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It’s Getting Cold Outside – The Smock (Redux)

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

I first published an article on the Smock last November. It’s getting cold outside and the time is now to get your hands on a Smock. This article isn’t the be-all-end-all word on Smocks, but it’s a good start.

Finally, the smock is beginning to gain some traction here in the US. We’ve written about them in the past, mentioning smocks from Drop Zone, the now defunct EOTAC, SOD Gear, Level Peaks, SORD, Vertx Vertx smock and the FirstSpear Squadron Smock. But, we’ve never really talked about them and explained what they are all about.

Even though we are slow to adopt, they are literally a concept unlike anything we have in the US. I’ve heard them compared to the M65 field jacket but that idea is simply uniformed. A smock isn’t just a coat.

Rather, the smock is much more than a simple jacket. In addition to use as clothing, the smock is also intended to carry much, if not all of the wearer’s fighting load. In fact, that was the point. They were originally envisioned to carry several days of combat equipment including rations, ammunition, and radios.

Primarily, the smock is a European concept and in particular, used by Commonwealth nations. I got my first SAS smock in 1989 in a trade for a poncho liner during an exercise in Belgium. Its use as an issue garment was traditionally restricted to Special Forces yet several nations have adopted it for general issue in one form or another. One example of a much watered down smock on general issue is the Canadian Army’s combat jacket. When this design was initially adopted in the 1960s it was envisioned that the Soldier would carry his ammunition and other fighting load components in the jackets pockets. What’s more, the British military now issues a Smock as a general purpose item.

There is very limited use of Smocks by US forces. During the early 1990s, an experimental clothing system called Battle Dress System (BDS) was developed by the US Army Special Operations Command. It was a layered clothing system that eventually became the Lightweight Environmental Protection sub-system of SPEAR. The outermost layer called the SOF BDU, was a solid grey combat jacket and over trouser. With its solid grey color the item was rejected due to institutional prejudice. When LEP was adopted, it was without the SOF BDU layer.

Issue items like the SAS Smock are pretty good, but commercial interests have taken them to a whole new level. Britain’s Special Air Sea Services has been manufacturing specialized variants of the smock since the 1980s. Other companies like Canada’s Drop Zone picked up the torch in the 90s and now, commercial items are more prevalent than the issue garment.

But, for me, the most ambitious smock project of late has been the FirstSpear Squadron Smock. I will be blunt. I love it. But, with it’s gridded fleece lined yoke, it’s a cold weather garment.

Smocks have made a lot of sense in Northern Europe where the cold wet climate requires layering. You see, as smocks are coat-like garments they are generally worn layered over shirts. In many climates the US military finds itself in, this would be too warm as a daily wear item. Rather, the US Army’s Extreme Cold Weather Clothing System in all three of its incarnations has offered various technical shells. It seems as if the US skipped the smock altogether, at least for a time. But, with the advent of the most modern smocks, new fabrics have been introduced into the design essentially making them softshells. Conversely, Australian Mission Pac has developed a MultiCam ripstop 100% Cotton Smock for use in warm climates.

Crye Precision debuted a warm weather Recce smock during SHOT Show 2012. Thus far, it has not been released for sale.

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Other interesting concepts have been developed such as the Arktis SF Sleeveless Smock which looks like a hybrid between a smock and a 5.11 shooting vest.

Oftentimes, those with no experience with smocks will criticize the design. They don’t understand that use of a fully featured smock allows the reconfiguration of the load. For example, armor can be worn under the smock. Perhaps a chest rig may be required and perhaps not, but much of the items carried on the armor or in a pack can be carried in pockets, readily available.

With even more products hitting the market soon, smocks look to be making an indelible mark on the US market and as they become more and more prevalent, we will begin to see more widespread use, including on the battlefield. Think of the smock as yet another tool in the toolbox and use accordingly. Remember, it’s a tool, not the tool, and you’ll be ok.

-Eric Graves
The Editor
SSD

What’s your favorite Smock?

The Smock

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

Finally, the smock is beginning to gain some traction here in the US. We’ve written about them in the past, mentioning smocks from Drop Zone, the now defunct EOTAC, SOD Gear, Level Peaks, SORD as well as the upcoming Vertx smock. But, we’ve never really talked about them and explained what they are all about.

They are literally a concept unlike anything we have in the US. I’ve heard them compared to the M65 field jacket but that idea is simply uniformed. A smock isn’t just a coat.

Rather, the smock is much more than a simple jacket. In addition to use as clothing, the smock is also intended to carry much, if not all of the wearer’s fighting load. They were originally envisioned to carry several days of combat equipment including rations, ammunition, and radios.

Primarily, the smock is a European concept and in particular, used by Commonwealth nations. I got my first SAS smock in 1989 in a trade for a poncho liner during an exercise in Belgium. Its use as an issue garment has traditionally been restricted to Special Forces yet several nations have adopted it for general issue in one form or another. One example of a much watered down smock on general issue is the Canadian Army’s combat jacket. When this design was initially adopted in the 1960s it was envisioned that the Soldier would carry his ammunition and other fighting load components in the jackets pockets. What’s more, the British military now issues a Smock as a general purpose item.

There is very limited use of Smocks by US forces. During the early 1990s, an experimental clothing system called Battle Dress System (BDS) was developed by the US Army Special Operations Command. It was a layered clothing system that eventually became the Lightweight Environmental Protection sub-system of SPEAR. The outermost layer called the SOF BDU, was a solid grey combat jacket and over trouser. With its solid great color the item was rejected due to institutional prejudice. When LEP was adopted, it was without the SOF BDU.

Issue items like the SAS Smock are pretty good, but commercial interests have taken them to a whole new level. Britain’s Special Air Sea Services has been manufacturing specialized variants of the smock since the 1980s. Other companies like Canada’s Drop Zone picked up the torch in the 90s and now, commercial items are more prevalent than the issue garment.

Smocks have made a lot of sense in Northern Europe where the cold wet climate requires layering. You see, as smocks are coat-like garments they are generally worn layered over shirts. In many climates the US military finds itself in, this would be too warm as a daily wear item. What’s more, the Extreme Cold Weather Clothing System in all three of its incarnations has offered various technical shells. It seems as if the US skipped the smock altogether for a time. But, with the advent of the most modern smocks, new fabrics have been introduced into the design essentially making them softshells. Conversely, Australian Mission Pac has developed a MultiCam ripstop 100% Cotton Smock for use in warm climates.

Other interesting concepts have been developed such as the Arktis SF Sleeveless Smock which looks like a hybrid between a smock and a 5.11 shooting vest.

Oftentimes, those with no experience with smocks will criticize the design. They don’t understand that use of a fully featured smock allows the reconfiguration of the load. For example, armor can be worn under the smock. Perhaps a chest rig may be required and perhaps not, but much of the items carried on the armor or in a pack can be carried in pockets, readily available.

With even more products hitting the market soon, smocks look to be making an indelible mark on the US market and as they become more and more prevalent, we will begin to see more widespread use, including on the battlefield. Think of the smock as yet another tool in the toolbox and use accordingly. Remember, it’s a tool, not the tool, and you’ll be ok.

-Eric Graves
The Editor
SSD

Level Peaks Catalog

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

Check out Level Peaks’ online catalog. They sell the best brands and have a few of their own concoctions as well. While there is some great eye candy here the catalog by no means represents their entire range.

Make the jump to check it out. (more…)

Level Peaks MultiCam Technical Windproof Smock In Stock

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Despite high demand, Level Peaks has finally gotten the Technical Windproof Smock back in stock. They go quick, and demand will be even higher with the MoD just announcing the new Personal Clothing System. Many troops will not receive PCS for some time and will be looking for a high quality alternative. As you may recall, the new Multi Terrain pattern adopted last year by her Majesty’s forces was developed in conjunction with Crye Precision. While MTP is uniquely British, you can see the similarities with MultiCam. Wearing the two patterns together is almost seamless. It’s nothing at all like pairing the old Woodland DPM with the US Woodland. In fact, MultiCam and MTP blend in splendidly. Since, MTP is tightly controlled by the MoD commercial products are nonexistent further complicating matters for those who want to upgrade their kit now rather than waiting for the QM Stores to catch up. On the flip side, the design of the Smock is excellent and is a great product for those outside of the UK who use MultiCam.

A Quick Review of the MultiCam Technical Windproof Smock
-Made from the finest materials
–Nanosphere with built in mosquito repellent.
–Wind, sand, & water resistant. This aids the resistance to stain from blood, oils, and other liquids.
–Anti-bacterial to enhance the anti-odor properties.
–Coldblack – the sun reflector technology reduces the products heat by 40%.
-Lightweight, low bulk & extremely comfortable.
-Not to mention sleeve pockets, chest pockets, Napoleon pockets, and fleece lined ‘Slack Time’ hand pockets.

In addition to MultiCam, the Smock is also offered in DPM 95. Level Peaks will also produce the Smock in MTP, Digi Cam (MARPAT), Black, Foliage Green, and Sand under contract.

www.levelpeaks.com

Level Peaks Delivers EMAGs to UK MoD

Friday, October 29th, 2010

In September, Hereford, UK based Level Peaks Associates won the contract to exclusively supply the UK MoD with the MagLevelâ„¢ Magpul EMAGâ„¢ (Export Magazine) for their SA 80A2 rifles. Level Peaks has already delivered the first consignment of 250,000 of the EMAG and is poised to deliver an additional One Million to fulfill the contract.

As part of the UK MoD’s ongoing efforts to reduce the weight carried by the Infantry Soldier, the introduction of the new EMAG is a significant step. The 30 round, 5.56mm EMAG was designed by Magpul specifically for NATO-pattern rifles (M4/C8, M16/C7, SA80, HK 416, etc.). It features a slim, rib-less, anti-snag profile and the front-to-back and side-to-side dimensions have been adjusted from the PKAG to ensure compatibility with as many STANAG 4179 weapons as possible, including most non-Mil-Spec AR15 rifles.

Level Peaks Associates were able to supply the EMAG as a rapidly manufactured and cost effective alternative to in-service metal magazines, offering substantial life cycle cost savings and placing a reduced logistic burden on the Operation HERRICK supply chain. The EMAG is over 40% lighter than the in-service HK steel magazine and represents over a 1kg reduction in combat loads for the British Soldier. Additionally, polymer magazines do not suffer from rust degradation, crushing damage, or dust and sand ingress. Since polymer does not clog, troops do need not clean every round before loading them into the magazine. This potentially reduces the time taken to reload magazines in dust and sand environments.

www.LevelPeaks.com

www.Magpul.com

Level Peaks Technical Windproof Smock

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

For operations in Afghanistan, the Smock is an excellent shell choice. Designed by troops with a great deal of operational experience who set out to incorporate improved design features into the classic smock design, the new Technical Windproof Smock from Level Peaks is a base level product and customization is available. The Smock is made from a 50/50 NYCO ripstop shell and has the following properties:
• Nanosphere with built in mosquito repellent.
• Wind, sand, & water resistant. This aids the resistance to stain from blood, oils, and other liquids.
• Anti-bacterial to enhance the anti-odor properties.
• Coldblack – the sun reflector technology reduces the products heat by 40%.
• Lightweight, low bulk & extremely comfortable.
As you can see the materials story is impressive.

The standard features are anything but standard fare. We could literally cover two pages detailing the features of the Technical Windproof Smock. For example, there are pockets galore. Sleeve pockets, chest pockets, Napoleon pockets, and fleece lined ‘Slack Time’ hand pockets. Plus, Level Peaks uses the best materials.

You need to head on over to Level Peaks to check out not only the Smock but their other clothing offerings as well. Available standard in MultiCam and DPM 95. Also offered by contract only in MTP, Digi Cam (MARPAT), Black, Foliage Green, and Sand.

www.levelpeaks.com