5.11 Casual Wear

layout of the 5.11 clothing
5.11 Casual Collection; Carson Short Sleeve, Daybreaker Sunglasses, Defender Flex Jeans, Stay Sharp Belt

With a focus on getting back outdoors, I tested out another set of professional clothing from 5.11 Tactical sharp enough to wear to work but tough enough to wear to the range or on the trail. Putting together the Carson short sleeve shirt, Defender-Flex Range Pants, Stay Sharp leather belt and Daybreaker Sunglasses I set out for some days in the sun.

5.11 Carson Short Sleeve in Volcanic Heather, single pocket and logo on back of right shoulder
Close up of 5.11 Rapid Draw snaps

The Carson Short Sleeve Shirt is a regular cut, cotton/polyester blend shirt with a single pocket that creates a clean look. It comes in four different shades of heather and a solid blueblood or volcanic black. There is also a plaid version with five variants for the same $39.99 price. The shirt is a lightweight breathable material perfect for hot days in the sun. I won’t say the material has a stretch to it, but it does give a little during activity. The shirt closure is made with 5.11’s RAPIDraw™ center front snap placket designed with the appearance of buttons continuing the professional look. The back of the right shoulder has a small woven 5.11 [+] label along the yoke seam, however this is the only  one. The shirt is long enough to tuck in, but still short enough to leave untucked on relaxed days. The shirt is what cleans up the outfit and gives off the professional look.

5.11 Defender Flex Jeans in Ranger Green, reinforced beltloops and additional rear pockets
Close up of Defender Flex buttons and logos

From the first time I wore the Defender-Flex Range Pants, I knew they were going to be one of my go to hard-use pants. They have a durable feel but enough stretch for the active days outdoors. They were a slim fit design but not a “skinny jean” cut. I chose Ranger Green but they also come in Khaki and a Brown Duck (think – a little oranger than Carhartt’s standard color). The $69.99 price puts it on par with other hard use pants I have bought in the past and feel like they will last just as long.  The standard 5.11 pant features include reinforced belt loops to support the weight of EDC belts up to 2” and holsters, riveted reinforcement at the front hand pockets and two additional rear pockets at the yoke large enough to fit a 30 round mag or today’s near tablet sized cell phones. The pants were designed with the 5 pocket jean look including some additional stitching in the rear pockets. Besides the rivets and button from the fly carrying the 5.11 logo, there is a small 5.11 [+] label sewn on the right rear pocket and a [+] stitched near  the left seam. The pants held up to multiple day abuse while camping and hiking in the rocky terrain of the Lincoln National Forest. As with any cotton pants, they will eventually show wear from the work and activities you do, but will still protect from the elements.

5.11 Stay Sharp Leather Belt

Since the look was a little more professional than my usual T-shirt and pants, I added a Stay Sharp Leather Belt. The Stay Sharp belt is a 1.5” leather belt with a double prong zinc buckle and built-in keeper. The double prong buckle reduces strap movement and stretch on the holes, while providing a clean look with the 5.11 [+] logo etched on the top and bottom of it.  The Genuine leather holds up to the demands of EDC and the weight of a holster and mag pouch.  Since wearing it, there has been a little stretch to it but only a mild curve that most leather belts take on (similar to the curve built into the Apex T-Rail Belt made of TPU coated B10 webbing). The belt is comfortable and the designer style buckle ties the outfit together. This is one of 5.11’s higher end belts at $59.99 and also comes in black.

Daybreaker Brown Tortoise Polarized Sunglasses

Trying out the Daybreaker Brown Tortoise Polarized Sunglasses is a change in my usual eyewear selection of black wraparound sunglasses.  These glasses have a large Ray-ban Wayfarer shape to them. Unfortunately for me they were too big for my face and allowed a lot of light in through the sides. This also caused them to slide down my nose while hiking and looking at my footing requiring constant repositioning. Only a handful of my sunglasses have polarized lenses, and most have a darker colored lens. The quality of the view through the Daybreaker lens seemed “high-def” during the bright sunny days while camping in New Mexico. It produced a clear, crisp-edged picture, while dulling down the intensity of the bright sun. The quality of construction is above their $69.99 cost, with larger than normal hinges and hard plastic frames.  The ear and nose pieces are made of the same material as the rest of the frame , which has been coated to resist scratches and oil, unlike a majority of my other sunglasses that have started to peel from sunscreen use. These sunglasses should maintain their classy appearance for a good while. The glasses have the 5.11 [+] logo on both ear pieces and a small one in the top right corner of the right lens keeping with the professional look.

Final Thoughts: This outfit had a nicer look while still being rugged enough for any outdoor activity.  The Carson shirt will be a little tight in the lats (it’s a large) as I get back to lifting instead of running, but should still give a clean, professional appearance. . The Defender-Flex pants will go next to my Apex Pant as far as comfort but will outperform them in durability.  I will continue to use the Stay Sharp belt until it falls apart because of its strength and good looks.  I will be going back to my wraparound black sunglasses even though the Daybreakers were made well, they are just too big for my face.

By the numbers:

Comfort – 5/5 Aside from the Daybreaker sunglasses being too big for my face the rest of the outfit was a good fit and the stretch of the Defender-Flex Range Pants meant all day comfort

Durability – 5/5 The shirt and pants are constructed of top of the line materials and appear to be of sound construction. Most seams are double stitched and the front hand pockets were riveted for reinforcement. The oversized belt loops were reinforced to handle the weight of a holster. The Belt buckle was double stitched in place on genuine leather.

Functionality – 4/5 All items performed as advertised and were designed for active lifestyles, the Daybreaker sunglasses were just too big to stay put while hiking and moving about the outdoors..

Weight – 4/5 the Carson Short Sleeve Shirt was lightweight and built for a warmer climate, the Defender-Flex Pants were a little heavier being 97% cotton but not unbearable in the warmer temps of summer.  .

Value – 4/5 This outfit was on the higher end of shirts and pants that I would look at for work clothes and the belt was on par with competitors pricing for similar quality genuine leather belts. The prices were what I would expect to pay if I was buying clothes to talk to future business partners and clients.

Overall rating: 4.4/5 I might have to keep the shirt and belt for more professional use while I plan to wear the life out of the Defender-Flex Range pants and buy another pair when I do.

I received this product as a courtesy from the manufacturer via Spotter Up so I could test it and give my honest feedback. 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.

Originally posted on Spotterup.com November 2020

Day Trip to U.S. Elite Gear

US Elite HQ
Representing Spotter up at U.S. Elite announcing their support of Warriors Heart Foundation

A couple of weeks ago, I was able to make the drive up to New Jersey and spend the day with U.S. Elite and see some of the good things happening with them. Steve Keefer, owner of U.S. Elite, invited Spotter Up to be present when they announced the first of three initiatives that will be part of their quest to find their Higher Purpose. In attendance were several officers from the local and Regional SWAT teams, a former New York City Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik and his son (Newark PD SWAT officer), former members of the SOF community, U.S. Elite team members from out of state and product representatives Steve and Hugh from Amer Sports (Arc Teryx, Salomon and Suunto). Steve brought in Brad to share his story of recovery and how Warriors Heart Foundation saved his life.

Warriors Heart Foundation
U.S. Elite Partners with Warriors Heart Foundation, donating 275 boots and counting

Brad opened up to share with all of us how addiction had taken hold of him and where it had taken him. He has been sober for 337 days (and counting) since leaving the Warriors Heart facility in Bandera, (near San Antonio) Texas. While in treatment, Brad had a roommate from a SOF unit also dealing with addiction. His roommate had shown up with his only pair of footwear, the same boots he had deployed with. They in rough shape and far from serviceable. Brad ordered a pair of Salomon Forces boots from U.S. Elite to give his roommate to start his journey to recovery. Brad did this 3 more times while at Warriors Heart to give his brothers solid footing on their path forward. Steve and U.S. Elite has since shipped $50,000 of Salomon Forces footwear to Warriors Heart Foundation, that’s 275 pairs, each with a handwritten card for the recipient. Steve’s goal is to continue to donate boots to the recovering warriors by donating a percentage of every sale of Salomon Forces footwear from U.S. Elite to provide a pair for every participant. With this being only the first of three initiatives, that Steve and his team has for giving back to the community he continues to serve, I am looking forward to the other two.

Sua Sponte Mark II
Close up of the U.S. Elite exclusive Salomon Forces “Sua Sponte Mark II” *notice their logo on the tongue

U.S. Elite is the only company to have partnered with Salomon for an exclusive variant of the Salomon XA Pro 3D Mid; the Sua Sponte. The Sua Sponte comes in Wolf Grey and is only available at U.S. Elite. They now have the Sua Sponte Mark II, (XA Forces Mid non-Gore-Tex) in the same exclusive Wolf Grey with the current Salomon upgrades to the sole, added abrasion resistant medial and toe protection and black accents. While at this event, Amer Sports regional sales managers were on hand to speak to the focus for the coming year for Arc Teryx LEAF and Salomon Forces and share a little company history. The Forces line is focusing on protection for its law enforcement users by adding anti-slip, anti-static and anti-puncture properties to their soles. The Forces line has been around since 2015 with reduced logo signatures and upgraded durability, but Salomon has been making footwear for military users since the early 2000’s. Arc Teryx will be re-introducing the Spinx combat pants due to demand from some of its DoD clients. Arc Teryx started the LEAF (Law Enforcement Armed Forces) program in 2003 offering low-vis logo and subdued color schemes. To speak to their quality, there is an Alpha Jacket that has been on deployment and in use for over 16 years, getting handed off to the incoming war fighters. These brands only exemplify the quality of gear and the service that Steve is maintaining both in his company and customer service but also in his resolve to give back to the community.

Conversation with Steve Keefe, Owner of US Elite
Convo and Chill

This was a great trip to meet a fellow 2/75 Ranger, his team and some industry professionals while representing Spotter Up. I got to spend some time talking with Brad after he shared his story. You could really hear and feel the passion and focus he has looking for every opportunity to pay it forward. This embodied the atmosphere found in the offices of U.S. Elite, taking care of and giving back to the community they serve both locally and globally. After all the news and business was taken care of, I was invited to dinner at the Front Porch Pub. A perfect end to the day, sharing some beers, stories and time with the team and the reps from Amer Sports. If you haven’t checked out U.S. Elite, please go stop by their website or social media feeds. They carry top quality brands, sold at competitive prices and their customer service is top notch.

*All photos provided by U.S. Elite staff

Originally posted on Spotterup.com October 2019