There’s nothing quite like search and rescue work to make you realise the benefits of decent outdoor clothing. You can go from standing in a wet car-park to exploding sweatily up hills and across woodlands, and back to standing still for hours without much of a chance to get changed, so the requirements of gear are to be as adaptable as your body is to these extremes of activity and inactivity. And the TS1 Smock from Snugpak is an effort to make life as comfortable as possible for at least the majority of that experience.
Designed and built for the diverse needs of rescue teams, the TS1 smock is part of their Venture range, and is positioned as a mid-weight between a windproof and an insulator. It provides a degree of warmth, windproofing and moisture management – as well as showerproofing – which means that you have to spend less time putting-on and taking-off other clothing.
The first thing you notice when you put on the TS1 is the arrangement of pockets and velcro on the belly. It feels odd – unlike many other jackets – but makes absolutely perfect sense when you put a backpack on. There’s a large zippered pocket across the whole belly which is plenty big enough for maps, notebooks and the like. And underneath that is a dual pocket for phone and other small items which is secured by a simple, glove-friendly, Velcro strap. The larger of these 2 pockets easily takes my Samsung Note, and the smaller is perfect for an emergency flapjack!
There’s also a D-ring for attaching whatever you don’t want to blow away on the hilltop – compass or torch perhaps – and a large Velcro patch for attaching SAR team badges, or for the more industrious… anything you can apply male Velcro to!
The material of the TS1 is treated with a DWR, so it’s shower resistant. It won’t keep you dry in prolonged rain, but it will do the job if drizzle sets in and you can’t get a waterproof on for a few minutes.
And the Smock adapts to colder weather well, by cinching down the neck and waist with bungees. In fact, the neck is one of the best, simple, adaptable designs I’ve tried. They’ve even kept a little hood pocket in there (no hood) so you can stash a Buff.
The wrists are a more simple elastic affair, but they work well. They have great thumbloops for keeping your knuckles warm. And if your hands do get cold, there’s a muff-style handwarmer pocket (so you can hold hands with yourself) which is zippered if you want to stash a handwarmer in there.
The inner material of the TS1 is a suede-smooth feeling wicking material (called Thermal Suede, or TS) which helps regulate any sweat and feels nice on bare skin. It is quick drying, and can also be worn OVER a waterproof layer to give you the advantage of those pockets still. Yes, it’ll get soaked, but it should dry easily.
The weight of the TS1 Smock is 440g (excluding any team badges), and it packs down in to its own chest pocket to a fairly impressive size. It has 2 D-rings to hang from your pack.
All-in-all, the TS1 Smock is a well thought out piece of kit that would work well for anyone hiking with a backpack. Not just rescuers, but the handy pockets cope well with the demands of any hiker who has a map, compass, phone, gps and flapjack. They even offer a blue version without the SAR connotations if you prefer.