By John Fenna
It seems there are many bushcrafters who, while liking the practicality of military style clothing, do not like to wear camouflage.
The Helikon-Tex Field Parka Soldier 2008 could be an answer to their needs as, although it is based on the British Army windproof smock designs of 85 and 2005, this practical field jacket is available in plain Olive Green.
Helikon-Tex is a Polish company that used to deal in military surplus, but now makes its own quality clothing and equipment based on the best of military issue gear from around the world. This clothing already has something of a following among bushcrafters, and the Field Parka Soldier 2008 could well prove very popular.
Made from a close woven 60% cotton 40% polyester “ripstop” woven fabric, the Parka is pretty wind and showerproof (the proofing can easily be renewed with commercial “wash-in” reproofing), is easy to wash, fairly fast to dry, tough enough to stand up well to the rigours of bushcraft life and has a host of useful features.
Cut generously large to allow layers of clothing to be worn under it, the Parka gives freedom of movement with “high rise” cut arms and has plenty of pocket space for all your needs.
Starting at the top, the features of the Parka include a button on/off fully-lined hood that is generously cut and incorporates a Velcro volume adjuster, a “snorkel” type wired front edge (so you can shape the hood to maximize weather protection), a locking drawcord and a Velcro-closed neck/lower face guard. The two separate cord locks can clip together to form one central unit.
The hood buttons onto a deep collar which incorporates a chin guard to protect your face (or beard!) from the full-length double ended front zip which has both a deep,
elcro tab-closed storm flap and a generous “drip strip” behind the zip from hem to neck. The base of the storm flap fastens with a press stud to prevent the elasticated hem drawcord from pulling the front zip open.
The hem drawcord has cord locks each side of the front opening, while the waist drawcord is of soft tape and ties inside the jacket at the sides for convenience.
The front of the jacket has 4 box bellows style pockets, all with fold-over “loss free” envelope type pocket flap closures, mesh lower “box” panels for quick draining and “Canadian” type, large tape-fixed buttons and both chest pockets have 3 internal loops for securing lanyards. The left chest pocket also has a flapless sewn button-closed pocket approx 12 x 7.5. The chest pockets measure approx 18cm x 17cm 3cm and the lower pockets some 22cm x 20cm x 3cm, giving loads of storage space.
If this were not enough, there are also twin chest pockets accessed through 20cm long zips between the storm flap and the boxed pockets. These chest pockets cover the whole of the chest from yoke to waist sleeve seam to central opening and are mesh backed with a 3-pen slot patch. Leave the zips open and you increase the jacket’s ventilation.
Accessed by a vertical 19cm zip set behind the lower box pockets are twin pockets that are again mesh backed and cover the whole of the lower jacket panels, but also have a fleece lining to make them excellent hand warmers, as well as parka vents with the zip open.
Effectively, the whole of the front of the Parka is mesh lined, while the back has a deep mesh yoke and twin mesh “poacher” pockets in the lower back panel.
More pockets are found on the upper arms, each having boxed pockets some 16cm x 14.5cm x 4cm with 13cm coil zips on their forward side, and these pockets being faced with 3 wide “pen slots” with a Velcro closed flap over 2 and a half of the slots. The Velcro “fur” extends over two-thirds of the front of the pockets, allowing the placement of Velcro hook-backed patches.
The sleeves also feature reinforced elbow/lower arm patches and Velcro tab cuff adjuster while in the armpit/upper waist there are twin 28cm “pit zip” ventilation zips. On the chest there is a buttoned rank slide holder.
In use the Field Parka Soldier 2008 has proved quiet and comfortable to wear, as well as wind and shower resistant. Practical, tough and functional, the Parka is well suited for wear in the woods and has masses of pocket space.
The only thing I did not really like (or need) on this Parka were the sleeve pockets which I found a bit bulky and surplus to my requirements. If these prove too much of a nuisance, they would be easy to unpick (for re-use elsewhere!) without detriment to the rest of the Parka.
Made to a good standard with neat, strong and reinforced stitching, the Helikon-Tex Field Parka Soldier 2008 is available in sizes small-XXL in Olive or Woodland Camouflage, and costs around £77.95.
For more information contact Heinnie Haynes
Tel 033 0300 0400