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November 19 : 2015  
Skill Set: Winter Clothing – Part I
Winter is coming down here in Alafrickinbama, and in some places it's already there. Dressing for visiting neighbors in winter is one thing. Dressing in a manner that prepares you for almost anything is another matter. Luckily today we have good, lightweight gear that protects you from all type elements.

The tactical clothing of today traces its roots back to outdoor sports, especially "alpine" mountaineering, an aggressive method of attacking a climb carrying only the bare essentials -- "Capsule style," operating without any additional support or bases. If you need it you hump it. Such a mission requires lightweight clothing that provides protection against harsh terrain, water, wind and cold while still allowing climbers to perform complicated physical tasks. As this gear became more mainstream the hunting and tactical communities recognized its advantages.

Wild Things, started in 1981 by two climbers, focused on making rugged lightweight clothing. Wild Things Tactical (WTT) is gear specifically for combative applications. For example, WTT's Hard Shell Jacket is designed to be worn over body armor and helmets, yet still create a slim profile. All zippers, including vents, are waterproof, vent zippers on the sides. The hood is fully adjustable with a laminated brim, an essential feature if you wear "watch" caps.

The Hard Shell pants are made to the same specs as the coat, and cut to be close fitting. A slim profile allows you to move more naturally without snagging and catching on objects in your environment, and the gusseted crotch makes kneeling and squatting easy, and they have suspender loops. I like the waist of my outer pants loose enough that I can get to the gear on my belt and in the pockets of my pants underneath the shell. Zippers up to the knees taking the Hard Shell pants off or putting them on while wearing boots is easy.

WTT produces jackets and pants in a variety of different styles and weights. Their SO 1.0 Soft Shell jacket is constructed from a "four-way stretch nylon/spandex blended fabric" with a "hydrophobic polyester fleece" lining. Each sleeve has a shoulder and forearm pocket, and the sides have pit zips. The stow-away hood can be worn over a helmet and is cut to provide a wide a field of view. This jacket stands alone, or you can layer it under the Hard Shell for protection from anything shy of artic like conditions.

Preparing for wet and cold means layering. With the high tech components available today you can layer up for protection, stay lightweight and maintain a slim profile to operate efficiently. Here the winter lows can drop into single digits at night then climb fifty to sixty-degrees in the daytime. You compensate by removing or adding layers quickly.

Protective clothing is just like a weapon. First, proper clothing provides protection, in this case the weather. Second, if you don't have with you it don't count. Stay tuned for part II of this series after our Thanksgiving break.

Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy, located in northern Alabama. He is the author of "The Book of Two Guns" - http://shootrite.org/book/book.html writes for several firearms/tactical publications, and is featured on GunTalk's DVD, "Fighting With The 1911 - http://shootrite.org/dvd/dvd.html Website: www.shootrite.org

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