Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Multi Cam V Multi Terrain

Another mystery to clean up, the confusion between Crye Mulicam (USA) and Multi Terrain Pattern (UK)!  Both patterns look very similar to the untrained eye, because they were both developed to serve the same purpose, to provide a single versatile pattern that was suitable for use in desert, urban and green vegetation all at once!

Once of the major driving forces was the conflict in Afghanistan with its grey-brown mudbrick buildings,  sandy deserts and well irrigated leafy green zone all piled up on top of each other with contacts often sprawling across all 3 environments.  Traditional British Woodland DPM (Disruptive Pattern Marking) and Desert DPM were only effective in one scenario and actually made soldiers stand out like a sore thumb in the opposite conditions.

Both MTP and MultiCam use more colours than their original single use counterparts, covering a broader spectrum of the colour range.

Crye have since licensed their pattern and as well as producing their own range for private indivuduals (as well as on contract to the US Government) they allow brands like 5.11, Blackhawk, Arctryx and more to use their pattern on their products in exchange for a fee.  This has lead to a flood of Multicam products entering onto the market globally.  Multi-Terrain on the other hand is still owned by the British MOD (Like DPM was) but has not been licensed out or allowed to be produced by anyone else.  There are similar patterns like "All Terrain Pattern" or ATP which are privately produced to be as close to MTP as possible without infringing on the patent/copyright.  This means that most private purchasers have not been able to but Multi Terrain and are instead buying either Multi Cam or ATP products instead.  Often with a bit of wear and tear and some dirt rubbed in an ATP or MultiCam pouch on an MTP vest is indistinguishable from the background pattern.

All of the new generation of Camouflage patterns are not only designed with the broad mid spectrum of colours, but they are also meant to slightly reflect the colour of their surroundings so that they appear more green in the woods and more coyote in the desert, and they do appear to work well.  The patterns have been widely accepted and well received by the troops and this technology looks set to dominate the production of military clothing and equipment for the near future at least.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

De Mystery Boots Cross Country Test

Bit later than I had hoped I got these boots back on for the cross country test.  I had a few shin splints from the amount of running I had been clocking up recently so eased off and used my Hi Tech trainers with the insoles to minimize impacts whilst still keeping up some training, but they seem to have eased off so I got the boots back on and the cross country terrain is actually a bit softer under foot that the tarmac.

Any rate, the boots test!  This time the boots were already broken in a bit more and I didn't suffer the same rubbing in on the back of the calf.  The boots were a lot more supportive than the Magnum Stealths, I felt very comfortable running at pace over broken ground in these.  The sole was exactly the right level of rigid/flexible for stability and comfort and excellent traction on mud, gravel dirt and grass.

The boots were sold as "water resistant" they have an oily leather, water proof Cordura and water proof YKK zip.  Running through puddles/shallow water was completely fine didn't notice any water seeping in during the course of the run.  I then tested them in the same was as I had the Stealth WPI boots by paddling around in the shallows of a lake.  At first was incredibly impressed, thinking they might actually be waterproof, but after about 60 seconds water had begun to seep in, not flood in mind, just around the seams and the tongue.  For a non waterproof boot they are about as water resistant as you can get!

In terms of personal preference, I really, really like these boots.  A bit tough at first to break in, but after that a fantastic rugged, supportive, durable boot, water resistant, very breathable and a nice professional appearance.  I might be tempted to add some of the shock mitigating insoles though if I was to be doing a lot of urban pursuits though.

When I get permission from the higher authority I will name this boot publicly and I am sure a lot of police officers will be interested in this development in police footwear. 

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Base Layers

With all the running I'm doing at the moment I felt it would be remiss not to have a discussion about base layers .  These offer so many advantages over cotton T shirts (or boxers) that for their price that there is no reason not to invest.

Personally I use a lot of Under Armour especially their tactical range.  Though this is only suitable for training, the polyarmour material they use is highly flammable and will melt into your skin if ignited. Most military forces have banned it from use on operations.  Companies like DriFire and Potomac make new moisture wicking baselayers that are also intrinsically flame resistant, ideal for use under body Armour where IEDs are a threat.

They also do a range of boxers and breifs.

When it comes to socks I like Nike Elite Running Socks with coolmax wicking wool and additional padding on selected areas that are most susceptible to rubbing.

All of the above products not only provide comfort in the form of heat and moisture management but they also reduce bacteria and fungal buildup reducing odor and skin irritation.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Sports Supplements

Another quick interim blog before I give De Mystery boots their next test.  I know a lot of guys (and to a lesser extent girls) use supplements in some form or another to help with their training and recovery.  I will give a quick rundown of the major product groups and their effectiveness.

  1. Protein Powders: A quick convenient way to add extra protein to your diet, ideal for post workout as they are fast to consume and quick to digest rushing amino acids to the torn muscle tissue for repair and growth.  A shake after training is ideal for gym or track sessions.
  2. Hydration Supplements: Commercially available as PowerAid , Lucozade Sport or the more popular in America Gatorade in most supermarkets, corners-hops or petrol stations they are a convenient and tasty way to replace fluids and lost muscle glycogen.  These drinks are proven to enhance performance over water alone.  Try buying a tub of powder form on line and mixing it in your own drinks bottle  when you need it to save money in the long run.
  3. Multivitamins: A great addition to even a well balanced diet as the demands of hard training athletes are more than the average person. 
  4. Joint Supplements: Primarily Codliver Oil and Glucosamine & Chondroitin are most commonly used and if you do a lot of road work they are invaluable for your ankles, knees and hips.
  5. Creatine: Mainly for weight trainers, this is one of the few supplements that can live up to its claims (it doesn't work for all people).  The exact mechanism isn't know, but there are two main hypothesis A) That it forms Phospho-Creatine in your muscles providing a phosphate molecule during the crebs cylcle of muscle contraction, and B) It draw additional water into muscle cells making them bigger and more turgid.  Basically increasing size and strength in training individuals.
Thats a quick synopsis of the most popular supplements on the market.  A bit of kit that is often over looked in ones equipment arsenal for gaining the tactical advantage.

If you want any more advice on the minefield that is sports nutrition post a comment and I'll give my best answer.

Next up, back to boots, clothing bags and bits.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

The new improved 5.11 Rush series

There has been a bit of confusion recently with the introduction from 5.11 of the new Rush 12 daypack which had some improved spec over the old style 24 and 72 models, and the subsequent porting of the new spec to the 24 and 72 styles.

The two major changes I have been most pleased with are the changes to the yoke seams so that there are now two seams off set from the center instead of the single center join on the original model.  That center seam was a definite weak point in the old construction.  The new bags 24 and 12 bags also come with a tri-gilde buckle for attaching a hip belt or waist strap.  Now whilst it is a bit annoying that they don't come with a strap included, it is a marked step up from the old model that had no option whatsoever.  Currently 5.11 don't seem to offer the a waist belt as an extra in their catalogue but that might be something they introduce in their "fall" (autumn) collection.

The new bags also have improved rain covers on the YKK Zips, the rubber stamp logo has been mounted on the MOLLE on the bag giving full coverage for pouch mounting.  A couple of additional clips have been added to allow the "teir" system to operate making the packs hugely diverse as you can expand or contract capacity quickly and easily by adding what are in effect smaller stand alone bags to the main pack.  The quick release buckles on the straps have also been moved so they sit on top of the padded upper rather than below it meaning the buckles will not dig into you any more.  They don't come with the click suppressors anymore, some people loved them, some people hated them, if you want to add your own they can be made pretty easily with some black elastic....I have.

So it's all pluses really, the bags retain all their fundamental good points that have made made them so popular and the new tweaks really make them perfect in my opinion.

You can see a full video review here or if you want to buy one I suggest you use PatrolStore.com as they only have the New 5.11 Rush bags in stock unlike a lot of retailers who are still punting out the old style at full price to unsuspecting customers!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Gerber Hinderer CLS

The Gerber Hinderer CLS is a rescue knife.....not a boot! I know things have been pretty footwear oriented of late so I thought I would mix it up with a quick knife review.

Most of you probably already know the Gerber brand and its reputation for quality in its products.  The UK distribution has been taken over by Friskars Too Company  you know the company behind those annoying gardening tools ads but that does not appear to have affected the Gerber brand.

The Hinderer CLS is a folding lock knife which opens one handed due to its smooth hinge and the thumb grip on the side of the blade.  It also features a window punch on the hilt and strap cutter that folds out of the handle.  Unlik its sister product the similarly named "Gerber Hinderer" the CLS version has a pointed tip as well as a fine curved blade at the end and a serrated section towards the handle.  The CLS version also comes in covert black as oppose to rescue red!  The black includes the blade not just the handle to reduce and reflective surfaces making it ideal for military users.  If you are working in the UK the Rescue version is much more suitable.  The handle also has a metal clip on the side which is sold as a "belt clip" but it works just very well on a MOLLE system and to be honest I would have it stored on my chest whist riding in a vehicle in a hostile environment rather than on the belt for easy access.

The blade, and overall construction are excellent quality and ergonomically designed for almost any use.

On the subject of Gerber (is it meant to be pronounced Grrrr-ber or Jer-ber ) they have also recently released a Bear Grylls range of multitools and survival knives which I hope to give a thorough trial later on.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Magnum Stealth WPI - Cross Country Test

Pulling these back on I had forgotten how soft they were.  The upper flexes so easily at the ankle that they feel like you are running in your slippers....but these are def to soft for running on uneven ground, especially with a pack or bergen on.

As I remembered from the tarmac test these boots are light and "cushioney" underfoot, possibly due to the included M-Pact Memory foam insole that comes with every pair.  Something I am going to be adding as a stand alone to any of my boots/trainers from now on!

Now the most interesting bit for me was the water test.  I basically went for a paddle for 5-10 mins or so standing/walking about in water about 5 to 6 inches deep making sure the boots were submerged above the laces and tongue over the the height of my ankle bone......and the results BONE DRY!  No note able water penetration at all.  Very impressive.

When I got home I was so impressed I tested them in the sink! I filled them up with water then tipped them up and poured them out. Normally if you submerge a boot like this the lining and padding soak up water like a sponge and the boots then squelch about for hours and weigh several pounds more until you put them in the airing cupboard overnight!  Not with the Stealth WPI no no, 99% of the water just poured straight out.  Putting my hand in after it still felt a bit damp as there were still water droplets trapped in the folds and creases, but after wiping out the inside with a towel I had no qualms about putting them back on with my socks.  This technology might really be a game changer for waterproofing techniques.

Run test complete  on the Magnum Stealth force and I am still one impressed customer.  If you are a UK police officer, foot patrol security guard or even a doorman make the Magnum Stealth Leather WPI your winder boot of choice....if you can afford them.  Prices seem to range from £120 in the shops to just under £90 online (plus P&P of course).