Wednesday, 20 February 2013

5.11 Clothing and Equipment

5.11 have got to be one of, if not my favourite tactical brand.  The 5.11 range offers apparel including the legendary 511 tactical pant, jackets and even 5.11 belts, as well as a full range of bags and backpacks.

The 5.11 Tactical Pant is the product that started it all, way back in 1967 when at the top of Half Dome in California USA Royal Robins and his wife Liz noticed that that gear they were wearing for climbing was far from fit for purpose and they set about designing a pair of trousers that were stylish, functional and rugged enough for the rigours of climbing and outdoor pursuits.  The name 5.11 comes from a virtually impossible difficulty level of a climb, the normal scoring system being 5.0 as the easiest and 5.10 being the hardest, 5.11 was therefore presumed to be impossible.

Over the years the 5.11 tactical pant evolved and was adopted by the FBI training centre as their uniform pant, and for a long time the pant was in fact restricted to FBI personnel.  Commercially though the Royal Robins parent company was not doing so well and the 5.11 branch was spun off to develop the 5.11 Tactical Range and Royal Robins focused on the out doors industry.  5.11 Tactical is now one of the worlds largest suppliers of Law Enforcement Equipment.

5.11 now offer a bigger range of tactical pants with specific EMS pants, Security Trousers, light weight trousers, TDU and unform trousers as well as covert and casual pants and trousers in nylon, twill, various different weights of rip stop polyester and cotton canvas.  5.11 also now even offer two varieties of pants which contain a "stretch" material the Stryke and Traverse Pants.

For me though some of the best 5.11 products are the bags, more specifically the Rush series of Backpacks which offer some incredibly well thought out features and design elements along with the build quality and durability you would expect from anything 5.11 produce.  The Rush bags are available in 3 sizes each named after the hours of deployment they were designed to serve, 12,24, and 72 respectively.  For me the 24 is the ideal size for almost any situation, the compression straps mean it packs down as hand-luggage or a normal day sack just fine, yet there is actually tons of carrying capacity in there....easily enough for 48 hours.

5.11 Belts are a popular companion purchase to the tactical pants with the non metallic TDU belt coming in almost all the available colours that the pants do, and even offering their "Double Duty Belt" which is Coyote brown on one side and black on the other.  For those looking for something a bit more rugged, the trainer and operator tactical belts offer 1&3/4" and 2" belts with steel buckles which can support a huge strain.  These belts are also more rigid than the TDU belts and are therefore more suited to loading pouches as they are less likely to twist.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Military Boots

There are a wide variety of military boots available in the UK from a broad range of international manufacturers all the slightly different boot needs of the various military branches in each of their specific roles.

One of the easiest ways to break down the military boot market is by manufacturer.  I will look first at the two economically priced mass produced brands before I look in more detail at the hand made top end boots which are more popular with the military than the police.

Magnum make a small range of military boots, these days narrowed mainly to the Scorpion light weight patrol boots which have been the UK MOD issue tender boot for several years running.  In the past Magnum have experimented with a broader range of military footwear, including the first (and I think only) full multicam boot in existence!  This included a sole constructed from multicoloured rubber, not just a painted on finish, so the multicam would not wear off even as the sole wears down.  However Magnums alternative styles did not prove popular with military users and they have narrowed their focus back to the police and security boot market.

Bates Military boots have crossed over between police and military more successfully than Magnum, mainly due to the popularity of the Bates Falcon Boot with the highly elite and well regarded UK Special Boat Service (SBS).  The Bates Falcon has a very unique tread pattern that has proved to have exceptional grip qualities on wet metal surfaces, eg. the hull or deck or a ship or boat.  Other than the specific needs of the SBS when doing ship assaults the Bates range are not specifically military boots, they are much more a police boot, aimed at the urban patrol/pursuit user.

The more popular military boots are from the German hand made manufacturers mainly Lowa, Altberg, Meindl, Haix and Hanwag, but not forgetting the relative new comer to the scene Turkish company YDS.  Between these brands there is actually not that much to choose from, it is really just personal preference.  All of these brands of military boots boast outstanding reputations for quality and durability as well as comfort.