I’ve been wearing Propper jackets a lot recently, and it’s been an interesting experience. I haven’t needed to buy any cold weather jackets for a while – I have a couple of windproof smocks which make great shell layers over a fleece, plus an old Helly Hansen parka for really cold days – and it was a pleasant surprise to see how far things have evolved. Materials have improved a lot, of course, but design has moved on too.
For example, there’s the Propper BA softshell jacket. This will pass for a casual black waterproof, with a removable hood and a thin but very warm lining. On the other hand, stick a patch on the left sleeve – there’s a nice big hook and loop patch there for it – and suddenly it becomes a professional-looking item that would fit perfectly with any law enforcement uniform. It also has more features than I can describe here, including zippered side vents, pockets all over the place and a handy concealable ID/badge panel.
I’ve always preferred button-up pockets because they can be opened silently; zippers make a noise and Velcro is even worse. Buttons can be fiddly though, so they’re not really ideal either. Now there’s a neat solution – neodymium super magnets. The BA jacket has a nice big chest pocket that closes with a pair of small, flat magnets, one each side of the opening; this gives really easy access and is almost completely silent to operate. It’s not as secure as a button, so I wouldn’t trust it for a pocket stuffed with field gear – I don’t think I’ll be replacing the buttons on my windproofs just yet – but for carrying everyday items it’s perfect. I also have a Propper shirt with concealed chest pockets, again using magnetic closures, and it’s amazingly discreet.
The new gear scores as highly on comfort as it does on design. The fabric of the softshell jacket is pleasant to touch – it feels tough, but not coarse. This helps keep it smart, too, and even makes it more discreet. Unless you look closely it could pass for a standard civilian jacket, but in reality it’s packed full of professional features. The same goes for the same company’s Hardshell parka, which has to be one of the most practical and flexible winter coats I’ve ever owned. I think my Helly Hansen beats it for ultra-cold weather use, but not by a lot – and its edge comes at the price of being three times as bulky and a lot heavier.
Quality tactical gear isn’t cheap, but then it never has been. Based on my recent experiences, I’d have to say that a good modern duty jacket or parka is excellent value for money, because performance has really jumped ahead in the last few years. If the recent cold weather has left you shivering in your old coat, it might be time to consider upgrading to a new one because it’s going to make a huge difference to your comfort.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.