Rivers West Clothing
The Rivers West Ranger Jacket and Trousers
September 2010 saw the arrival of two Ranger suits (jacket and trousers) from Rivers West.
One was purchased by WMS and the other provided by the importers as they were keen to know how the kit would cope with the WMS working environment.
Instructors at WMS spend a lot of time standing totally exposed in the rain, wind, horizontal sleet and snow that marked much of the winter of 2010-2011. We didn’t lose a single range day to the weather. Some were postponed but every day when clients arrived we shot, learned, had fun and got through the day.
They say “A little suffering is good for the soul!”
When not standing, instructors are often lying down on the wet ground, with gravel, moss, rushes and heather making for a variety of comfort levels. Elbows and knees take a bashing and these are areas where weaknesses often show up in clothing.
Pockets are stuffed with ammo, range finders, wind meters, more ammo, tissues for the scopes and more. Hoods must accommodate ear muffs. In the midst of it all, then the sun comes out and ventilation must be available to cool down and prevent excess sweat and moisture loss.
How did the Rivers West kit do? Here it is:
Wind proof:Very, with little to no wind chill penetrating the fleece and vapour barrier sandwich. The cuffs, collar and hood all fit well and prevent draughts.
Water proof:Very, the material appears totally water resistance and does not absorb much so remains light and flexible, pockets, neck, hood, cuffs, collars all fit well and tissue in pockets stayed dry when the outer material was soaked on the surface. The knees and elbows still seem water resistant after a lot of abuse.
The only areas where water does get in, especially when standing upright and side on to the wind and rain are the under arms zippers and crutch zippers for ventilation. When fully done up, some water does run down to the bottoms of the vents and can be felt around the elbows and boxer shorts as wet chill. When wearing cotton underneath this is a chill issue. If wearing fleece or the excellent merino base layer Rivers West sell, the wet is apparent but not the chill.
I personally need the vents as when walking, hunting and servicing targets the exercise makes me hot and vents are needed.
Movement:The cut of the trousers and jacket allow for good and free movement in all normal activities.
Rifle shooting:The material allows for free and quiet movement through undergrowth and cover and does not russle when manouvering. The shoulders have a sling patch which helps to keep the sling on ones shoulder. Pockets are ample for stuff.
Colour and cammo: We have both the standard dull green outfit and the cammo versions. Both blend well with ambient country colour. As range officers we need to wear yellow tabards to stand out. The disruptive cammo pattern is excellent for wildfowling, pigeon shooting and foxing where quarry vision is excellent. In deer stalking, cammo is less important but covering white hands and faces is vital, as are slow movements and freezing while being observed by deer.
Washing: Confession, I have yet to machine wash the gear! Rain seems to wash the mud off and out, it does not smell too bad (well, blokes don’t think so) so it is hung up for the next time. The washing instructions are clear and apparently tumble drying enhances the natural water run off of the surface fleece. Watch this space!
Snow, ice and minus 18c:two months with 2-3 foot of snow on the ground, freezing temperatures, wind chills of down to minus 25c and blizzards again proved the worth of the gear. With the hood drawn down, decent gloves, boots and the Rivers West Ranger suits, we soldiered on. One observation is that snow tends to stick to the fleece as does some ice, making one look like a snow man on occasions. On one hand, this adds a little weight, on the other, it is great snow camouflage and self regulating! No cold soaked through to the inside.
Seasons:I consider the suits to be 2 – 3 season gear. The material is quite warm in weather over 15c and in the late spring and summer I opt for cotton and fleece layers with a thin outer gortex shell layer and / or poncho if it is lashing down. Autumn, winter and early spring is the time for serious kit like this. Nomad clothing is similar with me only using it below 10c as it is even hotter.
September to May I wore this kit most days on the range and have fired over 5000 rounds while wearing the jacket and / or trouser. It has stood up really well. All zips are fine, all seams good and elbows and knees a bit polished but working fine.
River West Ranger Suits: Passed 1000 + rounds down and WMS approved!