This write-up was supposed to include two things, but weather conditions precluded that idea, so we will focus on just one. Provided Military 1st , the Highlander Outdoor smock is the hero here. First, a word from our sponsor. No not really a sponsor. But, I must stress how cool the crew at Military 1st is. Friendly, professional and as fun-loving as the team at Spotter Up. Super selection of kit and leisure items, great prices, free shipping, and cool brands you can’t find anywhere else. Highlander Outdoor is one of those brands.
Hailing from the same lands as golf, scotch and William Wallace, Highlander Outdoor provides quality gear and clothing for outdoor adventures. These are quality items which did not go unnoticed by the Queen’s military, and Highlander Halo Smock looks curiously like an issued piece of kit. That line is specifically promoted under the Highlander Forces name. The company offers outdoor and adventure clothing, camping gear, stoves, tents, rucks, and load-bearing gear.
But what is a smock and why should we know about it? The smock, or anorak as some refer to it, is another piece of kit which the US military should have had in its standard issue long ago, and one that you should consider for your next deployment or adventure. It is a pullover style garment, often a hoodie style, which offer the front 1/2 or 1/4 zip, and typically a top-loading kangaroo style front pocket. Some smocks offer additional angled pockets or sleeve pockets, but this is a standard, and very much time-proven design. The practical benefits are that for colder climates, the partial zipper and associated storm flap offer additional wind and weather resistance, while still allowing easy enough don and doff options. The tactical application is that a smooth front surface with less snag hardware makes easy application of full kit, while still allowing secure access to some key items you might want to use the smock pockets for. Both benefits are great for layering, and the traditional design of the smock is very utilitarian. In environments where ease of movement and protection from the elements is a must, while minimizing liability of the garment itself – the traditional smock, and the Highlander Forces smock in particular are made to shine.
The Highlander Outdoor smock is a 1/4 zip traditional design, with wind and water resistant outer nylon rip-stop shell, and a polyester fleece inner liner. The garment performed superbly in conditions ranging from approximately 40F to -10F, also with varying levels of activity. As a mid-level liner, the smock adds tremendous warmth, but most of this eval was done with it as a stand-alone outer garment. At 20-30 degrees F, the garment is downright warm. At high activity level, the side zippered vents will be a must, as you will probably sweat with a just a thin base layer. This is by no means a negative, but rather something by which to plan ahead if you spend a day at the range, or training your pup in an open 100 acre filed. At temperatures below 20 degrees F, the wind sheer is noticeably reduced, and while you may feel some very appropriate chill, working harder or putting on a light third layer will take care of that. The outer fabric does offer some breathability, but both sets of side vents allowed me to keep the smock on, while giving it a few minutes to breathe. I should note that there are underarm vents, as well as side zippers which extend from the base of the garment approximately 1/3 way up. Aside from venting, these offer a very practical way to work with a duty or a battle belt, allowing unrestricted way to the tools on it. The stowable hood offers a front lid which combined with drawstrings at the hood, base hem of the anorak and hook and loop sleeve cuffs, make it that much more storm proof. While some smocks are more of a wind garment, the Highlander Outdoor smock has a soft fleece lining.
The water resistance of the Highlander Outdoor smock was more than I expected. It was borderline waterproof. Not only did I use it in a range of temperatures over the several month evaluation period, I used it for adventure as well as work. For plain clothes and range work, I absolutely love the front open top pocket. Not only can you throw anything you need in there, you know that even without the storm-flapped zipper, the items will stay put. The ease of access is just as sweet. It’s a mag carrier, radio holder, dump pouch and lunch box all in one. The side pockets are simply a nice touch, and offer plenty of storage for items which will not get as much in-and-out. They are also thoughtfully placed slightly forward of the usual midline pockets, which keeps that area free and clear when working with battle and duty belts, and avoids interference when wearing a full kit. I would not want any anorak-style garment with only the top pocket.
Additional features of the Highander Halo Smock include glove friendly zipper pulls (extremely nice and durable), Teflon fabric protection, taped seam, reinforced fabric in spots that need it, and hook-and-loop side tabs at the bottom hem and zipper access. I only wish that Highlander Outdoor would offer a matching pant. The Highlander Halo smock comes in olive (similar to coyote brown), black, and HMTC (similar to OCP/Multicam), and comes in range of sizes from XS to XXL. At $112.95 through Military 1st, it is a super deal, in my opinion. This smock will be with me for anything from the next dog adventure and wood cutting, to deployment and maybe even a night on the town.