Introduction: When Mike over at Edgar Brothers first pointed me in the direction of the 5.11 series of products I was highly impressed with the look of the lineup and what they offered. True you can only tell so much from photos of a product and brochures, but what was there was innovative and served a purpose, more than that there was an obvious outlet for the products. Police issue style jackets and covert clothing and carry equipment are all highly requested items in this day and age.
The jacket: The Tactical 3 in 1 Jacket from 5.11 is one of three jackets that form their outerwear lineup. In the same lineup you’ll also find the Fleece Lined Duty Jacket and the Tactical Soft Shell Jacket.
Here in the UK the jacket retails for 149 UKP (inc VAT), and over in the US it’s around 240 USD. If you’re into the XXXL sizes and above the jacket will cost you 10USD more. You can get the 3 in 1 in tree colours (black, navy and red). The one supplied for review here was the dark navy model, although I actually confused it for the black model for a brief period when it first arrived – the dark navy colour really is that dark!
Feature set (descriptions – pad out more later)
The windproof jacket has a fairly thick collar, but it’s not like that for no reason. Hidden inside this area around you neck is a handy fold out hood made from the same materials as the jacket itself.
I haven’t used the hood myself, but then again I haven’t been out in conditions that would require me to sport the hood (yet), however if you’re out in the freezing cold for more than a few hours without a hat and with as little hair as me anything to help keep your bonce warm is very welcome.
For civilian use neither are of huge importance, although you could attach anything you like to the badge holder should you choose. You could for example attach a door key or anything else you’d not want dropping to the bottom of a pocket.
For duty use anywhere in the world where it’s suitable official recognition is always important.
It’s well stitched on so you don’t have to worry too much about swinging gear from it.
It sounds so simple, but the top pocket is very handy to grab things from. It’s a handy place to stick a mobiel phone while you’re in a car for example, as when you’re sitting in a car the chest pockets are normally obscured by the seat-belt and the hip pockets are all folded up around your waist.
With the zipper to the rear it’s actually quite easy to get things in and out of it.
Behind the two upper jacket pockets there’s also a rip open BBS equipped pocket to the rear that you can just tear open easily to access. For issue use you could, for example, carry a backup service piece in that pocket.
For day to day use either pocket is a very convenient place to drop readily used items so that they are close to hand but not going to be easily lost.
BBS system: All the 5.11 jackets are compatible with the Backup Belt System (BBS). The BBS system is quite simple really; there’s a series of pockets in the jackets which have a fluffy sort of velcro styled lining. This lining allows you to stick to it any one of a series of accessories that are sticked to a mating panel with a velcro hook style rear.
The standard BBS accessory pouch includes a cuff pouch, baton pouch, mace pouch, mag pouch, and pistol holster and retails for around 60USD. With the accessory pouch you can quickly and easily provide somewhere to carry a baton, pistol or other issue or duty gear ensuring ready access and that the items you need close to hand aren’t at the bottom of a pocket somewhere.
With the flexability of the BBS system you can have what you want where you want it.
Material: The 5.11 Tactical 3-in-1 jacket is uniquely engineered with dual layer resistance to moisture penetration while allowing moisture vapor inside the jacket to pass through the 100% nylon face for maximum breathability. In short, this jacket works twice as hard to keep you dry. Combine its waterproof/breathable abilities with a fully taped seam construction and you have a tactical performance jacket that, like you, always gets the job done. Imported.
Quick rundown on the two parts:
My own impressions: I’ve had a chance to trial the jacket now for some time and my impressions thus far are:
Comfy: The jacket sits well when worn, the high collar keeps the freezing cold out, and the hidden hood is useful if you need it. Pockets are all where you’d expect them to be, plus the pockets on the upper arm are very easy to get used to using. Pretty much anything from a stick of gum, to a torch or a mobiel phone can go in them for easy access.
Even with the other pockets loaded the jacket isn’t pulled out of alignment or shape, better than that is it’s not obvious that you have anything heavy in your pockets to another individual.
Very waterproof: Having tried the jacket in literally the worst weather that the UK has to offer over the Christmas periods this has to be one of the warmest jackets I’ve ever tried out. Not only does it keep you bone dry it’s very warm. The only slight concern is that you could overheat in it.. but that’s why there’s a zip on the front to open things up when you are indoors or in the warm.
Oddities: Design wise the only bit about the jacket that I find odd is the way that it hangs at the rear. The rear of the jacket seems to hang lower than the front. It’s certainly a design issue, but I’m not quite clear on the reason for it. My best guess is that it provides cover over your lower back when you are bent over or downwards.
The only minor manufacturing oddity I’ve found is that the tag for the right fleece pocket zip has been oversticked into the lower seam of the jacket. This means that the zipper is locked at the bottom, either the stitching needs unpicking and then resowing, or the tag for the zipper can be cut off. It’s a pretty simple error, and after wearing the jacket for ages I never noticed until I was wearing the fleece alone on it’s own as the fleece outer pockets aren’t visable/useable when you have it stictched into the windproof part.
Well designed: I don’t tend to wear the fleece separately much myself, but have done just recently. I was quite impressed with the way that the fleece itself is designed. Along the shoulders and the top of the arms for the fleece there is a waterproof material sticked ove the stnadard fleece “fluff”. It looks kinda different (and not in a bad way) but it also provides a quite important function stopping the fleece picking up and absorbing any water that might get through the jacket at the top, or any condensation that may accrue.
Zipping the fleece into the jacket itself (and the removal of it) is dead easy. The zippers glide smoothly and the process is pretty simple:
To attach the fleece there are attachment loops at the neck and wrists for the inner fleece, plus the zipper is joined inside the windproof layet and then the collar is tucked in at the top.
The easiest way is to wear the fleece itself, then don the outer layer. Now zip the fleece zippers into the outer layer on both sides. If you undo and roll back the outer cufs you’ll see a simple toggle/button system for holding the fleece arms in place, loop these over, then roll the cuffs back into place. Now just quickly pop the jacket off and loop over the securing loop at the rear neck of the fleece jacket and you’re all done.
The combined jacket is heavier than you’d think. The outer layer which you’d expect to be the lightest part is every bit as heavy as the fleece inner which is a sign of how much materail and work has gone into both parts.
ready pocket access
Pocket drawstring: Depending on yoru side and how much you’re wearing under the jacket you might want to pull the midriff area inwards a bit. Inside the outer layer pockets you’ll find two drawstring ends with self tightning fasters on them. To tighten things up a bit, just pull the drawstring in either pocket and slide the fastners down the cord to keep things tight. The free ends for the cord just sit in the bottom of your pocket and you’ll never notice them. I only spotted the drawstrings myself when I examined things from top to bottom looking for all the hiddne bits.
Wear and tear: Having worn the jacket in just about every condition possible over the Christmas period the jacket has still to show any signs of appreciable wear and tear. Sure it’s obvious that it’s not come straight out of the plastic wrapping, but the zippers and material are all still in remarkable condition. There’s no bobbling or wear showing ont he collar area, plus the pockets don’t show any tell-tale marks from where I’ve had my hands in the front warm pockets.
External links: Links to external sites of interest.