Category: Equipment

Reptile House – Cierzo Shirt Review

https://thereptilehouseblog.com/2019/03/24/the-redback-company-cierzo-wind-shirt-review/

The Redback Company Cierzo Wind Shirt Review

Introduction

At the end of January, I received a Cierzo Shirt for review from The Redback Company. It was a nice surprise and because it was gifted to me, it meant I could really put it through its paces before reporting back.

It arrived packed down, in its own little bag – and this is how I’ve carried it around as an emergency layer (after removing the brand tag).

Around the time the Cierzo arrived I published a primer on the subject, in the form of an interview with Ben O’Toole – The Redback Company’s CEO. I’ll be referring to it in part here, but it’s well worth a read as a standalone piece.

Amazingly, given its price, the Cierzo shirt is made in the UK by the company responsible for procuring silk for parachutes during WW2. This is a delicious irony, given the item’s history – which you can read more about in the primer.

The Fit

First, let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way. The shirt is not a flattering fit.

The item is bat wing shaped and oversized. It’s a smock, so the design has to allow the shirt to be doffed and donned over the head.

This voluminous nature also allows it to be worn over layers of various degrees. In addition, it means size differentiation is kept to a minimum – which presumably keeps costs low.

As far as sizing is concerned, it’s ‘two sizes fit all’ – standard and long. Mine is “S” for standard. I’m 5’11” with a 42″ chest and there’s bags of room.

Speaking of keeping costs low, the price point is extremely reasonable. The shirt was £39.95 at time of writing. Compare this to my £140 Arc’teryx Nodin, which does exactly the same job. A £40 wind shirt is a consumable. A £140 one is not.

So that’s £100 extra for the more engineered Arc’teryx article, which I’d be afraid to wear in woodland for fear of damaging it. That said, the Nodin is a smart enough fit to wear for work and urban EDC; the Cierzo isn’t.

And nor was it designed to be.

Fabric

The fabric is a super light, 100% polyester with a ripstop weave. It’s highly packable and tougher than it has an right to be (it’s used in the manufacture of parachutes) though it’s not indestructible.

It’s also fairly windproof, but breathes extremely well (something a goretex shell does not do well, regardless of marketing). The breathability means the Cierzo excels when worn during vigorous activity.

The fabric is slightly water resistant, but this can be improved using a hydrophobic DWR (durable water repellant). The Redback Company recommends Nikwax. However, it’ll never be as water resistant as a shell so don’t expect miracles. Having said that, when it does wet out it dries extremely quickly from body heat when shelter is found.

Needless to say, it dries fast after washing too.

Construction

The Cierzo – though simple – is well made, with high quality stitching throughout.

It’s a real testament to The Redback Company’s ability to partner with high quality U.K. manufacturing; and to the manufacturer itself, for turning out such excellent construction. You don’t see it that often and certainly not at this price point.

Features

The Cierzo is a hooded smock. The large hood is most useful for keeping off light precipitation. It’s not practicable for very windy conditions – having no cord to bind it to your face – but it is fine in a light breeze; or if you need that extra bit of warmth.

The cuffs are elasticated and this is a useful feature. Not just to keep the elements out, but so that the sleeves can be pushed up your arms and stay put. This is great for washing items or collecting water from streams; and also for heat management.

Needless to say, in order for this to work the sleeves have to be voluminous – which they are.

The sleeves are also overlong, which means that in conjunction with the elasticated cuffs they don’t ride up when climbing.

As much as I love the Cierzo overall, I have a poor relationship with elasticated hems. This is because I find them uncomfortable to wear.

They also have a nasty habit of riding up. The Cierzo’s additional volume prevents the latter – so regardless of your activity, the elasticised hem stays where you put it.

The hem staying put is actually really useful if you have to visit the ‘restroom’ outdoors while wearing the shirt. Pull the Cierzo up around your waist – where it will stay – and you’ll have no worries.

Having said that, on balance I’d much prefer an open hem. Granted, open hems don’t keep the wind out; but really, if it was that windy, I’d want to be wearing a goretex shell to absolutely block the wind.

One thing The Redback Company could look at instead, is a simple drawcord hem.

Performance

In the primer, Ben claimed the following about the Cierzo and it’s what I sought to test:

The garment is meant to be used as a windproof outer layer or as an intermediate layer. They can even be worn under a damp outer layer while it dries out. Cierzo Shirts punch well above their weight in terms of the warmth they offer, especially in windy conditions and mountainous terrain.

I can confirm that it’s all true.

Its incredible just how much warmer you feel with the Cierzo layered over a fleece, but the combination remains breathable. Because the shirt’s fabric is super light, I did also wear it underneath a fleece to protect the shirt from damage. Again, it’s a useful combination.

One time while wearing a shell in a deluge, it completely saturated. Taking shelter I assuaged the discomfort of precipitation wicking into my mid layer, by inserting the Cierzo between shell and mid. Once the rain had abated, I set out again feeling much more comfortable. The combination also allowed my shell to dry out through body heat.

Conclusion

Much as the price seems like a no brainer for a cool looking night camo layer aimed at outdoor pursuits, the real bonus is that the Cierzo shirt actually works as anticipated. Having owned a number of wind shirts over the years, I knew the theory was sound – but it needed to be tested.

I said earlier that the Cierzo isn’t smart enough for work or EDC. With use, I found that’s not entirely true. As an emergency layer, I found that I didn’t give a shit what it looked like if it was the difference between staying relatively warm and dry or discomfort.

Over the last two months it’s been in my work bag every day. Packed down, it’s so small as to be unnoticeable unless needed.

If it’s not an emergency it’s probably one for the woods, however.

Reptile House – Cierzo Wind Shirt Primer

Cierzo Wind Shirt Primer with The Redback Company’s MD Ben O’Toole

Ben O’Toole is Managing Director of The Redback Company. He’s a British Army Veteran, who has also worked in the private security and crisis management sector. In addition to this impressive vocational portfolio, Ben is an Explorer Scout Leader.

I reviewed The Redback Company’s impressive Timmy Hat in November 2018 and it has become a firm favourite of mine. I’m not the only one to hold this view. Everyone I know who has bought a Timmy Hat has been blown away by it.

This week I received a Cierzo Shirt for review – with no strings attached. Strings are a red line for me, so I was glad to learn that The Redback Company is so confident in its products that I can write what the hell I like. Anything less and I don’t accept the product.

That said I really wasn’t expecting it, so it was a nice surprise and greatly appreciated. I’ll be assessing it in due course, but until then this article offers some background.

The Cierzo Shirt is The Redback Company’s signature product. It’s a simple and practical garment which is designed to do a job. Its namesake is a strong, dry and usually cold wind – similar to the terms Mistral and Bora.

Ben has sublimated a lifetime’s experience and passion for the outdoors into this product, so I knew there was a story to tell…

Ben – welcome to the blog and thanks for taking time out to explain the Cierzo’s story!

Tell me about the item’s history.

Cierzo Shirts have a nerdily interesting history. The first mention of them we have found was as garments made by SAS Troopers from their parachutes after they had dropped into France prior to D-Day.

They were a UKSF and Airborne Forces staple all throughout the BCE (Before Crye Existed) era, falling out of fashion during the GWOT. During the BCE days they were known as Zoot Suits and were all home-made, usually from artillery illumination parachutes because they weren’t re-usable like jump and cargo parachutes.

We resurrected them and bought them up to date with modern fabric, a few design tweaks and modern construction techniques. The original pattern we updated was made from a Zoot Suit I have that I’ve had for about 20 years.

What’s the Cierzo’s purpose?

The garment is meant to be used as a windproof outer layer or as an intermediate layer. They can even be worn under a damp outer layer while it dries out. Cierzo Shirts punch well above their weight in terms of the warmth they offer, especially in windy conditions and mountainous terrain.

Where are the shirts made?

Our Cierzo Shirts are manufactured in the UK by the company responsible for procuring silk for parachutes during WW2, which is a rather neat connection we think!

Tell me about the colourways.

So, when we launched at the end of 2018 we had two colourways. A camo and a solid colour. Multicam and Khaki. We made an effort to get as much feedback as we could, which is why we also altered the pattern slightly and created the Long size. The feedback was that people would prefer something darker in the solid colour, hence why we have the Earth-Tone.

We went with the night camo for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s cool. It’s camo without screaming wannabe operator. It transcends tactical and outdoor gear; and also slips into fashion. Just look at Adidas’ latest range in duckhunter…

Secondly, when we did the Timmy Hats in that camo they flew out the door as soon as we released them. We also had significant pre-sales. To add to that, a friend of the brand asked us to make him up a Cierzo out of some genuine issue Night Camo fabric he’d acquired from somewhere or other. When we put a picture up on our social media we got bombed with requests for Cierzos in night camo.

We do a multi-terrain camo which is multicamish… It’s listed in the website under the “Military” tab. We’ve separated it out for marketing reasons. Outdoor retailers can be put off by anything too “military” in a product line. That’s why SnugPak et al list their camo stuff separately. Our ultimate goal is to sell through selected retailers rather than just our own online sales.

We deliberately don’t use genuine multicam. Frankly it is just too expensive to be economical, and the fabric we use would have to be a special order with a frighteningly big minimum order quantity. Given that there a large variety of multi-terrain patterns around the world we used a commercial pattern that will fit with the vast majority of them. The Cierzo not is intended as a combat outer layer, so there is no real gain to be had from using multicam other than as a marketing piece.

I have always felt that a lot of what is on offer is grossly over priced given the low production cost, especially with regards to the volume the big brands are manufacturing. I would rather offer the customer something of high quality at a fair price. Even with UK manufacture.

Many thanks Ben!

Noble & Blue – Timmy Hat & Cierzo Shirt Review

https://nobleandblue.wordpress.com/portfolio/the-redback-company-timmy-hat-and-cierzo-shirt/

The Redback Company – Timmy Hat and Cierzo Shirt

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Intro

It was not long ago when this new little company popped on our radar through social media, but they immediately caught my attention quite fully for one simple reason: cool-ass camo patterns! The very first Redback Company product I noticed was the Timmy Hat, a baseball style cap with one of the coolest camos out there: the Rhodesian Brushstroke.

So needless to say I jumped to the chance to get one and little did I know, one hat turned quickly into two, a shirt and a new friendship!

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The Company

The Redback Company is a small veteran owned British outfit. Their goal is to produce gear fit for all outdoors adventures. Ben O’Toole, the manager of the RBC, is a veteran of the army himself and he also leads a Redback Explorer Scout unit in Kent UK, and that is where the company gets its name from.

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Even though their products have a very distinct look, their main aim is in performance and their inspirations come from vast scout experience, military background and history too. They have quickly become known for their choice of rare camouflage patterns and interesting functional appearing designs.

To my knowledge, the RBC does not manufacture their products themselves, but hand pick manufacturers from elsewhere to bring their designs to life and they maintain an iron grip on the quality control. They have had a few very cool products in the making that have been scrapped in the end due to technical or manufacturing reasons.

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They are steadily expanding too, and I have heard from the owner that there are lots of interesting things in the works, of which I will tell a bit more in the end of this review. The Redback Company are definitely worth keeping an eye out for!

The Products

This review will be a bit different, as I am going to review two products from the RBC rather than just one. Because both of their current flagship products are quite simple and so reviewing them separately would result in very short reading, yet still very significant so they definitely deserve to be reviewed!

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The Timmy Hat

Misleading First Impressions

So I am starting off with the Timmy Hat. The original Timmy Hat was the first Redback Company product I had the pleasure to own. I ordered one and it was promptly shipped out to Finland with no hassle.

noble and blue the timmy hat

The fabric is mostly polyester, with some cotton mixed in the front two panels and the sweat band is cotton through and through. The Price for a Timmy Hat is £19.95.

The hat is really light and this might give off a somewhat flimsy first impression. But it quickly comes apparent that the polyester mesh and all amount to an extremely comfortable cap! Dare I even say the most comfortable cap I have ever worn?

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Soooo Comfortable

And to me that is the main thing about the Timmy Hat and also where the material choices really make sense. The hat is incredibly comfortable! Rarely a cap feels so good on your head from the box.

When I got the hat we had record breaking heatwave washing over Finland. The mesh back is phenomenal in keeping your head cool and protected at the same time! The sweat band absorbs well the moisture from your brow and wicks it nicely off to the light outer construction of the cap.

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The front panels are a bit prone to creasing due to the structuring on it. This is something that the very first batch of Timmy hats have, but they have changed in the newer versions of the hat in both Day and Night Camo variants. I have heard that they still have some of the first batch caps in stock, so if you would like to get a soon to be “limited edition” hat, now is your chance!

The light construction excels under ear protection, so the Timmy is a perfect pick for range days. Also the sweat wicking properties make it a great hat for hiking and outdoors activities.

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Picking mushrooms in the Timmy Hat

The Look

The next best thing about the Timmy Hat is the look. The front panels are solid coloured with the “Timmy” the Redback spider embroidered in the left hand side. And the rest of it is covered in camo fabric. The “Day Camo” is the based on (or rather: really is) Rhodesian Brushtroke camo, which is a quite rare one and especially appreciated by camo nerds like myself. Due to the rareness, I think the Timmy Hat is not played out of the “civvie” scene despite looking so military.

And that same goes to the second version of the Timmy Hat. The Night Camo is indeed modelled after the legendary US Deser Night Camouflage designed in 1976 for the Gulf War. For some strange reason, I absolutely adore this camo and I just absolutely needed one ASAP they released it. And because the pattern really does not look as military as more common camo patterns, it is a good hat for the summer streets too.

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Conclusion

All in all the Timmy Hat is extremely comfortable and incredibly lightweight. Despite it’s flimsy first appearance it is my one of my definite favourites amongst all of my caps. I love both of the camo patterns and the fact that both of my hats are limited editions.

As I stated above, my Day Camo hat is of the first batch with the structured front panels. I actually somewhat prefer the structured version, but I do understand why they changed it. And my Night Camo Timmy is of a very limited edition, because there are only two like it and ones mine and one belongs to Blue! The man himself, Ben, sew by hand Finnish flags to our cap’s sides! Now if that is not awesome, I do not know what is!

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The Cierzo Shirt

A Tipping of the Hat

The Cierzo shirt is the first product to come from TRBC and it has both well thought out purpose and a ancestor in the history of British armed forces. It is a true tip of the hat to the starting of the Special Air Service, who used to make shirts from their parachutes and wear them on the battle field, especially in France.

I have a very special and great book from the first Chaplain of the SAS, rev. Fraser McLuskey, called “Parachute Padre”, that mentions these parachute shirts in many occasions. I will update this review with a quote as soon as I can find the book, but in the mean time you can imagine this: a SAS trooper driving in the lush forests of France in his sand beret and white billowy parachute shirt, firing the twin Vickers machine guns bolted on the Jeep at the German patrol they have just ambushed, laughing in the face of danger! It does not get more badass than that.

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I think there even was a special edition of the Cierzo done from an actual parachute for an early GAW of The Redback Company! But the production versions are a bit updated versions of the original design, as I describe in the part below.

The Shirt

The Cierzo Shirt is an ultra lightweight windproof layer. This modern version of the parachute shirts are made of 30D ripstop nylon, with reinforced seams for strength and the standard version weights incredibly only 150g! It also packs down to a considerably small size,  the RBC website has a picture of the bundled up shirt next to a drinks can and it is practically same sized.

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My own comparison between a CAT Tourniquet and the Cierzo Shirt

The shirt has a hood without any drawcords and a small separate bag that you can stuff it in. At the moment they offer it in Earth-Tone, which is a kind of dark earth or dark tan by the looks of it, and in the same Night Camo as the Timmy Hat. They also have had a Camo variant, that was close to Multicam, but it is under the Military tab. Mine is Khaki, a discontinued colour because there was a demand for something a little darker (Earth-Tone).

They used to only offer only one size of the Cierzo when I got mine, but now there are two. Standard is for all average and smaller build characters, but the Tall is for people over 180cm! This has been done by extending the sleeves and torso rather than the whole size of the garment. So if you do not want a new tacticalish night gown for yourself, make sure you order the right size!

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They have also extended the torso a bit in the standard model to prevent the hem from riding up when reaching far out. The shirt is very roomy and allows you to wear almost any kind of jacket or top underneath

The shirt costs £33,95 and the camo pattern or size does not affect the price.

The Extra Layer

For me it took a while before I figured the Cierzo out. It is a quite large and billowy type of garment and it looks odd enough not to be the top choice for you to take the dog out in the neighbourhood. But gladly I live in the middle of nowhere now, so what neighbours think of what I am wearing does not bother me that much!

I have tried the Cierzo Shirt in a few different configurations and some have worked pretty well. I especially liked it with my TAD Shagmaster (read the review of the Shagmaster here) that does not have any wind resistance. I tried it on top to keep the wind away and it did that wonderfully, although the roomy build of the Cierzo still let some wind in. I think I could have remedied that by having a scarf to tie down the neck!

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But so far I have enjoyed the shirt on a winter hike a few weeks back. I had my First Spear Wind Cheater on. That with the layers underneath kept me well warm own the move, but when we stopped for a cup of coffee on the top of a windy cliff I found that I quickly lost heat. I popped the Cierzo on top of the Wind Cheater and I was snug and warm through the whole break.

The beauty of the Cierzo shirt is that it is so small that you can just throw it in your bag, forget all about it. And when you find yourself in desperate need of an extra layer, just dig it up and as quickly as you forgot it even was there, it has saved your day.

The Hood

Only thing that bothers me a bit is the hood. As I mentioned above, the lightweight fabric billows a bit and even though this is easily remedied by a scarf etc. to keep the wind out of the body, the hood is a different matter. The hood is roomy enough to allow even a helmet underneath (tried it with Team Wendy Exfil LTP) which is nice, but the thing is that it does not have a draw cord.

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I have had the hood blown back from my head a few times. A few times the hood has just filled up with air, making my head look like a balloon! It is funny more than really bothering, but an issue all the same. They have told me that this is a very conscious decision to keep the design simple, easy to manufacture and the price of the product low. Very understandable reasons all.

In soft breeze the hood works very well and keeps your head easily protected! The issue only seems to rise in hard blowing winds, where you might want a proper jacket anyway, so it is not really that big of a deal.

Conclusion

So to sum it it is a brilliant emergency windproof layer that acts as a quick extra layer of insulation too! Due to it’s light weight and packability you will not even notice it is there. The 30D ripstop nylon means that it is very durable and the simple and sturdy construction means that it is practically bomb proof. The hood is a bit light, but it does not dismiss the fact that this is a quality product for the application it is meant for.

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The Future of the RBC

So you might be thinking, like me, whats next? I want to see more cool gear from the Redback Company in cool camo colours!

I have been chatting with Ben and I have had the permission to tease a few on coming products from the RBC.

First of all (and my absolute favourite!) there will be a series of SAS Smocks, inspired by the legendary smock design of the British military! There will be three different variants, with different pocket configurations, fabrics and camo/colour options and I can tell you these will be something to really look out for!

There will also a laser cut laminate wallet with RFID protection. I have seen a picture of these and I think my Magpul DAKA Essentials wallet will be threatened as a part of my EDC.

They have a Cobra buckled belt in the works too, that sounds by the description to be something special. And lastly there will be a set of kevlar boot laces, that will serve as you as a survival item, as well as keep your boots laced up!

There are a few other things coming too, but lets not give away all of their secrets just yet! I am looking forward to getting my hands on all of the above and seeing the Redback Company thrive and grow even further in 2019!

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I drew this Rhodesian soldier inspired by the Timmy Hat and send it to Ben, who made a very limited amount of stickers out of it. I am extremely proud to have this #1/24. I have an image in my head, which will hopefully realise into something similar about the Night Camo hat too!

Likes / Dislikes

The Timmy Hat

Likes

The most comfortable cap I have worn
Extremely lightweight
Coolest camo patterns
Who does not like Timmy the Spider?

Dislikes

No real dislikes. All doubts you might have about the cap are gone the moment you put it on. Excellent cap!

The Cierzo Shirt

Likes

Extremely lightweight
Very packable
The ultimate survival wind proof shirt
The coolest camo patterns too!

Dislikes

The hood might bother you a bit, but as the cost of the shirt is very low, you will look over this minor thing too.

Further Reading

AKU Pilgrim MK2 GTX Review
Connemara National Park, Ireland, an adventure story
PDW A.G. Watch Cap Review
Claw Gear Aviceda Fleece Review

Material Disclosure

I received these products via my own funds. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.

Reptile House Timmy Hat Review

https://thereptilehouseblog.com/2018/11/18/the-redback-company-timmy-hat-night/

Words and pics: Rich Norman

I’m glad we’re experiencing usable weather this far into autumn, and with the sun so low in the sky in the U.K. it’s no surprise that peaked caps are still extremely useful.

I picked up The Redback Company’s Timmy Hat – Night a few weeks back after hearing from a few trusted sources like thecaffeinatedsoldier that it was super comfortable.

 

 

I can’t comment on durability, because I’ve not had the cap long enough; but TBH I’ve wrecked very few hats, aside from imbuing heavy tide lines of salt from high tempo summer use. However, with a super low price of just over seventeen quid, I see the item as a consumable in any case.

The first thing to say is that it is indeed super comfortable, and I think that has a lot to do with the perforated technical fabric which composes the rear 4 panels.

The fabric allows for decent mechanical ventilation, wicks well and is fast drying. It also has a soft hand, which allows it to conform well when worn.

The night camo pattern is sublimation printed where, under high temperature and pressure, the dye turns into a gas and permeates the fabric and then solidifies into its fibres.

The company’s logo is embroidered up front: a redback spider, apparently called Timmy and where the cap gets its name.

The front panels and peak are are 65/35 polycotton twill and are a deep green, which will become nicely salty with use.

Aside from Timmy the Spider, other embroidery is included at the rear of the cap and inside; the latter featuring a quote from Jung:

The brim is a decent length and is curved, with the deep green repeated on the underside as an anti-reflection measure:

 

The sweatband is 100% cotton:

The cap is one size fits all and adjusts for size using hook and loop at the rear:

I like this cap. It’s cheap, comfortable and looks great. It also wicks well and is extremely fast drying.

What else do you really need?