REVIEW – SORD Smock

ITEM:              Smock

MANUFACTURER:               SORD Australia

REVIEW NOTES:

Item has been kindly provided by SORD Australia for review.

I have not been financially compensated for this review, with my usual proviso I will be utterly ruthless in my critique of it. After my review of their Field Pack, Large, I was rather surprised I wasn’t spat on when I met some of the SORD blokes at Land Warfare Conference last November.

Due to real life (stuff like work to pay my bills) impacting on my spare time and hobby activities, and recovering from illness, I’ve been unable to fully test this smock in the field.

 

DESCRIPTION:

A windproof (not waterproof) outer shell garment. The smock was designed with input from RAR snipers last year, with a small batch made up in multicam for operational service in Afghanistan. They apparently wanted something to carry a bit of kit on CTR (Close Target Recce) and stalks without armour and fighting load, to reduce noise levels.

It seems to be based heavily on the old smock that the Poms have been using for many years, but with a raft of improvements.

The smock is made from NYCO (65:35% nylon:cotton) heavy grade ripstop material. The cut is very generous for other layers to be worn underneath and allow unrestricted movement.

 

Main Body

The main zip has a single pull tab, unlike some of the other jackets I’ve used that have a double tab to allow the jacket to be undone from the bottom (for such things as ablution purposes) for convenience.

The zip doesn’t reach to the bottom of the jacket, which increases the amount of movement and dexterity available to the wearer – a nice touch.

A Velcro secured storm flap covers the main zip, and this has a rank epaulette in the British style, which the ADF has adopted for its new generation of combat uniforms.

There’s also a Napoleon style chest zip to access under garments, like shirt pockets – which allows delicate or important items like cigarettes, SOI’s, small electronic items easily accessible.

There are two draw-strings, at waist and hem. These can be drawn quite easily, and secured with cord-locks. There doesn’t seem to be anywhere to stow the excess draw-string if this feature is used.

On the chest, there are two pockets, secured via Canadian styled slotted button. Behind these are two zip secured Napoleon-styled pockets that open outwards, allowing the pocket to be used as a random hip pocket or hand rest location. The location and placement also suggest that one may be able to access these under armour through the arm holes. Since I don’t have armour, this wasn’t able to be tested.

Below the chest pockets are another two large pockets, secured via Canuck slotted button.

Moving around to the hips, are another large pocket secured via the Canuck slotted button.

All of these pockets are quite large, able to fit the old 1qt canteen quite easily. The top of the pocket entry is folded over in an effort to prevent stowed objects from falling out should the button fail, or the wearer be interrupted from properly securing the pocket. Access to them with a closed fist is quite easy.

On the small of the back, is a large poacher’s pocket, secured via three slotted buttons. One could conceivably fit a raincoat or warm layer into this pocket.

 

Hood

The hood is an extension of the main body. Lined with main body material so that exposure of the internal doesn’t flash a high visibility swathe of material to all observers.

Generously sized to fit a helmet, there is also a drawstring at the chin.

The weather seal under the chin, whilst not being of a softer material like many high-end ski jackets, still feels good against the skin whilst the head is moved about. Since most blokes I know wear a neck scarf/shemagh of some description anyway, this should be a minor factor to worry about.

Like the old Pommy smock, the rim of the hood has a stiffening material to prevent the rim from flopping all over the place. Unlike the old Pommy smock, the rim stiffener is a rubber/plastic tube material, not steel. The old steel rim would positively annoy every user I’ve ever met and used one of these older style smocks. That SORD has replaced one of the most annoying features of the old smock is a good sign. 

 

Sleeves

The cuff is adjusted with a Velcro tab.

There’s also a small length of daisy-chained paracord along the seam up the forearm. I would imagine this would be great for securing outer gloves to in order to prevent loss when fine work needs to be done.

Each elbow has a patch of 1000D ATACS material for those most basic of military field living moments: crawling on the ground and lying on elbows. These highly abrasion resistant elbow patches extend to the wrist.

Arm pit zips are fitted for venting the smock out during rest stops from high movement periods. These zips open the opposite from other jackets I’ve used, in that they need the tab to be pulled from bottom to top. I actually found these to work much better than those on other jackets I’ve worn, especially when this opposite layout is used with the very smooth flowing zip used for this smock.

Each sleeve has a bicep pocket secured by an easy flow zip. Each pocket has a large 4x4in Velcro pile area for morale and ID patches. SORD has shown a great attention to detail with this Velcro area, by having a matching square of hook material covered by the same pattern material as the jacket. This allows the wearer to customise their jacket, dependant upon camouflage levels and also protects the Velcro pile from being ruined by catching on all manner of random dirt, vegetation and seeds from the bush.

Under the Velcro ID patch is a thin, Velcro flap secured “pen pocket” that the Velcro protector can be slipped into when not required. Other items such as pens, ROE cards, signal mirrors, thin notebooks and other suitably sized items can be stowed.

 

PERSONAL ASSESSMENT:

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to fully assess this smock in the great outdoors, due to time constraints, holidays, and the wrong kind of weather in my AO.

The smock certainly fulfils its intended use as a wind-proof (but not water-proof) outer shell.

For those blokes trained in the Pommy method of carrying survival items in one’s pockets, it certainly aids in that goal with the amount and placement of pockets.

I think the SORD smock is an excellent option as part of a suite of warm and moisture resistant layers. It would give the wearer options to suit activity level and weather conditions. It’s biggest use in my mind, is being worn on the move to provide an extra layer without retaining too much sweat close to the body that could lead to problems (like immediately freezing, leading to hyperthermia) during halts.

I also envisage that this smock would be great as an outer layer to protect those really expensive technical garments like fleeces, puff jackets, soft shells and goretex hardshells from common military situations, like snags (vehicles, cat wire, structural mesh like Hesco barriers), abrasion (crawling on one’s guts, sitting on vibrating surfaces and wearing equipment for long periods), and exposure to lubricants and chemicals that will eat through or severely curtail the operating effectiveness of the more fragile technical materials.

The new ATACS pattern has some interesting possibilities for my AO on the inland plains of Queensland. Unfortunately, due to the recent deluge we’ve experienced with a big wet season, I haven’t been able to take check how the pattern would work in this area. When the water is all gone, and the grass is no longer so lush and green, I’m intending to take this smock out and see how it performs in the visual spectrum. Stay tuned on this issue. It should do very well to shield me from the biting winds that can spring up at night during winter.

 

PROS –

For the price (approx AU$250 I’m told), this is a pretty tough, no-nonsense, simple jacket. It has a great attention to detail and is packed with features that would make it very useful for real use. I really like how some features would aid the wearer in actual use. 

I really like the size of the slotted buttons. They’re pretty big, being almost ¾ of an inch across. Very easy to deal with whilst wearing gloves, or when dexterity is decayed from having cold hands.

 

CONS –

It’s a pretty simple jacket, lacking in some (and I only say some) of the more “technical” aspects that some jackets possess. But, given the fact that it’s designed as a purely simple outer layer, this is a very minor point. At the end of the day, it could be argued that a lot of the “technical” design aspects such as cut and fit, would be entirely inappropriate for this garment anyway.

 

PERSONAL SUMMARY:

All up, a really nice, high-quality jacket that can be used with a lot of flexibility. As part of a well thought out layered suite of clothing, this could shine in protecting more expensive warm layers.

I find the pattern to be interesting, and something I’ll be investigating more closely at a later date. Meanwhile, I’m going to be getting around the traps wearing this cool-guy kit looking quite fetching.

SORD suggests that this smock will be released at the end of March for about $250.


Posted in Clothing & Footwear, SORD Australia by with 5 comments.

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