February 22, 2018
Triple Aught Design, more affectionately know as TAD Gear, has a long-standing reputation of producing some of the most durable and well-designed products available. Its line of fleece hoodies and jackets has cornered the market because fleece is a difficult material to work with, but TAD understands the material, has excellent quality control and uses only the finest fleece available.
THE RANGER HOODIE
This is the thickest fleece hoodie that TAD offers. I didn't know what to expect until the jacket arrived and I tried it on to make sure it fit. The garment is sized for active people and rides close to the body without being restrictive or making the owner look like a fat guy in a little coat.
What TAD describes as an "active" fit appears to include a 7- to 10-inch drop from the chest to the waist. I have a 42-inch chest and a 33-inch waist, and this large Ranger Hoodie fit me perfectly. If our waist size gets closer to our chest size, it is likely that these Hoodies will fit either the shoulders or the waist, but not both.
The material that TAD uses includes a wind-blocking material called WindPro. While the material is there to block the wind, it doesn't do so at the expense of breathability. I wore this hoodie in warmer weather, and it did a good job of retaining heat without trapping moisture.
I turned the Ranger inside out and closely examined all of the seams. The stitching is well done, with all seams staying straight and even for their entire length. The stitches are also small, tight and evenly spaced. All the places where the seams end or intersect/terminate are bar tacked to ensure that they don't come unraveled.
Seams are important, especially with fleece. Because the material is lofty and can compress significantly when stitched, the seams have to be kept far enough away from the edge of the material to make sure that they don't pull through. Seams that wander perilously close to the edge of the garment are guaranteed to come unraveled the first time they get strained. I saw no places on the Ranger Hoodie where the seams were in anything less than an ideal position.
The Ranger Hoodie has several design features that work well for everyday on up through hard field use. The portion of the hoodie that runs under the arm is one continuous strip of material that has no seams. It will not bunch up, and the jacket won't form hotspots against the skin if the hoodie is worn for an extended period of time. Any time we put weight over a seam (like the weight of our arm over a seam in the armpit) and walk for a few miles, we're almost guaranteed a hotspot or blister. This is not a concern with the underarm area of the TAD Hoodie.
The pockets on the Ranger are tastefully done and have minimal visual signature. They lay flat when not in use and are in all the right places.
Velcro is an option on the shoulder pockets. I asked for a model without that feature because I don't need to wear any shoulder insignia, and I don't wear morale patches.
STITCHES ON THE STITCHES
The Force 10 RS Pants are field pants with ample storage designed for hard use. The material TAD uses in the pant is a 52 percent nylon/49 percent cotton ripstop blend. I much prefer this concoction over the Mil-Spec 100 percent ripstop cotton.
One-hundred percent ripstop cotton is comfortable and does well in hot, dry climates. Those are the good things about it. Once it is washed a few times, it gets really soft and comfortable, but it tears very easily.
The TAD blend leverages some of the cooling properties of cotton and meshes them with the durability and longevity of nylon. On top of the better blend, the pant design was done with durability and flexibility in mind.
The gusseted crotch allows for plenty of movement, even while squatting or crouching. Without a gusseted crotch, it's only a matter of time before pants worn in dynamic environments get torn from front to back. This always happens at the worst possible time.
The pants have reinforced areas at the seat and on each knee. All seams are at least double-stitched, and most are triple-stitched. In some places, there are stitches on the stitches just to keep them in place. I can't imagine how much work went into all that stitching, but I love the idea. I don't see how any of the seams on these pants could or would ever come apart without deliberate effort.
There are a ton of pockets on these pants, and, fortunately, we can't see most of them. There are the standard two pockets front and rear. There are two front thigh pockets, cargo pockets on each leg, then two more pockets inside the waistband. The secret inside-the-waistband pockets are actually on the back of the back pockets. There are pockets on the pockets!
With all those places to put stuff, TAD included an ingenious way to keep the interior of the cargo pockets organized. There are sleeves sewn into the interior of each cargo pocket, and they allow us to keep individual items separate instead of turning into a pile of junk bouncing around against our leg.
The Ranger Hoodie and the Force 10 RS Pant live up to the excellent reputation TAD has earned over the years. The design reflects years of refinement, and the workmanship is still flawless.
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