Saturday, December 17, 2011

Review--Condor 602 Tactical Jacket (Updated)



I purchased a Condor Model 602 "Summit Tactical Soft Shell Jacket" late this last spring. I used it during a wet, rainy spring for a couple weeks, and have used it this fall.

Details:

It is available in "foliage" (pictured above), black, O.D., and "coyote" colors.

The jacket is constructed with three layers: an outer shell made of polyester, a middle-layer made with a "breathable film membrane," and an inner layer of "super fine fleece." It has a hood that folds up and zips into its own pocket on the collar. The hood can be tightened, and there is a Velcro attachment on the back to adjust how much the hood overhangs your face.

The other major feature are the pockets: as you can see from the picture, it has sleeve pockets. It also has a large, transverse mesh pocket on the rear of the coat (almost like the "game pockets" on some field vests) that zips open from either side. There are also two inside pockets that zip open, and are large enough for a wallet.

The main pockets, however, are the two side pockets. These are large pockets that zip open from the outside. Inside is a main compartment and a couple pouches to slide a cell phone or smaller items in. There are holes on the inside of the jacket to run wires between a phone, IPod, or radio to earbuds or earphones. These main pockets are placed too high, however, to slip your hands in for warmth--you will need your gloves in cooler weather.

There are velcro squares on each upper arm to attach patches or insignia. This gives it a certain "tactical" or police type look. I think this is why I've had people stop me to ask directions when I've worn it. So, in that regard, the jacket does not help you blend in.

General Impressions:

The fleece is thin and doesn't provide much insulation. In cooler weather, you will want a warm shirt or base layer. Notwithstanding the breathable layer, the jacket tends to trap perspiration. So, in warmer weather or when active, its easy to get a damp, sticky feeling when using the jacket. I would say that this jacket is best in the range of 40 to 55 degrees, depending on the undergarment you are wearing. Any warmer, and you will probably want to move to something lighter; any colder, and you will want a heavier coat.

There are some things you can do with the jacket to help vent or cool it a bit. One of the interesting features are zippers in each of the arm pit areas, which can be zipped open to help with venting. I had noted above that there was a large, mesh pocket across the lower back. If you don't have anything in that pocket, you can leave those zippers open which also helps to vent.

Although I haven't used it in a heavy downpour, the jacket did fine in the lighter "drizzling" rain. It doesn't have a storm flap to cover the front zipper, so I'm not sure how well it will do in a really heavy rain.

Pros:

-- It is a nice looking jacket, and seems to be well made.

-- It is cut longer on the back, similar to a bicycle jacket, so it covers your lower back while riding a bike, bent down, or crouching.

-- Better than a simple rain-poncho in cooler climes.

Cons:

-- The sizing is all wrong. It is undersized--you need to get at least one size larger than you would normally wear.

-- Probably because of the sizing issue, bulkier objects (concealed carry pistols, fat wallets, etc.) tend to print.

Overall Impressions:

 My overall impression is neutral with a slight positive leaning. It is a good intermediate temperature coat. But with too much exertion or in warmer weather, it simply traps moisture (i.e., sweat) too much for my liking. However, it is priced for less than $90, so you can't expect Gortex quality breathable fabric. It is superior, however, to most rain type jackets on the market.

(Update: I have additional thoughts on this jacket based on additional use here).

(Update: Detailed review at the Weapon Blog and a video review by Nutnfancy).

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