ShooterKing Clothing A Year in the Field
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- Last updated: 28/11/2019
Plenty of outdoor gear looks good on the spec sheet and great off the peg, but not all of it goes the distance, and only one set of gear ever gets to take the number-one slot. I was sent the Shooter King items reviewed here by distributor Thomas Jacks back in the summer of 2018 and have literally been wearing them ever since. What follows should help explain why.
I’ll start with the Cordura trousers. As soon as I pulled them on I was impressed by the fit, and the way it avoided bagginess without compromising mobility. I’m by no means a sportylooking individual, but I have to say that wearing these trousers made me feel like one! The combination of a silicone-lined, elasticated waistband and a good set of belt loops kept them comfortably in place whatever I was doing and stretch panels in the seat and at the knees ensured ease of movement. Another reason the trousers fit so well is that they are supplied un-hemmed and thus required a visit to a local seamstress that resulted in a perfect length and drape. Extra cost, yes: but £15 well spent in my opinion.
The Cordura trousers have proved durable too. The black knee panels are tougher than the base material, but both fabrics have resisted a year’s worth of thorns and wire barbs impressively well, without ripping or tearing beyond the immediate cut, and while protecting me from damage in the process. No less impressively, all the stitching – whose somewhat tufty ends hadn’t filled me with confidence at first sighthas held together perfectly.
Storage is also excellent, with a flap-closed cargo pocket, an angled hip pocket, and a zippered rear pocket on both sides, plus an extra zippered pocket on the left leg, and a sheath knife pocket on the right leg. Pocket closures are trimmed with dark brown synthetic suede for abrasion-resistance, comfort and style, whilst a pair of studs on each cargo pocket strike a good balance between security and accessibility.
Unlined and non-waterproof, these are really warm-season trousers, in which context their impregnation with Shooter King’s Anti-Zect (Permethrin) tick- and mosquito-repellent formula is a valuable bonus feature. All the same, I liked them so much I wore them all through the winter, in combination with a merino base layer and waterproof leggings where necessary.
Thomas Jacks also supplied a Digitex reversible jacket. This is designed to be worn as either a mid or a top layer and is doubly versatile, firstly because the sleeves can be zipped off to convert it into a gilet, and secondly because – as the name indicates – the whole jacket is reversible. One side is faced in a dark green fabric with a satin finish; the other in a digital camouflage fabric with a brushed finish.
When using the jacket as a mid layer, I turn it green-sideout so the top layer slips over it easily; but it really comes into its own when reversed for use as a top layer. As well as giving you the benefit of the visual and auditory stealth offered by the shine-free, rustle-free camouflage fabric, wearing the jacket Digitex side out also optimises the performance of its Shoottex waterproof membrane. I’ve never been either soaked or steamed up in the jacket. Maybe that means I’ve never been wet enough or hot enough, or it could just be a sign that the membrane works.
The Digitex camouflage pattern is good, too. The colours are straight off the MTP/Multicam palette, so they work well in a wide variety of environments, whilst the distribution resembles the ‘vegetato’ pattern in use with the Italian military, though I reckon the Digitex’s greater contrast produces an even better disruptive effect.
Shooter King have judged the thickness of the Primaloft insulation to perfection, too, since the jacket resists both wind and cold well yet without significant bulk. For extra snugness, the rear is cut a good bit lower than the front to keep out drafts on one side whilst reducing bellowing on the other, the hem has shock-cord adjusters, and elasticated sleeve cuffs include thumb-holes that can be used to stop the sleeves riding up or to provide a pair of ad-hoc mittens. Like the trousers, therefore, the Digitex reversible jacket has everything it takes to keep you flexible as well as comfortable.
Another thing I like about this jacket is that, whichever way round you wear it, the storage layout is identical, with two upper and two lower zippered pockets. I try to keep to a fixed storage routine: the same things go in the same place every time so that I can find them instantly. So, this arrangement suits me down to the ground. I also appreciate the fact that the inner and outer pockets are fully independent, which means I can’t lose gear by leaving a second zipper open by mistake.
The third act of this paean of praise belongs to the Bamboo Anti-Zect shirt. This is the only one of the three items I haven’t worn all year round, but either for warm weather or for warm work I can’t fault it. Like their Cordura trousers, it shows a multi-fabric technical design that delivers flexibility, resilience, durability and ventilation exactly where each is needed, and does so in style.
And like the trousers it also offers protection against ticks.
Stud fasteners are used throughout, so there’s no need to fiddle with buttons and no chance of losing one. Cuffs have twin studs so you can wear them tight or loose, and studfastening tabs inside the sleeves ensure that when you roll your sleeves up, they stay up. For extra temperature, just open the long zips on both sides to allow the air to circulate through the mesh panels behind them.
The shirt stays tucked in well, too, thanks to generous tails – which also keep out any unwelcome drafts – and stretch panels in the body that reduce the upwards pull when you raise your arms. I should say here, that these are qualities I never thought a shirt design could offer!
To conclude, this was my first experience with Shooter King clothing and it has exceeded all expectations. All the items tested have been not just thoroughly durable, practical and comfortable: they’ve also been a real pleasure to wear. I know I should be finding some flaw to take issue with at this point, but believe it or not, even after a year of use, it’s a rare outing when I don’t find myself pausing in involuntary appreciation of one feature or another and saying to myself: “I like this!