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ICE Direct Action Shirt and Soft Shell Jacket


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Hobey and Paul at ICE asked me to trial a couple of his new clothing items, the Direct Action Shirt and the Soft Shell Jacket.  Since we had the Suffield exercise coming up I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to try these items out.  I’ll start with the Direct Action Shirt.  This shirt is designed to replace the Combat Shirt for wear under body armour.  The shirt is made of a hybrid of Dri-Fire and CADPAT cloth, the torso is Dri-Fire with the sleeves and neck being made out of CADPAT cloth. Some of the features of this shirt are: mandarin collar, forearm pen pockets, pockets for elbow pads, upper sleeve pockets with Velcro patches and a 10” zipper for the collar. 

The weather in Suffield was mostly sunny with highs around 20C and down to 2-4C at night. It was also quite windy as those of you who have had the misfortune to spend any time there can attest to!!! For the first 2/3 of the exercise we were going through live field firing ranges up to Level 3.5. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to use the shirt.  I wore the shirt for 5 days straight, approximately 18 hours per day.  At night I hung it up to air out for the next day, it gets quite ripe!

Overall, I found the shirt very comfortable, there was no chafing or rubbing at all.  The Dri-Fire pulled the sweat from the body, I found the shirt breathed pretty well as well. The mandarin collar worked perfectly to keep the body armour from rubbing my neck raw, in fact the only thing I suffered from was wind and sun burn. The addition of the closed-cell foam elbow pads was a Godsend!!!! I never had any scratches on my elbows from all of the up, 2,3, down,2,3...  The sleeve pockets are a good size and can be used one-handed with little effort to open the zippers. Sometimes it was a bit tricky to close the zippers one-handed but I think with more wear they will ‘loosen up’ a bit. 

I found a few areas where it could stand some improvements.  After five days, the stitching started coming apart on the upper left sleeve pocket, rendering that pocket useless.  The shirt should be double-stitched throughout to improve wear.  The one thing with Dir-Fire, Under Armour, etc is that because it draws the sweat away from the body, the shirt stays wet and becomes cold. I found that while wearing the armour it was ok but if I took my armour off, I needed to throw my Softie jacket on to keep from getting a chill.  Also, because it draws the sweat from the body, it also keeps the odour in the shirt.  It got quite ripe by the fifth day!!!!!!!!! But in the long run, it’s a minor point.  I think the zippers, stitching and Dri-Fire should all be done in OD Green, this is mainly an aesthetic point, it also lets the wearer maintain a lower profile when not wearing armour!!! It’s always good to not draw attention to yourself and the tan stands out pretty good against a sea of CADPAT (TM). All-in-all, I really liked this shirt and plan and getting a couple more.  As far as I know, Hobey only offers it in CADPAT AR and TM, but I have seen it in MARPAT Desert as well. I’m sure Hobey will make it in any pattern a person asks for.

The other item I tried out is Hobey’s new SoftShell Jacket in CAPDAT.  I was a little unsure at first on how to ‘employ’ this jacket since I was wearing the Direct Action Shirt and that was enough. I ended up putting the jacket on in the morning and the evening when it was still quite cool and windy. This jacket cuts the wind pretty well, I would even go so far as to say it’s windproof.  I didn’t get a chance to test the water-repellency of it as it didn’t really rain while we were there.  It did spit a few times and the jacket was fine.  It fit very nicely over the Direct Action Shirt and I didn’t feel the sleeves bunching or tightening up at all. In fact I didn’t even notice I had two layers on my arms until the sun started coming out.  This jacket is very lightweight and is designed to replace the combat shirt.  Some of the features of this jacket are the mandarin collar with a soft felt-like strip which prevents chafing on the neck, sleeve pockets with a large Velcro patch on both arms, two large chest pockets that are designed to be reached through the body armour, and it’s loose-fitting and windproof.  The jacket also has wristcuffs and a bottom drawstring. I found the wristcuffs held really well and never came apart unlike the 5.11 jackets I have where the wrist cuff strap is always coming apart.


As far as improvements to the jacket, I think all of the zippers, paracord pulls, and wristcuffs should be in OD as well, the jacket should have a name tape and epaulette to help blend in and still be able to be identified. Walking around the camp, people didn’t know what my rank/name was, which in most cases is more than fine, but at the end of the day will just draw unwanted attention.  I have found that if it looks like it’s issued no one will bother you.  As for color selection, I believe Hobey can make it in any pattern you like, just contact him or Paul and they’ll get you sorted out.
I checked out ICE's website, and was really impressed with both this and the BDU top, but when I e-mailed Hobey about ordering some before I deploy, he said that they don't have any clothing in stock, and no plans for production.

Any idea what's up?
Dean, thanks for taking a look at our kit, we’ve sorted the soft shell out and we’re trying to source the appropriate materials. aquasaurus thanks for the kind words about our designs, we try hard to turn out high quality, solidly designed gear.

To answer your question, the reasons we aren’t committing to dates for clothing runs is due to a number of factors. First and foremost among these factors is our focus on manufacture of our core items, in order to meet the needs of our retailers and clients, we have to keep our eye on the products that are the bread and butter of our business plan. Secondly we’re having trouble sourcing some of the fabrics involved in building clothing items. The third reason is due to our not taking any back orders, we don’t want to fall into the previous pattern, where we’d take backorders then with sourcing, timing, and large contract orders, we’d have trouble projecting the time of delivery, and delivery slippage. Finally building clothing requires a ramping up substantially in staff, which we are working towards. We’re working hard to re-establish our reputation and gain the trust of our clients, and maintaining our focus.

It may seem like a bit of a tease to have something like this thread on there while we don’t have production of the items planned, but while we are focusing on our core items, we are still looking forward and designing and innovating with new or revised items. We are listening to this feedback and iterating on our designs, refining our designs so when we do go to production we will have the bugs worked out, allowing us to deliver the best product to you guy possible. If we don’t keep our sights on our core items, while keeping an eye on where we should be going. I’m sure you can see the wisdom of this plan, and our execution of said plan.

I hope this gives you some insight into our plan at this point, and the reasons behind our plan. It may not be the perfect plan, but it’s a plan and that’s a good place to start. If you have any other questions about ICE or products you are more than welcome to contact me directly at Paul@icetactical.com  .



Appreciate the reply (and the prompt e-mail reply to my query), and the honesty about rebuilding reputation and not biting off more than you can chew. I think the DA and BDU tops look like great items (and much needed, given how inappropriate the combat shirt is under armour and tac vest), so if you guys are able to put them back into production, please let us know!