In close to 25 years as a writer for firearms, cutlery, and survival magazines and websites, I have reviewed quite a few products. Lots of boots have come my way and, to be sure, I only report on the best-of-the-best in boots and other gear. I don’t want to waste my time, or our reader’s time, reporting on junk products. As I’ve said numerous times over the years, “You only have to buy quality once, but if you buy junk, you have to keep on buying junk…” Of course, when it comes to clothing and footwear, you do eventually have to replace it but not nearly as often as you replace junk. Quality clothing and footwear lasts a long, long time. I have a pair of Rocky boots with 800 grams of Thinsulate that are more than 20 years old. They’ve had the soles replaced once. The only reason I don’t wear these boots any longer is because my foot grew one size, but I’m holding onto these waterproof and heavily insulated boots just in case someone else needs them.
I insist on waterproof boots or hikers because of where we live, in Western Oregon, where we get about eights months of rain each year. Insulated boots aren’t a necessity here, but I do have several pair of boots that are waterproof and insulated just because! Most of my winter coats and jackets are also either waterproof or water-resistant, again because it’s a necessity for me. I spend a lot of time outside testing products, as well as just being in the outdoors. When we have heavy rains, I reach for a waterproof jacket, instead of one that is just water-resistant. Most of the year, a heavy jacket isn’t called for in my neck of the woods, so a light-weight, three season, waterproof jacket works great for my needs.
Back in 1979, and “yes” I can remember that far back most of the time, I worked for a K-9 security company. We patrolled outside of the Trojan Nuclear Power Plant quite a ways outside of Portland, OR. It’s now dismantled. We patrolled with a K-9 from sunset until sunrise the next morning. Thos were very long nights, and it was very chilly with lots of rain. I wore a pair of insulated coveralls with an insulated jacket under that, plus a rain suit, pants, and jacket, plus rubber military boots that were heavy. No matter what, I was always wet and cold at the end of the shift. We didn’t have materials like Gore-Tex or Thinsulte back then, so my feet would get wet from perspiration, as well as my entire body. That rubber rain suit didn’t allow the perspiration to get out, and I was wet about halfway through the night. However, it was better, I guess, than being absolutely soaked from the pouring rain. Also, about halfway through the night, my Doberman would start shivering from the cold and rain, which was not good!
So, with the above background, I have some experience with good and poor waterproof products or the lack thereof. We live in wonderful times, with all the new synthetic waterproof products, as well as various types of insulation. I would have done anything if these products were available back in 1979, but they weren’t!
Brand new to the Blackhawk Products line up and a first look for our readers is their Waterproof Tactical Softshell Jacket. Because of our great contacts in various industries, we are giving our readers a first look at this new jacket. It has been tested as well as it could be without any rain, but a soaking garden hose worked great as a test media.
The new jacket has what Blackhawk is calling Teflon Shield, which not only makes this ¾ length jacket waterproof but also repels oil and stains too! It is very nice! Plus, this new waterproof material is breathable. (See my Trojan story above.) If perspiration can’t escape, you will get wet under the jacket. There are also various pockets inside and outside of the jacket for storing your extra gear and equipment that you don’t want to get wet. And, the pockets that have zippers are really cool. They have locking zippers. Once you zip the pocket closed and slide the head of the zipper into the little pouch, there are no worries about the zipper coming unzipped.
I also like that the jacket is flexible, so you have a lot of movement. Some jackets are tight and don’t have any “give” at all, which is not good. The jacket also has gusseted underarms for more freedom of movement, plus a vented yoke on the back of the jacket, and it comes in two different colors. I expect Blackhawk will come out with other colors if there is enough demand. My sample was gray, and the other is a shade of blue. My sample came with a hood to keep that rain off the gray hairs on my head.
Now, if I counted right, and you’ll have to forgive my public school math, there are a total of nine pockets on the jacket. Plus, to aid in keeping you as dry as possible, the seams are all sealed to keep the rain out. The hood has an adjustment for wearing a baseball cap or even a military-style helmet, which is another nice touch. The cuffs on the sleeves are also adjustable with rubber tabs, once again so the rain will stay out, and this also gives you a better fit in the process. There is a Velcro patch on the right sleeve, and a mic clip for your radio use.
Since I received this jacket in August, when we rarely see any rain in this part of Oregon at this time of year, I elected to have my wife turn the garden hose on me while I wore the jacket. Remember that the water was under pressure too. I stayed dry, other than the cuffs on my cargo pants and that my hikers were a little wet on the outside, but the hikers are waterproof, so I had no worries about wet feet. The water just was totally repelled by the waterproof material. There was no hint of the jacket getting wet on the inside.
The Blackhawk Waterproof Tactical Softshell Jacket doesn’t have any sort of lining to keep you extra warm in the colder weather. However, slipping a Wooly Pulley under the jacket or a fleece light-weight jacket on before putting the Blackhawk jacket on, and this baby will probably keep you a lot warmer in the winter months than you can imagine. Being waterproof, the jacket is also windproof. That goes a long way in keeping you warm in cold weather. Standing on the corner when I was a teen, waiting for the public transportation bus to come along in the dead of winter in Chicago, I know how the wind can “cut” right through even the heaviest jacket or coat, giving you a chill to the bone.
The jacket appears to be generously cut, too. Many jackets that I have (and I have a lot of ‘em) are cut a bit tight, and when zipped-up they sometimes allow my concealed carry handgun to print on my right side. Luckily, I rarely have to zip-up a jacket or coat; I’m a bit on the hot-blooded side and rarely get “that” cold in this neck of the woods. But the biggest handgun on my right hip, and I tried several, were easy to conceal with the Blackhawk jacket when it was zipped-up tight.
This particular jacket doesn’t exactly scream “tactical” if you ask me, and that’s a good thing in my book. I don’t want anyone giving me a second look and be mistaken for a law enforcement officer or someone in the military in civilian clothing. This jacket is very stylish, if you ask me, and it will fit in, whether you are in downtown Chicago or out in the country or on the farm.
For more information on this jacket and some much better pics than my wife could take, You need to look at Blackhawk’s site. Keep in mind that quality isn’t cheap. If you want the best, buy the best. This new offering from Blackhawk retails for $209.99, and Blackhawk clothing can now be found in many outdoors stores as well as places like Cabela’s. Check it out. I think you’ll like it, and it is worth the money! I was very impressed with this product, very!
– Senior Product Review Editor, Pat Cascio