At several of the large shows/conventions where vendors have displays I've seen the Tru-Spec apparel on display. At one such convention I had a long and enjoyable conversation with the LE sales representative for Tru-Spec and, as a result, I ended up with a box of uniform apparel to wear test. I had the perfect opportunity to test all of it and will report on it in pieces. The first thing I tested - thanks to Mother Nature's usual spring treatment - was the second generation ECWCS water proof parka and pants.
To make this easy (on me), Let me go ahead and list out the features as Tru-Spec details them on their website, and then will discuss how the "system" performed and how some of the features come in handy.
- Constructed from windproof, waterproof, breathable 3-layer nylon material
- Dintex™ inner lining
- Rollable Hood Stores In Collar
- Sleeve Pockets Allow For Sewn-on Patches
- Drawstring Waist With Cord Lock
- Adjustable Sleeve Cuffs
- Hidden Map Pocket
- Non-freezing Two Way Zipper
- Double Storm Flap
- Insignia/Badge Loop On Front Placket
- Sleeves Have Zippered Underarm For Ventilation
- Sizes: Small - 3XLarge Regular & Medium - 2XLarge Long
This particular garment is also available in the following colors / digital patterns:
- Army digital
- Coyote (tan)
- Digital desert
- Digital woodland
- OD Green
If pure water protection isn't what you need; if you need to add another layer for warmth, as part of the ECWCS (Extended Cold Weather Clothing System), you can snap in (at the neck and sleeve cuffs) an insulating jacket of the various available protection levels. This isn't an option I had to try out, but I'm familiar with it from other uses of the system. It is convenient and can provide a good amount of warmth in addition to keep you dry. Keeping dry is probably one of the most important parts of staying warm since water can sap your body heat up to four times faster than air. If you're wet, you chill faster and can become hypo-thermic much quicker.
I also received the matching pair of waterproof pants. The pants are available in a wider array of colors to include:
- Army digital
- Woodland camo
- Coyote Tan
- OD Green
- Desert 3-color
- Digital woodland
- Digital dessert
I found the fit to be comfortable although the generic sizing can sometimes make the fit less than perfect. My arms are slightly longer than average for my height / build, so I had to use an XL parka to get the arm coverage where I wanted it. That meant having more room than necessary in my torso. If I add a warmth layer jacket inside the parka, that extra room is handy to have. If I don't have a warmth layer installed then the extra parka material seems "flappy"; out of place; unnecessary. There's nothing that can be done about it though and it's not a critical comment. There is an internal, waist-height drawstring system that helps to pull the parka in and keep that extra material closer to the body, under some control. If you use that waist drawstring you have less chance of snagging on anything you're walking by when you're wearing the parka.
I've never found a pair of waterproof pants that were comfortable - only because I don't wear such often enough to feel comfortable in them. These were no different. Wearing pants over pants isn't something that feels right but it's something you quickly adjust to if the environmental conditions mandate it. When you go play in the snow you wear an outer shell. Think of these the same way (and now that I think about it, I'm putting this stuff on when I go sledding with my son this coming winter.)
I had opportunity to have to walk/march about four miles on a rainy spring morning. The temperatures were in the low-70s and, as warm as that might sound, if you're wet and the temps are in the 70s, you can become hypo-thermic pretty quick. Just ask any SCUBA diver. That's why they (we) wear wetsuits in those temps; to help maintain our body heat. On that same spring morning I found myself wearing these waterproof items to climb a ladder (several times), carry equipment and, joy of joys, clean out gutters. Since we're talking about a waterproof parka and pants though, let's keep our eye on the ball: what was the goal? to stay dry.
The system performed as it should. When I came in out of all that rain (and it really down-poured for part of that walk/march), I was dry except for my hands and feet. My boots were not waterproof (stupid me) and, well... there's just not much you can do to keep your hands dry if you have to work with them.
For the first half-hour / first mile of the walk/march, wearing the waterproof outer garments felt odd. After that I'd gotten used to them and they didn't bother me. When I took everything off and realized that I was dry as described, I really appreciated how well the system had worked.
I encourage you to check them out online at www.atlanco.com.
About The Author:
Lt. Frank Borelli (ret) is the Editor In Chief for Officer.com, and has over 28 years of military and civilian law enforcement experience. An instructor since 1989 and having delivered training around 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 [email protected].