There are lots of options for warm layers, from wool jumpers to padded ski jackets, gilets and electric heated things from Chinese wholesalers. The one I rarely now leave the house without though is my Helikon Patriot. Fleece jackets are inexpensive and trap heat very well in all those fibres, and make ideal insulating layers when used in conjunction with a wind or waterproof outer. Fleece on its own isn’t waterproof and wind rips through it, so on wet and windy days it’ll need something else but on normal dry days it’s fine on its own. For the second part of the Fighting Winter blog, I thought it was about time I did a review on what has become my day-to-day jacket.
I picked mine up over ten years ago now, and it’s still going strong. Helikon describe this as a “heavy fleece” and it’s certainly a lot more substantial than the thin jumper-type fleeces. At the time I wanted something more as an outer than a baselayer. What a lot of fleece jackets lacked were pockets, but the Patriot has them in abundance, which makes it ideal for stashing all your everyday bits and pieces, such as wallets, keys, phone etc and that’s the main reason I’ve stuck with it. The two big chest pockets sit high and it’s an unusual position at first, but if you’re wearing body armour (not necessary on supermarket trips) they remain accessible behind, so these are great for airsofters who run plate carriers, if you wanted to play airsoft in it. There is a headphone wire hole inside as well if you want to run any wiring underneath.
The drawcords on the hood and waist help keep the cold air out, and velcro patches on the arms mean you can attach your favourite patches (mine obviously, and one from Oni Concealment on the left arm). The sleeves have velcro adjustment but with or without gloves, I’ve not needed to adjust them.
There are two way zips under the arms for ventilation which is lovely in warmer weather, and some fabric reinforcement on the forearms. One of my favourite features though is what I’ve come to call the “arse pocket” on the lower back, where I usually stash gloves and a hat or bandana in case I need them. It’s a great feature and makes good use of extra space to allow for additional carry. All the zips have toggles on too so you can operate them while using gloves.
Upper arm and wrist pockets are perfect for stashing important stuff where you can see and access them. It’s because of all these pockets that this fleece goes nearly everywhere I go, from travelling to camping, walks in the local woods, work or shopping. It’s a bit like an EDC stash (related – My EDC pouch) where you can store all your essentials and first line gear. I know there are some cheap Chinese versions of this jacket available and I have seen them up close, and wouldn’t swap my Helikon for them. Having said that, it’s not an expensive item anyway. I don’t think I’ve had any jacket this long or been so useful all year round. It’s available in plenty of different colours and camo patterns, but I was going through an OD phase at the time. Link here – Helikon Patriot Fleece.
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