This is something I’ve been pretty excited about for several weeks now, and am glad to say I finally have it in my hands to bring to you.
Back in October Spiritus Systems dropped a photo that had a very special item hiding in plain sight. Originally dubbed the “Crye’teryx” this jacket is a mashup of an Arc’teryx Atom and a Crye G3 combat shirt, together creating the opposite of a UBACS, an insulated body with combat sleeves. We’ll get on to why this is cool in a bit, but from the moment I saw it I knew I wanted one.
The main issue I encountered was not having a tailor capable of doing the job, but recently a new guy on the block has surfaced, and he’s up for a challenge. This stitch wizard is of course John, over on @cellar_gear on Instagram.
Before we get into the meat of the review I would just like to say that this jacket is a prototype, made from a couple of pictures, some guesswork and with less than optimal materials. For that reason if you see the occasional imperfection in the photos don’t take it as a sign of poor craftsmanship, it is just the result of trying something for the first time.
Why have it in the first place?
Something I wondered when I first saw the Crye’teryx was why have it made in the first place? Besides looking cool as fuck I was struggling to understand the reasoning behind the jacket, but over time I think I’ve arrived at the answer. I myself run incredibly hot, largely down to my onboard insulation, but many more athletic guys struggle at low temperatures even when wearing full kit. This is doubly true for those who are doing things quietly, not sprinting about like a headless chicken and are carrying minimal gear. All of these combined and done at night means that their core temperature isn’t likely to climb, or stay high for a long period of time leading them to insulate with a jacket.
The problem with this is that many civilian type jackets are somewhat delicate on the outside and so will likely not survive many missions, particularly on the arms. Enter the Crye’teryx. This mod overlays Crye G3 combat sleeves over the original sleeves and shoulders of the jacket, providing a harder, no melt no drip surface that is more resistant to abrasion and even provides the camouflaging effect of the pattern on the sleeves.
The other issue this mod fixes is losing the use of your arm pockets when wearing a jacket. Many have gotten around this in the past by simply wearing a gilet/bodywarmer cut jacket, but this A) doesn’t provide any insulation to the arms and B) is another layer that must be taken on and off when donning gear, adding bulk.
This is all my interpretation of course, but the way I see this item being used is as a regular layer, with just a T-Shirt worn underneath. Guys will put it on before a mission the same way as they would a combat shirt, only it will provide them with insulation during the heli/vehicle insertion, sitting on any OP’s and while waiting in the FRV before an assault. Should they approach a target silently they likely won’t be running and so won’t be building up body heat, and the assault itself will likely only last a matter of minutes, when comfort will be the least of their concern.
My reasoning behind this explanation actually comes from seeing how the high level guys take down a target (in this case a commercial airliner) first hand. What amazed me was the fact we never saw or heard them coming, they were through the aircraft in under a minute, and one bloke ran past me wearing an enormous Rab jacket under his JPC without even breaking a sweat. Clearly unlike the traditional army they were not carrying 20kgs of unnecessary gear and weren’t tabbing for miles on end onto the target. They drove up, crept in, caused 30 seconds of mayhem, and drove out. I always say be comfortable where it is possible to do so, and clearly these guys believe that too.
I decided to have my jacket made slightly different to better suit my “needs”. The first requirement I had was financial. As I don’t have the excuse of “I can use this for work” anymore, I have to ensure my gear actually makes financial sense. This meant using the raw materials I had to hand, and not spunking on a new Arc jacket and Crye shirt all for a project that might ultimately go wrong. As a result of this, I sacrificed an old North Face jacket that has been all over the world with me that I couldn’t bring myself to bin, and a replica G3 shirt that I had made by Roman Kurmaz (Linderhof Tactik), hence the name FaceHof. Also, the Cage/Travolta masterpiece of a film that is Face Off was too close of a namesake to miss.
My version of this mod meant removing the jacket sleeves and replacing with the G3’s, instead of simply placing the combat sleeves over the top. I chose to do this as like I said above, I’m a warm guy, and find that it is in fact the arms of a jacket that keep me sweating even if I have the jacket unzipped. Now I can zip the FaceHof up for warmth, and unzip for total ventilation. Doing it this way did present a challenge in itself, but more on that in a moment.
Despite not being made from the highest flex tier of donor garments, I think the FaceHof looks cool as shit, and for me it was a fantastic way to extend the lifespan of a jacket that so far as been flawless and that I’m slightly attached to.
How it was made
Like I mentioned, taking the sleeves out of the jacket presented a pretty big problem, and this is where I have to commend John the most. Before starting the project I told John which jacket I would be using and I heard his audible sigh from the other end of the country. As my TNF is a down filled jacket, making any hole in it would quickly lead to a lot of feathers making a break for freedom. Despite this the layout of the G3 sleeves was chalked on and the excess TNF removed. And sure enough I received a picture that looked like John had strapped a chicken to a firework in his workspace.
After the great bird massacre of 2020 the G3 sleeves were then attached to the jacket, effectively sealing the open holes and stopping any more major escapes. To neaten things up a layer of edging tape was added to the entirety of the seam, effectively bridging the gap between the two different materials. And with that the FaceHof jacket was born.
It is worth noting at this point that there are a few considerations to be made if you’re thinking of having one of these made:
- My base jacket was down filled. This made the entire process unnecessarily complicated, to the point where John has said he won’t do another down jacket again. Solid pile jackets like the Arc’teryx Atom will make the entire process much easier, and stop John from aging another 30 years during the conversion.
- I had my sleeves removed. This entire modification would be a damn sight simpler if all that was involved was attaching a sleeve over the existing one, and binding the cuffs together.
- TNF fabric is notoriously hard to work with due to its hard wearing, almost plastic-y nature. This was far from the ideal host for the project, but in a way it’s good to learn on the hardest possible platform, to make future ones easier.
How it turned out
Honestly I was blown away by the standard of the jacket that came back. John and I have never met face to face, and so he has no way of knowing my size and only had the original sizing of the jacket to go off. Well simply put, he nailed it. The new cuffs sit just above the base of my hands, and pull just off the wrists when shouldering a rifle. This is perfect as it means I don’t need to use hero sleeves to keep things out of the way, and can get the maximum coverage/protection from the jacket.
One thing I was wary of at first was the feel of the binding tape used inside the jacket. I didn’t know if this would rub, or at least be noticable against my skin. So far, I haven’t even noticed it. I feel my hands brush against it when I put the jacket on, and that’s it. The only complaint I can make about the edging is there was one ever so slightly sharp edge left in one of the sleeves, which was remedied in about 5 seconds with a lighter.
The final worry I had was that with the removal of the padding at the shoulders the differing materials would “look weird” and somewhat deflated. Well I needn’t have, due to how the mod has been done the G3 fabric sits perfectly across my shoulder and suspends the TNF portion below it. I know this is a vanity point only, but still, looking cool is half the battle.
So what is its future application?
In all honesty I was struggling for a reason to justify this jacket apart from wanting to see if it could be done, and wanting to be the first in the UK to own one. While it was being made however, I realised that this actually has a very serious and very real application in the field Army.
Besides winding the RSM up, this jacket is perfect for all those moments where you’re in a harbour area and want to warm kit up, but then have to whack an MTP layer over the top to stand up and do anything (because them’s the rules and your OD green Snugpak will get you seen by the Battalion of Snipers that apparently surround all harbor areas). Imagine being able to go on stag wearing your warm kit without feeling like the fucking Michelin man, imagine whipping a jacket out in an FRV and not having to strip off half your clothing just to hide the sinful sight of an Arc jacket, imagine feeling baller as fuck as you stroll past the rank answering their furious stares with “MTP sleeves mate” and your body armour covering the rest. Well all this can be achieved with a Crye’teryx mod (okay maybe not the last one but you catch my drift).
All squaddies have a supply of knackered shirts lying around, and the Army has very helpfully been issuing solid pile jackets for a few years now in a tan/brown colour that suitably matches the UBACS. While these jackets are by no means amazing, they’re not bad, they pack down pretty small and most importantly are free. This combined with the sleeves of an old UBACS and a trip to Cellar Gear HQ could land you with a lightweight and packable bit of warm kit that no one can drop their fill over because it is all made from issued kit and is actually a good idea. I actually wish I’d seen this a few years ago, as I can think of several occasions where “oi screambag put a fucking MTP layer on” came my way.
To finish then, my overall thoughts on the FaceHof jacket are overwhelmingly positive. Sure it might not be the most perfectly polished piece of gear I own (there is an old hole on the front that has been patched with duct tape for months), but there is something very special about custom gear that makes it all the more attractive.
For those out there that took offence to my thoughts on cloning, who may even now be sitting plotting their hilarious and witty remark that “tHis Is A cLonE yOu HypOcrItE”, there was simply no way I was sending these jackets all the way to @tattooedtailor over in the states as this would make zero financial sense. As it happens, Tattooed Tailor is very aware of John’s mod and to my knowledge has raised no objections whatsoever.
I really can’t wait to use this jacket in whatever capacity I eventually decide on, and in the meantime it’s a bloody cool bit of kit just sat on the hangar. I can’t thank John enough for the work he has done on this (and on some other projects, more soon), I warned him prior to writing this that it would be one big plug, and sure enough here it is. If you want a Crye’teryx mod doing either exactly as the original was or in your own mad little way then send @cellar_gear a message on Instagram and I’m sure he’ll be able to sort you out. He’s one of the good guys, and is yet to fall short of my expectations by even a stitch.
But whatever you do, don’t send him a fucking down jacket.
Thanks for reading through my first impressions of the Cellar Gear FaceHof frankenjacket. If you’ve got any questions about it or anything else mentioned in the blog head over to my Instagram @thegeardocrow and I’ll be happy to answer them. Alternatively if you want to send me some abuse, Instagram works for that too.