The 5.11 Tactical TacDry Rain Shell
Photo credit: 5.11 Tactical
With any outer garment, when you start adding in pockets and overlaps, you inevitably add more fabric which means more weight. In doing so it's possible to make something as light as a windbreaker heavier than necessary. Another challenge often found is that when you design and manufacture a "rain coat" the very material that keeps the rain out keeps heat and sweat / moisture in. Imagine my surprise when I got this 5.11 Tactical TacDry Rain Shell for wear testing and thought it was a well-designed wind-breaker only to discover it was a rain shell. I can't call it a rain coat because it's only waist-length, so I'll use their term: rain shell. Let's look at the features and function.
According to the 5.11 Tactical Website this jacket has the following features:
- 100% nylon
- Waterproof breathable seam sealed construction
- Removable hood rolls into collar
- Removable pull-out ID panels
- 5 pockets
- Storm flap
- Quck access side seam zips
Before I get into those features, and some others that aren't on that list, I need to add that the jacket is available in black, dark navy (blue) and charcoal. (Dark Navy and Charcoal shown). Now, about those features...
100% nylon is what it is. All of the outer part of the garment and the hood are nylon. The necessary parts of the ID panels and some of the pockets are also nylon. The entire jacket is lined in a mesh-net that helps it move around you without binding and (I believe) has to aid in keeping the air moving so you sweat less. The jacket zips up the front with extra security via snaps at the top and bottom. The cuffs are adjustable with elastic built in and velcro straps to make the cuffs tighter if you desire.
I have worn this jacket in both light sprinkles and heavy rain. In both it did what it was supposed to do and kept my torso and arms dry. The temperatures when worn for testing were in the high-eighties (F) so any sweat that I developed could just as easily be attributed to the weather as the waterproof characteristic of the jacket. Subjectively, though, I didn't feel like the jacket contributed to my body's heat maintenance. The jacket wears light and doesn't feel warm.
Of course, one of the first things I did, because I don't much like hoods, was to remove this one. Then, the first time I got caught out in the rain without a hat, but with this jacket, I cursed myself for removing the hood. It attaches via snaps and rolls up neatly into the collar. Word of advice: if you don't have to take it off, just roll it up and store it away. It's better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it - as my rain-wetted head demonstrated that day.
There are three removable pull-out ID panels. One in each breast pocket and one under the storm flap across the back of the shoulders. A badge could be hung on either of the breast ID Panels and POLICE, SHERIFF, AGENT (or whatever) could be put in pretty big letters across the back panel (it's about one foot square). If you don't want to use the panels, they come off easy enough: just pull them off the velcro mount. Be aware: if you use the breast ID panels, they store in the pockets. That means, if you want to store OTHER stuff in the chest pockets, that other stuff might be in the way when you go to pull out the ID panel(s).
The five pockets are: two chest, two hand and TWO inside the left side (yep, totaling six - a mistake on the 5.11 site?) The two inside the left side aren't big but could hold a cell phone, single cell flashlight, etc. The two hand pockets both zip shut and have mesh-net liners. Keep that in mind if you go to put anything metal with sharp edges in there (not that you would).
The storm flap - across the back of your shoulders - is more productive and useful if you 1) zip it open and 2) take out the ID Panel. However, it works just fine with the ID panel in.
The quick access side zip seams are pretty cool in my opinion, but not everyone wants them, and off duty you probably don't need them zipped open. Not only do they zip shut, but in this case, 5.11 Tactical added in clips on the inside of the side seams so you can have an added level of security. I think we've all worn jackets with side-zip seams where the seam zipped open even when we wanted to keep it closed. Just clip those inside clips on this jacket and the seam is held shut... even if the zipper starts to stray.
Comfort while I was wear testing it was good. I got an X-Large that is roomy on me (5'-10", 190 pounds) so order the size you need accordingly. While I felt like the jacket was cut generously, I only had on a gun and a single magazine pouch on my belt underneath it. Remember that this jacket isn't designed to keep you warm, but to keep you dry. It does cut the wind a little, but it excels at keeping water off your body (and your head if you're smart enough to leave the hood attached and use it).
MSRP on the 5.11 Tactical website is $139.99, but I'm sure you can find it for less if you do a little searching around.
About The Author:
Lt. Frank Borelli (ret) is the Editor In Chief for Officer.com, and has over 29 years of military and civilian law enforcement experience. An instructor since 1989 and having delivered training across the country, he stays active in police work, training, and writing. Frank has had four non-fiction and two fiction books published along with two research papers of specific interest to the law enforcement and/or military communities. All can be found / purchased on his Author Page on Amazon.com linked above. If you have any comments or questions, you can contact him via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.