When the climate gets a bit chillier, you’re bound to ponder on what to wear when heading outside. You want to stay relatively warm, but not sweat like a pig if you need to be in constant motion. You will ask yourself whether you should layer up or just wear something thicker as one simple solution. And depending on the weather and the duration of your outing, you could go either way. But we chose to go with a “standalone” fleece jacket today.
Now that winter has come here in Finland, it’s time to review something a tad bit warmer. So here’s what I think of the older generation of the Helikon-Tex Patriot Heavy Fleece in Coyote Brown colour.
Helikon-Tex, by their own definition, is a Polish company manufacturing military and offer you a wide range of uniforms, tactical clothing, backpacks, boots and equipment. For what we have understood during these years, is that Helikon’s quality is vastly questioned and put on par with manufacturers like Condor and Mil-Tec. And yes, we sort of have to agree.
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The Helikon-Tex Patriot Heavy Fleece is as the name states, a heavier and thicker fleece jacket than you might normally acquire, and Helikon describes the jacket as follows:
“Patriot Heavy Fleece Jacket is designed to be used in tactical situations in difficult weather conditions. The jacket features an adjustable hood, useful in harsh weather conditions as protection against wind and various weather elements, as well as a set of pockets to carry essential equipment. Elbows are strengthened for additional durability. Patriot is versatile and durable upper apparel also available in camouflage versions. Jacket is suitable for both Military and Law Enforcement users.”
The Patriot fleece is made of 100% Polyester (Double Superfine Fleece 390g/m2 ) and the design of the jacket is on the tactical/tacticool side and has a plethora of features listed as follows, by the manufacturer on their website:
- High insulation
- Full front neck-to-waist two-way YKK® zipper with wind flap and chin guard
- Integrated, adjustable hood
- Bicep pockets with Velcro panels
- Armpit ventilation zippers
- Slide-through double zipper back pocket
- Outer chest pockets with wiring eyelets, D-Rings and device slots
- Left forearm pocket
- Reinforced elbows
- Adjustable hook and loop cuffs
- Elastic corded bottom with quick-locks for individual fit
The Patriot fleece is available in a high variety of colours and camo: Black, Olive Green, Polish Woodland, Camogrom, Coyote, Foliage Green, Flecktarn, Jungle Green, MP Camo and Shadow Grey.
With quick googling around, nowadays the Helikon Patriot Heavy Fleece retails from 65 to 90 euros in Finland, which is an oddly high variance in price for the same product. And if I recall, we paid around 60 to 70 euros a piece for our jackets, back in the day.
To be brutally honest, I’ve personally grown quite indifferent of this jacket, if not to detest it even. We both, me and Noble have had these Patriot Heavy Fleeces for a number of years(5+ I believe) and we purchased them together from a finnish gear/surplus store Varusteleka back in the day.
Overall, the jacket looks tactical/PMC’ish/paramilitary which is sort of given at this point, and undoubtedly the jacket looks good and stylish in its category. But the looks is only the surface of the product and I think Helikon promises a bit too much of this jacket, so I’ll go quickly about the things that I like about this jacket.
– The overall look is great (Would’ve been fun for these to stop here lol)
– It’s really a warm jacket. Even in -2 degrees celsius I stayed warm for a good hour, with only a t-shirt under it. And this was on a lightly breezy hilltop. But for extended wear it’s not enough.
– Comfortable. The fleece is comfortable and soft, and the cut isn’t too bad to be honest.
– The hood is great and rather form-fitting to one’s head, though not overly spacious and will most definitely NOT accommodate a helmet, which seems to be the industry standard and a desired feature these days.
– Armpit ventilation zippers are a nice and an essential touch on such a heavy and warm jacket. Though having a little mesh fabric behind the zipper would be better, instead of the through ’n’ through zipper.
– Velcro panels on the biceps to keep your IR tag/morale patch-game strong!
What has made me to dislike this product then? Let’s begin.
I will begin by saying that Helikon’s description “Jacket is suitable for both Military and Law Enforcement users.” is far from reality. I mean look-wise it fits the bill, but everything else? I personally don’t think this particular Helikon product could handle active LE or Military use, and would personally be sceptical on other products capability in such aswell. Although our combined experience in Helikon products is 100% based on older generation products, and the product quality could be totally different these days. But as for now, I have a very strong, largely negative but conflicted opinion of the overall quality of Helikon, since the SFU trousers (reviewed here) have been seriously rock solid.
The jacket has held up decently throughout the years, but the build and sewing quality is far from excellent. Sewing is mediocre at best and loose thread ends and loosening seams have been vastly visible on the inside since day one, and somewhat on the outside as well nowadays. The inside of the jacket is far from pretty, although that’s a feature that isn’t expected even of a product of this price range. Even still, the very much unfinished inside gives it a lot of cheapo- factor. No, I haven’t had to fix or sew anything back together yet, but my jacket’s front zipper pull (the metal one) broke in the early years. Although an annoying thing, but it has not made the jacket unusable.
And, although it is a warm jacket, it has it’s limits, and is by no means “useful in HARSH weather conditions as protection against wind and various weather elements”. Yes it’s a heavy fleece and a thick one at that, but no it does not block wind extremely well nor will it really protect you from various weather elements. This jacket works best in dry weather and around 0 to 10 degrees celsius with light wind, but that’s about it. Of course if you can layer base layers under this and stay warm for longer and in colder temperatures, but wind and rain will still be your enemies.
Out of the total of 6 pockets on the jacket, only 4 are realistically useful and out of those only the chest pockets are useful for real. The other useful ones being the shoulder pockets behind the velcro panels, in which I only store some morale patches, but mostly they’ve been empty.
The left forearm pocket is the same thing to this jacket as is the calf pocket on the Helikon’s SFU trousers: Bloody useless. I simply have not been able to figure out, what is it intended for. And the backside’s through ‘n’ through pocket is also rather useless in my opinion, although Noble disagrees somewhat on this with me.
The cuffs. They are so small and bulky, that there’s virtually no need for adjustment let alone it would have much flexibility to adjust. So many layers of fleece folded and sewn upon. And to me the arms overall feel very tight/form-fitting and not roomy at all. Although it’s given that I’m a big guy, but I chose the jacket size to match it. My arms aren’t THAT big. I just like my jacket arms looser for comfort and they should have enough length to cover my wrists when I extend my arm.
And when it comes to the reinforced elbows, they just aren’t a necessary feature for this jacket in my opinion. I’ve never really put this jacket through tough times, nor have I really opted to. No crawling, serious bushcrafting or serious operating. But the necessity is very much debatable.
Now, after all the bashing around that I have given, it’s time to sum up, where I stand with this overall. To be clear, this jacket should not even be marketed as a possible choice for LE/Military users, this is far from the quality required and represented in the field. It looks good and is comfortable and will keep you perfectly warm under certain weather conditions, but can only take you so far into the colder months as a standalone jacket.
I see this jacket as more of a daily driver warm jacket for those who embrace the tacticool life/style to the fullest and aren’t afraid to show it. It won’t break your bank for sure with the relatively cheap price, but that unfortunately can be seen directly in the overall quality of the product.
The jacket has its good and bad moments quite equally, but it has just found it’s way on my bad side.
– Warm and comfortable
– Looks good
– Solid hood
– Ventilation zippers
– Tacticool bicep- velcro
– Marketing phrase overshoots by a mile. (Not exactly the jacket’s fault, but this bugs me too much to stop bringing it up over and over again.)
– Mediocre sewing
– Tight and bulky cuffs
– Unnecessary pockets
– Unfinished and lots of loose thread ends
Overall Total: 16/25
Disclosure of Material Connection: I purchased the Helikon-Tex Patriot fleece with my own funds for my own use. I was not required to write a positive review by any party. The opinions I have expressed are my own entirely and based on my personal experiences with the product.
This review was first published in the Noble & Blue. Noble & Blue is a small Finnish outdoor and tactical gear reviewing blog, that also shares stories of learning and adventure. Click here to know more about Noble & Blue
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