By David Crane
defrev (at) gmail (dot) com
All photos of the Otte Gear Recce Anorak at SHOT Show 2011 contained in this article were shot by DefenseReview.com, and are copyrighted. DefenseReview.com owns the copyright on these photos. The photos and video clips were shot with a Canon PowerShot S90 10-megapixel digital camera (still camera with video capability). All photos of the Otte Gear Recce Anorak outdoors/in the field were taken by Brian Biship of Combative Concepts and Orion Designs.
August 22, 2011
Last updated on 4/29/13.
A tactical clothing/gear company called OTTE Gear out of New Hope, Pennsylvania is making a very interesting high-end tactical/combat anorak called the Recce/Overwatch Anorak that was designed and developed by Brian Bishop, acting CEO of Combative Concepts and President/CEO of Orion Designs, specifically for Otte Gear. Combative Concepts is a tactical training school, including low-light tactical shooting instruction, and Orion Designs is a defense and outdoor equipment design firm. Otte Gear is owned and operated by Todd Fairbairn, whom DR first met several years ago at the company's booth at SHOT Show 2008 in Las Vegas, NV. Mr. Fairbairn came across as a friendly individual and seemed happy to answer our questions about the company's products.
The Otte Gear Recce/Overwatch Anorak is essentially a hooded pullover softshell (also written "soft shell") jacket designed specifically to meet the tactical needs of military snipers and recce operators/assaulters operating in adverse combat environments for extended periods. It's a soft shell jacket because sniper missions necessitate a jacket material/fabric that's warm, breathable, and quiet when you're moving around, repositioning for a better shot, etc. When you're going snipey, snipey on someone, silence is a major virtue, particularly if you end up getting danger-close to your target. A tactical garment designed specifically for the sniper/recce operator role had to be a pullover design because it had to allow the operator to roll around on the ground comfortably (and without chewing up a zipper) and access his rifle mags (magazines) on his body armor. The Recce Anorak incorporates a long horizontal zip-open front cut at approximately solar plexus level to allow the wearer to reach right in there and grab 'em (mags) and speed-reload his weapon during a firefight. The latest version of the Recce Anorak also incorporates two vertical side cuts with zippers that run all the way up to the "pit-zips" for extra ventilation and easy on/off. Defense Review has been informed recently that Otte Gear is currently developing a tighter-fitting pure tactical assaulter/operator-version Anorak without the hood and ghillie platform features.
The Overwatch Anorak incorporates a nifty ghillie platform/matrix on the rear of the hood and upper back area made from shock cord, but Defense Review has been told that this aspect will be made from flat cord in the future. It's DR's understanding that the anorak's soft shell fabric is made from Tweave stretch-woven fabric with Schoeller NanoSphere (also written "Nano-Sphere") waterproof/self-cleaning fabric treatment/coating technology, which causes water to bead on the surface and roll right off via the "lotus effect". This is an example of biomimicry or biomimetic design. In this case, NanoSphere incorporates man-made micro-bumps (or nano-bumps) that mimic the naturally-occuring micro-bumps found on the lotus leaf. The OTTE Gear Recce Anorak's NanoSphere-coated Tweave "stretching technology" softshell material might not keep you as dry as long a hardshell (also written "hard shell") fabric/material like the eVent waterproof fabric used on the Triple Aught Design (TAD Gear) Raptor tactical hard shell jacket, for example, but the tactical Anorak should breathe even better and be quieter in the field.
DR doesn't know whether or not the Recce Anorak utilizes X-STATIC silver fiber tech, which is an anti-odor/antimicrobial fabric technology developed by Noble Biomaterials, or Tetratex PTFE membrane fabric tech, which is manufactured by Donaldson Filtration Solutions. X-STATIC also is supposed to help with a fabric's thermal regulation.
As you can see from in the photos, the Otte Gear Recce Anorak comes in Crye MultiCam multi-environment/multi-terrain tactical/combat camo pattern (tactical/combat camouflage pattern), which Defense Review likes and uses on our Hardpoint Maniple-I Tactical Armor Carrier (TAC) tactical body armor plate carrier system/tactical vest.
DefenseReview may wear the Recce/Overwatch Anorak when we eventually test fire the Micor Defense Leader 50 .50 BMG sniper rifle/anti-materiel rifle at the range, hopefully sometime before SHOT. Show 2012. We'll see.
Mr. Bishop is supposed to be sending us some video footage of himself wearing/using the Otte Gear Recce Anorak tactical/combat hoodie for snipers and recce operators at the range, soon. In the meantime, DefenseReview conducted the following email interview with Mr. Bishop on the unique combat/tactical garment:
David Crane: Someone named Brian worked on it (Recce/Overwatch Anorak), right? What's his background, and how did he hook up with Otte?
Brian Bishop: My name is Brian Bishop, I served with the United States Marine Corps for 8 years, after being honorably discharged in 2005, I worked as a defense Contractor for 5 years in Afghanistan. I am currently partnered with Dave Maynard and I am the acting CEO of Combative Concepts, a tactical training firm. I have also recently started Orion Designs a defense and outdoor equipment design firm. My association with Todd started when we met at shot show in 2008. I had just returned the month prior from Afghanistan. I was walking the show and spotted his booth, I was impressed with his Alpine system in MultiCam so we struck up a conversation. The thing that really struck a cord with me was how cool and down to earth he was, and the most important thing was how open to new design ideas he was. A lot of companies in this industry are very arrogant about their designs and are very sensitive about design input from outsiders, or they want to sit around and wait for a "Requirement" meaning they want the government to tell them what to build. I always laugh at that model because most times requirements are written by guys with little or no time in the field. Some companies let their egos get in the way and take design improvements as a personal attack. So it was really refreshing to talk to Todd he had a great attitude about design innovation and I knew right then he was a guy I wanted to work with, he is a great guy, and industry partner and without him and the Otte Gear team this would have never happened.
Bishop: It was my Idea and my design, I have spent a fair share of my time sitting on the sides of a mountains freezing my ass off, whether it was Afghanistan or the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming. That's essentially where the the idea started taking shape. During my operational experiences in Afghanistan at high elevations weather can move in on you fast and be very unforgiving. If you stop for a long security halt or stop to set up an OP and the weather moves in while you are static there are really no good choices. First you can pull out your outerwear and put it on over your kit, but then if you have a chance contact with the enemy you can't access mission essential gear, IE- magazines, blowout kit, tourniquet, frags, or radio. Secondly you can take your kit off, and put on your cold weather gear and put your kit on over the top, which isn't good either, because god help you if you have a contact with your kit off, and if you have to break contact and run for it you'll over heat real fast. So this idea came about to help solve that problem. The Anorak is cut with long pit zips, a long collar zip and a reach through kangaroo pocket. This helps ventilate body heat well and still allows for you to access mission essential equipment.
Bishop: Well no requirements…I have grown to hate that word..LOL, the 3 biggest things I look for in any piece of gear are durability, functionality, and versatility with the latter two traits usually going hand in hand. Always keeping these at the forefront of the design process I set out to make this anorak as versatile as possible. So I tried to incorporate as many usable features as possible. First, if you're in a sniper role chances are between your weapon system or systems, and ammunition, and radios, and spotting equipment, you are already carrying a disgusting amount of weight. A ghille suit is just extra weight you don't need especially if all that jute or burlap gets wet. I have always been a huge believer in natural garnish on a platform. Nothing conceals you better than the real thing. That being said we incorporated a ghille platform made from shock cord on the shoulders and hood. We also cut thumbholes in the sleeves to prevent your sleeves from riding up if you are low crawling. Lastly we added forearm pockets with a built in plastic document holders for you're GRG, COI, TDC, dope card etc.
Bishop: No the Jacket hasn't been fielded yet, but we will have samples in Afghanistan being fielded by SOF units this summer.
Crane: What's the operator feedback on it, so far? Have they requested any mods or improvements? Are there any points of failure?
Bishop: We solicited feed back from the SOF community and received some great input, the only real change they asked for was for the anorak to split up both sides, instead of just the right side. After some testing I conducted, I discussed it with OTTE gear and we are making the Kangaroo pocket 2 inches wider, we are going to go with just one forearm pocket and modifying it by adding a velcro tear away document holder. We are also changing the ghille platform to a flat shock cord instead of round. In terms of failure points we haven't found any yet.
Bishop: No, there is no report yet.
Crane: Is it for all types of spec-operators, or just snipers?
Bishop: It was primarily designed for the Sniper and Recce operator. However we received such a huge amount of operator interest at shot show we are going to have two versions a recce/sniper and an assaulter version. The assaulter version will have no hood and no ghille platform.
Crane: Why a pullover design and not a zip-front jacket style?
Bishop: Two reasons, firstly in a sniper or recce roll you spend a good amount of time prone and I didn't want the zipper getting chewed up and failing or creating discomfort while stalking or lying in the rocks. Secondly I wanted the garment to provide as much protection from the environment as possible but still allow the end user access to their magazines, there was no way to accomplish that with a front zip.
Bishop: It is a soft shell, as I stated earlier it was primarily designed for sniping and recce work, hard shell garments although they offer great weather protection are very noisy and don't breathe well which means they don't offer the functionality required for the intended task.
Crane: What fabrics does the anorak utilize, and how much does it cost?
Bishop: The recce anorak is constructed in tweave dura stretch with a Nanosphere coating. The final price point hasn't been fixed yet but will be close to the $500.00 mark.
Crane: Is a non-U.S.-made/non-Berry-compliant version (i.e., a less-expensive version) available?
Bishop: No, not this time.
Crane: Does Arc'teryx [Arc'teryx LEAF] or another company have a competing product that can accomplish the same thing?
Bishop: As to my knowledge at this time no, there is no competing garment but by shot show 2012 I fully expect to see one of our competitors trying to build something similar. That being said Orion Designs have big plans and some more game changers in the works…stay tuned, more to follow!!
Soldier Systems has a short piece with video on the Recce Anorak from SHOT Show 2011.
Company Contact Info:
Brian Bishop – CEO
Combative Concepts LLC
Hardpoint Equipment (formerly Personal Protective Systems, or P2 Systems)
315 W Dalton Ave. #123
Coeur d'Alene, ID 83815
Schoeller USA Inc.
621 Fifth Avenue North, Suite B
USA – Seattle WA, 98109
Schoeller Technologies AG
Phone: +41 81 786 09 50
Fax: +41 81 786 09 51
Email Info: info(at)schoeller-tech.com
Email Marketing: firstname.lastname@example.org
Email PR: email@example.com
Noble Biomaterials, Inc. (X-Static Silver Fiber Technology)
300 Palm Street
Scranton, PA 18505 USA
Toll Free: +1 (877) 978-2842 (877-X-STATIC)
Tel: + 1 (570) 955-1800
Fax: + 1 (570) 955-1801
Website 1: http://www.noblebiomaterials.com
Website 2: http://www.x-staticfiber.com
Donaldson Filtration Solutions (Tetratex Fabric Technology)
BHA Group, Inc. (eVent Fabrics)
8800 East 63rd Street
Kansas City, Missouri 64133 USA
Toll Free: 800.391.0696
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