Gear OTTE Gear HT Insulated Jacket Review: More Than Just Warm Forrest Cooper February 4, 2021 Join the Conversation As many children of the late '80s and early '90s grew up in the shadow of the early days of the Global War on Terror, they imagined Soldiers, Marines, SEALs, and operators enduring soaring temperatures and harsh dusty landscapes during their deployments. Military uniforms adapted to address the desert environment with combat tops combining traditional utility sleeves with light-weight breathable t-shirt-like torsos. As so much of the media focus directed itself at hot temperatures, the idea that Afghanistan could also present frigid winters drifted to the periphery. But cold-weather gear remained a staple, not to be left locked in a Conex box. The OTTE Gear HT Insulated Jacket isn't just for the warfighter but brings with it features many wished they had on a cold January night on patrol. The features of a cold-weather jacket naturally divide into two categories: temperature performance, and utility advantages. With no better place but a frozen Minnesota to test these out, the OTTE Gear HT Insulated Jacket was put through a series of tests, subjective in nature, to consider its merits and propper place in a cold-weather clothing system. Temperature Performance Off the bat, the OTTE Gear HT Insulated Jacket is warm. Stuffed with 200g PrimaLoft® Gold Insulation it's not absolute survive-the-Alaskan-wilderness-alone warm, but certainly more than enough when layered with a wicking undershirt to be comfortable at just-below freezing temperatures for an extended period of time. Although not specifically a wind-breaking jacket, it keeps 5-10 mph winds at bay enough to be self-sufficient. This is due to what OTTE Gear calls their DWR or Durable Water Repellent finish. This outer shell is meant to defeat three problems that deep country hunters and soldiers moving through a hostile environment might share: wind, precipitation, and noise. Although untested in a torrential downpour, the jacket effectively slicks off middling rain and sleet, and doesn't collect snow like felt. The waistline can be tightened, and the wrist cuffs effectively keep the heat in, albeit isolating the wearer's forearms from their hands. Unlike many traditional ran shells, the OTTE Gear HT Insulated Jacket doesn't make that snow-pants-like swish noise when walking, giving the wearer that slight advantage, be it during a stalk or a night-raid. Although minor, the sleeves don't really allow for rolling them up near the elbows, as the cuffs don't flex as much as, say, a hoodie. Substance before style here. Depending on where one lives, the OTTE Gear HT Insulated Jacket is a one-season or three-season piece of clothing. Shining brightest in temperatures between 0 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit or -17 and 5 degrees Celsius, this temperature range can be flexed warmer by wearing it open, and colder by adding another thin insulating layer beneath and a heavy windbreaker/rain jacket over it. However, it screams “expedition into the unknown” as both an effective jacket when worn and tightly packable for storage. If limited to one additional layer option for a high altitude hunt, this might be it. Utility Advantages The four external pockets on the OTTE Gear HT Insulated Jacket sit on the front of the body, and are lined with a soft felt-like material. Referred to as Napoleon Style, the upper chest pockets will fit a cell phone, and conveniently have receded zippers that protect from snagging on jacket material. Easy to open with cold hands and spacious, the lower pockets don't dig deeply into the loft of the jacket, keeping the warmth inside. Some of that heat does move to the pockets, though sufficiently transforming them into a bastion for cold hands. A winter class in the U.S. Army's Ranger School teaches multiple lessons in leadership and endurance. Although not advertised, a side benefit that many of its graduates gain is the importance of maintaining one's hands, where small cuts and cracks can develop into dangerous infections. When constantly exposed to the cold, small cracks in the skin at the edges of fingernails become painful, and summon many an explicative when they snag on clothing and equipment. The lining of the OTTE Gear HT Insulated Jacket pockets are exactly the type of material that these sore spots would fear, but the juice is worth the squeeze as they protect the hands from the bitter cold. Something to keep in mind during a winter venture. Various edges of the lining receive an additional layer for specific purposes. The same soft felt coats the collar and throat area, feeling almost like a soft scarf lining. Additionally, for those sporting a longer beard it also mutes the distinct sound of facial hair brushing against synthetic fabric, once again adding to the attention to controlling sound. At the base of the opening zipper, two patches of tough fabric protect the softer lining from abrasion when carrying appendix. it also helps prevent any material from getting caught in the trigger guard when reholstering in the worst place to have an ND. This same material protects the 6ish and 9ish o'clock sections, for those who carry in those areas. In this image: OTTE Gear HT Insulated Jacket, Glock 19 gen 5 in a Tier 1 Concealment Agis Hoslter, Shield Arms Extendo, Old Ares Gear Belt. Speaking of zippers, having a dual set on the front should be the new standard for jackets, if not for utility, then for fashion. Unzipping the bottom just a little bit deflates some of the bulk that balloons around the waist while also making for easier access to a concealed firearm without printing. The top main zipper, and each of the four pockets have a length of shock-cord for a pull tab which will likely get destroyed after a few seasons of use, but are both easily replaceable and unnecessary. Conversely, to tighten the hood, two pull tabs with plastic ends route into the collar, inconveniently in the same location of the top zipper when closed. I've snapped myself in the face more times than I can count when unzipping the OTTE Gear HT Insulated Jacket. OTTE Gear HT Insulated Jacket Conclusions The operations of Afghanistan, with snow-topped mountains, and aggressive rock formations jutting out amidst a mildly cedar-like tree line inspired Military clothing along this trajectory from hot weather to cold environments. And like the Cold War, the problem with equipment that featured all of the trappings of a battlefield stood out too much in the clandestine world of asymmetrical conflict. Answering this, while the OTTE gear HT Insulated Jacket does blend in well, it never goes full “grey man,” and that's a very good thing. Although it takes into consideration the needs and wants of both urban EDC and field use, it is at first and foremost designed to keep the wearer warm. Accomplishing this in spades, and forgiving in regards to traditional dictums of layering gear, the OTTE gear HT Insulated Jacket is a clean-cut, straight to the point cold-weather gear item that fits in a diversity of environments, so long as it's cold enough. 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