Patagonias. Not tried it out yet so I’ll not pass any judgement, but if you want to rock a chest rig and still have the thinner torso fabric, while retaining all the camo rather than run the classic T-Shirt/Field shirt combo, this is the best option I know of that’s actually in production in multicam (possibly). A few find their way on to eBay.

There’s the Propper TAC.U which I’ve reviewed on YouTube a while back and is economically priced but made of really rather poor materials and I found totally impractical for hot weather. I’ve also got an older version of the Arc’ LEAF combat shirt offering here which is fully patterned (unlike the current production), but it has exposed pit zips which are just terrible in a base layer. The only other option I know of good quality in genuine multicam is the ur-tactical.com offering, those guys are THE place to go if having a full patterned combat shirt for warm weather is the goal.

Billfold

The whole ‘EDC’ trend isn’t something I’ve massively been in to when it comes to little pocket tools/widgets, knives, carbon fibre wallets etc etc. If concealed carry were a thing in this country I’d jump on that in a heartbeat but that’s not a discussion for this moment.

A friend of mine within Magpul’s apparel/equipment division kindly supplied me one of these Daka wallets to take a look at and I’d say it’s an option worth considering if it fits your needs. I’m sort of on the fence on this type of wallet, having tried it I have found that I really don’t need a lot of the junk I carry around in my normal wallet, but I also do need coins sometimes (as I’d imagine many people do) and personally I can’t stand just having a pocket full of loose change. People who just shove bank notes in to a pocket make me feel a bit sick; those are to be neatly stored with no dog-ears and looked after to my mind, but I digress.

The Daka pouches are made of an all synthetic fabric that I’m a fan of and this wallet makes good use of that with the same sort of construction methods. The pouches are still overkill price wise to replace sandwich/freezer bags when waterproofing lots of gear in a bergan, but if you get a couple for organising random bits when travelling or doing outdoor stuff they make sense. This wallet holds on to what you put in it due to the high friction nature of the material and if you’re only really using a few cards on a daily basis it’s a strong option. Feather light, as simply constructed as it could possibly be and resilient to hanging about in your sweaty pocket for years on end.

Level Up

I’ve talked about softshell a lot, let’s talk very briefly about hardshell (Gore-tex/level 6/waterproofs). Since I’ve got these US issue ECWCS outer waterproof trousers from back in the 90s here to look at, seems appropriate.

The first thing to know when you’re shopping is that companies claiming their softshell jackets are waterproof are full of shit. I only tend to see this with the cheaper brands and it’s annoying; the higher end companies use the phrase water resistant but that’s what applies and is correct. Everything is a compromise between breathability (letting the sweat out from inside) and keeping the rain on your outside from getting in. Some fabrics do better than others but there’s no miracle solution yet.

You won’t get much of that greenhouse feeling with a softshell so you can run around comfortably, but it also won’t keep the rain out for very long. A hardshell layer will create a personal amazon jungle climate for you if you run around in it too much, which is actually a technique in mega cold temperatures, but not good for weather ~5C or above.

In cooler temperatures when you’re not going to be fully exerting yourself for long periods, then a hardshell can come in to play if the heavens really open up. Ideally they’re actually best used when you’re stationary, be that guarding or laid up waiting and hiding. Even gore-tex won’t keep all water out indefinitely though, especially if pressure is applied. Get your trousers wet and sit down, guess what?

The unfortunate thing from a general outdoor usage perspective is that decent hardshells cost a bomb. From an airsoft perspective however you can get US Woodland/DCU or DPM/DDPM on your local version of eBay for a tiny fraction of what any other Gore-Tex type apparel would cost.

“It’s Nothing, Move Along”

Tactical Distributors had (at the time of publishing) an everyday t-shirt line that’s actually not horrendous at all.  I have one of their designs here and it doesn’t have a huge picture of an AR-15 on it or anything. You can wear it anywhere.  Sadly their latest releases have the word TACTICAL in massive letters emblazoned across the front which is a bad move, but oh well.  Their trousers still look pretty good.

ECWCS Level 5 – Cost Effective Tactical Softshell

If you’re in the US anywhere it gets cold or rains and you need camo gear to fit the bill, you can’t beat the value of some army surplus ECWCS Level 5 gear. They buy stuff in such bulk that to get better quality or features on the commercial market you’re likely going to spend a ton more money. I’ve compared this set to my PCU equivalents and didn’t find any noticeable difference in comfort or performance; if you’re an average human being I’d wager you’ll find the same thing.

Folks have this thing that softshell is only for jacket and by comparison the lowers go for way less on ebay. But as I’ve talked about before, softshell isn’t a foul weather uniform, it’s designed to work great in just about anywhere other than the real hot and arid places. Even then the wind blocking properties would be incredibly handy in the cold desert night.

If you’re expecting generally kinda shit weather, I’d go for the shell trousers every time. You can throw a hardshell gore-tex jacket over anything on your top half if it’s really hammering, then not have to worry about your lower half staying soaked for hours and hours once the downpour stops (or doing the goretex trouser dance). The softshell will soak through after a few minutes in a deluge yes, but it won’t stick to you as much, soak up a ton of water to bog you down or go as cold against the skin as cotton blends do; then it’ll dry super fast by comparison later on.

Down Low

This proved controversial on IG because I think some folks misunderstood my meaning, but here it is anyway:

Arm Velcro is a bad move in public imho, you don’t need it so why potentially shout about who you are or otherwise lead people in to potential misconceptions. If you’re reading this you 99% already know because I’m very happy to say that people I see follow me are smart and know shit. Just remember when shopping if you’re not quite sold on a product, you can always remove loop and labels with minimal time and effort and turn something tactical in to something totally plain and nondescript, then just keep your Cryes for the range (or whatever). Probably wouldn’t recommend this for level 5 or 6 though, so in that area you do have to buy what you need off the shelf, maybe get some custom blanking plates if you see a deal too good to pass up.

Taking It Way Back

I signed a set of webbing out of stores yesterday for a 3 day course I’m on the week after next. I knew there was a new PALS based MTP belt in the system but I’d never seen the old PLCE in MTP before this week. Why exactly they’ve brought it back and only changed the colours I’m not sure because it uses 1000D and is seriously over-built just like the old DPM stuff, so it’s probably not even that cheap to make with all the metal ‘pull the dot’ fasteners and other heavy duty bits.

The pouches do have velcro closures inside (that can be covered and disabled) but the surface area isn’t enough for them to be relied on to my mind. The spanish fly system you get on the outside is really slow and awkward to close in the best of conditions let alone in cold gloves or when time matters, it’s basically the same setup that the canvas webbing of WW2 and earlier used. There’s not much to go wrong with it and it’ll almost never wear out, but even ALICE used better, faster buckles back in ‘nam.

It’s a pain to setup in some ways compared to PALS pouches, but it sure does take me back. I first had to rig this stuff up in basic 10 years ago. I only had a couple of pouches on my rig, but there’s no denying that the belt remains the most effective and comfortable place on the body to carry the weight of your kit. So much easier to get on and off compared to most issued body armour systems.

Skulls Everywhere

Thanks to MilSpecMonkey for letting me take a look at their new grey-to-end-all-greys on a pretty sweet Raw Hoodie, I’m hoping the colour might expand to some other gear because I’m a fan already I have to say. It’s not the first coyote/RG/grey style colour mix on an apparel piece it has to be said, but it’s nicely done and well researched. I don’t think any brands will move away from the bluer ‘Wolf’ shade now they’ve sunk money in to getting all the fabrics made; not soon anyway. But I know MSM has shown this new colour to FirstSpear and FS aren’t afraid of trying new things, so fingers crossed.

Also featuring Bravo Company USA, ITS Tactical, G-Code Holsters,Centurion Arms and Crye (duh).

FS – Keeping You Decent

The FirstSpear Line One belt. Urethane over a Nylon core. Supple like leather but I can attest to the fact there’s no break in like a thick leather belt, yet still has enough rigidity to carry a light load (maybe something hidden?). Totally waterproof outer surface with a smooth yet matte finish. Being synthetic of course it won’t wear out and eventually just crumble the way natural materials do.

Been wearing mine every day since SHOT this year, still looks brand new. Will be continuing to wear it every day and I’ll update in a few months or if I have any issues. Honestly it just works and FS call it “the last belt you’ll ever need” which sounds like marketing BS on the surface but I would quite genuinely agree with that statement. If you do some sort of heavy labouring job, yeah you might wear it out in many years or heavy usage. But if you don’t I’d wager you’d get minimum multiple decades of wear, more than likely your body will fail before this belt does. Definitely not cheap and there’s no arguing the fact you can get a belt that’ll last years for much less, this thing is over built, but I reckon it’s worth the investment myself.

Shades of Grey and PenCott

Bit of a random ensemble of a mail call, actually arrived a while back but I’ve kept it in the back pocket since the next one will be another few weeks at the minimum (and I’ve already been waiting months for certain things to worm their way around the globe).

Ft. Arc’teryx, Magpul Industries Corp., B5 Systems, Aimpoint AB, Salomon,Husar, PenCott CamouflageLA Police Gear, SKD Tactical and Legit Kit.