Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Tactical Socks

Given how much is spent on police and military boots it is surprising to find how common it is to neglect making a proper investment in some quality socks.  Personally I think a lot of people blame the poor comfort levels of their boots on the fact they haven't bothered to select some proper socks and in fact I think a lot of people end up spending too much on uber Gucci boots when they could get away with spending a lot less on the boots and bit more on some quality socks.

Personally I have experienced quite a few different brands and styles of socks over the years as a civilian and going through Royal Marine Recruit training.  As a civilian I had the luxury of a pair of nicely broken in Lowa Mountain Boots (in limited edition Sepia) as an RMR Nod it was pussers issue CAB boots (some of the other recruits replaced their insole with a more Gucci footbed but I did my training with the standard footbed.)

If I start with the best and work my way down to the worst.

1000 Mile Fusion Service Socks
These were the socks that saved me when my feet were already wrecked from an earlier poor choice and once they had carried me home I quickly bought 3 more pairs of 1000 mile socks and never looked back!  1000 mile socks are slightly unique in their 2 layer system, the inner being a 100% Tactel super comfortable, high wicking base layer and the outer being a 40% Merino Wool, 29% Nylon, 23% Polyester, 6% Cotton and 2% Lycra blend.  The two tier system is not unlike the sock and sock liner combinations that are on offer from other brands like Bridgedale, but with 1000 mile it is just in a handy single unit and it works incredibly well, being super comfortable and both warm when its cold and cool when it is hot!

Magnum MX3- Patrol Socks
These were a surprise high performer! The socks are a fairly basic "mid thickness" single layer sock made from 70% Mag-Dry, 27% Nylon and 3% Spandex. Given their "weight" they are actually quite warm (too warm for the summer), but the material blend is incredibly comfortable and highly  wicking, keeping your feet fresh.

Lion Workwear Ultimate CoolMax Tactical Patrol Socks
I am not sure of the exact blend of these socks but the description mentions CoolMax, Elastane and Polyamide.  These socks are toasty warm, which is why I pulled them on during a particularly cold exercise  however that backfired after a we embarked on a hefty yomp and my feet soon started to suffer.  Whether it was the heat induced sweating or the construction of the sock itself I don't know by the soles of my feet soon started to blister up nicely...They might be ok in colder climbs!

At the bottom of the list - Milcom Patrol Socks very basic in every way, made from 63% acrylic, 28% wool and 10% polyester they offer only minimal improvement over pussers (standard) issue socks...if any really.  I found them to be kind of itchy and offered minimal blister or pinch prevention and were not especially warm.  On the flip side they do come with a years guarantee, but as they lived a the bottom of my sock draw there was minimal chance of them being worn out within that time frame with me.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Belt Pouches

There are a variety of belt pouches available on the police market in any number of different sizes, shapes, colours (mainly black) and materials and all at different price points.  Today I will talk about different belt pouch materials first and then move onto some of the different belt pouch brands and also look at some of the product specific pouches for batons, handcuffs, torches etc. in later articles.

The 4 main types of materials used for the majority of belt pouches are:

  1. Polyester
  2. Nylon
  3. Cordura
  4. Leather
Polyester is probably the most commonly used material for most belt pouches, however even within the polyester category there are a number of different "Deniers" or "weights" of fabric.  For belt pouches anything between 600 and 1500 is used with most manufacturers opting for something around the 900-1200 mark.  Lower than 900 seems to be the cheaper end of the market an the products are generally accepted to be less durable though of course lighter in weight, over 1200 is generally overkill for a pouch as it is not usually going to hold that much weight, heavier Deniers are more commonly used in kit bags rather than pouches.  Polyester is probably the cheapest material available, but that does not mean it is not fit for purpose, though some more picky users complain that the "black" you get with polyester belt pouches is not true enough.

Nylon for all intents and purposes looks and feels much like polyester, and again you can get nylon belt pouches in a variety of different Deniers. A lot of users report nylon to have a much better "black" than polyester.  Nylon is slightly more expensive than polyester

Cordura is in fact a special type of Nylon which has been trademarked by DuPont.  Famed for its durability and widely used in rucksacks, commercial luggage, motorcycle clothing and military belt pouches.  Cordura has become synonymous with quality products and is often specified in military or police tender documents when purchasing belt pouches or other fabric equipment.

Leather is more popular for police belt pouches than military due to the shiny black finish providing a neat and professional uniform appearance but not being suitable for "cam and concealment" in military roles.  In terms of durability leather is generally the most durable material for belt pouch construction  but it is heavier than polyester, nylon or Cordura.

There is a new material just hitting the market for belt pouches which promises to have all the durability and shape retention of leather but with the weight advantages of Cordura called Sentinex. Now as you can imagine a product that make such promises comes at a price, however initial feedback from sentinex belt pouch users is very positive.