I’m sure most of you have heard of GORE-TEX®. It’s a lightweight, water proof, wind proof, and breathable fabric used in high quality outerwear, foot wear, and various other items to keep you and your gear dry. The company that produces it is, W.L. Gore & Associates Inc. and another one of their products is called WINDSTOPPER®. Gore recognized the need to create a new option for procurement of quality duty outerwear for smaller agencies and individual officers. Some outerwear with GORE™ materials can be prohibitively expensive for the individual officer or even a small police agency to buy through traditional channels.
Gore teamed up with certified manufacturer, Forum Industries in San Antonio, Texas to make two new high quality patrol jackets and that’s exactly what they have delivered. This article is specifically for the WINDSTOPPER® Patrol Soft Shell from Forum Industries. The other jacket they came up with is the GORE-TEX® Lightweight Patrol Shell and both are initially available in navy blue and black. (Brown and olive drab are coming soon for the GORE-TEX® Lightweight Patrol Shell and other colors are being considered for the WINDSTOPPER® jacket.) Look for an article about the GORE-TEX® Lightweight Patrol Shell also from Forum Industries soon.
The WINDSTOPPER® Patrol Soft Shell has quickly become one of my favorite jackets. The outer shell is a stretch nylon and the backer/liner is fleece. One thing I really like about the fleece backer is it covers the entire inside of the jacket to include the sleeves and collar. While the fleece lining helps when temperatures drop, proper layering will help you stay warm without the need to wear a bulky jacket that makes you look like the kid in “A Christmas Story”.
The outer shell is treated with Gore’s “durable water repellent” finish. This treatment provides the water beading properties. Water will bead up on the shell and can be wiped or shook off. Don’t let this special coating prevent you from washing the jacket when needed either. Gore actually recommends washing the jacket if it becomes soiled by dirt and grime. Contaminates can degrade the beading properties of the finish. Machine wash and dry the jacket and the water resistant properties return with no issue.
Regardless, the ability of the jacket to keep the wearer dry is due to the WINDSTOPPER® membrane. The cuffs on the wrist have hook & loop type adjustment. The zippers on the jacket were selected because of their water resistant qualities as well as being anti-glare which was specifically requested by users in the field. The jacket is offered in an “Ike” length and a standard length. The Ike sits right at or just above your gun belt while the standard length goes below the gun belt. The standard model has side zippers and button closure elastic tabs to wrap under and behind your holster to keep the side of the jacket secure and out of the way.
The WINDSTOPPER® Patrol Soft Shell has four pockets. Two fleece lined hand warmer pockets and two breast pockets that are also fleece lined. All of the pockets have zipper closure and the pockets are sewn in too place to prevent pulling the pockets inside out. There is a bottom hem draw cord adjustment that can be drawn tight on the left and right sides near the side zippers. I personally cut the cord out because I have seen too many negligent discharge reports over the years caused by draw cords getting caught in triggers. I advised Gore of my concerns over this and they are exploring different options for either securing, relocating, or discarding the cord all together.
This leads me to customization of the jacket for the officer or the agency. The base line jacket can have badge tab, name plate tabs, shoulder mic tabs, etc. The best part is Forum Industries will do that on an individual basis. You don’t have to make a bulk order to get the extra features. They will also sew your agency patches on the jacket for you at their factory.