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Woolrich Elite Tactical Series Clothing

Woolrich and Backyard Outfitters recently released a new line of clothing aimed at law enforcement and the military. To build the clothing line, Woolrich and Backyard Outfitter did beta site testing with law enforcement agencies to refine their product lines. Using the feedback and looking at what they saw as gaps in the current offerings in the market, Woolrich developed the new the line.

Woolrich’s 175 years in the clothing business shows in the production quality and standards of the clothing. Woolrich focused on strict production standards, making sure that sizing is accurate and the finish of the clothing was on par. Backyard Outfitters let Woolrich know what the end users wanted in the clothing. The result of this process is a growing line of clothing that fits the needs of the tactical community.

Elite Tactical Pants

The Elite Tactical Pants are made of 8.5-ounce, 100% cotton canvas that is treated with DuPont Teflon® fabric protector. The Teflon does not make the pants waterproof, but it does make water and other liquids bead up on the pants. This makes cleaning up spills easier and working around water slightly more comfortable. After about 10 washes, the Teflon is still on the pants and effective. Out of the bag, the pants felt broken in and ready to wear thanks to a factory garment wash.

The pants come with a heavy-duty, tack-button closure and a quality YKK zipper fly. All of the Velcro® closures used on the pockets of the pants are box-x stitched onto the pockets, supporting the heavy use of opening and closing. The stitching and seams on the pockets are well-done with no hanging threads or loose seams. The basic pant comes with front slash pockets and large rear slash pockets with Velcro closures.

Also on the rear of is a set of “wallet pockets,” a horizontal opening pocket with a Velcro closure. This is a useful feature, while the rear deep pockets are great for putting gear in; they are not good for everyday wallet carry. The wallet pockets let the wallet sit where it usually does in other pants.

On the front of the pants are two small utility pockets designed to hold cell phones, spare mags, etc. By placing these utility pockets on both sides, it allows user the versatility of dispersing his equipment. The utility pockets are slightly wider than those of other tactical pants, large enough to accommodate two Glock magazines. More important, they have room for PDAs and larger cell phones such as the Treo series.

The pants come with the requisite cargo utility pockets on the side, which lay flat when not filled with gear. A second variant of the pants have small pockets on the calf of the pants, for small items when wearing thigh rigs. The reinforced knees have pockets for kneepads. The seat of the pants is double walled for support.

The cut of the pants is loose with plenty of room for movement, but not excessively baggy. The pants have an adjustable waist with elastic in it to allow for inside the waistband carry. The pants were worn in classrooms, ranges and tactical training sessions and did well in all environments.

The only complaint on the pants is that the 8.5-ounce cotton canvas is heavy in hot, humid weather. Woolrich soon will be releasing 7-ounce RipStop cotton pants with the same features as the original pant for hot weather wear to address this situation. Currently, the pants are available in khaki and black, with more colors being released by the end of the year.

Tactical Shorts

The shorts come in khaki and use the same 8.5-ounce 100% cotton canvas as the pants. The shorts have the same pocket layout as the pants. The cut of the shorts is loose and comfortable, the shorts have same button and YKK zipper, as well. In other words, Woolrich cut no corners on the shorts and made them as well as the pants. Like the pants, the shorts felt broken in out of the bag and ready to wear. The shorts work great in the hot weather. They have a professional look and carry any gear you need.

The shorts also have an elastic waist, allowing them to fit whether carrying a pistol inside the waistband or not. The belt loops are large enough to accommodate rigger belts, instructor belts, etc.

Tactical Vest

The use of the tactical vest in law enforcement is becoming more and more common. The use of it as cover garment has grown to include it as a low-key utility vest to carry gear. The Woolrich vest takes that notion to the next level. The Elite Series vest uses 8.5-ounce canvas cotton for the outer shell and a 5.5-ounce cotton poplin inner shell to give the vest a durable outer layer yet stay as light as possible. The vest is treated with the same Teflon as the pants to protect against spills and to add UV protection.

The vest uses a split vented back to allow airflow. The shoulders are reinforced and come with a padded collar, a nice touch when working all day with a slung carbine or shotgun. The front of the vest can be closed with quick-release tab or with a heavy-duty, two-way zipper. The quick-release tab works well for clearing the vest to get pistol but keeps the vest from flapping around. There is a chest tab radio mics, etc. There are pull tabs on both sides to adjust the vest for size.

The vest has 15 total pockets, which is more than enough for anybody’s load out. It comes with the now standard utility pockets that are sized to accommodate M-4 magazines, napoleon pockets, hand warmer pockets, zipper pockets, pen pockets, and deep inside pockets.

There are a couple of unique pocket features in the Elite Series Vest. The utility pockets on the left side of the vest have a larger pocket behind them that have elastic loops in them for magazines and other gear. On the inside of vest in the rear are two pockets on each side that are sized great for radios. There are Para cord loops on the inside, which worked well for managing radio wires if you are using earpieces and discreet mics.

On the outside back of the vest are two pockets with elastic that are sized for water bottles, a great concept for anyone who has stood on a security post. They aren’t big enough for large Nalgene bottles but are great for 20-ounce bottles. There is a large pocket in on the outside on the back that is perfect size for an individual first-aid kit. The vest currently comes in khaki or black. More colors and a lightweight version will be released later in the year.

Elite Series Shirts

The Elite Series Shirts are done in 5.5-ounce cotton poplin coated with Teflon for spill protection and a UPF of 30. The shirt comes with epaulets that work for clipping radio mics. The collar can be buttoned down. The shirt comes with chest pockets with Velcro closures, which are box-x stitched on the shirt. There is a standard opening for a pen on the chest pocket, and there is a pen pocket on the left sleeve. The shirt comes with napoleon pockets with zipper closures on them.

The armpits are vented for airflow and gusseted for room. The back of the shirt is a three-piece vented design with polyester mesh on the inside. This gives the shirt plenty of air flow and keeps the wearer cool even in humidity. The long-sleeve shirt has sleeve tabs to secure the sleeves up. The shirts currently come in sage, khaki, black, and navy blue in both short sleeve and long sleeve.

The Woolrich Elite Series line of clothing is a good example of the synergy that can happen between end users and a quality company. Woolrich continues to expand the line based on user feedback, and by the time of publication, it will have several new items out. Woolrich’s focus is on providing quality clothing with proven materials and high construction standards. Based on these samples, the company is hitting the mark.

Mick Williams is a patrol officer, SWAT team member and defensive tactics instructor with the Bloomington, IN, Police. He can be reached at

Published in Tactical Response, Sep/Oct 2006

Rating : 10.0

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