I received an e-mail from Bartek, one of the Equipped.PL crew. He was kind enough to send an English version of their review of the Vertx smock, which the Mad Duo posted yesterday in Polish. Hopefully this is a little easier for most of our readership to understand (since I'm guessing we have a limited number of Polish speakers). They apologize for any awkward wording and syntax, as English is not their first language. I've tried to smooth out some transitions, so any glaring issues are probably mine. Mostly I'd just like to thank Bartek and Equipped.PL for being good sports and letting us share their review. DR
Smock jackets are one of the most characteristic pieces of combat clothing associated with United Kingdom armed forces (and all the other Commonwealth countries too). Smocks have been used by airborne and special forces troops since World War II – fabrics and camouflages often changed but the cut was only slightly modified. The unique, generous cut of hooded parka with plenty of pockets to allow the carry of complete survival or first line kit became its trademark.
Smocks have always been a symbol of elite forces and a piece of gear all the international partners of the SAS or Royal Marines wanted to have. Though the issued smocks were apparently one of the best of military clothing ever developed,they did not always fit to the custom requirements of all prospective users. Naturally a commercial market developed, resulting in multiple derivatives of smocks from numerous companies such as Arktis and SASS. Since the introduction of the new British Multi-Terrain Pattern camouflage and Personal Clothing System (PCS) in February 2011, smocks are now a widely issued part of equipment for every British Soldier. Of course, the updated version includes many new features (as sleeve pockets which weren't common in the past) but overall it's still a good ole' smock. In other countries, especially France, Germany and the Scandinavian countries, smocks are very popular in the reconnaissance and mountain infantry units. Over the past few years the smock fashion arrived in the United States, where unique features of such clothing were finally seen. Most of new projects were very “traditional” but there have been some incredible and innovative solutions, both in cut and fabrics.
The first, widely presented “US Smock” was the technically advanced Vertx Smock of the Vertx brand – a smart design company which quickly became widely recognized for their low-profile tactical pants. During SHOT Show 2011 they also debuted a new concept of smock, the wearable go-bag.
Vertx Smock has the traditionally generous cut which might be tightened down if necessary in the middle and at the bottom with elastic shock cord. There are plenty of pockets – a total of ten. The main zipper is solid two-way YKK additionally concealed with a wind flap that provides protection against wind, rain or snow when zippers might fail. Both sleeves are gusseted and articulated, allowing for the maximum spectrum of unrestrained movements. In the armpits under both arms there are very long two way zippers which serve as ventilation for the body core during heavy activity. Under armpits there is also a very soft mesh which keeps snow and debris from entering the jacket.
The collar is very high to protect against harsh conditions. There is detachable hood with very short brim which might be attached with three Canadian-style slotted buttons. If not used it might be folded down and kept in one of the pockets. The interior of hood is lined with fleece fabric to provide additional warmth during low temperature conditions. This generous hood might be cinched down in two points if necessary.
As mentioned earlier there are ten pockets in the Vertx Smock. There two large Napoleon-style chest pouches with vertical concealed zippers. These are really huge and are bellowed at bottom and sides for extra capacity. Inside every chest pocket there is small compartment that might be used to keep notepad, cellphone, wallet or even M4/M16 30 round magazines. Below there are two cargo pockets with flaps and Canadian-style slotted buttons closures (flaps are real pain in the ass as there a two of them – one with cuts for buttons and second just for cover, making four layers of fabric in one place). These are also fleece-lined and serve as hand warmers. Pockets are bellowed at bottom for extra capacity. Two additional huge pockets with entry zippers are sewn to the sleeves near the biceps – their size is about 24 x 18 cm so they are capable of carrying even large first aid dressings like Olaes ones [Olaes modular bandages DR]. On the lower back there are two large cargo pockets, sometime referred as “poacher pockets”, with slanted entries. Inside there are also magazine compartments like the chest pockets. The most interesting are two pocketw sewn between the lower front and lower back pockets – these are internal magazine pouches with Velcro flap which are capable of carrying a single M4/M16 or even HK G36 or AK magazines as they are quite flexible!
On both arms there are large tan colored pieces of Velcro loops for ID patches.
The Vertx smock is made up of highly advanced 2-way stretch soft shell laminate called Delta 40D from Schneider Mills. It is printed in Crye Precision Multicam by Duro Industries. It is a micro-ripstop textured 40D nylon 2-way stretch soft shell which is NIR treated and has a completely matte (even when wet) and pretty soft hand touch ideal for soft shell jackets. On the inner side it is laminated to a moisture wicking and anti-bacterial knit which allows for quick drying comfort. To be more specific – it is bacteria-static, bacterias will grow to the certain level and then it will become constant. The face of the Delta fabric is Schoeller® NanoSphere® treated. The NanoSphere DWR coating is very water resistant and slick to the touch, even though the fabric is textured. Water beads up on the surface and it doesn't wet out when soaked for long periods. The nanoparticles in the NanoSphere finish form a fine structure on the textile surface. Water or substances such as oil or ketchup simply run off the NanoSphere surface which is naturally self-cleaning, and any residue can easily be rinsed off with a little water. The NanoSphere coating has a high level of abrasion resistance, and the protective function is retained even with heavy-duty use. The jacket therefore requires less frequent washings at lower temperatures (wash resistance is up to 100 washings). No fabric softener or dryer sheets are to be used.
Delta 40D is almost completely windproof fabric but the cost is lower air permeability. Looking at the test report for the Delta fabric which is available online, the air permeability is zero, which means that this fabric is completely windproof. It's not very breathable. It seems it was designed for high warmth/weight ratio, and that is how it accomplishes it - by trapping the body heat inside it. This fabric makes the smock most suitable for cool weather use only.
The elbows are reinforced with patches of lightweight Cordura 330D in Crye Precision Multicam which will protect those places against wear and tear in harsh conditions.
Currently, Vertx is working on two solid colored version of its smocks – one will be black and second in Ambush color which is similar to Coyote Brown. The main fabric of those smocks will be a different type – it will have almost same structure and performance but it will cost less. Currently the pricing is very high – due the cut and fabrics used but that is a very specific clothing item. Not all soldiers need such high tech stuff. There are few small disadvantages of the Vertx Smock – e.g. zippers in the bicep pocket tend to open if there is heavier item like a wallet inside.
What might be interesting, these smocks are currently used by one of Polish Police special operations teams.