Monday, March 30, 2009

Snugpak Sleeka Elite Reversible Jacket

Proforce Equipment the N. American distributor of Snugpak products. Snugpak's military line are some of the best gear I've used. I was very impressed with their Softie Elite sleeping bag and have been equally impressed with their Sleeka Elite reversible jacket.

Snugpak took the features of their original Sleeka Elite and gave it the option of being reversible from OD to Black. This is a great option for tactical units especially police teams that may need to have a more uniform appearance at times (black) and a more tactical appearance at other times for camouflage reasons (OD).

This jacket has some really good materials to help it to provide warmth but remain packable in its included stuff sack. I really like this because it takes up a lot less room in a pack than equally warm jackets that are quite bulky.

One material used in this jacket is Paratex Light as an outer layer. This material is lightweight, windproof and water repellent. It's also breathable and moisture wicking. As an outer layer it's held up and performed well. I have one area that has a little "pucker" in the material where my dog jumped on me and her nail caught the material and pulled it a little. It pulled a thread in the material and created a slight flaw in the appearance. Once I pulled on the material and stretched it out a little the threads fixed themselves for the most part. I've been out in the rain with this jacket as well, and the material is water repellent, but in a hard or steady rain it will eventually soak through. It's claims of wind resistance are true as well...there is no wind getting through this jacket.

For insulation Snugpak uses their synthetic Softie Premier insulation. This insulation is lightweight but I've found it, in combination with the Paratex Light to be very warm.

With the reversible option both sides are mostly the same. Here are the differences in the OD side and Black side:

OD side:
- Has tough reinforcements on the elbows, yoke and shoulder areas. This material is highly abrasion resistant. It helps against wear from being on the elbows and from packs wearing on the shoulders.

Black side:
- Has a zipper closed chest pocket on left chest.
- The Black side has the weather flap for the zipper. This flap has a small piece of velcro at the bottom to hold it down. Ideally I'd like to see velcro tabs or buttons all the way up to help keep this flap down in the wind. Possible keep the one at the bottom and add one mid way up and one at the top.

The waist pockets are generous. There is plenty of room for your hands and essentials that you may want to keep in there. The zippers zip from the bottom up, which I like. The reason I like this is because if the zipper starts to come open it's opening from the top instead of the bottom, therefor preventing items from falling out. Speaking of items falling sure you have the pockets zipped when you're not using them. Heavy items can make their way out due to the vertical zipper. I had my cell phone fall out without my knowing.

The front and all pockets close with quality YKK zippers. These zippers have zipper pulls. These pulls are cloth to keep weight and space at a minimum. The cuffs close using a soft elastic material. At the back of the stand-up neck is a cord lock that adjusts the neck opening, and the same at the bottom of the jacket.

A couple other features:
  1. Locker hanging loop.
  2. Machine washable/dryable
I've been wearing this jacket a lot this winter here in NY. It's been a really cold winter and I've been extremely comfortable in this jacket. This jacket has a 14 degree F rating and I've worn it in that temperature and even lower. At below 0 degrees F you start to feel a slight chill. I'd say that the 14 degree rating is right on and you're comfortable even below that. Add a proper layering system under this jacket and I'd say you'd be good to go in a lot lower temps than the 14 degrees. At one point while doing some walking around in the cold I actually got too warn and the moisture wicking properties of the jacket got put to the test and worked out good.

Durability has been great. Like I said, the outer layer can snag on sharp objects (like thorns) and might show a little damage, but for the most part I've had no problem with durability. The extra durable material at the elbows is great.

The only thing I'd change are the color options. Right now it's black/OD combo. Since this is a cold weather item designed for military use I'd like to see a version in possible a OD/White, Coyote (or tan)/white, or some other color combo that can be used in summer and winter conditions. Black and OD don't blend well with a snowy environment.

In conclusion...Snugpak and Proforce Equipment has impressed me yet again with the function and quality of their gear. I'll definitely look to their products in the future for my gear needs.

1.87 lb
Buy at Brigade Quartermasters - $149.99

Update: The company is hoping to release a version of this in tan/OD in the future!

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