Today’s officers need durability and high visibility when it comes to their apparel. Comfort and style now also play a role, but form must equal function in order for them to perform their jobs. Following is a look at some of the latest trends in jackets, vests and rain pants from industry manufacturers for both patrol and tactical operations.
Waterproof and Pathogen-Resistant
The type of material officers wear must be durable because of the extreme conditions in which they operate. 5.11 Tactical uses only waterproof/breathable material on their Patrol Rain Pants with YKK zippers and Prym snaps. Hook and loop closures at the ankles and the elastic waistband cling tightly to an officer’s waist, protecting him from the elements.
The Responder Parka line from 5.11 Tactical is seam-sealed for cold, windy and rainy days, and it features a solid nylon shell. Every Responder Parka comes with a stand-alone or zip-out liner made of heavyweight, wind-resistant, anti-pill, brushed poly fleece. For extra durability and weather protection, Taslan abrasion and water-resistant panels are located at the collar, shoulder yoke and back of forearms.
5.11’s imprintable shell is lined with DuPont dot-laminated taffeta to resist blood-borne pathogens. Other features include: double stormflaps to block wind and rain, and a three-way zip-off hood that can be worn in wet weather, rolled into the collar, or stowed in a cargo pocket.
Propper International’s Propper Defender Series is designed to replace heavy and outdated law enforcement jackets with the latest in outerwear technology. The design includes Propper’s HALT waterproof-breathable barrier, a Special Forces inspired Peripheral Vision Hood System—an integrated stow-away hood contoured to the face and head for maximum visibility.
All of the jackets, except the Echo Softshell, feature Propper’s Halt barrier. These are two- and three-layer laminate barriers, which are light and less bulky. The hood’s thermo-laminate visor provides extra coverage from the rain and easily adjusts to a user’s face/head using elastic, pull-down draw cords with barrel locks. Halo I features sealed seams and a light, 3-in-1 laminate membrane for waterproof-breathable performance. The Echo softshell is an advanced and contemporary design with a durable 95 percent polyester/ 5 percent spandex stretch-woven shell that is highly water and abrasion resistant with a poly-fleece backing.
TRU-SPEC’s new waterproof, windproof jackets in its 24-7 on duty, off-duty tactical line feature a StormShield shell. The 24-7 StormShield 3-in-1 waterproof waist length jacket can be worn three ways: as an unlined jacket; as a lined jacket with the zip-in fleece liner; or the fleece liner can be worn separately as a cool-weather cover-up. The slightly longer 24-7 StormShield 3-in-1 Parka can be worn either lined, unlined, or the fleece liner can be worn as a stand-alone jacket. Also, the waterproof shell on the 24-7 StormShield Windbreaker provides comfortable, lightweight protection against wet, rainy weather.
Blauer’s 9840Z jacket incorporates a zip-out stand-alone fleece jacket. This gives officers the flexibility to wear the jacket and liner together for cold weather, the outershell alone as rainwear, or the zip-out fleece jacket as a lightweight chill chaser. Other features include: durable ripstop nylon or a hi-vis polyester shell with patented breathable printed backcoating; and waterproof, windproof, breathable CROSSTECH fabric lining provides blood, body fluid and common chemical resistance.
Gerber’s BioTex Shell is a waterproof, breathable, windproof outer fabric that is also made of blood-borne pathogen resistant material to offer the wearer protection against potentially deadly viruses.
Blauer’s Emergency Response jacket is seams sealed with GORE-SEAM tape and features a zip-out stand-alone B.WARM fleece jacket. It doubles as a breathable rain jacket with the B.WARM liner removed. The jacket’s removable, waterproof, breathable hood stores in the collar, and there is a double storm-flap front to top of a sport collar with chin guard.
The 27-inch Hi-Viz Reversible Fleece Jacket from Newport Harbor includes a 100 percent polyester outer shell laminated to a waterproof breathable membrane, treated with Teflon for soil release and water repellency.
High-Visibility and ANSI Certified
To improve highway worker safety, the Federal Highway Administration Federal Rule states that ANSI Class 1 and Non-ANSI garments are no longer acceptable for all workers within the Federal-aid highway right-of-way. They must wear an ANSI Class 2 or Class 3 garment. While 5.11’s Responder Hi-Vis Parka has a nylon and polyester shell with fluorescent yellow color blocks, it also includes strategically located reflective tape and piping at hem, collar and sleeves.
Propper Defender’s Halo I and Halo II rain jackets have two rows of 360-degree horizontal, reflective webbing. Halo I is a durable 100 percent polyester, Hi-Vis Yellow rain jacket with an extended drop tail for added rain protection. The Halo II is a versatile, reversible jacket that converts from highly durable 100 percent nylon outer shell in black or LAPD Navy to a Hi-Vis yellow traffic stopper with reflective webbing.
The RadWear Product collection by Radians is designed for law enforcement and highway safety markets for low-light conditions. Radians’ Class 2 vests feature 2-inch silver reflective stripes, several flap-covered pockets, and heavy-duty twill material for improved durability. Offered in Hi-Viz green and orange, the highly visible apparel helps keep officers safe while directing traffic or facilitating car stops.
Newport Harbor’s Hi Visibility Vest is made of 100 percent high-viz polyester birds eye fabric, and is ANSI/ISEA 207 2006 compliant.
Blauer’s Emergency Response jacket captures some key elements of the latest trends in outerwear design for law enforcement. It’s third party certified PPE (ANSI 107 Class 3 and NFPA 1999). It is authorized for purchase under the Homeland Security Grant Program & Fire Act Grant as PPE and is ASTM F903 Certified to resist five common accident scene chemicals.
Blauer’s jacket also features 2-inch SCOTCHLITE reflective trim across the front and back, down arms, around forearms and around the bottom hem. In addition, abrasion-resistant illumiNITE reflective trim is on the shoulders.
Some companies are featuring different colors on the reversible sides. One side of Gerber’s Cambio jacket is a subdued Midnight Navy while the reverse side is an ANSI 107 High Visibility Lime Yellow with Scotchlite Striping.
Ergodyne’s expansion of its GloWear Incident Command Series includes the GloWear 8244PSV Expandable Public Safety Vest. This ANSI 207 compliant vest is ideal for firefighters, EMTs, ambulance drivers and public safety personnel who need hi-vis conspicuity as well as easy access to belt-mounted gear.
Comfort and Cargo Space
Two of the most important factors officers consider when deciding what outerwear to put on are comfort and storage space (pockets). The Patrol Rain Pants from 5.11 Tactical feature 12-inch side zippers, pass-through pockets, abrasion-resistant kick panels, lower-leg Velcro closures and an elastic waist. The design of the Patrol Rain Pants allows officers to easily put them on over their uniforms, which is necessary in such a fast-paced environment. The gusseted crotch and underarms makes them strong and provides a greater range of motion.
The elastic waistband and Prym snap allow wearers to secure the rain pants just below the duty belt, for total access to critical duty gear including a side-arm. Officers can easily access the gear in the uniform pockets via the pass-through pockets or they can stow critical gear in the standard zippered pockets of these Patrol Rain Pants. The following pockets also come standard: utility, stretch mesh document, water-resistant radio access, polyester tricot hand pockets and zippered hand warmer pockets.
Blauer’s Emergency Response jacket drop shoulder design makes for unrestricted movement and pit zippers provide access to the shell. Other trends include: microphone tabs on both shoulders; adjustable elasticized cuffs; large inside security pocket; and double-entry lower pockets with flaps.
With its adjustable sides and breathable ANSI-certified polyester mesh fabric, the 8244PSV from Ergodyne is both versatile and comfortable, easily expanding to accommodate turnout gear, bulky equipment and varying worker sizes. Its five-point breakaway system is ideal in the unlikely event the vest becomes caught or snagged.
Propper’s Action Fit Design with articulated sleeves/elbows allow for greater range of motion. The jackets are specifically designed for law enforcement professionals with molded badge tabs, microphone clips and side zippers on each hip that allow quick access to an officer’s duty belt or weapon. Also unique to the system, the hood tucks away into a drop-down, stow-able pocket that lays flat along the shoulder area of the jacket, eliminating bulk around the neck. The Delta Drop Panel Duty Jacket from Propper features two chest-high compartments with a third along the back to store and attach zippered service ID panels.
TRU-SPEC’s police-friendly features on its 24-7 jacket line include: large sleeve pockets; smooth operating, waterproof zippers and a hook-and-chest pocket with ID tag; a back yoke with cape opening and a detachable ID panel. TRU-SPEC’s jackets also feature a zip-off, rollable and stowable hood; a mic or sunglasses loop; an extended side zipper seam for easy access to sidearm; an inside hidden pencil pocket; underarm gussets for ease of movement; and an internal one-hand cord lock for cinching the jacket waist.
Newport Harbor’s Hi Visibility Vest features a break-away design for fast release. It is easily adjustable with hook and loop side closures for a comfortable fit. The shorter front design allows access to duty gear, with hook and loop adjustable sides. Other features include: a mic clip on both sides; a badge tab on left side; pen holders on both sides. It also rolls up in to a zipper pocket on the bottom back so it can be stored in a compartment.
The Woolrich Elite Waterproof Breathable Parka features two large cargo pockets with zipper closures, and accessory loops inside pockets can secure magazines or a small handgun. In addition, a two-way side seam zipper provides ventilation and access to the waist area. A companion to the Elite Parka, the Waterproof Breathable Pant has an elastic waist with adjustable cinch straps that provide a comfortable, flexible fit. Zipper security pockets are located conveniently just below the waist. Low leg zippers allow for easy on/off, especially with boots.
Newport Harbor’s 27-inch Reversible Fleece Jacket features high quality fleece; three-piece sleeves with knit cuffs; pit zippers on sleeves for access to the outer shell; side zippers to allow access to equipment.
Gerber Outerwear’s progressive new “Interchange System” features a family of products that can be worn in a variety of configurations to adapt to changing work and weather conditions. The base of this new system is the Cambio jacket that is a true four-in-one design. It is reversible and it can be converted to a vest by removing the sleeves.
BLACKHAWK! Products Group expanded the Warrior Wear BLACKHAWK! apparel lineup with mid-layer fleece and performance outerwear as an integral part of the Warrior Wear layering system. The Grid Fleece Series consists of a jacket, pullover, 3/4-zip hoody and vest; all ideal layers for wear over the Warrior Wear Thermostatic Base Layer garments. The Grid Fleece Series is designed with a contoured, athletic fit to minimize bulk when layering. The jacket model is Shell Jak Zip-In compatible. Featuring Raglan sleeves for a full range of motion, the Grid Fleece series also has sleeve thumb-holes allowing for easy-on layering or as an additional hand covering.
The Thermo-Fur Jacket is made with high-loft fleece that provides insulation. Made using flat seam construction for a smooth fit, the Thermo-Fur Jacket has raglan sleeves and gusseted underarms allowing for a full range of movement. Zippered hand and chest pockets allow for storing of personal items or just keeping hands warm.
The RAD Series Vest from BLACKHAWK! is Shell Jak Zip-In compatible, and when worn on its own, the soft-shell vest blocks out wind while the fleece lining provides warmth. The vest is designed with a draw-cord adjustable waist and a medium height collar to keep body heat in and cold out. Featuring YKK zippers and zippered pockets for hands, a zippered pocket on the outside of the chest and an interior pocket, the RAD Series Vest offers warmth, protection and layering capabilities.
Created as a layering piece, the Polyester Fleece Jacket and Vest from Woolrich Elite can be worn with or without the Elite Waterproof Breathable Parka to take an officer through multiple seasons. Woolrich uses a 100% polyester fleece shell with Ripstop Trim and a polyester tricot liner for wind resistance.
WaterShed Inc. created the StormForce series of configurable garments to give officers control of the design/build process by allowing them to customize their jackets. The StormForce series is made of Gore-Tex® Taslite three-layer material and Gore Performance standard 2 (Storm) design. Fleece lined handwarmer pockets are ideal for cold and wet conditions. The jackets also include Bellows cargo pockets with four pen pockets, plus room for the officer’s valuables and mini-mag. EZ-Action articulated sleeves moves with the officer, not against him.
Officers choose between six collar/hood options; nine body lengths; 12 sleeve lengths; 14 colors and combinations; plus two-tone options are available. WaterShed’s Vari-HOT heated liner system is a variable heat, rechargeable battery-powered liner heating system. The badge/patch can go on the left chest, right chest, left shoulder or right shoulder, with custom embroidery and screen printing available.
Jennifer Gavigan is the editor of Public Safety IT and a frequent contributor to LAW and ORDER. She can be reached at jgavigan@ hendonpbub.com