MAMMOTH LAKES, CA, UNITED STATES
Navy SEALs demonstrate winter warfare capabilities.
Courtesy of DVIDS
Navy SEALs demonstrate winter warfare capabilities.
Courtesy of DVIDS
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.
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.
Bremont was formed in 2002 by brothers Nick and Giles English. Their first watches appeared on the market in 2007. In the relatively short amount of time since then, Bremont has become one of the premier watch brands for military units across the globe. Initially popularized in part by Bear Grylls who wore a Bremont watch on his hit show Man vs. Wild. The military program would ultimately come about when the brand was approached by a U-2 aircraft pilot who had seen Grylls’ watch and wanted to create a watch for his squadron.
A collaboration with Martin-Baker on testing their watches solidified Bremont’s place in the market as a powerhouse. Bremont relied heavily on feedback from trusted military advisors and partners to ensure that every component of their watches met the highest standards. To date, Bremont’s military program has worked on several hundred special projects for units from multiple continents, and they feel that there are several key reasons for their success and loyal following.
Of the many reasons, the story of the English brothers and their passion for what they do resonates with many of their customers. Luxury watchmakers are often thought of as the snooty, white-gloved type. For Nick and Giles, that couldn’t be further from the truth. They live the active lifestyle that endears them to the military crowd. Cars, motorcycles, planes, and pursuing excellence in everything they do. This spills into their watchmaking.
Bremont also features only mechanical movement in their watches – no Quartz. When a unit approaches the military program about a project, they can expect an approximate 8-10 months for their watch to be available. Customized watches are exclusive to the members of that unit with no exceptions and may include things such as a unit logo, motto, engraving of an aircraft image, or even custom bezels in some cases. The customizations add value to the watches, although the unit members are offered a heavily subsidized price for those who may be otherwise unable to afford them. Unit members are not only paying for something that tells the time, but for the craftsmanship and a story to reflect their time in service to their country. Others see their watch as an heirloom to pass down to their children, while others who operate across the globe see their watch as a bartering tool if they ever find themselves in a bad situation that they need to bribe their way out of.
Bremont is deeply ingrained into military culture and they are invested on a personal level with each unit they collaborate with. Whereas some luxury watchmakers tend to make their clients feel as if they should feel privileged to buy their product, Bremont does the opposite. Not only that but they take pride in making sure to offer deep levels of customization that are an accurate reflection of the men, women, and aircraft involved to honor them.
I was able to review the Bremont S301 “Supermarine”, one of the retail watches that many of the military programs choose to make customizations to. Inspired by the Supermarine S.6B Seaplane, of all the incredible aspects of this watch the first thing that stood out to me was the crown. The quality and level of detail are incredible. When a company puts that much time into the crown, I know they’ve got quality elsewhere.
Like all Bremont watches, the S301 features automatic movement – specifically a Modified caliber 11 ½”’ BE-92AE automatic chronometer fitted with Bremont decorated rotor and 21 jewels, Glucydur balance and Anachron balance spring, with Nivaflex 1 mainspring. Rated frequency of 28,800 A/h with 38-hour minimum power reserve. If you are active and wear the watch regularly you shouldn’t have to worry about winding the watch. It has hour, minute, and second hands with a date window at 3 o’clock. The case is stainless steel (40mm diameter/13mm height) with a metal dial and Super-LumiNova® coated markers. Lug width is 20mm. Also features a laser engraved ceramic rotating bezel (uni-directional) that includes a Super-LumiNova® marker. The crystal is domed AR and scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. It is chronometer tested and certified, and is water-resistant to 300 meters.
The watch has a simple overall look at a glance, but a closer look reveals fine details that show its quality. From the Supermarine image on the case back to the aforementioned crown, and the incredibly accurate movement, this watch is a subtle stunner. The lume is very bright and easy to read. The only item I would change if I had my pick would be a 22mm strap instead of the 20mm, although this 20mm strap looks great. It’ll take a bit of breaking in before you quit noticing it on your wrist due to the thickness and stiffness of it, but I view it as proof of durability. The crown features the Bremont prop logo (silver) with a black background, and again it is my favorite part of the watch. The bezel is crisp upon each click and very easy to grip. The diameter and height of the watch in relation to the weight are a perfect combination. Bremont got everything right on this one – in spite of my partiality to a 22mm strap.
With the $4,095 USD price tag, this watch is not for everyone. Watch enthusiasts will understand, but you’re investing in the craftsmanship of something that will hold its value over time. It will be something you’ll keep for a lifetime or something you’ll pass down to your children. People will pay half of their monthly income for an automobile they can’t afford, but they don’t care that it is losing value rapidly. A luxury watch is something that, if taken care of, will outlive you and will provide you with a lifetime of memories.
This is definitely the most requested video I have had. Rightfully so because the history of Reconnaissance and Marine Raiders are so intertwined it can leave someone filling a bit confused, I have your back. Not only does this video give you my military history, it also gives you the history of Marine Recon and Marine Raiders (MARSOC), the requirements to get into both units, and also some very sound advice from other Recon and Raider Operators. So get some popcorn, grab a notepad, and put your feet up. Enjoy! – Nick Koumalatsos
*Photo courtesy of Nick Koumalatsos
PFULLENDORF, Germany – A team of multinational NATO and partner nation special operation forces demonstrate the principles of Tactical Combat Casualty Care while loading role-playing casualties onto a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter during the culminating field training exercise of the NATO Special Operations Combat Medic Course, March 1, 2017. This inaugural class, hosted by the International Special Training Centre, is 22-weeks long and covers not just lifesaving intervention but long-term care to prepare these combat medics to deal with any challenge that may arise on future missions.
(U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Nelson Robles, SOCEUR Public Affairs)
Courtesy of DVIDS
A U.S. Air Force combat controller guides a MC-130J aircraft July 25, 2016 during a short-field landing training exercise in Antofagasta, Chile. The controller performed a High Altitude Low Opening jump to set up the airfield for aircraft landing as part of the training. (U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Osvaldo Equite/Released)
Courtesy of DVIDS