My acquaintance with the company Gruppa 99 began as far back as in 2011 via twitter. I learned that the company has been manufacturing clothes for active use in harsh weather conditions in early 2012. Gruppa 99 is a quite young Russian company based in Moscow, which in 2011 started manufacturing clothing for the cold seasons. They are manufacturing only two sets of clothes L5 and L7, but we hope that this is just the beginning. American designers who had previously worked in a well-known company Patagonia with 30 years history in the creation of sportswear for tourism and recreation have helped in designing the clothing.
The color of the set is a couple of tones greener from the sandy Coyote, the quality of tailoring is at a high level. The main synthetic material for the jacket and pants is rip-stop polyester with elastin, which is known to give elasticity to the clothing. To increase the water resistance properties the set is additionally covered with a water-repellent impregnation S-DWR (Super Durable Water Repellent Finish), according to the manufacturer of fabric, the covering should not lose more than 20-30% of its water resistance properties after 100 washes. I couldn’t recognize the manufacturer of the plastic fittings; the zippers are from the Japanese brand YKK, the quality of which should not cause doubts. Metal buttons Prym Original 4GB are used for the jacket and pants, which as far as I know are considered among the best on the market.
Let’s examine each element of the L5 set more specifically.
L5 jacket slightly close-fitting, the back part is bit lengthened, the black crank on the bottom help to adjust it to the shape and avoid heaving. There is a hood with peak that is also adjustable. The jacket fastens with a bilateral zipper with windproof valve; due to this the access to the content of the belt is practically unlimited. I will note two very positive aspects, for which I own a special thanks to the manufacturer. First, it has a nylon mounting of plastic tightening, which eliminates the hanging laces during active movements. The second moment is the cuffs; there are no velcro, ties, etc. There is only elastic band which is quite comfortable. The band is quite elastic, and does not squeeze the wrist.
The design of the jacket is provided with six pockets on the zipper, one on each shoulder, two in the abdomen area and two in the chest area. Inside chest pockets there are located two small sections for different small items. The pockets by themselves are quite big, their cut doesn’t allow warming the hands inside, they are created exclusively for carrying things (hats, gloves, knife, various electronic gadgets, etc.). 100% polyester is chosen for the lining of the front pockets. As a sign of good tone for this kind of items, inside the jacket under the sleeves there are two ventilation holes, the purpose of which is already known. Overall, the jacket L5 is quite comfortable, fits well and does not hinder the movements, and is well made. I have not noticed any sticking out threads and poorly sewn places.
L5 pants set are made of the same material and color as the jacket. The pants are equipped with four pockets, two deep inset pockets on the top and two pockets on zipper, which are located at the sides, just above the knee. The holes of the inset pockets are strengthened at the bottom, probably for use of knives or flashlights on a clip. Side pockets are closed with zippers from YKK with windproof valve, at the bottom of the pocket there are two drainage holes.
I like the design of the pants, they sit comfortably; do not hide the movements, the anatomic cut of the knees area only contributes to this. The places of excessive wear, the inside of the ankle area is made of a more dense material. The lower edge of the pants L5 ends with elastic cuffs, the squeezing ratio can be adjusted by the buttons, cuffs provide a good fit to the shoe, thus protecting from getting snow, sand, and grass under the pants.
Soft Shell L5 set was used by me in different situations, as an extra windproof layer during leisure time after an active time spent on the range and as a protective outer layer from the rain and wind during hiking in the woods and jogging on the broken ground . At any situation the clothing coped with the rain and wind, without restricting the movements.
In general, Gruppa 99 L5 Soft Shell set is worth its money, for four months of use there are no material breaks, stretching of the fabric, and no broken zipper or sticking out threads. Full price of the L5 set is $283 ($164 for a jacket and $119 for the pants.) In the next generation of the L5 set I would love to see currently missing patch panels on the shoulders for chevrons, emblem, etc. , the possibility to roll in the hood and hide it in the collar while not used, and a small elastic case on the lace for packing the set. I would also like to find on the market the appearance of the version, which would be lined with a thin fleece for colder months of spring and autumn.