In my search for quality gear, I always find surprises and innovation in Blackhawk’s stuff. I have previously reviewed the Blackhawk I.T.S. pants and the Operations Jacket. I believe this layer 3 jacket can be worn in 2 types of weather conditions; rain and extreme cold.
They forethought put into designing this jacket is pretty cool. When I received the shell jak in the mail I noticed the awesome quality and stitching done on the jacket. The YKK zippers have a waterproof lining like the Ops Jacket. I decided to check out how well the jacket works and I think April in Central Europe is about the best time. The locals call April, “Crazy April” because in one day, it could snow, be warm and sunny, rainy, and windy.
I went out to the local woods for a day hike and the weather was overcast and windy. I did not know that the jacket has a mylar-type inner lining. I want to be clear about this. The lining is not made of the cheap, thin, mylar material, but it is a creation of something similar. This is the first that I have seen this in a shell jak and it is an excellent innovation. It reflects up to 97% of the body’s heat and Blackhawk has adapted this jacket to be silent unlike the mylar material used in emergency blankets. This makes it a great tactical jacket.
|The gray lining reflects a large amount of body heat.|
The surprises do not stop there. The weather on the hike started to change and it warmed up and so I was able to unzip the underarm portion to allow for airflow. Now, this is a fairly common feature available in even mil-spec layer 3 jackets, but this jacket is different. Keep in mind I had a pack on, and I was able to unzip the underarms with the pack on. This is a huge step up for people in the hiking and tactical community. I do own a layer 3 mil-spec jacket and the innovation and design does not even compare to this jacket.
The hook and loop closures at the wrist are better too. In the above picture you can see the normal loop attachment, but the second attachment portion is better because it is a rubberized attachment which makes it much easier to adjust with gloves on and in wet weather. The jacket also has multiple attachments to hang the item on a M.O.L.L.E. compatible pack or around a campsite to allow quick drying out. In a survival situation, this could also prove useful as part of a makeshift shelter.
As for criticism I have for this jacket, I would like one or two more pockets at the chest level for map storage. There are pockets on the upper arms and just above the waist, so there are enough, but I would still like to see those pockets there for easier access to logistical stuff. The jacket is widely available in foliage green and black. I would like to also see the jacket available in other earth tones, like OD Green and Coyote Brown. I know a lot of people who prefer those colors over foliage green and black.