We at Spotter Up like to go beyond known boundaries. When it comes to knowledge, we’ll also cross oceans to get the right information. The fact is, our allies and partners from all over the world have outstanding gear, few of which are known in our own professional circles. Maybe an SOF high-speed could tell you what a smock is, but an average USGI will probably think you’ve been playing in moon dust too long. We were stoked to partner with Military 1st, which not only has a huge variety of proven gear made popular in our partner militaries, but also strives for outstanding customer service and great value. Not the least of their features is free shipping to the US, including APO. Military 1st is based in the UK, and has been in business since 2008. While they offer a huge variety of gear, some of it very familiar to the US market, others, such as the Polish Helikon Tex, are relatively new. They are also somewhat hard to find, which makes Military 1st such an outstanding choice.
If you’re not familiar with Polish fighting heritage, design, innovation and current military exposure, check out No Greater Ally – the untold story of Poland’s forces in World War II. While stagnated by the Soviet occupation after the war, Poland’s forces have been involved in most major conflicts alongside of the US, if sometimes not in an outward fashion. While some countries choose to sit things out, Poland’s has engaged and evolved. While Helikon-Tex might seem like a newer name, they have been in business since 1983, originally as a military surplus distributor. In 1999 they decided to produce their own military, bush craft and outdoor equipment, which now includes several lines and stiles of gear.
The Helikon-Tex Wolfhound jacket actually fits a profile of several lines. It’s equally comfortable as a daily wear, liner or stand-alone garment, casual or tactical clothing. Comparing the Wolfhound to an issues US military item would probably put it somewhere close to a Level V ECWSS jacket. It is a nylon shell, lightweight jacket, with a toasty filling, what Helikon-Tex calls Climashield Apex. The really neat thing about the Wolfhound, is that… well, there are numerous neat things. The outer shell is tough, but not as thick as a softshell. It is a smooth, kind of woven nylon, which is light yet strong.
I wore the Wolfhound in a range of temperatures, and it kept me warm at about 45F with just a t-shirt underneath. The Wolfhound is equally effective as a stand-alone garment, as it is a mid-layer. Coupled with a fleece, or a heavier softshell, it adds a noticeable degree of warmth, which is even more significant with active movement with, or without another layer. The inner nylon layer of the jacket is smooth, minimizing snags on other clothing and adding almost a reflective heat quality. With all that, the Wolfhound is clearly breathable. It is a noticeable feeling when you’re not sweating as soon as you would expect, based on your activity. Additionally, the outer layer is also water-resistant. When Helikon-Tex says on their product page that it “protects the wearer from light wind and rain”, I think it’s an understatement.
Over several weeks of beating on this jacket I have not only exposed it to light rain, but also straight rain, pouring rain, rain which hits your arm as you’re driving 50 mph, and even sideways rain… Ok, that last one was from Forest Gump. But seriously speaking, the inside of the jacket never felt damp, and certainly didn’t get wet. If you are looking to make this, or any other garment waterproof, check out the Ogre Manufacturing Dry as a Duck, in the spotter up store. Looking at the outer layer, the water kind of beads on the top, and can be brushed off. While neither I, nor the manufacturer, wouldn’t recommend this as a water proof jacket, I can easily go from the range, to the street, to chilly big water fishing – all in one day without a change.
More sweet features which you will very much appreciate, especially if wearing the Wolfhound for an extended period of time, or being tasked with demanding mission where every little bit of comfort can make a noticeable difference. The collar is a mandarin style. It does not have a hood. This is nice because if used as a mid-layer, chances are your outer layer will have one. You can be slick and snag free in full kit, and I think it looks better. Wearing a soft cap or a helmet also underscores this. When it seems like everything has a hood option, it is nice to not worry about one more, and be able to add layers which don’t drag you down. The inside of the collar is a really soft felt material. Since I am not used to doing clothing reviews, I will describe it as a bunny. This thing is smooth, warm and soft. All without extra bulk.
It also does not pill or attract lint, which in combination with other features on the Wolfhound, is a testament to advanced materials used and attention to details. The armpits and cuffs of the jacket are made with a slightly different nylon. It is thinner, stretchier and more breathable. Helikon Tex calls it VersaStretch. It’s another low drag feature. The material in the arm pits allows for stretching and breathability. When used with another layer, it is definitely helpful as it eliminates areas which tend to heat up more. Wearing a full kit with the Wolfhound, the arm pit areas also prevent pulling on the entire jacket from under you kit when you extend your arms. The same features are great in wrist cuffs, because it eliminates tabs, buttons, straps or Velcro. Yet it fits perfectly.
The cuffs are also cut to kind of fit the wrist at an angle, and provide maximum coverage without feeling like they’re in your palm. The Wolfhound has two lower side pockets, one on each side, with down-opening zippers. A left side chest pocket opens at a slight angle, and an inside right pocket. All open down. The outer pockets have company’s own zipper pulls, which are textured for better grip, and not overly imposing to snag on things. All of the zippers are YKK brand, and are quiet and smooth. The interior outer pockets have one side smooth nylon, and one side soft smooth felt. It’s a classy which adds in comfort, and usability depending on what items you place inside. The pockets are the perfect functional size. And that’s not all… The left upper sleeve has a loop panel which is nothing I’ve ever seen.
It’s not the catchy heavy-duty we’re used to with issued gear, or typical tactical/cool clothing. It’s a smooth, low key loop, which does not present the jacket for what it is, or can be – a functional workhorse for the sheepdogs. Not sure if a patch would stay on this through a lot of activity, I did all I could to test it. I was actually a little paranoid and checked periodically. My lone star patch stayed on the entire time. The Wolfhound has two draw string bungees on each side of the lower hem, which when drawn up tight, add an obvious measure of resistance to wind and chill. The jacket is also packable, and comes with its own nylon stuff sack. While that alone is not unique, every time I packed it away and took it out, the Wolfhound looked smooth and presentable, not wrinkled. While putting the Wolfhound through the paces, I managed to find one tiny wild piece of thread, which didn’t affect a thing, and was promptly trimmed. An interesting point, which makes total sense, is that European zippers have the pull on the left side.
With the focused design features, the Wolfhound and Sheepdog go very well together, but it is also a very suitable for any other occasion. It actually looked rather well with a suit, and will fit almost any occasion for a warm outer or mid layer. It comes in black, coyote, Camogrom (MC equivalent), alpha green (similar to foliage), and shadow grey. If you’re planning to use it specifically as a mid-layer, the sizing is pretty true to what you would normally get for a close fit. I went one size large, and am able to get a sweatshirt comfortably underneath, and it makes weapon carrying a bit easier. Sizes range from XS to XXXXL, the sizing chart is available on the Military 1st website on the product page, and you can purchase it from Military 1st for $124 (USD) with free shipping and 30 day returns at www.military1st.com My opinion is that this is a great value, for an awesome product. Thank you Military 1st for our introduction to it.
- Climashield® Apex™ insulation (67 g/m2)
- Lightweight and compressible
- Armpits and cuffs of thinner, elastic VersaStretch® fabric
- Front YKK® zipper with wind flap
- Velcro ID panel on left upper sleeve
- Two lower front zippered external pockets
- External zippered chest pocket
- Internal zippered pocket
- Fleece lined collar
- Bottom-adjustable by elastic drawstring
- YKK® zippers
- Compression bag included
I received this product as a courtesy from the manufacturer via Spotter Up so I could test it and give my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.
*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.