British squaddies are obsessed with ally kit, and there is an unofficial list of kit to buy to establish yourself as an ally SF Geoff in the platoon. This list includes items like claymore bags, tailored bergens, and the ubiquitous “SAS Smock”.
This last item is somewhat controversial, as the units who arguably need it the most never seem to get it, whereas REMFs far and wide can be seen with their chins tucked away, hands in the undone bottom pockets, enjoying the soft windproof goodness that they don’t deserve. This injustice leads to the popularity of aftermarket smocks from the likes of Level Peaks, Solo, Keela and now, Platatac. I’ve had first hand experience with all of the above, and so feel I can give an accurate comparison between them all.
Platatac advertise the Badger as the successor of the original SAS smock, and in its basic shape it is similar, but the amount of features crammed into this jacket put it in a whole new league. The first major difference you notice is the fabric. The vast majority of this smock is constructed from agility fabric, which is soft and slightly stretchy, while still being windproof. This makes for a jacket that is unusually comfy, light and highly packable. The high stress areas of the Badger smock are reinforced with a light cordura fabric, meaning the elbows especially will stand up to some punishment.
The next big difference from the traditional smocks is the outrageous amount of pockets. There’s fucking 20. I’m pretty certain I haven’t found them all yet, and I’m taking that number from Plat’s website. There are breast pockets, hip pockets, internal poachers pockets, phone pockets, arm pockets and the list goes on. Are they all useful? For me, I have yet to fill them all, but then whenever I’ve worn the Badger I’ve had belt kit or a daysack on which would already have all my stuff in. If you wear this without any extra gear then have no fears, I’m pretty certain you could live out of this jacket for 24hrs without filling all of the available storage.
Last but by no means least, there’s the hood/collar. On the original smocks this area is designed to have a tighter and rounder hood, with a higher collar to cover your chin and provide a better seal against the wind. As with the pockets, the Badger takes this area to the next extreme. The hood is enlarged to take a helmet, which works very well, but does compromise on the air seal due to the larger opening. Plat made up for this by making the collar come up to around your nose/eyes. This is somewhat overkill, but it does make for excellent protection against high winds.
When I first got my hands on the Badger I was a little worried about the agility fabric being prone to ripping, and so was a little apprehensive when taking it out into the field. For those who don’t know, Cyprus is a shithole. The back area is made up exclusively of rocks and bastard bushes, which means that running about in a jacket that I thought might rip easily was something of a stressful experience. I was therefore really surprised to find that the agility fabric could take everything I threw at it, including literally sitting in amongst the large thorns of a bastard bush.
As far as the windproofing goes, it works exactly as it should, I actually found myself getting too warm while wearing it (as a result of wearing it under body armour), but opening the zips in the armpits helped to give some ventilation. I would advise not tabbing about in any smock, and the Badger is no different, but whipping it on when in an LUP will keep vital body heat in and the elements out during long periods of being static.
I generally try to stay objective and find problems with the gear I review, I think it gives legitimacy to items that are simply flawless, and the Badger is one of those items. If you are a British squaddie reading this, go to Platatac’s website and buy one. I guarantee you that you won’t be disappointed. It packs down small, is incredibly effective against the wind and has some protection against the rain. The hood is big enough to accomodate a helmet, and by christ it has got enough pockets.
The use of the agility fabric is what sets it apart the most for me. Smocks are normally heavyweight items that you have to actively make the decision to carry, and potentially sacrifice something in its place. With the Badger you can just pack it into a drybag, stick it in the bottom of your daysack and only worry about it when you need it. I’m really excited to see what else is coming out using this fabric, and I’ve had some sneak peeks from Plat that I am really excited about.
If you want to get one of these for yourself, which I absolutely suggest that you do, then I’ll leave a link for it here. Thanks for sticking through this review, if you’ve got any questions or comments, head over to my Instagram @thegeardocrow.