About the Author

Woody is a 10 year veteran of the US Coast Guard, where he has served at various units including the International Training Division and Maritime Security Response Team. He has held qualifications including Deployable Team Leader/Instructor, Direct Action Section Team Leader, and Precision Marksman – Observer. He has deployed/instructed on five continents and served in quick reaction force roles for multiple National Special Security Events in the US.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

SOD Gear Operative Field Parka Review

 Initial Review
                I’ve been looking recently for a good jacket/concealment garment to wear year round in Virginia.  The un-tactical tactical vest is a bit passé to me (not quite so much as the fanny pack, but I digress), so I tried to look other directions.  My criteria were simple:

  • Wearable in a variety of weather conditions, from summer heat to winter cold.
  • Suitable for service as a windbreaker, with water-resistant properties.
  • Capable of concealing my firearm (Glock 19 at the time).
  • Capable of carrying a load, ie, blowout kit, small survival kit, magazines, cell phones, or water.

Most civilian jackets that I researched seemed sole-purpose, designed solely for warmth or keeping the wearer dry.  Pockets seemed to be ancillary, designed to warm hands or hold keys.   I’ve always been a fan of smocks, probably for nostalgic reasons, but as I researched their history and intent, I realized that they have uses in civilian life as well as their original military purposes (covered here).

                This is actually the third smock I’ve owned.  I previously had a SORD USA smock, which I sold due to some disappointments with quality and the country of origin.  I currently own a DropZone Tactical in Multicam, which I utilize as part of my cold weather layering system at work.  I had considered a DropZone smock for my civilian wear as well, but was not a huge fan of the twill they use for their non-camouflage colors, believing it too heavy for year-round wear.  After much research, I found the Italian company SOD Gear, the only manufacturer I could find that advertises non-camouflage jackets in the same 50/50 NYCO ripstop that they make their camouflage patterns in.  Knowing that smocks typically fit a little larger, I communicated with them through their Facebook account.  Despite a little bit of a language barrier, they were very glad to talk me through selecting a jacket.  I ordered online, and received the jacket within a week via DHL.

                My initial impression is that this is a very well-made jacket, with enough pockets to fulfill my every need.  There are 14 external pockets and two internal pockets.  By location, the jacket has:
·         Two zipper pockets on the upper arms,
·         Two zipper pockets on the lower arms,
·         Two button pockets on the chest, with
·         Two zipper pockets behind the button chest pockets,
·         Two button pockets on the lower front,
·         Two button pockets on the sides,
·         One large button pocket on the lower back, with additional zipper access, and
·         Two internal zipper pockets on the upper chest.
The hood has two drawstring adjustments, and the waist and hem have drawstrings as well.  The cuffs are   Buttons are NATO style, with fabric strips securing them to the jacket.  Fabric is 50/50 NYCO, with a tight enough weave to block the wind and provide light water resistance.  The jacket is cut roomy, allowing for another layer for warmth underneath (I’ve fit both the Army’s new Gen III Layer III and a Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man jacket underneath).

Velcro adjusted, and the front is zipper closed with a button wind fly.
I’ve carried a lot of stuff in it (probably too much at times).  I’ve carried blow-out kit (my full size one, not the one from the EDC pics), my S&W 442, survival kit, keys, phone, and wallet.  Oh, and I concealed my Glock underneath.  Overall, I’m very pleased with the jacket, and as the weather gets colder, I’ll probably go back to wearing it daily.  It makes a great windbreaker during the fall, and with the Mountain Hardwear underneath, it’ll keep even a biting wind in the 40 degree range off your core.


Chest pocket showing taped button and fold over pocket

Rear pocket showing top and left side access

Chest pocket showing zipper pocket behind button pocket

Arm pocket with hook and loop patch

Lower sleeve pocket

Elbow reinforcement and pad pocket

Mesh underarm vent

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