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Posts Tagged ‘The Lost Arrow Project’

The Lost Arrow Project by Patagonia – Military Alpine Recce System : Pnuemo Fuse and Mixed Range

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

In this final installment of our series on The Lost Arrow Project’s Military Alpine Recce System, I wanted to take a deep dive on two garments. While the entire system was a ground up reboot of environmental clothing systems and packed with innovative concepts, these two jacket and pant combinations exhibit the systems’ departure from the status quo.

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Earlier I referred to MARS as a take out menu and I believe that the Pnuemo Fuse and Mixed Range will be the most popular pieces in MARS, serving as the definition of what Patagonia designer Casey Shaw aspired to when he pondered how to make one garment replace six others.

Pnuemo Fuse

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USSOCOM’s Protective Combat Uniform was designed from a seven level template codified by Mark Twight in his book “Extreme Alpinism: Climbing Light, Fast and High.” His level five is referred to as an “Action Suit.” Unfortunately, the PCU level 5 garment never seemed to live up to what I saw in my mind’s eye. The material could be hot at times and lacked the comfort level of something that might be worn day-in and day-out.

The Pneumo Air garment in MARS on the other hand fits it to a “T.” I look at it and think comfort. It also makes me think of the clothing on science fiction shows. It’s like what Space Marines will wear in the future, except it’s available now; a great combination of design and materials.

It’s definitely a three-season garment and so long as you’re in a Temperate zone, you could get away with wearing this all year. The fabric is so cozy, I think you’ll want to. I can see operators wearing this all the time while deployed, whether in the field, on the FOB lounging, or conducting PT. In one of the solid colors (Fatigue Green or Forge Grey), they’ll even wear it while off duty at home station as well.

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The material is unique to MARS. It’s a reversed block knit (aka gridded fleece) laminated to Aerolite nylon face fabric which is common across most of the MARS garments. In the chest area on Pneumo Fuse, the two fabrics are used together, but not laminated.

The name of the garment alone tells you what is going on. This material selection offers a high degree of air permeability (40 CFM) which is great while active as the block knit has recesses which traps a layer of boundary air which serves as insulation when static. The lamination also reduces bulk yet doesn’t reduce air permeability or compromise the integrity of fabric.

The uniform also offers a DWR coating and elasticize hem and cuffs. The helmet compatible hood adjusts with a concealed cord to avoid snagging.

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Wherever possible, the seams use ultrasonic welding and are backed with 11mm seam tape. Additionally, they’re reinforced with ForgeLine, an X-stitch pattern developed in Patagonia’s R&D facility, The Forge.

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Across the board, pockets are kept to a minimum with front slash pockets in the pants along with a side patch pocket while the jacket incorporates handwarmer pockets.

Mixed Range

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Like Pneumo Air, Mixed Range is a huge departure from what’s currently available. It’s a hybrid garment which combine hard and soft shells. Granted, these are nothing new, but how The Lost Arrow Project created this garment is a bit different. It’s a combination of their 3-layer waterproof breathable fabric called H2No Air and a treated version of the Aerolite fabric which serves as a highly breathable soft shell.

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In this case, they’ve made the horizontal surfaces waterproof, including elbows, knees and lower legs, while the vertical surfaces are features soft shell fabric including the chest, back, and crotch. In both cases the fabrics offer some stretch.

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An interesting feature across both Mixed Range and Pneumo Fuse is the integrated belt, despite incorporating low profile belt loops for use with life support capable belts when needed. The belt loops are low bulk and don’t create friction points which can rub the wearer. Finally, the gusseted zippered cuffs fit over boots and feature tie-down loops.

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Like the Pneumo Air, the Mixed Range features ultrasonic welding and narrow seam tape along with ForgeLine for reinforcement.

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Once again, pockets remain few, yet functional, like this thigh pocket.

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The pant also incorporates a zippered lower leg to assist with donning and doffing.

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For this, and other garments in MARS, Patagonia developed a Berry compliant Touch Point System cord lock which is embedded in the garment. The helmet-compatible hood cord adjustments are concealed and the excess fits into a drainable garage at the rear of the hood.

Conclusion

Both garments are impressive and I expect will be adopted for use in greater numbers than full kits, as Patagonia rolls out their product options. They offer a great deal of versatility, being useful in a wide variety of climates.

This is the final installment of a four-part series on the Military Alpine Recce System developed by Patagonia’s The Lost Arrow Project. Earlier installments include the history of Patagonia’s SOF support, a system overview and a focus on the production partner, Peckham Vocational Industries. The full system will be on exhibit at SOF Select during SOFIC.

Sneak Peek – The Lost Arrow Project Level 9 Combat Uniform Concept

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

As you know, The Lost Arrow Project is Patagonia’s efforts to to support Special Operations Forces and other government customers. At SOF Select they are exhibiting this concept uniform.

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The challenge they gave themselves was to create a new 3-season uniform which could replace both combat and field garments in USSOCOM’s Protective Combat Uniform Level 9. Although, this project is still in its infancy, the fabric they selected is very breathable for use in hot environments. Additionally, the bags of pockets are all internal for a sleeker garment.

The Lost Arrow Project by Patagonia – Military Alpine Recce System : Program History

Wednesday, May 16th, 2018

Most people who enjoy the outdoors know Patagonia as a company which produces outdoor clothing. Still others may know about Patagonia’s long-term dedication to social and environmental responsibility. While those may sound like marketing buzz-words, it turns out they manifest themselves in ways the average person would never imagine.

Social responsibility can mean a lot of things, to a lot of people. In Patagonia’s case, it’s a decision of where they dedicate resources.

What most do not know is that for more than a decade, Patagonia has focused their expertise at providing technical outerwear for the most extreme environments and athletes, to a different customer, US Special Operations Forces. That’s right. Patagonia has a dedicated team, focused on supporting USSOCOM with delivering US Made/Berry Compliant technical cold weather and combat uniforms as prime provider to the Protective Combat Uniform program. What’s more, they’ve cultivated a relationship with a like minded production partner, Peckham Vocational Industries. Itself a company founded upon service to others.

I spoke with Eric Neuron, Director of Strategic Product & Military for Patagonia Works and he related that one unintended, but important outcome of their military work has been a renewed focus on the US manufacturing base. They’ve spent the last three years investing in Peckham Vocational Industries, with technical machinery and knowledge transfer from their global supply chain.  Their goal is to build the capacity to produce outdoor apparel that is technically equivalent to what they produce globally.

Part of their dedication to the environment is to produce durable goods which will last, despite arduous conditions, and won’t need to be replaced as often.

Even those familiar with Patagonia’s PCU work usually don’t know how long they have been supporting the military. My relationship with the brand goes back to the late 1980s, when I was assigned to 3rd ID’s Long Range Surveillance Detachment. We were issued thick dark blue pile suits to ward off the cold while in a hide site and polypropylene long underwear, complete with logo on the left chest. Not long after that, very close copies of those garments were included in the US Army’s Extended Cold Weather Clothing System. Right down to the nylon chest pocket.

Throughout the 90s, SOF units would issue specialized pieces of Patagonia clothing for use in extreme environments. But it was not until the Global War On Terror that Patagonia answered the nation’s call and began developing entire clothing systems for SOF.

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In 2004, Patagonia commenced work for a SOF customer on an environmental clothing system which was comprised of modifications to what was already in their commercial line. Leveraging their Regulator line of inner layers, this project was dubbed the Military Advanced Regulator System or MARS. Some garments remained the same as their commercially available counterparts but with a color change to Alpha Green, while other items were slightly modified with additions such as sleeve pockets. Later, many components of MARS were produced in Coyote.

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At around the same time, the Program Manager for SOF Survival, Support and Equipment Systems invited three vendors in to update their PCU ensemble. The first go around had been developed quickly in-house at Natick Soldier Systems Center, just outside of Boston, with the assistance of renown mountaineer Mark Twight.

The other two vendors bowed out after deciding that they didn’t want to lend their brand names to clothing produced in domestic factories they had little control over. Patagonia jumped in with both feet, refining PCU’s seven levels despite being limited to fabric technologies already in the program. They also worked tirelessly with the Ability One sew house which produced the gear, to keep quality high throughout the process. Even then, Patagonia’s role with PCU didn’t leverage their design capability.

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Then, in 2009, Patagonia got their chance to take the lead on a clothing project for PM SSES who decided to develop a SOF Combat Uniform. This garment became PCU Level 9. They held a development event in El Paso, Texas, along with their Ability One partner, bringing in personnel from each of the SOF components to provide feedback on prototypes. This was very much a hands-on event, with multiple evaluations occurring as well as an early use of 3D laser scanning to determine sizes for the operators.

Patagonia’s Cyndi Davis was central in the development of that garment and someone SOCOM would continue to turn to for expertise in the ensuing years. The Patagonia team refined its initial concepts and turned the uniform into reality. Now, they also produce a jungle version of that uniform, called Level 9 HW.

But they haven’t stopped there. Most recently, Patagonia formalized The Lost Arrow Project, a subsidiary of Patagonia Works that is solely focused on their government contracting business.  Their aim is build special-purpose clothing and gear for extreme environments, developed specific to the requirements of the government user, and for compliancy in government contracting.

About three years ago, what was to become The Lost Arrow Project, decided to start with a clean slate, envisioning a follow-on to PCU. They brought in one of Patagonia’s most experienced designers, Casey Shaw, who began work on what would eventually become the Military Alpine Recce System. It’s still called MARS, but they’ve transitioned from their older Regulator technology to new materials with a focus on tailored breathability.

Eric Neuron, sums up their efforts quite well, saying, “The latest iteration of the MARS line of cold weather clothing has redefined the state of the art in domestic outerwear, is a paradigm shift from the status quo of cold weather layering systems, and is the culmination of The Lost Arrow Project.”

This is the first of a four-part series on the Military Alpine Recce System developed by Patagonia’s The Lost Arrow Project. Other installments include an overview of the system and its design, a focus on their production partner Peckham Industries and a deep dive into some of the components. The full system will be on exhibition at SOF Select during SOFIC.