Thursday, June 28, 2012

TAD Triple Aught Design Ranger Hoodie Review

TAD Triple Aught Design Ranger Hoodie Review

According to Mrs. Pandemic, I am a coat whore with no less that two closets filled with what could be or what might be a better jacket than the last.  Typically my purchasing satisfaction of a jacket wanes after a month, however not with the Ranger Hoodie and I am still all nerded out over the features, comfort and design.  I own stand alone jackets and those that can be layered... but somehow I still almost always seem to find myself wearing some type of Polar Fleece jacket 90% of the time as a layer or as something to throw on simply take the dog out on cold nights. 

Polar Fleece offers a lot of flexibility however most fleece jackets lack any useful amount of pockets, style, or features typically found on a dedicated jacket and are not really tailored to the tactically minded.  Enter the Ranger Hoodie from Triple Aught Design which offers a ton of style, pockets everywhere, and has a cut and features which add up to what I consider the ultimate survival jacket that can go anywhere and do anything.

Triple Aught Design was founded in 1997 by Patrick Ma; former US Army. His goal was to inspire people to explore their world by offering the best performing gear available with comfortable, high performance, durable, and reliable equipment. He founded Triple Aught Design with a signature focus on combining rigorous functionality with sophisticated design.  If the Ranger Hoodie is any indications of the design capabilities of TAD, they are obviously adding in a fair amount of innovation into their designs as well. 

One of the things I like most about Triple Aught Design is that they are obviously beating their own path of style, features and comfort.  All too often, we see one company offer a big seller and everyone scampers to replicate the product. TAD pays no mind to what others are doing and in the end I believe many of their products will be or are the ones others will attempt to replicate.  

Triple Aught is also obviously taking the time to think through how an owner will use the product and how they could evolve the product such as longer sleeves to assure your wrists are not exposed during a bow’s full draw or shooting in poor weather.... it is the little things on the Ranger Hoodie which set this all USA made manufacturer apart from every other jacket manufacturer in the market.

The Ranger Hoodie has continued to evolve since its introduction in 2002. According to Triple Aught Design, this year’s customer feedback drove changes to a more evolved fit designed specifically to ease layering and increase range of movement in high speed activity. The result of a decade of refinements delivers one of the most comfortable and versatile coverings you can own. The heavy Polartec WindPro provides substantial warmth even in wind and rain without the weight.

TAD notes that when you are out in the field, a little comfort goes a long way, and I would add this is certainly the case in a survival or outdoor situation when things turn bad. The fleece of course is extremely comfortable, and the Polartec WindPro allows breathability while blocking wind. Other little features that add up to big fit and comfort improvements include a single panel running from the cuff, up the arm, and down the torso to the bottom hem.  This single panel enables a full range of motion. The Ranger Hoodie’s design allows you to move in a completely unrestrained way without any binding. At this point I have worn the Hoodie as a base layer, under body armor, stand alone, zipped and un-zipped and it has been extremely comfortable across all uses. Even the uniquely designed Aero hood lies flat on the upper back which reduces bulk around the neck.

Made with DWR-treated Polartec WindPro blocks for times as much wind as a traditional fleece so it works extremely well as a stand alone outer layer. beyond the fit and upgraded Polartec WindPro, the next set of features and little refinements are what really set the Ranger Hoodie apart from any other. 

Although the fleece breathes, there are open armpit vents to allow extra ventilation at these mature hot points.  The hood itself has a special TAD Aero hood design which not only lays flat when not in use, but provides more coverage to the user when needed.  It even has a little built in fleece visor extension which I will note works great on sunny cold days.  The hood also has two 1” Velcro squares to attach Ranger eyes or glint squares. Ranger eyes are used by special forces to identify friendlies during night operations.
Armpit vents provide a huge
level of comfort

Zippers are also not standard fare.  The main zipper is a full front double coil Zipper with chin flap for comfort. All the zippers have looped pull tabs for easy use and have zipper garages on all pockets for a quieter jacket and cleaner look.

TAD has your backside covered with a lowered motorcycle back cut to keep all manner of butt crack or concealed carry firearm covered. For the polite and CCW holder, this extra material around back is yet another little refinement that makes the Ranger Hoodie something special. 

Let’s say you have your hands stretched out running and gunning and you notice in between cycling your Mossberg 500 that your wrists are nice and warm.  Taking a cue again from motorcycle jackets, TAD though it would be nice to add extra length to the sleeves for full coverage even when your arms are out straight... which they usually are if you are doing anything.  Along the way they even added thumb hole cuffs (I call them thumittens). The half-mitt thumbholes facilitate adding and removing layers easily while providing thermal protection when your gloves are off or during unexpected cold snaps.

There are pockets everywhere on this jacket however they are placed strategically to accommodate user wearing packs or web gear. I found the placement perfect for access to every day carry (EDC) items or for me I call it EDCS - Every Day Carry for Survival. For me this is a Zippo lighter, LED Lenser tactical Flashlight, large folding knife, fire steel, two heavy duty one gallon ziplock freezer bags, one large 50 gallon black trash bag, my phone and keys. 

Shoulder pockets are great for
lighters and flashlights

The Ranger Hoodie also sets itself apart from what is in the pockets. The chest and upper arm pockets include D-rings to secure gear, pen/knife pocket, and a reinforced rubber grommet to pass media or com cords through. The headphone/earbud cords can be routed through the grommet and secured to the cord holders on each side of the zipper channel - all nice touches which make your smart phone an integrated tool versus something you are always fumbling with.

Rigged for comm & music
rubber cord ports in main pockets
and cord holds on inner zipper seams.
The left wrist pocket is handy to small items in.  Tactically there are a long list of things that could go in this pocket however my dog insists that this is where the treats go.   On the back there is what many term as a field game or hunter’s pocket which opens on each side. Most will use it to stuff maps into however this is a very spacious pocket that could easily accommodate a small backup hydration pack such as a Platypus bottle.  The hunters pocket has been upgraded to be more discreet by integrating the zippers into the seams. All the pockets are mesh backed so that they breathe and stay clean and dry.

A little survival kit fit nicely in
the rear hunter's pocket.
Triple Aught Designs offers the Ranger Hoodie in both Patched and Unpatched versions and your choice of black, grey or loden green. Patched versions include loop at the bicep and on the back of the hood to accommodate TAD’s Ranger Eyes, traditionally used in military contexts to help distinguish between friend or foe during night missions.  I of course picked up a scan patch and can now Velcro on all my favorite patches.

The Ranger Hoodie covers a lot of ground from a feature perspective and arguably offers more features than any other fleece on the market all while being made right here in the USA. I have had this idea of the ultimate survival jacket in my head for about two years.  It is a singular jacket which can accommodate an extremely broad number of situations including cold, windy, rainy or simple shelter. 

Ultimately I was hoping to find this mythical object in 100% to also provide fire resistance, however the Polartec Wind Pro delivers in all of the other areas I considered requirements. A hoodie was also a requirement for me as it provides rain, wind and sun shelter and warmth when required all without carrying a hat.  The Ranger Hoodie also offers the build in thumittens which of course covers another need in a survival situation.  The fit and feel are quality are absolutely impeccable and is by far more than just a base layer and more than just a jacket -  the Ranger Hoodie is the ultimate survival jacket. 

Material -                         Polartec® Wind Pro® 100% Polyester (10 oz)
Finish -                                 DWR Finish (Durable Water Repellent)
Patterning -                        Single Underarm Panels with Pit Vents
Hood Configuration -          Aero Hood Design
Hood Features -                Two 1”x1”Velcro Loop Squares on the Hood Accommodate Ranger Eyes Or Glint Tape (Available on Patched Version Only)
Chest Pockets -                Two Large Chest Pockets with D-Ring and Media Ports
Upper Arm Pockets -        D-Ring and Media Ports
Back Pocket -                   Single Large Double Entry Hunter’s Pocket
Forearm Pocket -             Left Forearm Only
Pocket Configuration -      All Pockets Feature Zipper Garages and Pull Tabs
Zipper Configuration -       Full Front Double Coil Zipper with Chin Flap and Pull Tab
Zipper Construction -        All Zippers are YKK® Zippers
Cuff & Sleeve Conf - Thumb Hole Cuffs Integrated into the Seam
Patches -                          Two Upper Arm, Die-Cut 3”x5” Loop Swatches for Accessory Patches
Hem Configuration -           Drop Back Hem (Provides SOB -Small of Back concealed carry)
Drawcord -                        Adjustable Locking Drawcord
Fit -                                   Active fitting cut
Logos & Labels -     One 1"x1" Loop Swatch with Logo Patch at Right Hip
Color Options -                 Black, Loden Green, UE Grey
Size Options -                   S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL
Variations -                       Patch, No Patch
Made in the USA!
MSRP -               $239

Triple Aught Design

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