When SEAL Team debuted, the gearwhores were quick to pick up on many of the items being showcased on the show.
From S&S Precision Plateframes and AVS Plate Carriers, it was obvious from the Pilot that they spent a fair amount of time and money in choosing their gear for the show.
So much went into the gear choices in fact, that it’s reported that Mark Owen even lent his Maritime Helmet for David Boreanaz’s character Jason to wear for at least the first episode.
One item that took a little longer to ID was the infamous jacket that sparked one of my favourite blog articles, The Hunt.
The big draw for me in this blog was the actual digging I had to do in order to research this jacket, it gave me a massive thirst for information that also led to uncovering a few other gear surprises in the show which massively expanded my own gear knowledge and also assisted with IDing other items shown.
The actual answer to the jacket’s ID was made shortly after the blog was published, if you’d care to read it, you’ll see the revision near the end. My good friend Andy at @tacbelts_uk instantly knew what it was as he’d been eyeing up the same jacket independently for some time, as is often the case it’s the one person you don’t think to ask that has the answer.
A year and a half on from seeing it on screen, during an uncomfortably warm July evening I decided to push the button on an “as new” Wild Things Low Loft SO 1.0 jacket in Multicam. I’m a big fan of buying “Out of season” and found one for a relatively good price during one of my eBay search sessions.
When it arrived I instantly chucked it on, the temps were hitting record highs that week and let’s just say that I didn’t see myself needing it for at least 3/4 months, but I’d actually end up using it a lot sooner than I’d planned. Having booked in for Stirling Airsoft’s Op: Halcyon Spear at Caerwent (for the After Action Report Click Here), I’d packed almost everything you could ever hope to need.
Everything that is, except a sleeping bag… Fuck.
Not too fazed due to it being mid-August, I was pretty happy with just a cot-bed and a couple of shemaghs and a towel to form a makeshift duvet.
The jacket however was to become a much better option due to its primaloft thermal insulation, I’ll tell you now that the jacket paid back it’s cost that weekend alone, keeping me warm in what was one of the most unseasonably windy and wet August games I’ve attended.
Moving forward to November, I’ve now had this jacket either in my car or on my back since I bought it.
At a recent game at Longmoor it went well and truly above and beyond the call of duty, I feel that with 6 months of ownership I’m now better qualified to give you my thoughts on this particular jacket.
So, the Wild Things Tactical Low Loft SO 1.0 what’s all the fuss and is it actually any good?
The jacket is designed as an insulating mid-layer to be worn alongside other garments, much in the same way as the ECWCS. While not part of the main US armed forces clothing system it has been used by members of certain SF units in the past, mostly through private or Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) purchases.
The jacket is primarily made from an ultra light, 70 denier nylon shell in a textured Multicam pattern. This is primarily the reason for the jackets lack of bulk, mine being an XL size (generous at that) but only taking up a small amount of room… you could actually stuff it into a dump pouch or a large GP pouch.
The other significant external material is the soft-shell panels, these providing a bit of durability from elbows to cuffs on the bottoms of both arms.
It really says something about lightness being a priority when a jacket uses lightweight soft-shell material for the high wear areas. That being said, most of the jacket has worn relatively well with the only wear so far being on the hemline where I usually have a holster.
Inside the jacket is where the magic happens, 2oz of Primaloft Sport synthetic insulation helps keep the heat in and your body at a stable temperature. One thing I’ve always struggled with is overheating whilst walking… it’s kind of a mixed blessing, my engine runs hot when I’m moving but rapidly cools when sat still.
Having a jacket that’s breathable is an absolute non-negotiable for me, and one of the things that appealed to me about this jacket was that it is able to be packed into a small area and that it will also retain a fair amount of breathability.
The synthetic “Low Loft” mimics goose down but features the ability to not only dry quicker but also keep its wearer warm whilst the garment is wet. Whilst natural fibres contract, expand and change shape whilst wet, synthetic materials generally do not. This gives the best of both worlds and gives you a light, low maintenance product that generally outperforms its material material alternatives.
The cut of the jacket is generous, so don’t just rely on your tee-shirt size to guarantee a good fit. I’m an XL T-Shirt Size and the XL Jacket is just on the edge of being too big, although after a few month of eating crap… my Tee’s are getting tight and the jacket is fitting just about right.
One of the major reasons for ensuring that you buy the correct size is that this jacket does away with two things I’ve always found annoying… Drawcords and cuff adjustment. Whilst drawcords are fantastic for cinching the hem tight against your pants, they often present another snagging hazard if moving through a rough environment.
The pocket layout is characteristic of tactical mid-layers, but without some of the gimmicky features you find in some of its competitors. A pair of large pockets sit aside the front zip, each one large enough to accommodate a gloved hand. The pocket is incredibly low profile, from the outside it’s difficult to spot whilst the jacket is zipped up due to the zipper being hidden within a seam.
The interior of these pockets are lined with a microfibre type material which is warm yet thin.
Be careful what you put in these pockets as the microfibre type material does tend to stick to Velcro like shit to a blanket, having said that though despite repeatedly forgetting this when storing gloves, I’ve yet to see any damage.
There are also a pair of pockets hiding under the small loop fields on the upper arms, each of these are large enough for small documents such as a Passport or Smart Phone.
The outward face of these are not lined which does mean that the pockets fall incredibly in line with the rest of the jacket, remaining very low profile and still insulated from beneath. These pockets feature a zipper garage that helps keep the corded zippers stable and quiet.
The sleeves are lacking the usual wrist pockets, a massive plus in my opinion. These pockets only serving to get in the way most of the time.
The sleeve hems themselves are not elasticised and there is no Velcro adjustment, making for what is a very loose fitting cuff. Whilst this doesn’t insulate the arms as well as you’d expect from a low loft jacket, it does allow the arm itself to be raised easily to view a watch or similar and allows the jacket to fit easily over gloves without snagging.
The waist of the jacket is also elasticated in the rear portion, in my opinion it could have done with a little more elasticity as I do worry about cold air rushing up my exposed back if the jacket were to ride up.
Having said that though, the jacket is sized relatively large for me and comes down low enough for it to have not ridden up as yet, as some other jackets can do.
This hemline is the only area of the jacket that I’ve encountered excessive wear, although this is mainly due to the FRV Tailoring Hook and Loop Shooters belt I’ve been wearing whilst shooting.
The outer shell of the jacket is surprisingly water repellant, I wasn’t expecting half the water resistant that this jacket offered but it’s certainly there!
Whilst I couldn’t recommend this for extended periods in the rain, my recent adventures pushed this jacket pretty hard in a cold and wet environment but the jacket held up surprisingly well keeping me warm and dry.
After several hours in moderate to blustery rain, I failed to notice any ingress of water and the only slightly damp patches bleeding through were under my plate carrier, although this could have potentially been sweat from where the plate carrier itself sat.
The jacket held up incredibly well with all things considered and I was impressed by the sheer amount of water beading off its surface, so much so I left my Goretex layer back at camp all weekend.
The outermost layer is also relatively robust, a few times (more than a few times actually) I was forced to go through rather narrow breach holes and whilst I’m sure barbed wire or broken glass would slice the jacket up rather quickly, the fabric held up well to the dirt and detritus that accumulates in a FIBUA site like Longmoor.
I’d attribute a fair portion of this jackets resilience to the lower sleeve portion of the arms, these being made from the aforementioned 2 way stretch “tweave” soft-shell material that appears resistant to abrasion whilst being incredibly thin.
The collar is a low riding, non hooded type. Perfect if like me you can’t stand hooded jackets, they only ever seem to get in my way.
The very top of this collar is also padded inside the jacket, beneath where the zipper sits when fully done up, a neat little touch that certainly makes it more comfortable.
The interior of the jacket is lined with wave-like stitching that helps keep the Primaloft material firmly in place, the nylon inner material is cool but quickly adapts to the wearers temperature meaning that whether it’s cold or warm, this jacket shouldn’t make you uncomfortable.
The only areas not having this insulation are the undersides of the sleeves, these being made from the aforementioned single layer of soft-shell.
Another oddity is with the zipper itself, not a YKK made one as I’ve become used to seeing but a Made In The USA “IDEAL” branded zipper pull with a short cord attached.
YKK might be the Japanese zipper giant but it’s worth noting that in order to be Berry Compliant you’ll see more than just this one jacket sporting the IDEAL brand zippers.
The zipper is of the water resistant variety, also worthy of note is that it’s colour matched with the jacket’s Multicam material. The fasteners are oriented counter to the traditional European method where the zipper is left hand dominant, being in-keeping with US made garments you’ll find the zipper is to be used with the right hand.
Breathability, an area I feel I’ve been let down with a lot in the past. This jacket is warm enough that you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’d be hot and sweaty after half an hour running around.
The truth is that after wearing this practically for the whole weekend, I didn’t feel too bad at all. Mildly warm after some intense exercise but certainly not pouring with sweat and feeling overly hot.
Overall it’s a fine mid layer for those high intensity yet less than warm moments, maybe not quite enough for sitting around at 4am In January but certainly enough to take the edge off 90% of the UK’s colder weather.
It’s been superceded by the Wild Things SO Low Loft 2.0 but whilst this remains the version seen in SEAL Team, this will remain the one to grab. I got mine from a private seller in the US but check other Ebay sellers such as lgtkit (Legit Kit) as they often have surplus NSW gear listed. Keep an eye on Airsoft/Gear pages in the UK, sometimes they throw up the occasional Wild Things jacket.
Is it the best jacket in its class? I simply don’t have enough experience in mid-layer jackets to say yes or no, although I can say it fits my intended needs very well. I will say it certainly beats the Snugpak issued softie jacket in many areas, seeing how it stacks up against the newer Buffalo PCS softie would be an interesting test though as would competitor models from Arc’Teryx or Patagonia.
Before buying it, I’d suggest working out what your priorities are. If you want a mid layer with a little more durability than a snugpak but with a little less insulation, this might be the boy for you! Plus… SEAL Team.