Upcoming Study: Crye vs. LEAF vs. Standard Issue

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By Charlie Bausman and Liza Sarychev

Is the investment in an Arc’teryx or Crye uniform worth the cost for the individual soldier?

On the micro level, this is the question we hope to answer with our upcoming uniform study. On the macro-level, we’re using this study to begin to develop a mission-direct study approach and methodology to assess garment performance.

This study will compare the performance of Crye Precision, Arc’teryx LEAF, and the standard issue Army combat uniform manufactured by Massif. All uniforms tested will be the breathable, fire resistant models designed for wear with a plate carrier.

Our research into the branch specific acquisition and testing process reveals that uniforms undergo laboratory testing based on American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards, followed by field testing by units in field environments. Feedback from the units is collected and sent back to the manufacturer for improvement.

What we will research is a comparison between government contracted and manufactured uniforms that are issued to the soldier or law enforcement officer, and those “off the shelf” uniforms, which can be bought by the individual. The price point for Arc’Teryx LEAF and Crye Precision uniforms ranges from $150 to $400 for a single uniform piece, and therefore a serious investment for the individual.

We aim to determine whether the performance of Arc’teryx and Crye uniforms surpasses the performance of government issued uniforms in a six-week field test process, followed by our own laboratory testing.

In simple terms, are Crye and Arc’teryx worth it?

Study/Testing Approach
Going in, we’ve identified three elements of garment “performance”:

  • Fit/comfort
  • Function
  • Durability

Fit and Comfort

  • We intend to elicit the assistance of a professional tailor specializing in combat uniforms to assess the fit of our test garments on 3-four individuals. We’ve also developed specific measures of “fit” we’ll assess on our “models.”

Function

  • Comparison of the following:
  • Pocket placement
  • Pocket depth and volume
  • Pocket performance while loaded
  • Range of motion in uniform
  • Quality of closures such as buttons, zippers, and Velcro
  • Chaffing
  • Dry time

In order to test drying time we will hope to do  the following two tests:

  • Submerge athlete in the river for a minute to fully soak uniform, have the athlete ruck for an hour drying uniform with body heat, and weigh uniform to see which one lost the most water weight. We will control for humidity and temperature by picking days with similar weather. We will use a heart rate range to control for physical exertion during the hour ruck.
  • Submerge each uniform in water until no bubbles are seen and hang to dry. Weigh every hour to see which uniform lost the most water weight.

Durability

The Field Test

  • The tester will conduct multiple work capacity training sessions with movements that replicate combat requirements such as fire and movement, low crawling over rough terrain, kneeling, crouching, and sprinting.
  • The athlete will total 54.5 Miles in two weeks for each uniform: 16.5 mile unloaded run, 6 mile run with a plate carrier, 16 mile ruck with a 45 # pack, and 16 mile ruck run with a 45# pack in each uniform.
  • The thickness of material at crucial wear points like the shoulders, bottom of shirt, and knees will be measured with a fabric thickness gauge when the uniform is new, at one week of wear, and at the end of the two week training period.

Proposed Lab Tests:
These tests will be completed after the Field tests is completed.

  • We will put a 60 lbs. sandbag inside of combat pants, running it on a treadmill with the material against the surface. We will check wear every 5 minutes and record the amount of time each pant took to wear down to a zero thickness. 
  • Stich per inch ratio – A higher stitch density should indicate a more durable seam. To test the seam strength, we will hang the pant up by one leg and hang weight off the other leg to see which pant’s crotch fail at the highest weight. We will do a similar test with the combat shirt’s underarm stitch.

Input/Suggestions?
We hope to begin fit and field testing next week and are open to any suggestions concerning function, fit, performance, etc.?

  • Do you swear by Crye? Why – what sets it apart? Has it failed you? How?
  • Do you swear by LEAF? Why – what sets it apart? Has it failed you? How?
  • Have any specific suggestions for field or lab testing?

We want to know your experiences, likes, dislikes, etc. Your input will help us complete our study design.

Email input/suggestions to charles@mtntactical.com.