I had been looking for an everyday mid-season jacket for a good while. But none of the “normal” brands quite fit the image in my head of what I was looking for. Poor quality, horrible styles and colours etc. Then I spotted that the sole dealer of Triple Aught Design in Finland had the Tracer Jacket in their wares. The price tag horrified me, but I had seen pictures and read several reviews of the jacket. So I gather up my funds and bought the Tracer. Just hoped that it would be the quality jacket TAD promises and what the price tag suggests.
For those who are not familiar with the Triple Aught Design (or TAD), in short, they are a somewhat small manufacturer of high-end military inspired tactical/outdoors clothing and equipment from San Francisco, USA. For a longer introduction to them, please refer to my other reviews of their products, like the Covert RS Pants (you can find that review also here in the Spotter Up), or go to their own website and find all about them there.
On their website the Triple Aught Design tells that the design of the Tracer jacket is inspired by the legendary samurai warriors of Japan. The samurai would don on and off equipment and armour easily depending on the mission at hand. Their armour had to be flexible and allow freedom of movement and still provide its bearer with protection. And no joke, the jacket really bears resemblance to the pauldrons of these ancient warriors with the nylon reinforced shoulders and forearms!
There are several pockets in the jacket. Two bicep pockets on the arms, with zip closure, two hand warmer pockets, which also have two zippered pockets in them. There is also a ”Napoleon pocket” high on the left hand side of the wearer and a welt pocket on the inside right hand side.
- Detail of Napolean pocket, 2. Bicep Pocket, 3. The handwarmer pockets and inner pockets, 4. The inside welt pockets
The main fabric of the jacket made of 80% polyester with double face stretch weave of 10% merino wool and 10% elastane. The fabric is soft and arguably breathable, but still wear resistant due to the polyester. The fabric of the reinforcements is 100% nylon and it has been applied to pocket linings as well as the arms. All stitching is professionally finished and the garment is cut and sewn together in the US of A.
The Tracer has a full zipper on the front with a chin flap. The jacket also features these cool and handy ”triple aught” pulls on the main zipper and the Napoleon pocket. All the zippers are quality plastic YKK zippers, as is to be expected of TAD.
The jacket comes in three different colours: black and Leviathan, which is a shade of green only available for this TAD jacket. The newest colour is Siege, which is a kind of law enforcement blue. Both Siege and Leviathan coloured jackets have black nylon reinforcements. All the colours are available with or without loop velcro for patches on the bicep pockets.
The Tracer costs 190 dollars on the Triple Aught Design’s website.
You can find Triple Aught Designs own video on the Tracer Jacket in the end of this review.
I have written about the high price tag of the Tracer already, but I have to add that I really was ready to send the jacket back if it was not exactly what I wanted. A jacket so expensive, that is without a shell or other such technical capabilities needs to be spot on perfect to account for the money that has to be spent on it. At least, that is how it is for me. The first instant that I took the jacket out of the packaging and put it on I fell in love.
The Tracer is one heck of a stylish jacket, discreet and refined garment. It goes well with smart-casual clothing and more low-key environments. The jacket delivers a sense of confidence to both the wearer and to everyone around you.
What adds to the stylishness, I have to say that the fact that Triple Aught Design reposted our instagram picture of me having a pint of stout in a buttoned-down shirt, tie and the Tracer, tells it all.
My jacket does not have the velcro patches on the bicep pockets. At first I thought that I would miss this option. I actually planned on sewing some loop panel on the pockets myself.
But after a while now I would not have it any other way. Sure it would be cool to have an awesome patch or two on the jacket and I actually had a PDW patch in mind that would fit the jacket like a glove. But then it would ruin the minimalistic and covert, but commanding presence of the jacket.
It is rare that a garment can be so stylish and fitting for EDC use and it can still deliver, when the shit hits the fan. I have not gotten to any of the latter type of situations with it, but with the specs the jacket has, you just know that it can hold it’s end.
The Tracer has been in my EDC use almost everyday now for year now, even through this winter. It has yet to let me down on any situation or activity. I have used it on work, I have used it when cycling and I have taken the dog out with it on. And all the time I have felt like James Bond, and all that because of the jacket. I still have not used the jacket on the shooting range or under heavy load bearing equipment. Although I consider the Tracer to be more of a “street” jacket, I am sure it will perform well in austere environments as well.
But, when the weather gets a bit warm or you do any high intensity activity the jacket gets quite hot. The wool-mix fabric keeps you warm and allows you to move without worry, but the breathability of it is not one of its best sides.
One other thing with the fabric is, that it tends to pill, quite a lot. Back packs and car seats result in the back and the sides of the jacket to become like peachfuzz.
On my black jacket, the pilling does not stand out so much, but the fact still bothers me personally. Of course, this is a small matter of taking the pill shaver to the jacket once in a while.
For a brief moment I thought that there was one major gap in the design of the jacket. I realised that if I want to have my hands free plugged into my phone there was no way for the cord to go from any of the pockets to the top of the jacket! Although this is a flaw in a sense, I came up with a simple solution, that might or might not meant for the actual purpose (I think not) but it works like a charm.
You see, the jackets nylon reinforced pockets on the front go almost up to the collar as a lining for the front. And the space in between the nylon and the shell fabric is open from the pocket to the armpits. You can easily take the cord through this space and pull it trough the armpit, and so have the cord tucked away inside and not flying about! Pictures will hopefully makes this simple trick clearer.
One thing that bothers me about this jacket is the sagging of the pockets. I may be just too self-conscious, but if you have something heavier in the pockets they bulge out in a quite ugly fashion. And I think that if you are accustomed to keeping your hands in your jacket pockets, the pockets will stretch out eventually and remain that way.
The zippered pockets inside the hand warmers are great though. I usually have my car keys, or my phone in them. I usually keep the bicep pockets empty, or carry my flashlight and Victorinox in them. But the inside welt pocket is just perfect size for a Field Notes notebook.
All in all, the Tracer jacket is brilliant. It is very very cool, stylish and still quite able to handle demanding, high stress situations. There are a few flaws to it, like the pilling of the fabric. But these are small issues compared to the overall design and finish of the Tracer. If you want an understated jacket with military grade capabilities, the Triple Aught Design Tracer jacket is the choice for you.
The look and the feel
Pilling of the core fabric
The bulging of the hand warmer pockets
Five points assessment
Disclosure of Material Connection: I purchased this product with my own funds. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
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