Review by our friends at http://ice4safety.com/
Product Evaluation : Rothco Special Ops Soft Shell Jacket
Let’s get right to it….
Special Ops – the name suggests it is somehow well suited to some specific tasks. Just how practical is tactical anyways?
Here are features we like and find practical:Appearance
– looks good in Olive Drab, Coyote Brown and Black – the same colors as most of your bug out packs – so you match just in case you were concerned about that. Looks good in public areas and the only attention getting (non gray man) item would be the two 4”x4” Velcro shoulder patch panels. They are strong enough to hold some small electronics gear or your ski pass or some other ID for downhill skiing or some special volunteer event. Having a cloth hook for microphone or ID clips would have been nice. The sample we received for testing was fully cut in Large and not too tight or too loose. The jacket is not reflective. Sized for S-3XL.Zippers
– simple, inexpensive to build into a jacket or replace if broken (fix in the field) - they are not name brand zippers like YKK ,but they work. Velcro is too noisy, it attaches and rips up everything clothing related and too much of it shouts “Cheap”. Zippers also can be sealed for added wind resistance….these are not – they could be functional on the arm pockets – but the price would go up. Pit Zips help release trapped moist hot air when active – they are large and unprotected with any mesh so they could also be used for hand warmers for a second person. Front zipper is a two way so you can sit/drive/relieve yourself/access gear zip up or zip down – we like that and if it didn’t have this feature - the evaluation would be over.Hood
– very large insulated hood with a front lip zipped into the collar when folded up makes it rather bulky – it can however be detached and optionally carried in the unique rear panel pocket or simply left deployed or home/car. You could carry other gear in your hood pouch as needed – maybe a small first aid kit or something. The large size makes a difference when you want to cover up a hat or other head gear for added warmth or utility. This mostly bald headed tester found the hat overly roomy by itself. Plenty of options with this hood so we like it. The collar is considered a “stand up” that can be bent over when the hood is not enclosed inside. We put the hood inside the back pocket for when a ball cap will suffice. You can also fold over the hood with Velcro tabs inside when deployed to keep it from flapping or collecting debris/water/snow. The cinch cords have to be untied when removing the hood and retied when reinstalled…so not a quick zip up install there – not a big hassle in normal wear….or if you leave it on or off seasonally.Pockets
– lots of them…some small, some large…with internal compartments for phones, radios, knives, gun, magazines etc…..they work when seated in your vehicle or when wearing a fully loaded Maxpedition rucksack. Forearm and shoulder pockets are conveniently located – not too large so as to encourage stuffing large heavy items there but they are reinforced and disperse the load across the entire jacket versus just stuffing some waist pockets as a traditional jacket would. Handkerchiefs, lip balm, phones, GPS, maps, flashlights, batteries, spare mags…bug out or hiking essentials all have a place to go using the internal or forearm or shoulder pockets. Wearing a reflective vest over this jacket still allows for access to the chest pockets as well as the arm pockets. We stuffed some small knives, 2 cell flashlights and wallets into the arm pockets with no issue. A Ham Radio (HT) with speaker/mic was dropped into the cavernous chest pockets making it a no brainer for radio buffs. The usual iPod earplug wire cutouts are present on both of the front pockets.
The internal pocket fabric supports are attached in such a way that a hollow tube exists where you can stuff a hat, gloves or scarf into when you stop or hang it up for the night. In fact this fabric could serve as an attachment point for a radio speaker microphone to be secreted inside your jacket.
Most unusual is the rear compartment pocket that is easily accessed from either side by either hand – big enough for the hood or a shirt/shorts or small kit of some kind. Practical? Yes.Weatherproofing
– breathable fabric associated with a lightweight insulating layer that can be paired up with several layers of Under Armor or similar insulated active wear with light sweaters for considerable warmth down to 20°. Drawstring hood in wind is a welcome feature because the hood is oversized. Expanding wrist cuffs have a Velcro strap – something North Face did not do. This means you won’t need to adjust the Velcro strap but one time. While these may seem like inconsequential items, they are problematic and annoying over the long term – if you are stuck with one jacket on a “bug out” you want one that functions in a variety of ways and won’t be a PITA. No waist drawstring or powder skirt as it was not expressly designed for skiing. We held the jacket under running water for 60 seconds to make sure it lived up to the waterproof claim – it did.Further Discussion:
We’d select this over the North Face Jacket as it is stylish and offers more utility to the user and is less expensive.
Price point for this jacket is acceptable - top grade custom tactical wear is more expensive and less suited for civilian attire.
Rothco should include a discreet attachment strap for Radio/ID clips
Shoulder patch Velcro could be outfitted (by end user) with reflective materials for everyday hiking or even road running in colder weather.
Most shoulder or belt holstered weapons can be carried concealed without detection if worn correctly. Zippered jackets retard rapid gun access
While the jacket could use some refinement in some reinforcement and double stitching it should provide the daily user a considerable amount of utility, warmth and protection from the elements.
Will it hold up long in police/combat duty…not in our opinion.
Will it satisfy the average civilian who has lots of gear and doesn’t want to pay $300+ for a jacket with 50 or more pockets? Yes.