TQ Prerequisite? IQ.

I’m not a medic, the fact I have some basic training doesn’t mean I’m going to tell anyone how to use equipment that can do as much harm as good.

The one tourniquet I’ve repeatedly been instructed on and practised with is the CAT and it’s the only design I’d feel confident in being able to employ effectively if the time came. Personally I don’t anticipate ever having to use such an item in my life time, but if I’m ever putting together a medical kit and decide to add a TQ, this would be the one I’d buy again. It’s gone through a lot of iterations over the years and changes in doctrine within the military, but I like the simplicity and I feel simplicity is key for the vast majority of us.

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The thing I really like most is the fact that if you break it down in terms of the initial application, the CAT is literally just a riggers’ style belt, except you use it for artery clamping instead of holding up trousers. There’s no technique to learn at all in terms of how you tie it around a limb, it is just the same as putting any strap through a tri-glide and securing the tail back on itself. You don’t even need to have the tail loose and route it at all if you don’t want, you can leave the routing already set, just open it slightly to go over the affected area then yank it back down again. This is something that can’t quite be said for the RATS, TK-4 or anything else where the buckle has an open side and the tail is stored freely from said buckle/routing piece.

I’ve never seen arterial spray from a human, but I’ve seen a video of the artery being cut in a sedated pig during a course in work and it’s genuinely hard to believe. For those who’ve not seen it, the most relevant analogy would be putting your thumb over the end of a hose to block off most of the pipe. Even a fraction of a second wasted is too much, which is again why I would personally prefer to have a CAT to hand in the unlikely event I ever needed to staunch arterial blood loss.

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I appreciate lots of other people have other preferences and training and of course storage location can be a factor depending on what you’re doing. I certainly wouldn’t mind giving the SOF-T wide a look. But overall as things stand, given the training and practice I have, this TQ is top of my list.

The only advice I’d actually give is as follows: Don’t fall for social media marketing and go buying gear like this, putting it in a pocket and thinking you’re good. There’s a lot of rules for safe and effective tourniquet application. I don’t carry medical kit myself everyday either, all I personally do is try to be conscientious of always wearing a belt and never wearing a useless skinny one. 1.5″ width as a minimum, around 2″ preferably. It’s never a TQ substitute but in the event of a truly life-threatening bleed I know I’ve got something at least rather than being utterly helpless. Don’t take this as legal advice of course I’m not a nurse or doctor, just seek out good First Aid training (pretty sure there are even free courses out there). Best to learn things like CPR and how to deal with shock, burns, fractures/breaks, choking, extremes of heat/cold and allergic reactions.

As with so many things, the best way to avoid bleeding in the first place is to avoid any sort of altercation and not do stupid shit around pointy objects.

We Got Fun And Games

What can I say, I had to make it a triple-strike/3×3 thing of Crye Precision G3 posts 3 days in a row. Won’t happen again but I had to take the opportunity while it was here. Also as some may notice I’ve switched from posting just the one piece of gear at a time to posting sets where I can. That certainly won’t always be the case, but as it stands my most recent purchases won’t see the light of day (outside of mail call posts) for well over a year from now, so I’m really working to get that time gap down.

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MC Tropic, Arid and Black were somewhat surprises to me when they released I must admit, I wasn’t following various brands as intently as I do now because I wasn’t going to things like DSEI and SHOT to report on the latest happenings in the kit world. All that aside however I think they were very interesting developments from a corporation that really built itself upon a foundation of a pattern that is specifically not specific to any one environment.

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Generally speaking I just aim to have the overall best quality combat cut set in any given pattern I want to own (using industry standard fabrics for temperate/warm climates) and when it comes to Tropic and Arid in particular, I’d say the best sets are coming direct from CP at this moment in time. For MC Black I’m planning to go with the recent release from UF-Pro because, for my recreational purposes, their combat shirt really is the winning choice. I’m also yet to try their Striker Combat pants and I think they’ll make for a good review down the line.

Multicam Tropic put me off somewhat initially as it can have the distinct appearance of being just incredibly, eye-searingly green, as if it would only ever work in the lushest of rain forests. When you actually put it in a ‘typical’ temperate woodland though it doesn’t blend nearly as badly as you might imagine. Certainly once it’s been through a wash or two to take that slight edge off the colours it can work very nicely indeed.

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By far my favourite ever pictures in the realms of ‘ex US SOF dudes with beards who now work in the tactical/gun/training industries’ are those from Magpul CORE where they’re testing out Magpul AK products in some tropical environments, wearing G3 field sets in MC Tropic. The combination of a green based pattern with the field cut conjures up a very distinct image of a modernised version of a soldier from the 90s – like bringing BDUs and CS95 in to today. It’s not an image that’s really been around much at all since the commencement of operations in Afghanistan all those years ago.

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Threw this shot of the random dangling threads just to slightly highlight a point that no brand, no matter how gucci or expensive, puts out 100% perfect products. I will always recommend spending that bit more to anyone who can so that they get at least some level of QC and post-purchase service with the gear they buy. But on the flip side of that, I have never been under any delusion that any company makes gear that is infinitely durable while also superbly lightweight and utterly perfect in manufacture. I think some people see big price tags and expect gear that will last forever while feeling like pyjamas and somehow keep them super cool in the summer yet insulated in the winter; which is just not reality and won’t ever be until we invent nano machine Iron Man suits.

Platatac VM Chest Rig – LBT Competitor

The Vehicle Mounted chest rig from PLATATAC. Somewhat old school design, but given how much usage rigs like this have seen you really can’t argue that they work. They’ll definitely take whatever you can throw at them and store your gear safe and sound.

Sadly they seem to have discontinued production a while back, which is a shame because I think they offered a lot better value than LBT gear does. But if you want to get an idea of how they put things together check out my video here:

Honestly folks even if you’re not planning to watch this video I’d really appreciate the click/tap. One of the criteria the NSSF go by when dishing out SHOT Show badges is YT videos with 1k+ views, so if everyone who saw this could literally just watch each video for a second then close it again that will help me greatly in getting to Vegas and bringing the best possible coverage on the very latest gear hot off the presses.

Ops to the Core – FAST Carbon Review

Generally with any given foundation to a system you’ve got a couple of type of options available to you. The first is the older choice that’s been around and popular for years with tons of options and parts support from both the original manufacturer and the aftermarket. Then there’s the new kid on the block, which has some great new features built in but can’t really be customised at all yet; maybe 1 or 2 little bits from the originator but nothing from the aftermarket.
 
My Gentex Corporation/Ops-Core FAST Carbon here represents the former of course, with MTEK creating the latter. You see this phenomenon with all sorts of things and in the realm of helmets the middle ground choice would be the Team Wendy, but I don’t personally favour the middle ground. You can make the older option in to something great by using that aftermarket support and the newest kid on the block obviously shouldn’t need much changing, but the interim choice rarely fares as well to my mind.
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I think a firearm analogy would be to have the AR or AK platform at one end and modern weapons like the HK433 and MSBS at the other. Stuff like AUG and Galil in the middle. I’m hoping you good folks are following me with that one. I’m sure there’s a good car analogy out there too but I’m much too boring to know about cars.
 
So why the FAST Carbon? First off I can’t use a private purchase helmet for work because I’m not cool enough, that leaves hobby usage. I don’t own my own firearms or frequently take shooting courses where armour might be wise to have, so ballistic protection is out and I’m left with impact protection. I’d be losing out on ventilation and carrying more weight with a ballistic threat rated helmet. I wanted to have an OC FAST in my collection to represent one end of the aforementioned spectrum and give myself a project to gradually adjust and add to over time. While the FAST Bump is definitely the economically sensible impact option given the plastic construction, it so happened that ODIN Tactical had a pretty insane sale on the Carbon model in Multicam and in my size, all while I was away on a work trip (if you know why that’s a good thing, you know).
There’s a few major advantages to the FAST Carbon. First off you have to give credit to Ops-Core for finally getting around to integrating an adjustable headband and suspension system in to tactical headgear. We take it for granted now but it took a strangely long time for the notion to jump over from the likes of cycling and climbing gear. Adding a sort of inverted pic rail to allow folks to finally mount lights and cameras without just using a load of tape and velcro was also of course a nice step forward.
The shell itself is obviously the main event here. I had my eyes open going in to this and I’d recommend to anyone that you prepare to not only buy the helmet, but set a fair bit more aside to add and replace various things. If you want to make the whole setup actually comfortable and a good platform for night vision, cameras and lights that is. The carbon fibre is of course insanely light and supremely strong which makes a superb foundation to build on, but it really does need building work.
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I’ve not seen any real info on the new SF model helmets from OC so hopefully improvements are coming, but many elements of the currently retailed helmet package are, quite honestly, pretty bloody bad. Some of the carbon construction on the shell is poor in the ventilation holes as pictured but the biggest culprit is without doubt the ‘padding’ and I use that word in a very loose context. Each pad is actually comprised for the most part of expanded polystyrene (as in what they packaged your new TV in), which is easily broken and provides no cushioning for general wear. Whether the idea is it should crush under a really severe impact I don’t know, but I’m pretty confident that better padding using dense foam would be just as good for that purpose, while of course also being much more comfortable for 99.999% of the time the helmet is on your head.
 
The very thin piece of foam that does sandwich between your head and the polystyrene is lacking in density to say the least, it squashes down to nothing and subsequently wearing this helmet with almost anything attached to it can create a nasty headache within a few short hours. This is compounded by the fact that the occ-dial headband is the main method of securing everything to you. You don’t crank down too hard on that of course, but then again even with fairly mild tension it’s not like the headband is particularly nicely padded either. Personally I wasn’t able to use the pads that are meant to fit to fit in the sides even without ear pro running inside, not without getting a literal instant headache anyway. This means there’s even less stability, especially if ARC mounted ear pro is not used.
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The chin strap uses a tubular webbing that’s smooth and comfortable and the adjustment is self-contained which makes a nice change from issued helmets, but it’s more of a backup retention method.
 
Fortunately moving to the outer surface things do look up quite a bit. The skeletal type 3-hole shroud weighs barely anything while maintaining all the necessary strength. The anodising scratches if you breathe on it admittedly, but not down the metal. The infamous rails are present, well moulded and solidly mounted. Inbetween the 2 previous items we’ve got the bungees that hook nicely in to night vision and will really help take the very last bit of slop out of an otherwise 95% solid NV mount setup. Then there’s a generous dose of loop on the sides, top and rear for attaching all sorts of things that give your position away.
 
Looping back around to where we started, this skull caddy is certainly a project. I’ve already added a counter-weight and a nice FirstSpear cover to obscure the offensive hydro dip film. There’s no shortage of electronics you can drape on here that can cost you anything from a few hundred to 10s of thousands. Primarily the pad system simply has to be upgraded, which is my biggest irk with a helmet that costs as much as the FAST Carbon costs, but as long as you’re prepared to put the time in to finding quality accessories and replacement bits the option is there to build this thing in to a genuinely excellent system. A fact that has been well proven by a lot of cool dudes for some years now.

Plat-A-Tac Tac Dax Mk3 – Pt2

The Mk3 Tac Dax from PLATATAC. If you missed my video overview on these and you’d like to find out the details click here:

To summarise, you’ve got a mixture here of features based on Crye Gen 2 and 3 combat trousers with a dash of the Patagonia L9s. Good stuff like the 3 stretch panels from the G3s is in there, along with a padded waist and the waist adjustment tabs. I slightly prefer the G3 zipped pockets vs the G2/AC velcro flaps for the sake of security of small items I tend to keep back there, but that’s a personal preference thing.

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You’ve also got a ton of adjustment for the knee pads, way more than any offering from Crye. I think if this trouser took the Crye Airflex or even the Patagonia pads they’d probably be my favourite design of anything on the market, sadly I just did not get along with the D3O Trust HP pad set. They didn’t agree with my knees and they are a tad more awkward to fit and remove compared to other options. I’ve heard from people who have got along with them very well however so this is again my personal experience and it’s annoying from my own perspective to be sure.

Excellent quality throughout though as you’d expect from a company who’s produced a whole lot of gear for Australian SF as well as the regular military, special tactics police and Aus LE in general.

It’s Just Like Call of Duty 4

So yes, a while back I jumped in to the night vision arena, which was a fairly expensive jump as you’d imagine. The ‘hardest’ part was actually listening to my own years of learning in the sense that buying the cheap option to begin with will never satisfy me, knowing there’s something better available and seeing other people with that better thing. I think just about everybody who’s not a millionaire starts with more budget gear then gradually works up over time. Not everyone wants or needs to eventually buy the most gucci and expensive option of course, but I think many of you will be familiar with a wastage of money through buying something cheaper to start with, only to then sell it at a loss and replace it with the superior product. Be it a uniform set, belt, helmet, whatever.

Trying to learn from one’s own mistakes and apply that learning to something like gloves or a shirt for example is not comparatively all that painful. Applying that learning to night vision however is one of those occasions where you take a hard gulp, pay the money and sit back in your chair for a minute afterwards to process what you just did. Problem is the unit itself is just the start, because the rest of the things you’ll need in order to use that unit really securely are going to tot up to yet another pretty fat stack of cash.

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“Surely dual tubes are the top of the line?” some would ask, but after seeing Bryan’s ITS Tactical interview with John Lovell of Warrior Poet Society some time ago, I decided saving myself a couple grand and taking John’s advice was the way to go. There’s a ton of ex-SF guys in the states making videos and offering training of course and I’m sure we all subscribe to at least a few on YouTube, but listening to John talk about NV use on deployment with a clear depth of genuine experience and his general down to earth persona (certainly compared to a lot of guys in that same arena who want you to #crusheverything) I just got a good vibe overall. I’m picky on who I’ll take advice from, but in this instance I decided to listen up.

The key piece of info in the aforementioned interview was the fact that you’ve always got instant access to your normal vision through 1 eye with a single tube setup and the reality is you’re very unlikely to spend your entire time in the pitch black. You will move through different light conditions, someone might well hit you with white light that negates the NV entirely and as anyone who’s used NV will know, the technology can’t focus like a human eye. So if some bad stuff happens in bad stuff proximity there’s real value in being able to instantly switch to at least one eye of regular vision, or maybe you just have the NV focus set out to the far distance and you need to do some gear admin on yourself or weapon. There’s lots of other reasons too, but the single vs dual tube thing could easily be its’ own book and I am very far from a world expert. Another big takeaway from the interview is that absolutely every piece of NV gear has distinct ups and downs, which made for very honest discussion and of course applies to everything I just said above. Check out the video if you want to learn some really solid foundational stuff on NV use:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZS-4xQITec

So what did I actually pick up?

The unit itself is a PVS-14, which is like the AR of Night Vision with shed tons of after market support. It’s a Gen 3 Omni VII setup with auto-gating, manual gain adjustment and a small built-in IR illuminator. I’ve got a LIF filter on there as well as (crucially) lexan protective discs and daylight-drilled scope covers from Tactical Optician/AM Tactical – AMTAC. The helmet shroud is the skeletal 3-hole type that came on my Ops-Core, with a Wilcox Industries Corp. L4G24 mount and the matching Wilcox J-Arm.

Many people will at this point presumably be wondering what the fuck all that means and believe me when I say it wasn’t that long ago I had no clue either. I spent a good few weeks combing websites, old forum topics, stores and FAQs teaching myself the real basics of what each part of an NV setup actually is, what it does, what I wanted to buy and how it might perform for me. As backwards as it is, I’ll be breaking all those parts down in a future blog that I think will serve as a very handy reference for anyone wanting to buy night vision but who is currently lacking knowledge of the core nomenclature.

FR Gloves from the PIG Makers

I’ve mentioned before about having an FR ensemble for work purposes, not because it’s at all likely I’d need that, but even if the likelihood of need is tiny I really do not want to have melted polyester from standard uniform covering my skin in the event of something going super badly down hill.

To that end I have issued FR MTP trousers and combat shirt, a Massifbalaclava and these Bravo gloves from SKD Tactical, amongst a few other small items. The popular Alpha and Delta gloves of course make heavy use of common synthetics and would not be FR for the most part, whereas these Bravos retain the patterning of the Alpha with a full leather and nomex construction. Interestingly there’s a vaguely exotic combination of sheep and goat leather mixed in to these gloves with no cow hide.

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Do they facilitate the exact same dexterity as the Alphas? That was my question and probably most peoples’ question. They’re close I’ll say that, pretty bloody close. The FR fabrics through most of the construction are a fair bit thicker than the fabrics in the Alphas, but the patterning is as I say the same, with the same excellent design especially at the finger tips. I only spent a few hours actually wearing this pair somewhere warm-ish but they certainly did not hinder basic weapons handling and I’ve worn lots of issued gloves which do.

They do seem to come up smaller than the Alphas and Deltas, I went with my usual size small and they were a tight squeeze to get on so if I were to buy again I’d go a size up over my Alpha sizing. The materials used however do feel supremely comfortable and supple, so I was extremely impressed in that regard.

Also despite being a fair bit more expensive than the non-FR versions these are actually some of the cheaper FR gloves on the market to come from a quality brand. The FR gloves I’ve seen from OR for example cost a good bit over $100 and I’d be surprised if they offer close to the legendary FDT dexterity. I’ll admit right away I’ve not tried the competitors, but in my search online there weren’t any I felt could beat the FDT Bravos in dexterity and they all cost more, so my choice seemed very clear cut.

For military folks this would definitely be a strong contender in my mind and I’m sure there’s plenty of other applications out there for a glove with great dexterity that can shield against burns.

LOWA, GTX Boots and Weather

There’s 3 problems with talking about boots on the internet:

1. Actually forming a genuinely informed opinion on even 1 pair can take ages, let alone the line up from a whole brand and double-let alone multiple brands. By the time you’ve figured out what’s good, they might well have stopped making that model given the market demand for constant newness.
2. To review a boot in-depth is intricate as hell, it’s also hard to define a lot of the qualities in a quantifiable manner and very, very personal. I don’t think it’s the kind of gear you can really talk about ‘just a bit’, you either go right down to brass tacks or do a very basic overview. Hard to be anywhere inbetween.
3. Unlike many other aspects of gear a person might use for a ‘tactical’ purpose, footwear of both military design and from the civilian/hiking type sphere is pretty much all applicable. There are lots of companies making amazing outdoor clothing that don’t offer camo for example, but with boots those aesthetics are irrelevant. This then opens up the range of feasible options available to levels that are almost hard to actually comprehend. The only other item that maybe gets close to approaching this issue is gloves, then maybe backpacks after that and just about everything else like uniform, helmets and load-carriage is far more specific to tactical stuff and the viable choices are made by far fewer companies.

Caveat with number 1 of course would be folks on constant deployments who can actually select their own boots, but then they’re usually pretty busy with more important things than doing detailed gear reviews (talking generally here of course).

What I will say is from my *limited personal experience* LOWA are the brand on top of my list. I’ve got an old-school black leather pair that are at least 9 years old now and have spent dozens of hours up to the ankles in bog and never leaked a drop; though they take looking after. When I know I’ll be doing the rare air force thing of actually slogging through mud and being miserable in the elements, they’re absolutely the pair I reach for. Totally the opposite build to the standard issue lightweight crap that I cut about base in when I’m doing some annual refresher that necessitates MTP instead of blues.

I picked up these Zephyr GTX models from UKTactical on a pretty sweet sale about 18 months ago (my usual delay in the gear posting queue). Now do I recommend gore-tex lined boots in general? Hell no. Should you buy nice bright, tan, suede outer layer boots for use in most of Europe? Also no. But when a very high quality product comes up at a very good price that’s also the time you should have been setting money aside for.

GTX lined shoes can and will overheat and sweat-soak your feet in any weather above ‘quite cool’ but as with anything if you make sure your kit suits your environment you can stay comfortable. So don’t wear these things in the summer. I keep them for pure and exclusive winter time usage unless I’m expecting to get very wet in the spring/autumn. The GORE-TEX® Products liner keeps in a decent amount of heat allowing a comparatively thin and light boot to work well under some physical exertion down to typical UK winter temperatures. Despite the arid climate appearances, I found the lack of any venting or mesh panels as you’d see in an actual arid climate boot to create a pretty good balance overall.

They worked borderline perfectly when paired with some good softshell trousers and moving through a lot of common British countryside terrain. Long wet grass, woodland mud and forest foliage that’s all sodden post-rain or dew; or just permanently wet through December. Far from any sort of environment that poses any real danger to anybody’s survival, but still the sort of terrain I’ve witnessed completely soak the cordura boots and cotton blend trousers other people were wearing. They spent the next 6+ hours being damp and uncomfortable, could’ve been longer had the sun not put on a strong appearance. And why did they have to do that? Because they wore all the same gear they do in the summer months and *maybe* brought a Goretex jacket, totally ignoring the kinda-shitty inbetweens that are the actual reality a lot of the time in a lot of temperate countries.

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While that sort of thing may be far from cool to talk about, it’s honestly what I think most people should be equipping for most of the time, certainly in the hobby arena. Like how often do civilians need a tourniquet vs how often do you see people pushing blow-out kits with chest seals on social media? It 100% makes sense to prepare for the worst no doubt but when I build a FAK I put in gel for small burns, plasters, tweezers etc THEN I think about maybe a compact TQ and some bigger bandages. How often have most people in their daily lives encountered an injury that’s just annoying vs one that’s really life threatening? I’m going to wager the ratio is in the region of 100000 to 1, so yes prepare for both to some extent, but definitely make sure you’re ready to deal with the niggling little things and not just the Hollywood moments.

Appreciate that seems like a real tangent, but it’s a good analogy to my mind. These boots have served me well for the bad end of the spectrum of weather that doesn’t require more niche or specific survival gear. This particular model is very light, flexible out of the box, comfortably lined inside and most importantly built to the quality I’ve come to expect from LOWA. I’ve seen the soles come away from tons of other boots, I’ve seen inadequately thin synthetic materials wear through and fail under minimal usage, I’ve seen laces snap far too quickly and eyelets pop far too easily. Not with this brand. Good shoes are crucial. A rip in a shirt? You’ll carry on pretty much just like before, not the case if your boots totally fail you.

ITS Tactical – Part 2

I’m happy to say the wait is finally over and the 2nd half of my article on uniform basics is now available on ITS Tactical.

Seeking Uniformity: Differences in Battle Dress, Field Cut and Combat Cut Uniform Bottoms

As with part one, the basic idea is to go over archetypal features on 3 styles of tactical type apparel in order to hopefully aid folks in their purchasing decisions. In this instance, having already covered shirts, I’ve gone over the old school military issued trouser, the modern commercial field cut and the ever popular combat cut. Of course there are hundreds of different brands and designs out there to choose from so I did have to generalise quite a bit, but the overall goal is that having read both parts of the piece you should be able to identify what you’d need and then go out there to the gear stores and classifieds sites and pick the right thing for you.

If you’ve ever wondered what I’m talking about when it comes to polyester and nylon blend fabrics there’s also a short section at the end going over the bare bones you will want to understand when combing through product descriptions and checking out labels.

My good mate Rob over at ITS did the vast majority of the nice formatting and added all of the ‘in the field’ shots, also thanks to The Reptile House for proof reading.

The folks at ITS have kindly invited me to write more in future which is a good sign I think. I’ve not nailed down a specific topic I really delve in to yet so no idea when that might happen, but it’s certainly been a cool experience to put some of my thoughts out there to an audience beyond my own site.

 

Buy Softshell, But Also, Don’t Listen To Me

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If I can recommend an item of equipment that’ll make your life that little bit more comfortable when you’re trudging through some woodland in October, it’s kinda cold, drizzling and just generally “a bit shit” then I’d recommend softshell trousers. The same thing of course also applies for proper heavy rain, even lower temperatures, snow, pushing through tall grass that’s soaked in morning dew etc.

I’ll let the pictures here do the talking in terms of the features you expect find on an issue set of PCU L5 lowers, I’d much rather extol the virtues of the item than describe the details. Any questions you have an of course go in the comments as per. Sufficed to say they’re built somewhat like an over-trouser in some areas but still absolutely 100% functional without another layer underneath. Though that insulation option is there with some Level 1 or 2s closer to the skin when all the water around starts turning solid.

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I had such a good experience when I took my Beyond Clothing L5 trousers (which are an earlier block in the Alpha Green) through a weekend game run by Warzone Battle Simulation, that it became abundantly clear these things were the way forward in non-summer type conditions. Whether you’re deployed, on an exercise for days/weeks or playing BB wars for a couple of days, the key parts of your uniform should keep the wind out, the sun off your skin, resist some rain and most importantly of all dry out quickly when they inevitably get wet. If anyone reading this hasn’t spent time wearing damp trousers because they only brought/wore their gore-tex garment for the upper body I’d be truly amazed. Wet clothing in general sucks a big one, it’s bad for your skin and hygiene over extended periods, clings to you when you want to move, weighs a ton with the water absorbed, hampers using the actual pockets and the list goes on. Softshell does absolutely all the things that matter so much better than your regular PyCo or NyCo trousers it’s not even funny.

Problem is of course the fashionable thing to do is wear the same combat pants in literally any and all weather then maybe put on a softshell jacket if the clouds roll in and the mercury drops a tad. I get the mindset entirely, I’ve been there, we all concern ourselves with our torso because the brain cares far more about the vital organs than our legs. A lot of folks really would be well served by changing their mind set in this regard however and I know this isn’t my first time banging this particular drum, but bang it again I shall and I’ll do it again in future.

The problems I see outside of the fashion issue (which actually applies to those serving just as much as those having fun) is two fold. Primarily there’s a huge lack of reasonable options on the commercial market, unlike cotton-blend uniforms. The lack of demand means lack of supply and there’s a lot of mid range companies who only seem to offer softshell jackets with no lower halves in production. Or if they do produce them, shops can’t or won’t stock them. That said, in the US at least, the SF issued PCU L5 pants go for a small fraction of the jackets on eBay, also Big Army issuing a softshell layer as parts of ECWCS means there’s an actual f*ck ton of product out there. In multicam that is.

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Problem again though is that for people who buy their own stuff there’s a lot of social media ‘influencers’ who rarely seem to mention the genuinely all-up most economical option like mil surp uniforms, because they’re too busy bigging up whatever 5.11 or LBX released just now. Those aren’t bad brands per se for airsoft or recreational shooters, but I don’t think enough people are sufficiently suspicious of folks who get stuff to ‘review’ things. Hell be suspicious of me if you want, I always say when I get free stuff to talk about and if you think I’m being way too positive about an item feel free to disregard my opinion, go find other articles/videos and form an aggregate conclusion of your own, I’ll never discourage it. This is yet another reason I think ITS Tactical is one of the few highly popular outlets that’s specific to gear and really worth paying attention to; Bryan over there could have sponsorships and discount codes pouring out his ears if he liked yet I’ve lost count the number of times on Gear Tasting he’s said to get on eBay or groups/forums for surplus kit. Exactly the same thing I always have and will continue to recommend.

Despite really not being particularly numerous in private hands, I got these Patagonia AOR2 lowers brand new in the ever popular medium-reg for an awful lot less than Crye All-Weather Field pants (pre price jump), just because the aforementioned demand isn’t really there. Granted they’ve got a few less pockets than the Cryes or other offerings from Beyond. Their biggest downfall for me is having articulated knees that totally lack a pocket to insert a knee pad and those are probably the kinds of things that cause people to stick to their NYCO Crye-type trousers. But standalone kneepads are still a thing one can buy and did you ever actually fill up all the pockets on a set of G3 trousers? I’ve never even got close. Even in work when I’ve got multiple key sets, multiple phones, notepad and gloves, plus my usual everyday things, issue PCS trousers do me fine capacity wise.