We’ve all done it, we’ve all put on a new piece of clothing and almost instantly you know that this is going to be your new go to shirt, hat, pair of pants, (insert some other random piece of clothing here), whatever. That’s the feeling that I got when I put on the new Stealth Hoodie LT from Triple Aught Design (TAD). Everything from the feel of the liner, the slight stretch of the shell and the way the cut of the jacket fit me was as good as I’ve ever felt. It didn’t hurt that the first time I showed the jacket to my wife and her response was something along the lines of “Damn you look hot in that jacket”. I’ve worn it to work a couple times and every time I do I get compliments from my coworkers and even a customer asked me about the jacket. It truly turns heads. Why am I starting a review with comments on how nice the jacket looks? Lots of people make jackets that are waterproof and maybe they share some of the features of the Stealth Hoodie LT, but no one makes one that I think looks as good as the TAD jacket while performing so well.
For those looking for the quick and dirty review, I’ll throw some quick info in right here. For the techie guys like myself, read on and find out about all the things that make this jacket special.
First of all it’s made of what I’m sure are space age materials, a windproof and waterproof membrane by Schoeller Fabrics called c_change. I’ll cover this more later, but this fabric literally changes with you, if you’re hot then it breathes more and if your cold then it keeps more heat in. In this day and age we all have smart phones, but this jacket has smart fabric. The elbows (think wear points when shooting prone) have double layers of fabric for wear resistance. There are 6 pockets, good pockets, with little features like zipper garages, media ports and D-rings. These things aren’t features that make a jacket good or bad, but they are features that take a jacket from good to the best! Triple Aught Design seems to be a company that knows that lots of people make good jackets, I think that TAD has decided to take the extra steps and pay attention to the little details, the very little ones, and by paying attention to those they make a jacket that is not just a good jacket but possibly the best jacket that your hard earned money can buy.
You can stop reading here if you’d like. You know it’s the best jacket out there in my mind, so just go buy one, but if you need more convincing then here’s some additional details for you.
I’ll admit that I used to look at their website and wonder about Triple Aught Design, thought they were high priced and high hyped, but how good can they really be for the money? This jacket retails for a little over $300, that’s big money for me to pay for a jacket, I was hesitant for sure. As luck would have it though the guys from Triple Aught Design (Brett and Raquel) were at the Sniper’s Hide Cup in April 2011. After trying on the jacket multiple times and spending a lot of time talking with Brett about the company, the technology and of course shooting I was almost convinced. I saw them again at the NorCal TBRC, spent more time talking with them both and as I learned more about the company and what they strive for in comfort and quality I found myself changing from the guy that wondered why to the guy that knew why Triple Aught Design was a little pricier than most others and more importantly why I was now their newest fan.
That fabric I mentioned earlier, c_change from Scholler Fabrics, this stuff is truly awesome. The technology in the fabric is nothing short of space age. The membrane literally adjusts to you and the climate you’re in. I won’t take time to retype what others have, but here’s a quick quote from Scholler’s website. “The c_change™-membrane reacts to different prevailing conditions. In doing so, not only temperature but also air and body moisture are balanced out. At high temperatures, or during aerobic activity, the structure of the c_change™-membrane opens as body moisture levels rise. Excess heat can escape to the outside air. Due to the lower level of body moisture development in cold weather or during inactive periods, the structure of the membrane condenses, retaining the heat directly on the body. Shivering or chilling is effectively prevented.” How’s that for cool…..or warm….or just down right comfortable. The Scholler website does a great job of explaining it and you can find videos out there as well if you’re interested. http://www.schoeller-textiles.com/en/technologies.html The best example that I can give of how well this works is from my recent support of my wife in a marathon. In the morning it was chilly and the jacket was keeping me comfortable in the cool weather. Then as the day went on it warmed up and I was able to keep the jacket on longer then I think I could have with other waterproof jackets. Several times throughout the day I ran a couple hundred yards or so with my wife, cheering her on, giving water, etc and at no time did I have to remove my jacket from overheating.
Everything else to say about the jacket is really in the little details. Some people have made comments about the cost of Triple Aught Design gear, I too used to wonder if it was worth it, but now that I own a few pieces of TAD clothing I can say it is. Where some companies use generic black rubber zipper pulls, they use perfectly matched and sewn pulls. It’s not easy to dye match a piece of nylon to another type of fabric but they do. The zipper garages are a very nice touch that you don’t notice until you have them, keeping the zipper heads covered and snag free. The media ports, reinforced elbows, hunter pocket in the back, pit zips, roll up hood and more…..there really are too many options to list in one review. It’s kind of like car shopping, there’s the lost leaded stripped down models for $150 or there’s the full boat Cadillac of jackets for a little more. This my friends is the Cadillac of jackets.
As a side note, since I wrote this review, I’ve had a couple more test opportunities to wear my jacket. I went on a beach trip with in-laws. The jacket of course kept me warm and dry, but again the only time I got compliments on my outfits from my two sister in laws was while I was wearing this Stealth Hooide LT and while wearing my TAD Ranger Hoodie fleece. I also recently went to support someone at a Triathlon, I swear it was the rainiest two hours of my life, but the jacket kept me very dry and comfortable. The only surprise was that after two hours in the rain I did have a hint of seepage through some of the stitching on the back of the jacket near the rear pocket. I asked Triple Aught Design about this and they reminded me that the jacket is sold as weather resistant, not weather proof. I talked to Brett about it and he explained that while the fabric is waterproof the stitching obviously creates penetrations in the membrane. We talked seam sealing, taping, etc and options that I had but I have to tell you that it’s just fine as is. After two hours of being rained on like I was in a car wash the only sign of moisture was a ¼” discoloration line on the inside liner due to damp fabric around the seam in question, it wasn’t enough for me to feel. I can tell you that I still consider the jacket waterproof, heck most my “waterproof” jackets leak after a couple hours of hard rain. I also hear rumors of a seam taped variation in 2012, it would be one of a very small group of seam taped jackets, so I’m looking forward to that.
Lastly, I’m happy to report that within the last couple of weeks they have released an insulated version of this jacket. This for me could seal the deal on the perfect jacket, I’m waiting for the no patch version to be released before I place my order for the new one!