In 1980, Ron Gregg, a dedicated mountaineer, found himself in trouble on the slopes of Mount McKinley. Due to a poorly designed gaiter, his climbing parter suffered from severe frostbite requiring an immediate airlift to safety. Despite the blown expedition, Rons gears immediately started turning and he began to work on a better solution. The very next year, Outdoor Research was founded. The 80’s and 90’s saw several iconic items from Outdoor Research. Like the Seattle Sombrero and Modular Mitts. But just as the company was experiencing growth and success, tragedy struck. In 2003, while skiing in British Columbia, Ron and a friend were killed in an avalanche. With the future of OR in the balance, another Seattle native and outdoorsman, purchased the company that same year and continued Rons vision. With a big push into outdoor clothing, innovative tactical items like the Infiltrator Jacket and Pants were born.
Having lived in the Pacific Northwest for 12 years, I understand the need for a functional seam sealed waterproof shell. Most of my time in the 2nd Ranger Battalion was spent in the “South Rainier” training area. A temperate rain forrest still in use today for Special Operations training. It’s the wettest environment I’ve ever experienced and will put any piece of kit to the ultimate test. The GoreTex top and bottom issued in the 90’s didn’t breathe or stretch. So long movements were always hot, restricting and uncomfortable. Fortunately, a lot has changed in fabric technology. And Outdoor Research has embraced these new material break-throughs. The new Infiltrator Jacket uses several cutting edge GoreTex materials in strategic locations for the best result possible. This synergy of materials allows the modern operator to effortlessly shoot, move and communicate in the worst of conditions.
I had the pleasure to meet with Nathan at Outdoor Retailer this past summer. His passion and dedication to the design of these new tactical garments is impressive. Every little detail had a specific purpose and function. Designed to be worn under a plate carrier, I decided to dust mine off and head out to the range. The GoreTex FLEXtoFIT fabric under the arms and shoulder areas made mobility while manipulating the Mk-18 a breeze. These panels offer way more flexibility than the typical 4 way stretch GoreTex of years past. Even with the hood on over my helmet, the flex panel at the base of the neck afforded unhindered movement. Great for an operator to maintain situational awareness. Finally, the FLEXtoFIT fabric remains much quieter than conventional materials that sound like a bag of potato chips.
Also of note are the pocket and vent locations. Both hand pockets feature an ample zippered opening. Located low enough on the jacket to not be completely covered by a plate carrier yet high enough to access while wearing a harness. Additionally, these pockets feature a mesh interior that stretch to fit larger items like a water bottle. As well as provide some ventilation when unzipped. Located at the hem under the arms are a pair of vertical zippered vents. With zipper pulls located on the top and the bottom, the user can unzip in either direction based on ventilation requirements. I prefer the vertical zippered vents to the typical under arm vents any day. Mainly because I always struggle to close an under arm vent without the help of someone else.
Infiltrator Jacket Specs courtesy of outdoorresearch.com
- Fabric: Main Shell: GORE™
- Military Fabric Stretch Panels: GORE-TEX™ FLEX2FIT®
- FabricCenter Back Length: 28¼” / 77 cmInseam :28 1/4″ / 77 cm
- Weight: 22.8oz / 647g Avg. Weight for size L
- Fabric Performance: Durably Waterproof, Extremely Breathable, Fully Seam-Taped, Laminated Construction, Windproof, Lightweight, Movement-Mirroring Stretch, Glue Bonded Hem and Hood, Hybrid-Mapped Construction Stretch Panels, Stretch Hems
- Design Features: Fully Adjustable, Advanced Combat Helmet Compatible Halo-Hood, YKK™ AquaGuard™ Vislon Zippers, Zip Hand Pockets, TorsoFlo® Venting, Internal Front Stormflap
- Functional Details: Pocket Placement Above Harness or Pack Belt, Hook/Loop Cuff Closures, Elastic Drawcord Hem
Outdoor Research has done their homework with the Infiltrator Jacket. Despite stiff competition from other manufacturers, all vying for government contracts, the Infiltrator remains a definite player in my opinion. But with premium materials and exacting standards, comes a premium price tag. Not for the faint of heart, but this jacket is a perfect example of “you get what you pay for”. Plus the Infiltrator Jacket and Pants are made in the USA and are backed with the Outdoor Research Infinite Guarantee for piece of mind. Available in Coyote, Gray for $795 (Multicam $895), this jacket is compatible with most Military color ways. I highly recommend both the jacket and pants for any soldier or outdoorsman operating oversees or in extreme environments. Keep tuning in to the Loadout Room for my upcoming review of the matching Infiltrator Pants.