Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Review: SORD - StormTrooper hand warmer

I got in touch with the good folks over at SORD Australia who had previously fixed me up with the long 870 scabbard pouch and a very clever covert-use hoodie. I had seen they had put out a couple of new items, and managed to secure some, just in time to take out camping and adventuring st s Post-Apocalyptic simulation weekend I was attending.

The first item I want to cover was their very fancy StormTrooper Hand Warmer. Available following a three year development development cycle in which it was put through high altitude parachute descents from around 7600m (25,000ft), and resisting wind speeds in excess of 250kph (135knots/155mph) as well as extended periods in mountain / cold weather environments in multiple countries. That was sales pitch enough for me. I've lived in Calgary, and a couple of other places which have snow, I've even taken a few pieces of kit to the limited snow we get here in Melbourne to trail. I hate the snow, generally, and being cold. Sometimes "hands-in-pockets" is not an option and I like to have options.
Check out that spacious muff!

This is where the StormTrooper comes in. Made from an outer shell fabric of Duro Industries LiteLok  (with a 500D Cordura option in Kryptek Yeti also available), the StormTrooper is filled with 40gsm Prima Loft fill (in double/triple layers), and is lined with the same lightweight lining as used in SORD's jackets.

It attaches in a variety of ways;  with three ITW Web Dominators on shock-cord loops, for attachment to a PLAS/MOLLE platform like a plate carrier or chest rig. There is also a broad hook-and-loop sandwich panel for attachment to platforms with a corresponding hook-and-loop bottom, like the Platatac MAC, I already have as it happens (loop-field faces forward).
Rear view showing belt loops, D-rings and storage cords
The back face is fitted with three belt loops wide enough to take 50mm belts (and feed over riggers belt buckles and Cobra buckles alike). It is also fitted with two D-rings for fitting a neck-strap to sling it around your shoulders.

Zippered blow-out section on the belly of the StormTrooper
The StormTrooper is fitted with 2 separate internal pockets with weather resistant zips for heater packs, or small items, one larger external front zippered pocket for small easily accessible items, like a compass, a light or other small tools and a lower zippered blow out section that increases internal capacity for large hands, especially useful if you have bulky gloves, a mounted GPS or altimeter or a map pouch on your wrist.

Second internal hand-warmer pocket, under recess to stow hook-and-loop flap
Elasticized, adjustable wrist cuffs, let you hunker the muff section down to fir your hands, without leading to a snag-risk in case you need to respond quickly. I found that the muff was perfectly shaped to hold my hands, and let me drop my shoulders, giving me a really relaxed posture, without having my hands stuck in pants-pockets, especially useful when my top was covered in a vest, or obscured by pack-straps.

The internal pockets gave a a couple of places to stash more needfuls, and certainly fit the hand-warmers I have. I also found that the Web Dominators allowed be to quickly roll it up, and stow it away, rolling down to almost nothing thanks to the LiteLok fabric and light down used, and its built in stash sack packs the muff down to almost nothing.

The internally secured storage baggie
Thankfully it's not yet been could enough to -need- the StormTrooper here yet, although it did rain rather miserably on the first night of my last camping trip, and the long walks around the site make for a good chance to stow my hands away. I also found it was a pretty good place to stash some small, light and often used items.

The multiple attachment options, multiple pockets as well as the spacious and comfortable muff section make this an excellent addition to anyone's kit, especially if you are going to find yourself in a cold and miserable place or two. It stayed out of the way when I wasn't using it, and even acted as a quick dump-pouch when I had to stow a long item and keep my hands free.

Post-Apocalyptic Roleplay, with the SORD Stormtrooper at my belly band
You might find that all the accessory shock-cord gets in the way, but they're all removable, and you can set it up as low-drag as you need it.

Next winter, I have a feeling I will be keeping this in my pack, to whip out  when the weather does a Melbourne on us. I look forwards to again being the guy people look at thinking "why didn't I think of that?"

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