Thursday, 28 February 2013

511 Tactical Pant

The 511 tactical pant has long been the flagship product of the 5.11 tactical range and despite many other pant evolutions and a hugely diversified range of products since that original concept pant nothing else has ever sold as well as that original 5.11 tactical pant.

If the stories are to believed the 5.11 Tactical Pant was borne when Royal Robins and his wife Liz were climbing in California and came to the conclusion the make shift cut off jeans and T shirts they were wearing were not fit for purpose and they set about designing and creating their own range.  Originally just called the 5.11 pant, the 5.11 represented an aspirational level of climbing difficulty, the normal scale running between 5.0 (easy) and 5.10 (the hardest).  Later on when the 5.11 pant was adopted by the FBI at their training centre in Quantico Virginia (a shared resource with the Marine Corps) and for a long time Royal Robins (the company producing the 5.11 pant) restricted the sale of the 5.11 Tactical Pant to the FBI despite overwhelming demand from potential tactical customers across the globe.  The decision to limit the distribution on the 5.11 pant to exclusively FBI agents was systemic of a lack of business acumen as the company struggled to become a financial success.   In the end Dan Costas, local entrepreneur, chef and restaurant owner  took over the 5.11 side of the business creating 5.11 tactical, releasing the 5.11 tactical pant into the commercial market.

As expected the 5.11 tactical pant was a storming success and 5.11 burgeoned as a company spinning off not just a wide variety of tactical pants but also 5.11 jackets, bags, pouches, vests, shirts, sock boots, even sunglasses, knives and multitools.  Along side the original 5.11 tactical pant 5.11 now offer the Taclite Pant, the TDU (Tactical Dress Uniform) pant - in polycotton, twill, ripstop, taclite and nylon, covert cargo pants, Stryke pants with 2 way stretch Flex-Tac, Traverse pants with 4 way stretch material and even a Jean Cut tactical pant.  So far none of these, apart from the Stryke pant have come close to the sales volumes that the orginal 5.11 tactical pant have managed to maintain.

The 5.11 Tactical Pant has not changed in design very much over the years and maintains a lot of the original features that made it such a popular outdoor pant...with the exception perhaps of the magaize pocket on the front left thigh and internal knee pad pockets.  You still get the rear strap across the top of the right buttock, the gusseted crotch and re enforced panels and stitching to ensure maximum durability. 

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Knee pads and Elbow protectors

Blackhawk knee pads have proved to be the most popular knee pads in recent years with their V2 Advanced Tactical Knee pad being their latest incarnation.  Apart from all the standard features you would expect the Blackhawk knee pads contoured interior ledge prevents the knee pads from slipping down your leg, and when you combine it with the padded side extensions which not only improve positioning and comfort themselves but also allow the straps to be pulled even tighter without causing discomfort then the Blackhawk knee pads really offer one of the most securely positioned pads on the market.

There are also two other kinds of Blackhawk knee pads on the market, the Neoprene knee pads and the Neoprene slip in insert pads specifically designed to complement their Blackhawk performance pant but which are also compatible with the 5.11 Tactical Pants.  The Neoprene Blackhawk knee pads are a fantastic option when you don't need or want the bulk of the Advanced Tactical Knee pads.  Whilst they may not offer the same level of impact protection as the V2s the Neoprene version gives more than enough padding for comfort when in the kneeling position.  One of the major advantages of the Blackhawk neoprene knee pads is they can be worn under a pair of jeans and still be very covert.

For the Ultra stealthy the Slip in Blackhawk Knee inserts are a low profile sheet of neoprene cut to fit the specially designed pockets in the front of the tactical trousers.  The neoprene will make the knee slightly more rigid than a normal trouser but other than that will not bulge or distort the line of your trousers to give away the presence of the knee pad below.  Obviously these offer the lease protection.

Similar to the range of Blackhawk knee pads they also offer a range of elbow pads based around the same principals.  The V2 Advanced Elbow Pad is like the V2 Knee pad with the rigid outer polymer for maximum protection and the neoprene lower profile version for mid level protection and concealment with the extra element of mobility.  Blackhawk even do a neoprene elbow insert, though I am not sure how popular this is as even most tactical shirts do not support elbow inserts!

Monday, 4 February 2013

Overt V Covert Earpieces

A lot of people user the acoustic style covert earpieces all the time simply because they look a bit more Ally, but are they really as comfortable and do they offer the same level of audio performance as there non covert alternatives?

Covert earpieces are normally a clear acoustic tube which loops over the ear and runs down the back of the neck to a hidden transducer.  You can also get the wireless covert ear pieces which are a lot more expensive and consist of a small wireless receiver and speaker in a bud about the size of a baked bean which can we inserted into the ear canal.  Wireless earpieces are more covert but will set you back at least £100, normally more like £250 inc a PTT switch and mic etc.  The acoustic tube style is only going to set you back less than £20.

The covert tube style earpieces normally come in two styles, with or without PTT mic.  Without the PTT & Mic (which should only cost about a tenner) you can plug it into a chest mic, now although this kind of defeats the "Covert" element of the earpiece I have seen a lot of operators do it based on the fact they prefer the light weight comfort and fit of the acoustic tube and in ear bud (or gel insert) over the overt G and D shape earpieces. The downside can be a loss of sound quality over the D and G Shape Earpieces, esp with the use of the in ear bud which fully blocks the ear canal, however I have found that by investing in a good quality product there is no loss of volume or clarity with a covert acoustic tube and a definite increase in comfort.

The third type of covert earpiece is an alternative approach, rather than trying to hide the earpiece, try and disguise it!  These earpieces are designed to look like commercial headphones for MP3 players or Ipods.  They might come in white, or another funky colour allowing the wearer to "hide in plain site".