For both Recce and Direct Action loadouts, Jerry Noone finds PenCott’s temperate pattern works to perfection.
Although I’m normally found on an urban CQB site somewhere, “summer” in the UK is most definitely a time to get your woodland game on! If your local site is anything like mine right now everything is in full, lurid green growth; the ferns are full and over head height, the undergrowth is lush and full, and the time is right for a good “sneaky beaky” skirmish.
There are a multitude of camouflage patterns out there that are specifically designed for playing in this type of environment and when it comes right down to it, good old DPM can be as effective as anything – and DPM is easily available and most definitely a “wallet friendly” option. That said there’s a bit of a “war of the patterns” going on right now, seemingly fiercer than ever and one particular pattern seems to be almost 100% ideal for UK summer woodland play; PenCott GreenZone from Hyde Definition.
I’ve been following the rollout of the number of high-end manufacturers of both gear and clothing using the PenCott patterns for a while now and I’m really pleased to see that their “BadLands” pattern has just appeared in the trailers for the new “HALO:Nightfall” movie! I won’t dwell on BadLands though as my good friends at FireBaseAlpha are going to be looking at that in more depth.
So where have the PenCott patterns come from and what’s the theory behind them? Hyde Definition’s philosophy is that effective camouflage should defeat the ability of an observer to detect or recognise the wearer and a split-second reduction in detection or recognition could sometimes literally mean the difference between life and death in the real world. With their innovative PenCott family of patterns Hyde Definition aim to provide the most effective multi-environment camouflage schemes available on the commercial and military markets.
Hyde Definition is a camouflage design company that was founded in England by Dominic Hyde in 2008. Dominic’s lifelong interest in the art of concealment, having experimented with different camouflage techniques and patterns since childhood, has led him to design over two thousand camouflage patterns for clothing and equipment, vehicles and infrastructure installations, as well as the internationally successful PenCott Multi-Environment Camouflage Pattern Family.
The motivation to begin developing PenCott came in 2005 when Dominic reached the conclusion that there were serious problems with existing camouflage patterns:
- Typical “woodland” camouflage schemes are too dark for all other types of terrain or environments (and even many woodland environments for that matter)
- Typical “desert” camouflage schemes are often just a re-coloured version of a woodland scheme and often a not a good match for the textures of desert terrain
- So-called “universal” and “all-terrain” camouflage patterns are often such a compromise that they are ineffective in many environments
- Mixing solid-coloured individual equipment with camouflage clothing reduces the effectiveness of the user’s camouflage – and can provide the enemy with a visible “centre-mass” aiming point as well!
- Many new camouflage patterns appear to be more about “fashion” or “coolness” than about effectiveness.
PenCott is actually now a family of patterns for year round, multi environment use but the original PenCott variant for verdant terrain, called “GreenZone”, was first trial-launched on a very limited scale in the UK in late 2009. Over the next year Dominic worked on researching, analysing and evaluating other colourways for additional pattern variations. In the latter part of 2010 the company got together with Duro Industries to take the patterns to full-scale production across a range of mil-spec garment and gear fabrics and make them available to customers all around the world.
What came out of this entirely independent (and self-funded) research and development programme was a ground-breaking, natural-looking, hybrid digital pattern that uses a complex mixture of blending and disrupting techniques to more effectively conceal the wearer. The PenCott family of patterns might not look pretty, they might not look “cool”, but they are definitely effective.
The PenCott patterns are unique in the way they combine the best of analogue and digital camouflage design principles, and their key features and advantages can be summarised as:
- 3-in-1 / 360° pattern geometry: the inclusion of large, medium and small fractal shapes makes the patterns effective at close, mid, and long range – and, because of its non-linear orientation, the full effectiveness of the pattern is retained whether the wearer is standing, kneeling or prone, within cover or in the open.
- Depth + Blending + Disruption: the combination of multi-sized fractal shapes, high-difference boundary layers and a hypoacuitively dithered micro-pattern creates the illusion of depth, whilst also creating a pattern that both blends into the terrain and disrupts the shape of the wearer.
- Natural tones and textures: the complex organic pattern texture, combined with colours sampled from the target environments, delivers superior disruption and blending across a wider range of terrain and distances than other patterns.
This comprehensive and hybrid combination of features makes PenCott one of the most unique camouflage patterns ever produced and helps the wearer avoid detection more effectively, which is really what wearing camouflage is all about isn’t it?
“Buy Wisely, Buy Once!”
PenCott GreenZone is sadly still not the easiest pattern to create a “top to toe” loadout in, and you’ll have to search a bit to complete your gear setup. Having said that, more and more manufacturers are taking the pattern up and I’m certain that this trend will continue, especially given the new movie tie-in!
In my last article I advised you to look for gear that has multiple role applications; that way you can take on different roles and tasks by simply adjusting your kit and not break the bank doing it. Keeping the budget tight I looked for a few pieces that could be used multiple times, namely the Viper Modular Holster and the Viper Adjustable Dropleg holster; both of these are VERY well priced and will accommodate many different models of handgun. Married up with a Viper Special Ops Belt these a incredibly versatile and if you shop around you can probably get all three pieces in plain black or OD and have change from 50 quid! You can check out the tech specs by visiting www.viperkit.co.uk
Staying with cost effectiveness I next looked to the rig and ruc I needed. Now nylon gear in GreenZone is still a little hard to source, although stores like www.armymarket.cz and Whiskey Two Four (www.wtfidea.com) are beginning to carry some righteous load carrying kit. At the time of writing I was lucky enough to lay my hands on a great rig from well respected gear maker, Tactical Tailor. TT gear is not the cheapest in the world, but boy is it well put together!
I decided to spend my money “once and wisely” by picking up a Rudder Ranger Assault Carrier (H –Harness). The Rudder is a low profile chest rig, streamlined for lying prone or working in tight spaces. It features a split front design, is fully adjustable front and back to fit most body sizes, and the interior is lined with Air Mesh for comfort so it’s a great choice for the hot weather months. The RAC is put together from 500 denier Cordura nylon using the same techniques applied to the Tactical Tailor “Fight Light” line to minimise weight without sacrificing durability. I added a selection of pouches, an Admin, two different accessory models, a multipurpose, strobe/compass pouch and a triple Magna Mag combo to the order which gives me a LOT of versatility in how I set the rig up. One very comfortable rig, one order from Tactical Tailor, and lots of variety! You can find full details of these items by visiting www.tacticaltailor.com
The final part of the rig setup was one I couldn’t resist, namely an accessory/admin pouch from Whiskey Two Four which is a super bit of kit; having now seen the quality of their gear I’ll certainly be ordering from them again. Talking of quality, I also decided to splash out a little and buy just one pack to suit both loadouts and for this I chose a Lightweight Assault Pack from www.greyghostgear.com. The LAP has been put together to directly address Special Operations weight requirements and features a large main compartment as well as a side entry front pocket, modular webbing for attaching additional pouches and padded shoulder straps that stow away when not in use. It’s designed to attach directly to modular rigs or vests so works well either as a standalone pack or with the Rudder RAC. Made of 500 denier Cordura with heavy-duty zippers, a sternum strap, grab handle, loop material for patches and a 3 litre hydration pocket, it’s also considerably lighter than many comparable packs and very comfortable to wear, so it’s ideal for a day long woodland outing.
With the nylon gear well and truly sorted out I turned to the other parts of the two loadouts, starting with the RECCE setup. Luckily for all of us in the UK www.military1st.co.uk have a great range of Helikon products, and the “Big H” are one of the manufacturers who are actively working with GreenZone in a major way. For this loadout I chose their well priced Combat Patrol Uniform (CPU) which is a high quality, hard wearing and comfortable set of shirt and trousers. The shirt features a two way front zipper, 6 pockets, elbow patch reinforcements on each arm and Velcro plates for attachment of patches. There’s also a high Mandarin collar with Velcro closure and soft fleece and underarm pit zips for ventilation. The trousers are equally well specified with two large front pockets, two small open pockets at the front, two slanted cargo pockets with Velcro closure, and a reinforced seat and knees for longer wear. There are pockets with Velcro closure on each knee for padding (pads not included), belt loops, side waist adjusters, and drawstrings on the legs bottom to keep things snug. Both garments are made from NyCo Ripstop (50% Cotton, 50% Nylon) so they’re tough as old boots.
For this loadout I stuck with my tried and tested Mechanix Original gloves, a superb Boonie from www.appliedorange.com (although a UFPRO ballcap is a good alternative), jungle boots, and a simple “Recce Wrap” which I created from a fabric offcut; simple, and cost effective!
For the DA loadout I really decided to push the boat out in relation to both uniform and boots. I mentioned the UFPRO ballcap earlier, and if you’ve not yet come across this excellent manufacturer from Slovenia, then you REALLY need to go and check them out at www.ufpro.si. I’ve been using some of their gear for a couple of years now and they really are right up there with the very best of the innovators and producers of tactical clothing.
I’ve long been a fan of their “Striker” combat uniform and the third generation of this superb shirt and trouser was released earlier this year and has been getting MAX review time online! The XT Combat Shirt has been seriously upgraded in the latest generation and some important components have been changed in the new model that considerably improves wear comfort and functionality. In the torso area, the mix of polyester and merino wool offers extraordinary durability, maximum comfort and odour-inhibition. The cut of the sleeve and the slide-in pockets have been ergonomically improved so that you will always land on their own D3O® elbow protection. It’s a beautifully fitted and well made shirt which makes the most of cutting edge technology in ALL ways.
Likewise the matching XT trousers; these give you a significant increase in fit and efficiency. Already a great design the latest version has been developed further. The stretch areas have been expanded and new and ergonomically perfected two component knee protection has been introduced. This is made using an intelligent combination of hard and soft technologies that enable highly efficient protection of the knee and tibia areas without the use of a restrictive Velcro strap. The width-adjustable lower leg area enables the effective fixing of objects in the lower leg pocket, including during rapid movement and the large cargo pockets with inner compartments can be accessed in two ways, from the top or side which is great if you’re sitting in a vehicle. The stretch areas in the hip/buttock area and above and below the knee protection are made of an extremely resilient Schoeller®-dynamic stretch material and if you want to carry these over to the Winter months then a Gore WINDSTOPPER Lining can easily be zipped into the Striker XT Combat trousers, as in all UF PRO trouser models. Whilst UFPRO are by no means the cheapest option available, both garments are in the “Rolls Royce” catchment of combat gear and are truly worth every penny!
I mentioned boots too and it’s become time to replace my old OD/Black jungles; they’ve done good service over the years but have finally come to the end of their tour so I decided to replace them with some of the new “MOD Brown” Jungle Boots from Yorkshire bootmaker Alt-Berg. The Jungle Microlite has been tried and tested in some of the most extreme areas on the planet, so you can be certain they won’t let you down in the UK woods! They are a multi-use boot, with minimal water retention, suitable for a wide range of conditions including “Green Ops”, hot and humid climates, UK summer and high intensity tabbing under load. They feature two drain holes under the instep, a shock absorbing sole, are half lined with Cambrelle for comfort and offer good, firm underfoot support on rough terrain or uneven ground. I’ve been wearing Alt-Bergs for years and they’ve always served me well, and it must be said that the “MOD Brown” works absolutely perfectly with PenCott GreenZone.
To finish out this loadout I also added a MOLLE SICC Belt from www.platatac.com; the Soldier’s Integrated Combat Cobra Belt allows you to integrate multiple platforms onto one belt. Manufactured from MILSPEC high breaking strain para tape and tube tape throughout it’s the perfect belt to use with a vehicle safety lanyard! Headgear wise I was struggling a little until a I spoke with STOUPA CAMO in the Czech Republic who kindly loaned me a bespoke bump helmet with a one-off GreenZone cover. Again, if you’ve not come across them before then check out their excellent Facebook page which is truly inspirational; these are airsofters with some rare skill and attention to detail and show just what you can achieve if you put your mind to it. A simple change of pouches on the Rudder, the addition of a singlepoint sling and a pair of HATCH Operator Shorty Tactical Gloves from www.tactical-kit.co.uk round the whole look out, making it “good to go” for those full on firefights!
I appreciate that some of the gear I’ve described is not exactly the cheapest available, but it’s ALL of the highest quality and specification and will give you a summer woodland/ “Green Team” loadout that will literally last for years to come.
More and more manufacturers are working with Dominic and making use of his excellent patterns (expect to see more from Helikon and UFPRO in particular this year) which in turn will make things more cost effective. If you don’t want to follow the “airsoft herd” then I’d most definitely check out PenCott GreenZone, and get hold of some of this awesome camouflage pattern sooner rather than later!
My thanks go to Dominic and his team at Hyde Definition, and to STOUPA CAMO for all their help in the preparation of this article. You can find out more about the PenCott family of patterns by visiting www.hydedefinition.com.
Viper have a great range of no-nonsense tactical gear at sensible prices for items such as pouches, holsters and slings. Their new replica FAST helmet is pretty neat too.
A new store on my personal radar but one that comes most highly recommended. These guys are making some awesome PenCott GreenZone nylon gear.
Whiskey Two Four in the USA are producing some awesome bespoke gear right now and not just in PenCott. Really worth a “check out”!
Tactical Tailor need no intro really as they’ve been making A1/100% righteous shizzle for years. If you don’t know them, go check them out right now!
US based manufacturer of really high quality gear; a new favourite of mine.
Your “one stop shop” for all things tactical; their range of Helikon products is absolutely second to none!
Dutch specialists in top notch clothing and accessories.
Increasingly becoming one of my “go to” brands for clothing and accessories; not cheap, but 100% reliable and technically innovative.
“The Yorkshire Bootmaker”; Alt-Berg offer a great range of military and civilian boot models and are top notch. The new “MOD Brown” range is spot on!
Really legit tactical gear from Australia; check it out!
Top end globlally recognised tactical brands including Mechanix, Hatch and Liquid Eyewear stocked and shipped within the UK.
My sincere thanks to the team at Armex for supplying the gas blowback H&K 416C, H&K MP7 Navy, and the H&K USP Compact featured in the pictures. Please visit their website for officially licenced H&K product and stockist details