Aside from the whole controversy surrounding one member of the boards trying to pass off Krukspec's work as his own, Krukspec's product line has interested me for some time. In particular, the Combat Shirt which seemed to be a reasonably priced alernative to the Crye Precision Combat Shirt. To top it off Krukspec has produced this shirt in a variety of camo colourings so there's something for everyone it seems.
So I took the plunge and ordered a Combat Shirt in ACU pattern. Throughout the purchase process Krukspec's customer service was always on the ball and very curteous with two exceptions, which I mention here in the interests of a fair review;
- I had ordered the shirt with a green torso, and when I received notification that they had sent me a shirt with a tan torso. Now this was because tan had just become available, and with the ACU pattern they figured it was a better match - and it is. However I consider this to be a breakdown of the customer / company relationship or "I tell you what I want, and give you money for it". I'm cool with their switch, however it would have been nice to have been consulted before they sent me out what I had not specifically requested.
- After three weeks of waiting for my order to arrive, I inquired if a tracking number was available and was told "just wait for it sir". The package did arrive no problems a few days later, however again this is a minor black mark for their customer service. If Krukspec wants to play with the big boys in the international gear markets, then they are going to have to improve in this area.
That being said, on with the review!
Here's a summary of the features found in Krukspec's Combat Shirt;
- "High quality" SPANDEX cotton material in torso (also referred to as "DRYFIT" on their website;
- No listing for materials used in the arms/shoulder areas, but upon inspection seems to be a 50/50 blend ripstop material;
- Designed for hot weather/tropical conditions;
- Sweat wicking material in torso
- Excellent fit with various plate carriers/load bearing vests
They describe their "SPANDEX cotton/DRYFIT" material as "like underarmour", however in reality it is much heavier and closer in feel and texture to a thick cotton tshirt.
Shirt shown worn w/ issue ACU combat pants
Shirt shown worn w/ Phantom CB CIRAS
As part of the purchasing process from Krukspec, you supply them with your measurements and they fire you out the correct size. I've read previous complaints that they sized gear way too large, however in this case they sent me a shirt that fit spot on.
The shirt is very comfortable to wear with and without armour. No seems are located near pressure points on shoulders, meaning there should be no problems when carrying heavy loads or a large ruck when wearing this shirt.
The collar is actually a unique design I have never seen before. Sort of halfway between the classic BDU collar and the newer style ACU collar. It does sit up nicely when you do the zip up all the way, as well as fold down for more ventilation.
Pockets shown with field-expedient pads
The elbows are equipped with padding insert pockets. They are however located a touch too far down the arm, and in this case are more like "fore-arm pad" pockets. Although when I consider this, I probably whack my forearms off more things than my elbows, and I do have a nice set of hellstorm neoprene elbow pads to wear so this is not a deal breaker.
The cuff of the arms are equipped with a good solid pull-tab type velcro setup, and are adjustable for a wide range of wrist diameters. No worries about being able to close the cuff if you are wearing a watch and a set of gloves.
When it comes to construction, overall the shirt is very high quality. Double stitching is the norm throughout the whole item. The one caveat with this is that after washing the shirt and attempting to open one of the elbow pad pockets, The velcro ripped right off the ACU material. Upon closer inspection, it appears that the sewing machine just barely grabbed the velcro so this is a QC issue and not materials.
For the amount this items costs, it is overall a very good value for your money. A unique design that works well and is for the most part very well put together gets my enthusiastic recommendation. However that being said, I would have to follow that with a reservation regarding customer service as Krukspec. From my experience you should have no problems, however if you do encounter difficulties it wouldn't strike me dumb with shock.
As well it should be noted that although it is very close, the "ACU" material Krukspec used is actually the repro material, with no tans/greens in it. It's exclusively different shades of gray. It does blend very well with genuine ACU and really isnt noticable unless you are looking for it.
Field Use After-action Report
After a day of skimishing at the LZ Ottawa, I was able to get a good sense of how this item held up during play. It did fit very well throughout the whole time I wore it, with no hotspots etc developing. The shirt is long enough that it didn't become untucked which can happen sometimes w/ underarmour etc as they tend slip around over a day.
The biggest claim made for this shirt is that it "it directs your perspirations down keeping you comfortable and light". I'll take that to mean "moisture wicking"; which it does to the extend that it soaks up perspiration and then holds onto it like grim death. After running my standard gearload over my torso of a CIRAS w/ hardplates, I pulled it off at the end of play to reveal that the shirt was drenched.
That being said, I did feel a bit hot during that day, and it was overcast and 23 degrees (celcius). I'm going to have to reserve final judgement until next week when I get a chance to test this item out in desert conditions.