Monday, January 25, 2016

Gear Closet: 5.11 Tactical Taclite Anorak Jacket

This past weekend was an interesting one where I live. While we weren't caught up in the massive blizzard that hit the East Coast, we did catch the edge of the storm and ended up receiving 8 inches (20 cm) of snow, which was enough to set a new record for my location. For many of my friends and neighbors, this was a good opportunity to hunker down at home and enjoy a few snow days with a break from work and school. But for me, it was a chance to test out some of the winter gear that has been sent my way, and enjoy a bit of winter weather that I don't get a chance to play in as much as I'd like.

One of the pieces of gear that I had the opportunity to try out is the new Taclite Anorak Jacket from 5.11 Tactical, a versatile and surprisingly warm pullover that comes with that company's trademark high quality design and construction.

I've reviewed a couple of products from 5.11 Tactical in the past, including their Rush 12 backpack and awesome Stryke Pants. The company makes products that are popular with the military and law enforcement agents, but have elements that make them a great choice for civilian outdoor enthusiasts too. For instance, the Taclite jacket has a nice, clean cut to it, and is designed to allow the wearer to move unimpeded. That is something we can all appreciate, regardless of what activities we have planned for the day.

Another indication of 5.11 Tactical's focus on versatility for both the military and civilian population is the inclusion of what it calls "Quixip" side vents. For most of us, this is a nice feature that allows us to vent out heat when things get a little active. But for some of the company's other customers, it also provides quick and easy access to a firearm. Not something that most of us have to worry about, but definitely a feature that 5.11's core audience appreciates.

One of the most impressive things about this jacket is just how durable it is. It uses proprietary "Taclite" fabrics which are designed to take a beating and yet not show the wear and tear that you would associate with daily use. This is the kind of jacket you can wear out and about around town, on a trail, or on your daily commute, and it will continue to look good and perform well for years to come. Those fabrics are also treated with a Teflon coating, which helps to repel moisture and makes the jacket easy to keep clean.

Despite its rugged exterior however, the Taclite Anorak has a soft, and very comfortable, cotton liner that feels great against the skin, and provides plenty of warmth too. This helped to make it cozy to wear on chilly days, and when paired with a good baselayer, I was more than comfortable even when the mercury took a plunge.

The Taclite Anorak includes some other nice features too. For instance, its spacious pass-through kangaroo pocket is also quite warm and offers a good amount of storage. Two document pockets located on the chest are also very handy for keeping important items – such as a smartphone or passport – close at hand, while their Velcro seals allow for quick access of the interior. Even the three-panel hood shows that a lot of thought went into the design of this garment, providing extra comfort and warmth where a lot of other gear manufacturers would have just added a hood as an afterthought.

Having used some of 5.11 Tactical's other products in the past, I was already a fan of their gear. They often take a no-frills approach to the design of their gear, but they still manage to put plenty of thought into the fine details and offer high quality construction too. This jacket is no exception, as its uses metal buttons, a YKK zipper complete with a leather pull, and exceptional stitching to hold everything together. The result is an Anorak that doesn't try to be the lightest or most breathable on the market, but instead offers excellent all around performance, durable protection from the elements, and classic good looks that will make it feel right at home just about anywhere you want to wear it.

If that wasn't enough, I was also impressed with the Taclite Anorak's price tag too. At just $140, it feels like quite a steal. Considering everything that went into making this jacket, and what it brings to the table, I wouldn't have been surprised to if it cost over $200. But 5.11 Tactical has managed to deliver a great product at a great price, and if you happen to fall into their core customer base, you're absolutely going to love it. If you haven't tried 5.11 Tactical gear before, this is a great product to serve as an entry point as well. You won't be disappointed.

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