Quite a long time ago, the Russian company Group 99 brought to the market one of the most discussed on specialized forums and websites, a set of military-outdoor clothing — Softshell L5. Without a doubt, it was the division into layers, which has already become almost a reference, that determined such a «simple» name for this costume..
Remarkably enough, the audience of users and potential users of L5 can be divided into 3 categories:
- Those who have it and are satisfied — their reviews can be easily found in the relevant topics on «Hanse» and «yellow», among this category there are those who use this kit directly in «military» conditions.
- Those who have it and are not satisfied are, as a rule, third parties whose statements are transmitted according to the principle of «OBS» and «here I have a friend and he told», however, it is their statements that each time come to the place in order to affect the 3rd category as necessary.
- Those who do not have it, but are potentially interested in acquiring it, seem to be glad to heed the first category, but they cannot ignore all sorts of “acquaintances”, which is generally understandable given the rather high cost of the L5 kit, even in comparison with contract counterparts L5 PCU\ECWCS systems.
Most notably, it is the high price of the suit that is the first to reproach the Group of 99 — everyone would like to purchase their products at the price of ECWCS Gen III L5, and the price is taken from eBay, and never the official ADS supplier. No arguments made at the beginning about the impossibility of such pricing from the manufacturer, especially adjusted for small-scale production, are not taken into account. I myself will not comment on this issue for ethical reasons, since I personally received this costume for free.
In addition to the price, according to the frequency of discussion, the question of “flowing / not flowing” is raised — as a rule, this very question is noted by “acquaintances” and noted in a derogatory context. In addition, there are complaints about the design of this suit and its color scheme.
Taking into account and summarizing all of the above, as a tester of this suit, I will go through all the indicated (except for the price) issues, summing up my (and not only my) experience of wearing the L5 set, based on the impressions received during the last special operation in the North Caucasus region in which I was fortunate to take part. Why happy? I met many interesting people and personally observed the “work” of the most trained and advanced, in terms of equipment and equipment, special forces units of the Russian Federation, and what else is needed for happiness?
As always happens, the order to nominate came suddenly and they gathered on the principle of faster-faster, so everything was missed indiscriminately. Despite the fact that one of my good friends oriented me towards office work and a laptop as an essential, I, as an «old warrior», booted up, if not with everything, then with almost everything. Layers captured everything, although in different combinations, except for the 2nd and 7th due to their obvious inconsistency with the weather conditions, the upcoming business trip. Needless to say, the L5 kit and the T20 backpack went with me on a business trip and it was quite natural that I took them with me to the “special outfit”. In time, we were oriented to 7 days of fields, the weather in the evening was already “scum” — I think the word scum, in relation to the weather, does not need to be explained?
In the morning it was amazingly cold for this time of the year HERE and it was drizzling with fine, fine rain, so I dressed in an old thermal bath as the first layer and already put L5 on top, this option completely protected me from all the negative manifestations of the external environment. It was cold and foggy at the gathering place. Moreover, it was so foggy that the surrounding area was hardly guessed, which made it very difficult to observe during the guarding at stops. Praise the Gods, the “warmthings” of the snipers “pierced the fog” at the minimum safe distance for us, and I strongly doubted that the opposing side had such devices.
While we were driving, the “war” died down and we were taken to the reserve on the VPU, located on a high hill, directly above the city of B. Amazingly, there was no fog on this hill, but it was much colder than under the hill, and it was also raining (rain it was “walking”, not “drizzling”), so I insulated Tactical from ALLOY and changed the L5 jacket to an English membrane jacket. In general, it seems to me that the first reason for dissatisfaction with the waterproof properties of the L5 lies in the banal discrepancy between what you put on yourself and what is on the street.
After a short time, the problem arose of the lack of drinking water in the required quantity and I had to advance to the water intake in the city of B. Considering that two guards were shot at this water intake just a few days ago, I had to advance in combat, and I actually went to escort.
The water intake was a pipe from which a column of water fell vertically under strong pressure — I decided to take a moment and wash my Danners, which looked more like mud clods than shoes, and the pressure of the falling water just made it possible to knock off the adhering dirt (here this is how I look after the Danners — this is a word about the whimsicalness and tenderness of membrane boots, of course, during this barbaric procedure, the boots did not get wet). The spray flew in all directions and quickly wet L5’s pants to the waist. WET, not WET — do you feel the difference?
After I put the boots in relative order, we “rummaged around” a bit in the surrounding area in search of planks that could be laid in and in front of the tents. The territory was a post-apocalyptic picture of the former military unit subjected to a tactical nuclear strike. When we got back to the cars, I noticed that my pants were TOTALLY dry — about 5-7 minutes had passed, no more. By the way, everyone who is with me also noted this.
In short, the suit gets wet quickly, gets wet reluctantly, dries almost instantly. What else do the skeptics want? Thus, I once again declare with full responsibility that the L5 kit from Group 99, in terms of water resistance, will not yield one iota to its competitors from the PCU / ECWCS kits. The kit becomes the base layer at a certain temperature, in my opinion, first of all, it is necessary to try on the criteria of thermal insulation and wind protection, and moisture protection is a desirable and pleasant option that cannot be brought to the level of the membrane in this case. Moreover, the base layer should not perform the function of the main moisture-proof layer from the «hard shell» membrane of the 6th layer. In comparison with the base 5th layer, the 6th layer breathes much worse and is not suitable for moving with a heavy load, because you start to sweat pretty much, no thermal underwear saves, completely wet, like a mouse — only from the inside.
Closer to lunch the next day, we hurriedly relocated directly to the site of the special operation to support the «big brothers» who worked during the day. We, in cooperation with the Special Forces of the explosives, had to occupy “clean” lines for the night, vigilantly watching so that they would remain “clean”. At the time of the training camp, it suddenly became warmer on our mountain (the damn weather surprised me every day) and therefore I moved to the task, having MCCUU MARPAT Woodland pants and a “combat shirt” from the FROG kit as the main set, just in case, I took a “Tactical” jacket with me for warming and a jacket from L5. I could not take more, I only had a T-20 backpack, which has a limited volume. It should be noted that the fighters of the Special Forces of the Armed Forces are quite well equipped and equipped, which almost everyone buys for «their hard-earned money.»
The evening passed in the engineering equipment of the lines occupied, and already at dusk, I was pleased with the left line, informing the station that two sniper pairs from a very serious organization had arrived to support them (understand as you know). Of course, with the dawn, I moved out to the neighbors to get acquainted and “in general”. As it turned out, I was not happy in vain — given the equipment and armament of sniper pairs, possible night visitors would have expected a fatal surprise, without a doubt. What particularly pleased me was that, along with all the other high-tech equipment, three of the four snipers were wearing the L5 suit. Unfortunately, I cannot give a photo of what I saw in support of my words for obvious reasons, so take my word for it.
Of course, I did not miss the opportunity to ask about my impressions of the L5, citing that they are well acquainted with the developer of this kit. The impressions were only positive, the suits have been in operation, according to them, for more than a year. There was a wish to expand the range of colors and make the pants of the insulated set L7 semi-overalls.
Despite the sun, it was noticeably colder and I had to warm up. I must say right away that with the right selection of the “lower” layers, L5 does not cause any discomfort in any wind, so if you have problems with airflow, pay attention to what you are wearing from below, maybe you are just cold.
The next day, the weather worsened completely, I walked «insulated» from morning until evening. Throughout the entire period of the special operation, all available pockets of the jacket (chest pockets were almost always covered with «armor») — lower and sleeve pockets, were stuffed with all sorts of necessary things, which once again confirms my words and the absolute functionality of all L5 pockets.