The apex predator of wet weather gear.
A good set of rain gear should be a top priority for anyone that spends a lot of time outdoors. Few things are more miserable than being cold and wet, especially when there’s no prospect of fixing that situation until the sun comes back out. A good set of GORE-TEX goes a long way in keeping morale high because anything it covers stays warm and dry, regardless of the weather conditions outside.
All wet weather gear is not created equal. I was once issued wet weather gear as a light infantry soldier that was nothing more than rubber-covered cloth. It was definitely waterproof, but it trapped moisture and inhibited movement. Wrapping the human body in rubber might sound like a fun role-playing game, but it’s a horrible idea when it’s time to shoot and move in inclement weather.
I received my first set of issued GORE-TEX gear as a Special Forces soldier. This was my introduction to the good stuff in terms of gear and I learned a few valuable lessons. The first lesson I learned is that it’s possible for a garment to be waterproof while remaining breathable. This is essential because the human body perspires, even at rest. Moisture leaves the human body and, if the protective garment doesn’t allow it to move into the atmosphere, that moisture makes clothing damp. You can wear as many layers as you like, but when those layers are damp you will get cold or uncomfortable. Also, as soon as the body starts to move, the amount of moisture it generates increases sharply. GORE-TEX is the only material I’ve found that breathes well enough to keep the body warm and dry during periods of rest and over the course of short periods of activity.
The second lesson I learned is that most GORE-TEX garments aren’t shaped well for movement. Issued GORE-TEX is meant to kind of fit a wide variety of body types, so an active soldier would be best served by finding and purchasing their own GORE-TEX garments made for mountaineering. Mountaineering clothing uses high-quality materials, is cut more like active clothing than like the trash-bag shaped GORE-TEX I was issued, but it usually comes in bright colors and had pockets and zippers in all the wrong places.
All of the legacy issues associated with finding the best GORE-TEX gear for tactical use have finally come to end with the advent of SITKA Arrowhead Equipment's new Wet Weather Protective Jacket and Pant. SITKA uses GTX 40d Nylon Ripstop with DWR as the material in these garments, a material that has a proven track record in this application. SITKA also has over 15 years of experience being highly successful at designing clothing for bodies that move. All of that tribal knowledge went into this GORE-TEX gear. Little things like having sleeves and pant legs that move with the body instead of resisting movement make these items comfortable as well as durable. Historically, GORE-TEX pants are perpetually at risk when the guy wearing them takes a knee. Most GORE-TEX pants are baggy and sag when walking or even standing. Kneel down to dig in a ruck and the crotch gets pulled so tight it often rips. SITKA Arrowhead pants don’t have the baggy crotch, have a functional belt built-in, and even come with a set of suspenders if you know you’re going to be moving while wearing them. They even put Kevlar reinforcement at the cuffs to prevent them from tearing when one foot glances off the opposite leg when walking or running (the Kevlar is also useful should you need to fast-rope in GORE-TEX). Side zips along the legs make it easy to don and doff these pants without removing boots.
The jacket is equally well thought-out. It uses the same great material found in the pants, is cut for a body in motion, and puts highly useful features in all the right places. Under arm side zips allow the wearer to open them up during movement to let perspiration escape and pockets on the upper torso and upper arms give the wearer plenty of places to stash small items without having them get in the way, should he or she need to squat or run. Lastly, the hood shape isn’t overly large and it doesn’t decrease visibility when worn over the head. Both jacket and pants are initially available in black, lead, and multicam colors.
High quality GORE-TEX gear appropriate for outdoor tactical use has been one of my top clothing priorities for over 20 years because a good set can prevent so much misery. It’s been several years since anyone made a serious attempt to make such gear, so SITKA’s Arrowhead line is cause to celebrate. Thanks to the SITKA Arrowhead Equipment WWP Jacket and Pants, we have cutting edge materials and the best design now available for tactical and general use.