UF PRO STRIKER XT Evaluation
by Eliran Feilboy, Project Gecko
It was the year 2013, when I was introduced by a friend to UF PRO & Pencott's Green Zone. I was mostly skeptic, like the IDF taught me, regarding fashion & equipment. But it wasn’t too long, until I had a chance to see UF PRO's equipment in 'action'. I was still not convinced, but the name itself, followed by a remarkable, yet somewhat new level of professionalism, kept ringing a bell. Long story short – I didn’t became a 'fan' or 'temporary fashion influenced' by UF PRO. I became addicted, and most important – convinced 150% in their work and vision. And that´s how our evaluation, which is based on two main environments, to the outstanding Striker XT started.
STRIKER XT COMBAT SHIRT
CAMO PATTTERN: PENCOTT GREENZONE
As someone that comes from a hot country, with a relative high humidity – Combat uniform with a breathing capability and quick drying functionality, is more than just another ''plus'' – its a clear advantage.
We used to work very often in hot climates. Carrying a payload of 40-50% of your body weight including your plate carrier sometimes, followed by a sun that follows you during the entire day, will cause you to sweat like a donkey. The problem I personally had, was not the sweating itself, but the moments after it. See, the problem was, that normally, even if I finally reached my initial point, nothing guaranteed that my shirt \ jacket would be dry the next day. And if it was dry...it was always becoming so stiff, that it had its own uncompromising shape, which means wearing it again was horrible. Why horrible? Mostly because it kept me inefficient, and uncomfortable. My IDF jacket for example was really durable & strong, but when it came down to breathing capability’s...ironically it failed.
So how does the UF PRO Striker XT combat shirt performs than?
I think that every environment opens a door to different adventures and risk factors, especially an environment like mountains. I tested the Striker XT Shirt during our 4-days Alps Seminar in Austria. That whole seminar was a simulation of the principals of movement & individual cooperation with such a demanding environment. I carried up to 32-34 kg and so did the rest of the team. During our climb the weather was completely unstable. We have been through 24 hours of non stopping rain and even a small nearby thunderstorm. Due to the weather and the time fraction to the Objective we were cut off of our backpacks, extra water & food for 24 hours, and we found ourselves in a mini real survival situation. We crossed various topographic landscapes full of snow & some ice, we climbed and crossed small cliffs with a strong wind blowing, and a constant fog that reveals only what is 10 meters away from you. We were completely soaked and exhausted. Definitely an environment that will not tolerate bad equipment.
Personally, my rain prof gear above the green zone was completely torn after 6-7 hours of walking in that environment. Both the Striker XT Pants & combat shirt were completely soaked through by not only sweat, but now also rain. Being not my first time in heavy rain shower, I expected the StrikerXT to limit my movement, and to deliver an uncomfortable feeling of wet equipment.
But no.The shirt felt awesome. Especially around the shoulders & collar. Despite the fact it was so wet, I still had a good freedom of movement. When we finally took the objective and had a small shelter from the rain, I could literally feel how my skin was breathing through the shirt. It felt cold of course, but the shape of the shirt remained normal, and so was the feeling.
I have to say that, out of experience, this is really awesome. When you are diving, swimming or doing any high end activity that includes a lot of water \sweat – the clothes will often get 'stuck' to your body as the water were glue. It always has been a disadvantage, and a very uncomfortable feeling. Every lean, crawling, or even carrying; anything becomes agony.
After around 15 minutes in that cover finally the rain weakens and we started the movement to the next possible shelter. This time, I moved without my rain gear on the shirt. It was outstanding. The chest \ back piece itself was relative dry, or lets say not really soaked. Of course, the arm pieces were still wet, but the chest, back and arm pits were relative less wet...magic or not – that´s the moment I smiled, and most important – I gained confidence in my gear, which allowed me to continue even more determined to our next objective – shelter.
In the shelter we were all very wet, exhausted, and in serious need of food & water. We took out the emergency blankets, and started to hang up our equipment, so it can get dry over night next to the fire.
It was a great chance for me, to check out how quick the Striker XT set dries. After 25min, the combat shirt was nearly entirely dry. Only the elbow protection pads, wrist parts, and the pockets inside were a little bit wet. Pants of course took some time, but the stretch material got entirely dry in less than 30min too.
So why am I so convinced by the UF PRO Striker XT combat shirt?
Air packs on the shoulders
8mm thick breathable air cushion are located on each shoulder in the combat shirt. Those were outstanding. Smart located, not so thin and not so short – making sure that, doesn´t matter which kind of strap crossing your shoulder, sling or backpack, you are protected. This is just more than outstanding, this is magic. While we climbed up the Alps I could clearly feel how comfortable it was for the first time, with those packs. And I´m telling you now – during my service, a good training meant a good pain, especially in the shoulders. For the very first time I had really less muscle sore or pain in the shoulders! This is literally the first time I deal with such weight without the familiar pain that always was there.
Collar & Zipper
Under the Combat shirt I was wearing nothing. I was really interested to see, how the zipper will come into play in this combination. From my experience with other relative cheaper combat shirts, the zipper is something that you feel when there’s a plate carrier involve. I have to say, it was really comfortable. I did not feel the zipper at any given time, thanks to the NyCo Ripstop fabric that covers the zipper very well. Yet another thinking to the little details. Speaking of zipper, most pockets are closed by zippers. Like it or not...I think its smart. Less noise, and less dirt to get stuck in your velcro.
The Collar was very comfortable and easily adjustable. Unlike other collars, this one is able to receive any shape you would like it to gain. But what took my attention was the small finish of the left start of the collar. It´s like a small triangle hole, that allows the opposing side of the collar to fit in, in case and you want to completely close it.
Another favorite feature in the Striker XT C-shirt is the available pocket on each arm, just before the wrist. That smart location allows you to maintain a visual contact, even if you are currently limited by movement or in a tight place. The pocket is easy to open, thanks to a zipper. Inside there is an elastic band that allows you to secure & simply organize whatever you want to have inside. In my case, it was very efficient to secure numerous things, such as weatherproof papers, a small survival kit, lighter, and other very small First Aid related items. I find it extremely usefully feature.
Back in my past, there was something we called ''utility concentration control''. That means how to control many equipment pieces, and how to spread it in the smartest way among your carrying capability. Having survival kit, pistol & other 1st line equipment stored only on a chest piece (vest, pc, etc) is wrong. In case something goes wrong, and you lose your chest piece you will still have something left. That was when we realized, that the issued IDF combat suit was bad. We didn´t have many pockets available to store simple yet useful items. That was also how the first hand made 'battle belts' & the use of flight kombos started. Out of that need.
Wrist Velcros & overall shape
Without saying the obvious, I still want to focus on this one – my wrists are not big. Therefore it was important for me that the wrist piece will receive a perfect shape around my wrist when I close it. I used numerous C-shirts including IDF hand made variations (S13, etc) with Velcros, and I have never came across such a comfortable shape. It just fits perfect, even when there’s something in the wrist pockets.
Shoulder pocket \ compartments
Oh man, my favorite part!!! First of all, I hate Velcros of any kind – but i´ll explain it later. The shoulder compartments are smart, efficient and just perfect. Why? Well, easily accessible, quietly to open and relative strong. Lets go into micro details. – You are in contact. Your cover is thin, and any wrong unthoughtful move will expose a body part. I recognized in some other C-shirts I used, that the entry to the pocket was from the top and not from the side. That means...when you digging into your pocket, you are lifting up your elbow higher, than you would need if your pocket was accessible from the side. Might sound bitchy...but fact is a fact, try it out.
Velcros in the Striker XT C-Shirt
I hate Velcros on pockets. Why? Noise, illusion of securing capability, and the fact that a male Velcro can collect so much garbage from nature that cleaning it later will be time consuming. As someone who served in the IDF, it burns my soul to see something that is not 100% secured. I have to say that the Velcros in the Striker XT surprised me. First of all, the ones on the shoulders are relative strong, wide and offers a lot of space for all those patch whores. Second, I checked my wrist Velcros, and I had no garbage there. Luck or not, I think those Velcros have a really high quality, are strong & durable.
Drying a wet Striker XT C-shirt
Drying your shirt under direct sun or next to a heat source will cause it to harden. Unless you will try to dry it in some kind of a breeze (takes ages) the shirt will harden. Of course, it depends on what made it so wet (sea water, water, or just sweat) and what are the materials in the shirt. The Striker XT C-Shirt passed this test without a problem. Nothing got harden, not even the Nyco ripstop material. I even tried it one more time under a direct sunlight, in a hot environment – the result was a bit of stiffness around the sleeves...but in overall, comfort ability & shape left like they were originally. That´s a big plus, if you are in a hot environment and you need to dry your shirt during concealment hours. Personally, every time we took, break of around 20 min, I noticed how quick some parts got dry. Unbelievable.
Rubbing \ Abrasions
Oh yes. We called it 'Shawarma ' (google it). Throughout my service, I carried mostly either a 65 or 90 Liter backpack full with surprises. The waist belt of the backpack almost always rubes your waist in according to your movement & the weight you carry. Since normally those waist belts are less breathable and supposed to hold your waist rather tight – that area is a potential reservoir of sweat. The impurities that sweating helps flushing out, can stay on your skin. When the skin begins to re-absorb them, pH factors change and can lead to irritation and rash. Add 5 days, high weight pressure of your backpack, and a bad shirt – and you got those rubbing like cuts on your waist.
That is something not every person is giving really a consideration, but still – some cheap camo prints, or cheap clothing material can fade \ even damage rather quick under intense UV exposure. Mountain environments, especially environments like the Alps, are a pretty exposed place for high UV exposure, since the air is cleaner and thinner at higher altitudes, so UV exposure is greater in the mountains than in the valleys. I looked carefully around my camo textures & color contrast and didn´t noticed any significant changes.
This shirt has an amazing breathing capability. I used a plate carrier, a heavy backpack and still, despite the heat, I felt that I have a good air circulation. I believe that´s what kept me fresh during the 3rd day ascending under a very hot temperatures and strong UV for that time.
Sadly I didn´t had with me the D3O® impact protection pads, which are the most interesting & promising protectors I have seen recently. I used some very simple padding’s, similar to the Crye paddings without that plastic piece. I have to say they were fitting very well. The actual design is a bit small than other C-shirts, which allows a better grip on the padding itself, ensuring that the protection is there, no matter where you go or in which stance you are.
- Creative - This is not the first combat shirt in the market - but i could clearly see the creativity,and courage behind this Cshirt. the small things.
- Efficient - definitely. with all those pockets,and its high accessability & a very impressive breathing \ drying capability this shirt is indeed,efficient.
- Durable - Yes. this shirt,as mentioned above - went through different climates,weight and conditions. basically an unforgiving environment. there was no damage done.
- Comfortable - Yes ! Very !
- Innovative - Yes. as UF PRO said, the Striker XT will set new standards in how we see combat suits. as a professional i can clearly see how much hours,thoughts,and headache there are behind this equipment.
GET THE SHIRT! I hope that more people will get into the UF PRO circle. Their equipment is being made with a very high level of standards, and made out of the best material in the market & still affordable. I see no possible way to regret \ return a Striker XT equipment piece. A complete summary you will find in the next part of this evaluation – The Striker XT Combat Pants.