Here’s another look at some of the gear we used at the Will Petty VCQB course last week in the vast corn-filled steppes of Nebraska. Craig, the reviewer (and coincidentally the second pseudo-hippie we’ve allowed in the group), wore 5.11 to this class. He did so because he’s done some contracting work for them and wanted to see how the shirts held up. We tell you this so you’ll know in advance there’s a connection there, but also because we’re sure you’re sure we’ll tell you what we really think, regardless. Bottom line? We’d definitely lie to you about some things (booze, girls we’ve banged, whether we just cheated you at cards) but not about important shit. Gear is important shit. Don’t like the 5.11 look? That’s cool, not all of us do either. Other reviews about Velocity Systems (a many-minion favorite), Arc’teryx and Beyond are inbound. Meanwhile take what Craig says under consideration. Mad Duo
Review – 5.11 Tactlite Pro Shirt
What better way to test a long sleeve shirt than to try it out for 3 days at a training event where the heat index hit over 100 degrees and the ground was covered in golf ball sized gravel? Not to mention all the time spent rolling on the ground through vehicle glass during intense VCQB (Vehicle Close Quarters Battle) drills and scenarios. The shirt that entered this ring was none other than the 5.11 Taclite Pro Long Sleeve shirt — I’ve wanted to put one through some real paces for a while now. Thanks to Will Petty‘s training and 88 Tactical’s facility, I was able to do so properly.
5.11 Tactical is primarily known for their pants. However, over their 10 years of existence their gear line has expanded into all things tactical. Some have even argued they have had a direct influence on almost all the ‘new players’ who’ve entered the market over the recent years. The reason I bring up those pants is that this shirt is made of the same Taclite fabric as some of the pants. The fabric is the heart of this shirt (hell, it’s the heart of all shirts), so lets talk a bit about Taclite. Taclite (according to 5.11’s definition) is a proprietary fabric that is a “…blend of poly and cotton fibers in a ripstop fabrication.” The weave is what makes this blend special as is the Teflon treatment that makes the shirt resistant to stains, liquids and soils.
This can be significant if your buddy pukes on your shirt during shooting drills because he drank shitty beer the night before and didn’t drink water during the blistering heat. Not that such a thing occurred during our class, of course. Just speaking hypothetically.
C’mon dude. Hydrate next time — and maybe work on your sight picture.
Anyway, back to the shirt. The Taclite Pro shirt has some nice features that include triple stitched seams in high stress areas, reinforced elbows, back vents, mesh lining in the upper back portion, underarm vent holes, left arm pen pockets for you nerds, rollable sleeves with a retaining strap, two chest pockets and last but not least “document pockets” that are behind-the-chest pockets accessible by Velcro closure. For full specs you can visit their site but the shit is definitely “tactical” (and by some definitions tacti-cool).
Damn, it’s hot outside.
High humidity can wreak havoc on a shirt. I initially expected this shirt to be a hot box. The reason I felt this way was because the shirt didn’t feel light to the touch and there’s a Teflon coating on it. It was a pleasant surprise to have the shirt be really cool and provide shelter from the scorching sun. When the occasional breeze made its presence you could actually feel the cool air circulating through the back vents. Underneath the shirt I just wore a plain ole’ cotton t-shirt, and while the cotton shirt was drenched the Taclite shirt remained dry and maintained a clean look. This is obviously a great benefit if your line of work requires a professional look at all times. Speaking of professional looks, I never ironed the shirt but it managed to maintain a wrinkle-free appearance. Maybe I’ve just gotten better at folding my clothes when traveling but either way it always looked sharp.
30 Round Mag Chest Pocket
There were many times during the class we were all shedding gear to keep cool. Instead of running a battle belt or extra AR mag pouches on my ARES belt I carried two mags in the back pocket of my pants and a third in the “document pocket”. I know this was not the original intent of the design; I’m pretty sure the 5.11 designers pictured maps and other tacticool paper products occupying these pockets (in fact, I could probably just ask). Well, I put a full 30 round mag in the left document pocket and kept it there almost the whole time (except for when using it to reload, of course). I fully expected the pocket to droop or sag and causing the shirt to pull in uncomfortable ways, but that wasn’t the case. The mag remained close to the chest and didn’t move around too much.
The document pocket is triple stitched around the seam with two bar tacks and box stitched Velcro closures making it structurally sound. Would I recommend ditching the chest rig to carry mags in your chest pockets? No, but I did run it like that for a few drills, the pocket held up and wasn’t a hindrance.
Keep It Clean.
After hours of rolling on gravel and mud the shirt got pretty dirty. Rock residue and dried mud were easy to remove. Just a couple passes of the hand cleaned up the shirt just right. During one morning debrief I spilled coffee on the shirt and it just beaded right off. It didn’t get wet or leave a stain. Not to be outdone by the morning and afternoon training antics, in the evening I spilled those first few sips of post training beers on the shirt with the same result. While initially impressive, it’s too soon to say how the Teflon coating would hold up over the long term. However during these 3 long and arduous days it rang true to its promise. Note that unlike a couple of the others in the class I didn’t wind up with a lot of blood on my shirt so I can’t say how well the Taclite would shed it in quantity. The little I shed came out without leaving a stain; perhaps I can test it in a more Merrill- or Reeder-like fashion at our next training event!
There are many, many choices out there when it comes to tactical apparel. Do you need a tactical shirt? That depends on your line of work, but if you do you should consider the Taclite. Overall the garment met its product promise and that’s all we can hope for. With 10 color choices, 8 size options, 2 lengths and retailing for $56 the value and options seem reasonable. Let us know if you’ve used the Taclite Shirt and if so what you thought about it in the comments. If you don’t own a 5.11 Tactile Pro shirt, then all of us are curious; what shirt do you stand behind, whether it’s for work or range outings?
For more information or to order one click here on the 5.11 Tactical website. You’ll be able to see how this and other garments hold up once the Firelance video is released – we’ll keep you up to speed.
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Mad Duo, Breach-Bang& CLEAR!
Emergency: Activate firefly, deploy green (or brown) star cluster, get your wank sock out of your ruck and stand by ’til we come get you.
About the Author: Craig Metzger is some sort of evil creative genius who enjoys everything from Billabong to Zev Tech. He’s one of those dudes who mountain bikes, hikes and snowboards with the same enthusiasm as he does spending time on the range, offroading in Moab and attending Ren Faires. He’s definitely our first minion so far to have a subscription to Thrasher. Kyle Lamb (Viking Tactics) really does call him the Tactical Hippie, that’s a true story. Although we cannot confirm rumors that he played the role of Everett in Delta Farce, we can advise you to check out some of his work on his website or on his blog.