Getting Started in Airsoft Part III
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- Last updated: 23/12/2019
Picking your clothing and gear for airsoft is a very personal thing. Some folk from the outset decide that they wish to emulate a particular unit in the real world, and such is our defence in law for owning realistic imitation firearms that the re-enactment of said units could be said to be taking things quite literally!
However, you can be who or whatever you want when it comes to airsoft loadouts, anything from a SEAL 6 Operator to Father Christmas and everything in between! Okay, I have seen some pretty outlandish airsoft outfits over the years it’s true, but the fact is that most of us go for a set of kit that suits our style of play and the environment we usually play in. With the information of the conditions you’ll usually play through in hand you can look at a total clothing solution that takes all the factors into account. Whilst not going into full winter gear, you do need to factor in some basic protection, and waterproof boots; as British players waterproof boots are a given and part of our usual gameday setup, so I won’t go into that element in detail here as we all have our favourite footwear, don’t we?
The main factor when choosing clothing is that it should be light, breathable, quickdrying, but above all durable, and using my tried and tested formula it’s time to break things down into base, mid, and shell layers. You may know this way of doing things from your winter kit, but trust me, it works every bit as efficiently for hot weather gear as for cold. What I’m looking for to get rolling is some simple, well-priced First Line gear, the First Line referring to straightforward clothing, or what I will wear all the time.
When you think of base layers you might well picture thermals that you use for the cold weather months, but the fact is that a decent base layer setup is great for hot weather too if you choose the right things; just think about the Bedouins with their multiple layers of thin fabrics! Base layers are the fundamental first building block of a performance clothing system; if the base layer doesn’t transfer moisture away from your skin effectively there is absolutely NO POINT in buying (usually) expensive breathable mid and shell layer garments as the system is going to fail from the inside out in short time, leaving you uncomfortable and not being able to perform at your optimum.
Once upon a time base layers were all about thermal insulation, but over the years they have been transformed into garments that help you to control your core body temperature, helping to keep you cool when it’s hot, but helping to build up a microclimate inside your clothing system that will allow you to stay warm when the temperature plummets. Snugpak for instance use a soft, open structure fabric for both their Long Sleeve Top and their Long John which feels great right against your skin. It’s lightweight too, with the top weighing in at just 205g and the LJ’s at 185g in size XL. Both garments are a relaxed fit with flatlock seams being used throughout to avoid chafe points. I’m a big guy with long legs and arms and the lengths of both suited me fine.
Of course, I want the best kit I can lay my hands on for my money, and I definitely want some tactical features, but that doesn’t mean that you have to break the bank when it comes to buying your gear. Good old army surplus will do, but if you fancy something bang-up-to-date then I’d suggest you look at the range of clothing from VIPER.
For the base uniform they can offer you many styles of trouser, but my favourite by far is the ripstop polycotton ELITE model as these are well put together and well specified. With multiple adjustment features these trousers can be modified to the user’s own shape for comfort and feel. The built-in yet removable ABS knee pads with neoprene lining also offer comfort, protection and durability for hard use. There’s a Velcro waist closure and zipped fly, along with elasticated waist adjustment. There are two regular, angled thigh pockets which are easy to access, two buttoned back pockets, two deep cargo pockets, and two ankle utility pockets. Velcro knee retention tabs keep the knee pads exactly where you need them, along with internal pad adjusters located in front two pockets; this is a neat feature as the pads can effectively be lifted to position them perfectly.
For the upper body I’d suggest the Warrior Shirt which is VIPER’s take on the classic combat shirt and is made from Rip-stop PolyCotton in the sleeves, yoke and collar with elasticated V-Flex in the torso area. This is quite generously cut and very comfortable to wear all day long, and the sleeve lengths are nigh on perfect. It has reinforced elbow pads (removable) and two angled sleeve utility pockets with Velcro ID panels for your team or morale patches; other options include their Mesh Tech Armour Shirt and Tactical T-Shirt Without going into full foul weather gear mode a couple of simple and relatively inexpensive items can make your life much more comfortable! VIPER’s relatively new Sneaker Jacket is great for when things turn a bit chilly, and virtually everyone I play alongside locally has one of their Tactical Fleece Hoodies as this is a lovely garment that I wear on a daily basis! Made of a lightweight and durable fleece it’s the absolutely perfect thermal snivel gear layer.
In reality your First Line also includes your all-important belt kit, but I thought it prudent to cover off choices of Nylon gear in one place, so I’ll carry that over to next time.
My thanks go to military1st.co.uk, snugpak.com, and viperkit.co.uk for their support and participation in this article, so do pay them a visit to check out some righteous gear!