I recently received for wear testing two sets of Protocol uniforms from Triumvirate Enterprises. The uniforms would be best described as contemporary utility blue BDUs. As I also recently repeated Active Shooter Instructor School (voluntarily just because it's always different) I felt it might be the perfect opportunity to test out the uniforms. I wasn't disappointed and wanted to pass along the info about the uniforms and their fit / features for those of you who might be in the market or making recommendations.
Before I get into the features of the uniforms, how they fit, how comfortable they are, etc, I need to point out that they are manufactured by Triumvirate Enterprises. Based in Indiana, Triumvirate Enterprises is a veteran owned company and the current president of the company is a 28+ year veteran of the military and law enforcement. The companies slogan of The Pillar of Principle should give you an idea of how they perceive themselves and their mission.
Now, let's get into these uniforms and how they did in my wear testing.
As I mentioned, they are essentially navy blue battle dress uniforms or "BDUs". They have all the typical pockets you'd expect as such, but Triumvirate has gone another step and incorporated some of the best features available in contemporary BDU/ACU and commercial clothing designs today. Take a look at the photo above right as I go through some of these features and a few they don't mention in their promotional material but that are valuable none-the-less.
While I'm used to BDUs that button on - both down the shirt front and in the crotch - the Protocol uniform shirt has a zipper on both which I find to be a lot quicker and more convenient. However, on the shirt you don't want the overlap flapping so Triumvirate put three velcro points down the front length. Once zipped you just press down the length and they stick. The shirt can be worn tucked in or untucked and look respectable, but here's a wear hint: if you're going to tuck the shirt in (if you're male) don't stick the last velcro point. That ends up right centered on your crotch and makes going to the bathroom more challenging (it doesn't want to open to allow things through). Leave that bottom one NOT velcroed if you're going to tuck in the shirt (just my advice).
One either side of your chest is the usual breast pocket but behind the main pocket is a hidden pocket that accessses from a velcro shut opening that's vertical on either side of the shirt front zipper. It's not a huge pocket - it's the same size as the breast pocket, so it's sufficient for small notepads, a cell phone, business cards and such.
The sleeves have reinforced elbows with pockets inside to hold neoprene pads. My test uniforms were supplied with the pads and I removed them prior to washing and reinserted them prior to the training evolutions. I didn't find the padding to be restrictive and (as you'll see below) my knees certainly appreciated the cushion a couple times. The same would hold true for elbows but I didn't have the need to get down in a low crawl or prone position to test out the elbow padding. Two additional features about the shirts that I liked are:
- The shoulder extensions provided. Having them gives you more room to reach and turn and makes the shirt feel less restrictive.
- The pen pocket sewn into the end of the left sleeve. Since about 92% of the population is right handed this only makes sense and is convenient.
The pants are listed as having an adjustable waist but what that means is, for instance, the size LARGE pants have waist that will stretch / expand to fit anything between 35.5" to 39". The uniforms are cut conservatively so don't pat your ego by ordering Larges when you really need X-Larges. If your waist is 40" you are NOT going to get into the Larges comfortably and you'll risk blowing the pants out as you move through duties and training. Get the size you need and suck it up if you're not happy about your waist measurements.
The pants have extra large cargo pockets and inside the pocket are two segmented sections up against the pant leg. So you have a large cargo pocket and inside that you have the large "dump" portion as well as two open-top pouches if you will that are better suited to organizing knives, lights, magazines, etc. The pants also have a reinforced crotch which is vitally important if you got the wrong size (a tad too small) or if you really are moving so much squatting, crouching, etc that you pull your pant's crotch constantly. It's nice not to blow out your pants and have all your buddies see what color boxers you're wearing... or that you're going commando. Reinforced crotch = good.
Inside the pants legs at the knees are the pockets to hold neoprene pads. Again, I received the pads with the uniforms and removed them before washing, replacing them before use. I know that neoprene offers little to no protection against puncture and sharp objects when you take a knee, but as I went to kneeling several times in the course of a scenario, having that padding was a lot more comfortable than banging my knees on the concrete / tiled floors of the school where we trained. For those of you who have pants that have such pockets but don't have the pads to insert, go to your local office supply store and pick up four of their generic mouse pads (usually about $1 a piece). Measure and cut them to fit your pants pad pockets. Two is better than one, but one is better than knee-on-concrete.
So, when I received the uniforms I took out all the pads and ran them through the wash a few times. Three times I ran them in hot water with heavy detergent and fabric softener. I didn't see any immediate fading. Twice more I washed them in cold water with detergent but no softener. I saw no change and the uniforms were comfortable to wear.
Taking note of the comment above about the bottom velcro tab on the shirts, I wore it tucked in for all of the training over my soft body armor. These uniforms were as comfortable as any I've ever worn, moved well and didn't feel restrictive. The belt loops are placed well to support attaching a gun belt to your pants belt (garrison belt) and wrap keepers around. The shirts are priced at $49.95 (3X & 4X are $54.95) while the pants are all $54.95. Comparing that to the contemporary market those are good prices and I imagine, as you see these make their way into wholesaler and distributor stock the prices will be even a bit better.
Ultimately, I was quite pleased with them and will be setting them up for uniform use in the near future (adding name patches, sewing in badge holes, etc.) If you're in the market for BDUs in this color, I can recommend these.