Third time’s a charm as they say, and so far First Tactical has had two products reviewed, both of which hit all the right marks. This time, we’re looking at the First Tactical Tactix System Parka available in black or midnight blue, which as already mentioned, combines with the Softshell jacket as an inner.
The parka construction consists of 100% nylon, giving it a variety of inherent properties such as a high level of durability, strong resistance to abrasion and the key fact that it melts at 256 degrees Celsius rather than burning. Weighing in at 947 grams, give or take, making it sufficient to provide a decent level of protection in terms of warmth, wind, etc, without being overly burdening.
It’s supported with the standard First Tactical choice of YKK zippers and Prym snaps for that greater level of robustness, ensuring that the risk of mechanical failure is reduced to almost nil.
The parka also follows the modus operandi of First Tactical in that it’s functional to the extreme, with a myriad of features and storage opportunities.
The first feature is the hood, designed with three points of adjustment. These elastic straps , consisting of one going from ear to ear, one at the back of the head and one at the top of the head, can be adjusted and secured in place with spring clips, letting you shape the hood as you need. There’s also a flexible gutter at the front that you can adjust to move the runoff of water away from the face. It’s also detachable, held in place with Prym snaps and a back YKK zipper which is covered over by a Velcro section of material. The level of engineering in the hood alone suggests the high standards are being maintained with this parka.
Front hood, showing side toggles and zip for affixing to parka Hood rear, showing back toggles
The main body of the park holds eight sizable pockets. Two on the pectorals, both vertical and horizontal, and two at the waist, again vertical and horizontal. Both horizontal pockets at the pecs have ID flaps that can be pulled out to display whatever you’ve had marked or stitched onto them. Personally, I would have preferred if these were Velcro sheets so I could just stick a patch onto them.
Every pocket zipper has an external protective lining that means the zip is concealed from the elements, ensuring a dry interior. I’ll be honest, there are so many pockets outside, never mind the one inside and two other back sections, which at times meant I struggled to remember what was where! That’ll resolve itself with time and muscle memory though. There’s sufficient space to carry all the documents and supporting material I need on a patrol, as well as extensive space in the back of the jacket where there are two other panels the width of the jacket. I’m guessing these are potentially for back armour panels, but they work just as well as document and material storage.
Front showing ID panel from top pocket Rear showing ID panel out from top storage
The top back storage panel also has another ID pull out section the same as the front. These ensure you won’t be mistaken in a busy scenario, but again, a Velcro pull-out would have been preferred. The bottom back panel also has a port at either side, fully weather proofed, that you can feed a cable out of to allow you to put a mic up to the mic loops above the top pockets on the front.
Under the arms, we have the same setup as the Softshell – zips which run up the side of the torso to about the back of the elbow, giving you full access to any harness or holster inside. Again, the bottom of the jacket when the zip is up, is held together by Prym snaps, meaning it won’t flap about like a Batman cape. As with the Softshell, when things started getting interesting, the zips went up and I used it as pockets, meaning my hands were on my rig at all times, and I was able to draw handcuffs out from the left without any issues, even whilst having to release their holding strap on the harness.
Inside, we’ve got a soft, felt lined collar which gives that bit of comfort and warmth, with an inner vertical pocket on the left, with another port for cabling. There’s also an ID tag on the outside of the pocket just in case your colleagues are the light fingered type!
Worn with the Softshell set up as the inner, the jacket provides an excellent level of all round comfort and protection without being too cumbersome. It’s easy enough to remove or fit on the Softshell, and even on its own the park is more than sufficient. I frequently wore the parka with just a t-shirt on underneath, and even in chucking rain and cold weather, it was never uncomfortable.
Image courtesy of First Tactical
The one thing I’d highlight with the parka more than the softshell, is that I wouldn’t class this as suitable for covert work, simply because it screams Police. For the purposes I was using it for though, it was ideal for letting me get close enough without being spotted straight away as I would be in hi-vis.
So, what have we got? A highly engineering parka that goes well above and beyond what you might expect of it. The catch of course, is the price tag. At £229.95, it’s a stiff price to pay for a parka but it’s important to remember that this gets you the Softshell jacket which is an excellent standalone jacket in its own right. So taking that into account means the parka costs £120, which is still high for a parka, but it’s one that’s not going to let you down.
I also noted that the parka, when bought from First Tactical’s UK online store, works out cheaper than if you’re in the US buying it from the US store, which is bizarre as it needs to be imported to the UK. So we’re actually getting a fair deal for once on imported US clothing!
I’ve just realised I’ve hit over 1,000 words talking about a parka… Some might consider that extreme, but as with all the First Tactical kit we’ve looked at so far, it doesn’t do it justice to say “It’s just a parka” and it’s important to point out the key features and strengths.
First Tactical is rapidly taking over top spot for my everyday tactical work wear supplier, it’s already borne itself out in numerous incidents in work. As I see it, First Tactical clothing takes the wear without showing the tear. You get what you pay for, and with First Tactical, you get quality, strength and reliability.