PCU Level 6 Patagonia Torrentshell - First Impressions

In an effort to save a bit of money on transportation costs, AND to up my physical activity, I purchased a bicycle last spring. I had long been in the market for a waterproof hardshell, but it quickly became apparent that being outside everyday was going to require an accelerated purchase date.

The restrictive price of Goretex and, at the time, my lack of full-time employment really limited my choices. I had my eye on a few options, even though some were obviously way out of my price range: the ORC Industries level 6 jacket, Triple Aught Design Spectre Hardshell, Beyond Tactical Ridgeback, and Arc'teryx Alpha. Unfortunately the majority of these jackets were in the $500 range, and while the ORC hardshell was sub $100, my friends who have it all complain that its breathability is non-existent and it was waterproof only until you rubbed up against something.

PCU Buyer's Guide

If you are looking for a piece from the Protective Combat Uniform (PCU) system, this list is for you. I’ve included items that were part of the prototype phase (Block 0), all the way up to what is currently available commercially. Some items are not available anymore, but for completeness I’ve decided to keep them on the list for reference because they pop up on eBay from time to time. ReadyOne produces PCU, but unfortunately they do not sell to the public.

If you are interested in a background on PCU and a short history, please follow this link!

If you feel I've missed anything please comment below, and I'll be sure to update this list.

G-Shock DW-6600 Review

One of the things you should never have to think about before jumping in a lake or doing an aggressive bushwhacking adventure is whether or not your watch is going to fill with water or get caught on something and fall off. The G-Shock DW-6600 by Casio is a watch that hasn't let me down since I got it over two years ago.

I have a few other watches that have their place, for instance social or formal situations, but even though they are waterproof, I would never bring them camping or use them for sports. One has a strap made of nylon webbing, which absorbs sweat faster than a frat boy can chug a pint. At my desk one day, I was trying to pinpoint the source of a certain unnatural stench, only to discover in horror that it was my watch band. The other watch I have is metal, and has fairly sharp corners. I worry that if I fall suddenly and brace myself with my hand, I might gouge a hole in my wrist.

Steps Inc. PCU level 3 Fleece - First Impressions

I finally got my hands on the Steps Inc. Block 0 Half-zip pullover, PCU level 3 fleece (wow that was a mouthfull) over the holidays and am very impressed with it already. This is designed to be a mid layer for use in extreme cold during vigorous activity. If you are going to be static or taking it easy, it can be worn during mild days, or layered with a hard/softshell.

One of the things I noticed right off the bat was that the Polartec Thermal Pro fabric is really soft. My daughter immediately jumped on me and started nuzzling, and told me I was like a big teddy bear. She was right: it does feel similar to some of her stuffed animals. It will be interesting to see how soft it stays after a number of runs through the wash.

ITS Tactical Coiled Lanyard

I took a stab at the ITS Tactical coiled paracord lanyard over the Christmas holiday. I had actually tried this twice before with varying success.

On the first attempt, I used a regular-sized key coil, and no matter how hard I tried I couldn't get the paracord past the metal crimp. The second time through, I used a much thinner coil, but over time it really stretched out. I did not have any shrink tubing at the time, and I didn't burn the end of the paracord, so it didn't take long for it to turn into a frayed mess. Over the holiday, though, I figured I'd have some time to take another shot at the project.