Company: Triple Aught Design (tripleaughtdesign.com)
Gear: Ranger Jacket
Color: Coyote Brown
Cost: $219 from TAD
Reviewed by: Jordan May
Review Date: 3 Years and going strong!
Locations Used: SoCal Mountains, Mojave Desert, Anza Borrego State Park, Newport Beach, Big Bear, CA, Las Vegas, NV, Phoenix, AZ, Santa Barbara, CA, Salton Sea, CA
Model: That’s me again. Stats- 6′ tall. 187lbs. 48R normal suit jacket size.
Photographer: Adam Bendig (link)
If you’ve been following my work online or in various publications over the past decade, you will know that there is one thing I cannot stand. What is that you ask? Crap reviews. I completely understand that often, as journalists, we are not given adequate time to review a product before we are “required” to talk about it. Well, that is one of the main reasons I started A Gentleman’s Word. Credibility needs to find its way back to journalism. Maybe I should be the one to start that shift? Who knows. I’ll get off my soap box in a second, don’t you worry. I was not “asked” to review this piece of gear at all. After spending several months with my TAD FAST Pack Lightspeed, I knew that I needed to purchase one of their jackets next. Choosing was tough, but I think after 3 months of hard use my choice was correct. I hope you enjoy the following review of my Triple Aught Design Ranger Jacket. This review is unbiased and dives into what I like, dislike, and would like to see in the future from products like this. Enjoy.
Three months of time with any product is going to produce a boat load of notes. Sifting through more than 15 pages in my Field Notes journal, I decided the best way to talk about my experience with the Ranger Jacket was to break it down into sections. You see, this isn’t what I would call and ordinary jacket. An ordinary jacket to me, is something that is designed to do one thing, keep you warm. I would say 75% of people that purchase jackets do so for that reason alone. TAD customers are after products that fall into the other 25%. They want more than ordinary. They want gear to have multiple uses and functions. Whether that be what is strapped on their back, zipped up across their chest or slid over both legs. Some call it tactical, others utilitarian, and some just like to say, “Hey man your jacket has lots of pockets!”
Temperatures and Breathability
As I just mentioned, a jackets main or, “ordinary” purpose is to keep you warm. The Ranger is nothing short of excellent in this department. The 100% polyester fleece jacket is made out of premium Polartec WindPro materials. Doing a little research on WindPro, I learned that it features a very dense construction making it much more wind resistant when compared to traditional fleece. This construction improves breathability and increases durability, a very important feature for TAD consumers. The jacket is also finished with a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish, which I found to keep light rain off my inner layers quite well. Note, this is not a waterproof jacket but you should be okay in light rain. The heavy-duty construction also means you won’t be stuffing this jacket into your rear pocket or even small pack.
Something else I cannot forget to mention and another reason I choose TAD products, they are Made in the USA. If you live in the USA this should mean something to you. Seeing that Made in California label brings a smile to my face.
I threw every climate I could at this jacket during the past three months. Deserts, beaches, snow, heat, cold, rain and even a few nights on the town to see where and how it faired best. I found that I was most comfortable wearing this jacket when the temp hovered around 55 degrees. During a few cold 35-40 degree mornings, I was adequately comfortable with only a t-shirt underneath. A nice long sleeve base layer and I was very warm during early morning hikes. Dual draw cords running along the waist line of the jacket are also great for keeping the cold from creeping under your jacket. On the opposite end, the jacket did well around 75 degrees and then became a little too much getting closer to 80. I think its obvious by looking at this jacket that you won’t choose it first from your closet on a 75+ degree day. Or, maybe you’re a reptile.
Something this jacket did extremely well and why it has quickly become my go to desert jacket for this reason alone is its ability to block wind. With the high collar and dense construction, the Ranger Jacket I would beg to say is windproof. I’m not saying its going to stop gale force winds, but I have stood in the desert with 40mph winds blowing sand everywhere and been perfectly happy wearing this jacket, a beanie and a shemagh across my nose and mouth. TAD also added vents under the arms that are reinforced so to not tear easily. These are not cord holes for your iPod.
While I am on the topic of breathability, although the jacket is great for walking around and casual activity, it is not an active sports jacket. During several cool hikes I was comfortable until my body temp elevated as did the temps outside. The jacket breathes well but it has its limits. If you’re looking for a running jacket or all-day hiking jacket, I would look to something less heavy-duty and layer up.
Pockets and Storage
If I had to give this jacket a name, it would be the “EDC Jacket”. EDC (Every Day Cary), has become quite an internet movement spawning dozens of blogs and websites. What was once a term reserved for LE and Military personnel, has now become a craze amongst urban tactical aficionados and well, to be honest, high school kids. By definition, it refers to what you carry on your person on a daily basis. Like most, I carry the typical fare of goods. Wallet, watch, cell phone, knife, notepad and keys. I am constantly shocked at what I see some people carry with them daily. Guns, flares, medical kits, GPS devices, portable hard drives (That be you Scott Brady) and I even found a guy that carries a machete. Yup, I guess he believes the zombies are coming sooner rather than later.
First up are the dual chest pockets. Both pockets have a strong mesh liner and a plastic D-ring for attaching your keys or whatever you choose. There is also a slim 5.5-inch pen pocket near the zipper. This was welcomed to this heavy note taker. I tried using this pocket for a flashlight and unfortunately none of mine fit. I am sure there are some slim lights out there that would work great. Both pockets also have molded rubber media punches for headphone cords. Aside from whats inside the pockets, I feel their location is the strongest feature. At first, the chest pockets threw me off a bit to be honest. Then I realized how great they are when wearing a pack with a waist belt. The chest pockets are in the perfect place to be out of the way of your waist belt and chest (sternum) strap. Keeping your hands up high isn’t as comfortable as around your waist, but I got used to it pretty quickly.
Along the left forearm is an ID pocket just large enough for a few cards. Even my slimline wallet would not fit in this pocket though. Minimalists rejoice. This pocket typically holds my chapstick and spare change. The ID pocket, chest, upper arm, main center and rear pocket all feature YKK zippers. These zippers are tough and should outlast your jacket. The nylon pull cords attached to them make them easy to grab. One negative comment about the zippers I would mention is the double main zipper. The reason most jackets run a double zipper down the center is to properly hold several material layers in place. As well as aiding in movement. At least, that has always been my understanding. I find most double zippers not needed and often a pain in the butt. The center double zipper did loosen up after a few months of use and is now nice and smooth. If yours is a little tough at the start, wear your jacket more often.
Upper-arm pockets are found on both arms and have more room than you think at first glance. The pockets extend up to the shoulder line making them around 9-inches in height. Running along your arm you don’t want to store bulky items here but I found them great for things like Field Notes journals, pens, chapstick, wallet, mints, and even threw my Zippo lighter in there a few times. This jacket can be purchased with and without a patched upper sleeve. As you can see I chose the patched version. Why? Because patches make you a badass of course. Patches are a big thing among EDC people. LE and Military people call them moral patches because they add a little humor to a very serious career choice. There are some really great patches out there, just hit up google and you can kill a few hours from your day. I’ve added a few great ones to my Lightspeed which you can see in the pictures below.
Something to note about the look and/or added patches to this jacket. The jacket doesn’t scream military, but it may draw a few interesting looks in urban environments. Say, Starbucks or the bookstore. Two places I seem to visit often. Depending on how you “patch up”, you may get some overprotective moms hiding their children from you. Or, maybe I just looked creepy that day. I did have a few people ask me where I served. No, I don’t think they meant which restaurant.
The rear (Hunter’s) pocket is another place this jacket stands out. I never thought I would end up using this pocket. As it turns out, I use it very often. This pocket is great for storing soft goods like a shemagh, gloves or a warm beanie. I’ve even thrown my sunglasses in it, though I am careful when sitting down. Depending on how high you wear your pack, the contents of this pocket may or may not get in the way. This pocket is large, measuring roughly 15-inches wide and 11-inches tall. My collapsable hiking poles even fit in this pocket. During a few long hikes, I left the zippers open adding ventilation to my back. After looking at some of the great photos in the TAD gallery riding Ural motorcycles, I thought about how great this pocket would be to help keep a moto passengers hands warm during a ride. Maybe even a safe way for a guy to hang on without having to wrap his arms around his mate? Maybe? Maybe not.
Fit and Finish
After just a few days, both the tail and sleeve lengths were noticeable. The tail runs just below my butt and the sleeves past my cuff line. The ends of both sleeves have thumb hole cuffs allowing your hands to keep warm when you forget your gloves. Having the longer tail is nice when seated and/or riding. Tail length was especially welcomed when climbing.
Wearing a pack while climbing still allows access to the hunters pocket if needed.
Another great shot showing sleeve length while active. The three patches on my pack are (left to right) Beard The F**k Up, Stormtrooper and TAD Japanese Crest) I wanted to give a special shout to DStein Dzigns (https://www.facebook.com/DSteinDzigns) for the BTFU patch. Visit his FB and get one.
Though Coyote Brown isn’t the most stealth in this terrain, it didn’t do a bad job of blending in.
I must have stopped 10 times to review and make notes during our shoot. Each time the photographer mentioned how nice the tail covered my back. No plumbers crack here. The seams all around this jacket are top-stitched for added strength and lay flat. The four-panel construction fit me like a glove yet I can do jumping jacks in this thing and don’t feel like its trying to pull itself off of me.
Though I clearly stated I don’t feel this is an action sports jacket, the Polartec WindPro material is rather flexible. The longer cut left plenty of room to move around.
Located on the front of the jacket is a removable glow in the dark TAD plastic velcro logo. Just like the arms, there are a ton of small patches out there that fit here just in case you need something more personal.
Touching back on the Made in USA vibe. TAD products are not mass produced in China or anywhere. The attention to detail is something not often found in apparel. The most common gripe I read online from TAD haters is how often their products are out of stock. Though they have a large loyal following, they are a small San Francisco based company that currently can only produce so many products every month. Typically, when they get stock, it sells out immediately. This is something I would love to see improved but not at the risk of having to take production overseas.
But What Else?
Products like this make me think of what’s next. What’s the next wave of EDC style garments. Do people want jackets that eliminate the need for carrying a pack? For most, a jacket like this will carry everything you would need for a day hike aside from a water solution. I would love to see a small knife pocket added under the arm, down the side of the jacket in line with the chest pocket. Reinforced so the knife clip won’t tear the jacket. This would keep a knife on your person hidden out of the way. In states like California, the more weaponry we carry the more suspicious we seem. Even that pocket knife clipped to the front of your jeans pocket can draw some looks. What about a small MOLLE webbing section outside the jacket center mast? Maybe inside the hunters pocket? Or, how about a velcro panel inside the pocket for attaching something small that you don’t want to move around?
Overall, I am very pleased with my purchase and although I did feel the Lightspeed may be a little out of the price range for some pack buyers, the $219 price tag of the Ranger Jacket is spot on. I have an entire closet of jackets ranging from $50-$400. Most of them have one specific purpose, or temperature they were purchased to handle. None of them aside from this jacket offer more than “ordinary” and maybe an extra pocket. I tried to do a little comparison shopping at REI and Bass Pro Shops over the holidays with no luck. I honestly didn’t find much that compared in this price range. Online, I found quite a few knockoffs and similar China made jackets. I won’t mention them on this website because if you’ve been around the block like I have, good luck trying to deal with those companies should you ever have an issue. TAD has a great repair and warranty program and you can actually reach someone with a simple phone call. This definitely won’t be my final TAD purchase. Visit Triple Aught Design to get yours at www.tripleaughtdesign.com.
The TAD Ranger Jacket exceeded our demands and proved to be a quality piece of gear! Highly recommended!