I posted this on my Facebook page relating to one specific eBay link which I’ve not included since this article will be up long after the item has been sold, but the underlying point (about buying smart when it comes to gear) remains:
“I was just a couple of days away from posting up to discuss my US Army issue ECWCS kit when these pop up in my my daily ebay trawls.
I don’t know of a higher quality softshell jacket in multicam that can be sourced for such low prices. Sure there’s tons of Multiscam-ATP-whatever floating around cheap and SOME of it is perfectly serviceable for sporting usage (if you choose carefully), but this is a deal I really wanted to highlight in my crusade to get people to buy decent, non-lined Level 5/Softshell kit and wear it in applicable situations in place of cotton blend uniforms. Bearing in mind that if you’re in England those situations constitute 95% of the time. 99% in Wales, Scotland and Ireland.
I’ve not been able to ascertain if the ECWCS Level 5 items use the exact same softshell fabric as the PCU system that I covered in an earlier post, but from a close examination and spending some time wearing trousers from both systems in generally dreary weather, they certainly do appear to perform on a level with each other. I’d also presume that all ECWCS items are US made, though unlike PCU and a lot of other SF issued items, they were quite possibly sewn in American prisons… can’t say that bothers me personally.
Either way, the current PCS layering issue does not contain a softshell layer, either because the MoD is ignorant to the crucial importance or refuses to spend the money on us. One of the US equivalents to PCS however (ECWCS) consists of the same layering options as PCU and because it’s issued on a massive scale to the US Army that means tons of the stuff ends up on eBay.com and intelligent gear buyers can snag great deals; particularly compared to commercial offerings at the same price points. For those of us in Europe however that isn’t a lot of help given shipping costs, so when American kit appears on eBay UK I like to shout about it.
It’s when I’m out pewpewing and I see people wearing knock-off stuff that’s often costs more money but is stitched together using worse fabrics to a far lower overall quality of construction, that’s when I cry a bit inside. I want to grab them by the shoulders and shake them. But I can’t because the police didn’t take kindly to that last time.”