I’ve had a Propper Hardshell Parka for a few weeks now, but to be honest I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. The winter had been a very mild one, and there hadn’t been any days that needed a coat like that. The temperature suddenly took a dive a couple of weeks ago though, and when I woke up one morning and found it was down to 12°F I decided the Propper parka’s time had come.
If you’re used to old-style military parkas, the Propper hardshell will seem a bit on the short side at first. It’s not quite mid-thigh length, but that’s actually plenty; you get good freedom of movement but at the same time it’s long enough to keep cold drafts from blowing up inside. Like most quality modern winter coats, it’s a two-part design, with a heavy outer shell and an inner fleece liner held in with zippers. You can separate the parts and wear either one on its own; the shell has some light padding built in and makes a great rain jacket in moderately cold conditions, and the fleece is a good light outer layer for dry conditions. Zip them together and they add up to a seriously warm coat.
A lot of work has gone into making the Hardshell Parka practical and wearable. The collar can be folded up or down, and it’s high enough to give a lot of neck protection when it’s up. A detachable hood is held on with hook and loop fasteners at the nape of the neck and on both collar points; one nice touch is that with the hood off the fasteners disappear behind flaps that they hold shut themselves, giving a nice neat appearance. I usually wear a hat in bad weather, so I took the hood off, but it seems like a good one – deep enough to keep rain or snow out of your face, and with cords to draw it in for more wind protection.
When it comes to pockets, there’s no shortage. The fleece alone has four – two zippered slash pockets, and two large internal ones which can also be accessed when it’s being used as a liner. The shell has five more. Each side has a slash pocket and one on the chest, then running across the back there’s a large poacher’s pocket with an opening at each side. All the pockets on the shell are zippered, and the zippers are protected by storm flaps to keep the rain out. The pockets are also lined with a soft, slightly fleecy material, which makes them very good as hand warmers. Inside each chest pocket there’s a badge panel that you can attach some ID to – these are held securely with Velcro, so you can remove them if they’re not something you need.
Temperature control is also well covered. On each side of the shell is a two-ended zipper that runs from the lower hem (where they’re held closed with Velcro tabs) right up to the inside of the upper arm. You can use these to create some ventilation when temperatures rise – the fleece has a shorter, matching zip each side as well.
So far I’ve worn the Propper parka in snow, dry cold and some viciously cold, horizontal rain. Based on that, I’d happily wear it anywhere. I don’t feel the cold all that badly and tend to overheat, but to balance that I was wearing a polo shirt under it, while walking around normally at 20°F, and I was just fine. With a couple of well-chosen layers, this coat is going to keep you warm even if you’re standing around at temperatures well below freezing. The shell fabric is also tough and hard wearing, plus I was very impressed with the level of attention to detail. Propper selected top quality materials and excellent fasteners, and put it all together very neatly.
To illustrate just how good this parka is, I tried very hard to find something to gripe about; I’m from Glasgow, after all, and it’s famously easy to tell the difference between a Scotsman and a ray of sunshine. The best I could come up with is that if you’re not careful a bit of fleece can get exposed at the cuffs if you’re really, really careless as you put it on. If the weather’s bad enough to wear this coat, you’ll probably be wearing gloves anyway, but I suppose it’s theoretically possible to get the cuffs of the liner soaked. As it happens I didn’t, but anyway, if this is the biggest problem I could find I’d say the Propper Hardshell Parka is about as good as winter coats get.
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.