Triple Aught Design (aka TAD Gear), is the company that I credit as the reason for my gear-whore-ing addiction. I recall being first introduced to the TAD line in around 2006 after being shown their Ranger Hoodie by a contractor friend of mine who had just returned from the middle east.
Almost all of TAD’s jackets and hoodies were designed with a similar cut and features, with slight variances depending on the application. The Stealth Hoodie was one of the first Tacti-cool garments to hit the mainstream market and arguably may have been the spark that started the Tactical Hipster revolution by providing non-military folks a platform to show off their individual flair with various morale and swag patches.
I have personally owned several TAD Gear products: both the v1.0 and v3.0 Ranger hoodies, the original Stealth Hoodie, the Bug-Out Anorak, Predator Hardshell and the now the Stealth Hoodie LT the last of which I will be covering in detail here.
Materials and construction:
As a general rule, even the most well-known brands don’t manufacture their own fabrics and many of the materials used by the individual brands are sourced from some of the same factories and share many of the same performance and technical specifications.
Most people are likely familiar with GORE-TEX, probably the most well- known material when it comes to a waterproof garments and is commonly used by brands like Arc’teryx and Patagonia in many of their outer shells. GORE-TEX technology uses Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), which is spread out into a thin coating and combined with a polyester or nylon fabric. The result: a waterproof, yet breathable fabric that is porous enough to allow vapor to escape, but not so much so that a water droplet can permeate it.
Enter Schoeller’s highly innovative C-Change ‘smart’ fabric which is based on the same basic technology as GORE-TEX, also being a polymer membrane, but this is where similarity ends.
One cannot fully appreciate how truly remarkable the Stealth LT is without understanding a little bit of how the Shoeller c_change™ technology works. C_change™ is touted by the manufacturer as “the bionic climate membrane” and functions about as Sci-Fi-sounding as the moniker would lead you to think.
C_change™ Technology was designed to mimic nature, specifically the response of a fir cone as it opens and closes in response to varying weather conditions. In a similar way, the c_change™-membrane adapts to changes in both temperature and moisture levels. As the temperature rises, its pores expand just enough to allow water vapor to escape without letting any actual droplets of water in. Alternatively, during cooler temperatures or moments of inactivity, the pores ‘close’ retaining the heat directly next to the body.
Stealth Hoodie vs. Stealth Hoodie LT
The original Stealth Softshell Jacket (which most comparisons I make to the LT are based on) is described as a technically advanced fleece-lined softshell and is best suited to being worn as an outer layer for activity in cold, damp environments. A feature-laden softshell, the Stealth provides water-resistant protection and warmth.
In 2015 TAD Gear released their highly anticipated Stealth Hoodie LT, their first fully water-proof jacket since they did away with their designated hard-shells like the Predator, and the Raptor. The LT is designed for prolonged exposure to the elements during high-activity, the Stealth LT is described as a durable, all weather softshell. Highly adaptive and designed to withstand harsh climates, the LT combines the impermeable nature of a hardshell with the comfort and breathability of a softshell
The main difference between the standard Stealth Hoodie and the Stealth Hoodie LT is its impermeable, waterproof design. With fully taped seams, the LT is currently TAD Gear’s only waterproof shell.
The Stealth LT retails for $475USD and is available in black, Multi-environment Green, and Urban Environment Gray.
The Stealth LT’s 3 layer design incorporates Shoeller’s C_Change fabric, a Tricot inner layer and a DWR (durable water repellant) finish. A 3XDRY®: treatment is used on both the face of the garment and tricot, which is designed to repel water, dirt and stains on the surface while wicking away moisture and perspiration on the inside to keep you cool, dry and comfortable. A finishing treatment called Coldblack® has also been used which reflects UV rays to keep you cool in warmer environments.
Cut and fit
The first noticeable difference between the LT and previous versions of the Stealth Hoodie is that it is not as thick as its predecessors, this is due to the fact that the LT is not lined. This jacket’s “LT” designation signifies that it is lightweight garment with an intentional minimalist design.
The cut is fitted, more so than previous versions but as before, it is just roomy enough to be able wear a sweater under it without restricting movement or diminishing the comfortability of the fit. The 4 Way Stretch of the fabric used in the LT provides optimal flexibility and natural range of motion. This is particularly noticeable in the elbows and shoulders which provides the wearer with an unfettered range of motion without the extra fabric needed to provide the same range of motion in other garments.
I did notice that the cut of previous versions of the Stealth was a bit more generous at the armpits and tapered steeply down to the cuffs. By comparison, the LT’s arms has a relatively straighter cut, which I prefer over the previous design.
The bottom of the Stealth dips down 2.5” longer at the back of the jacket, just enough to provide some overhang so that rain dripping off the back of garment doesn’t land on the wearers butt.
The cuffs on the LT are flat and does not have the elastic cuff of some of earlier versions of the Stealth. The arm length is enough to prevent the wearers’ wrists from being exposed even when reaching or extending the arms. Those accustomed to the rubberized cuff tab of the previous designs will notice that has been replaced by a color matched fabric tab with Velcro closures on the underside.
The Stealth features two side entry, hand warmer chest pockets located high enough so that access is unhindered while wearing a battle belt, or pack waist belt. I particularly like the Stealth’s side entry pocket design over the crossover design of the Arc’teryx jackets as it not only provides the wearer a place to get their hands out the cold but also allows access to its contents while wearing a plate carrier. The non-LT version of the Stealth had a mesh lining which was great for venting in warmer temperatures but also let unwanted cold air in and a way for valuable body heat to escape. The LT, on the other hand does not have the mesh lining, instead the pockets are fully sealed off compartments (with the small exception of the media pass-though opening) that are seam-taped just like the rest of the garment so you don’t have to worry about any cold drafts entering while you are warming your hands.
In keeping with the LTs’ more minimalist design, those familiar with the previous versions of the stealth will also notice that there is no internal vertical ‘pen’ pocket. The D-ring gear keeper is still there for attaching some of those loose items to prevent them for falling out.
At the back of the LT, there is the 14″ x 8″ dual entry rear duck pocket typically found on many of TAD’s garments. This roomy storage pocket is great for storing gloves, scarves beanies or any other similar items. The duck pocket is seam taped as well which prevents any water from soaking into the inside of the jacket should you choose to put any wet items in it. There is a zipper protector flap at each of the entries to divert any water from potentially entering the Zips.
The media pass throughs remains present in the LT you may also notice (depending on which versions of the Stealth you may be used to) that instead of a rubber grommet a circular cut of fabric material has been adhered to the inside of the jacket with a small slit opening that provides a spot for any wires or chords to be routed through. A strip of similar fabric acts a wire keeper with a similar slit located symmetrically at the upper lapel helps to keep any excess wires in control.
On the left arm is small 6” x 5.5” quick access pocket for some small items, like chapstick, keys, credit cards, cash or other similar items.
There was an expressed desire by former Stealth owners for more Velcro real estate and thus TAD has increased the former 3” x 2” Velcro loop square on the outer bicep area on each arm to a 5” x 3.5” color matched Velcro loop square for IFF patches and morale patches. Often when doing contract work overseas, it is advisable to try to blend in or at the very least not dress in a manner that screams “military” and for this a non-patched option is also available.
Though not outwardly noticeable, the elbow areas of the Stealth LT are double layered which, coupled with the C-Change fabric’s abrasion resistant characteristics provides added protection against excessive wear.
The YKK zippers on previous versions have been replaced with RiRi zippers on the LT specifically for their water resistant properties. There are Grosgrain chord pulls throughout all the jackets’ zippers to aid with operation while wearing gloves. Each zipper also has a semi-rigid ‘zipper garage’ at the top to protect the zipper, keep them from rattling and to divert any rain coming off the jacket away from zipper closures.
As before, the bottom of the LT has elastic shock cord cinching, featuring a chord lock system which is designed in such a way that adjustments can be done with one hand. At the neck/collar area is a felt-lined flap acts as a chin protector for comfort when the main zipper is done up the whole way.
At the back of the jacket is TADs’ signature ‘Aero Hood which when not in use, flattens down neatly against the upper back, with the brim of the hood acting as a high collar protecting the wearers nape against the elements. It is a distinctive design feature unique to nearly all of TADs’ outer garments.
Peripheral vision with the hood deployed is much better than with any of the other jackets I have worn. This is mainly due to the less baggy design of the Aero hood. The billed design provides about a 3.5” overhang which should be more than enough to keep the rain and snow off your face. When the main zipper is done up completely it comes up to just below your nose. Cinching the shock chords of the hood, brings the hood closer to your face at the sides and brings the brim down slightly but you may also want to consider a balaclava for times when you are concerned with keeping the elements off your face.
I found that the Aero hood absolutely did not fit over my FAST Ballistic helmet, and I was unable to zip up the jacket past my collar bone. It may be possible that this could be augmented with a different helmet type or perhaps by wearing a size up in the LT. But if the nature of your needs requires you to wear a helmet on a regular basis, just keep in mind that the hood on the LT was not designed to be worn over a ballistic helmet.
At the back of the Aero hood, are two 1” square Velcro loop squares for attaching glint tape or ‘ranger eyes’ for use when trekking at night.
The hood also has a stow-able design that allows it to be rolled up and cinched down with a flap built into the inside of the jacket.
The Stealth LT features 9” single direction pit zips which is great way to cool down quickly without having to take the jacket completely off which is especially handy when wearing body armor or a backpack.
Long term use and durability:
The LT’s DWR (Durable Water Repellent) coating does eventually wear off over time and after multiple wash cycles. When this happens you may notice that after extended exposure to heavy rain the fabric will show varying levels of water absorption into the fabric such as discoloration and dampness between the layers. This is completely normal with any ‘breathable’ material, including GORE-TEX. TAD Gear recommends using Penguin Sportwash and Nikwax spray to restore the DWR.
I spoke with a friend who also owns a Stealth LT, and tells me that after about an hour in a heavy rain he would experience some minor leakage at the main zipper area of the LT. So during a particularly torrential downpour I decided to see if I could replicate his experience. After being in the rain for exactly 1 hour I noted that the face of the garment showed some signs of water penetration; like dark discolored areas particularly in the cuff and forearm. I also noted that although the face fabric itself did show signs of water absorption most of the water was effectively ‘beading‘ off the garment. Upon inspecting the inside of the jacket, I found that it was completely bone dry, this included all the pockets and the inside of the main zipper area.
I spoke with TAD Gear, and they did tell me that some minor leakage can happen, particularly at the front zip area due to the nature of the zippers themselves. RiRi, an is an company well renowned for making some of the most rugged, weather resistant zippers in the industry but keep in mind that as with any garment with zip closures, the zippers will more often than not always be the first point of failure.
From having worn previous versions of the Stealth almost exclusively over the past 4 years in environments ranging from arid, tropical to alpine I have not noticed any pilling or significant discoloration or fading to the Shoeller fabric at all.
The only real downside I found with this jacket is its weight and pack-ability. A size medium, patched version of the Stealth LT weighs 32oz which is just about twice the weight of the Arc’teryx Alpha LT and also takes up more space in your pack.
Normal Wear and Longevity (updated March, 2018)
I have been wearing the LT for just under 2 years and it has been my go-to Jacket for when I require protection against wet or snowy elements and it has held up nicely overall which speaks to not only the durability of the individual components TAD has chosen but also the quality of the craftsmanship.
The only things I noted was a slight delamination on the inner face of the jacket at any of the raised areas such as at the taped seams and any other high friction areas such as the area just above my left wrist where I wear my wrist watch where it was the most evident (see inset images).
In muggy climates or any time when sweat or moisture builds up inside the jacket, the natural oils and salts that come into contact with the fabric can eat away at the inner laminate. While completely preventing this from happening is not realistically possible, you can minimize its effects through regularly washing the jacket. I would suggest that after wearing the garment in humid conditions or after usage during times of high activity which could cause sweat or condensation build up, taking the jacket off, turn it inside out and soak it in the tub with some NIK wash for about an hour before throwing it in the wash. Always hang the garments to dry, do not put the Stealth LT in dryer.
If you’ve done all of this and you still experience excessive de-lamination and you’ve had your jacket for less than 2 years, you can always send it to TAD for a warrant exchange.
Conclusion and Insights
I recently took the Stealth LT out on a 4-day training ex in conditions ranging from extremely wet and muggy below the treeline with lows dropping to snowy, subalpine temperatures once we reached once over 6,900ft (2,093m) elevation.
While in motion, I found it quite easy to stay warm with only minimal layers (Under Armour Coldgear compression base layers and merino wool mid layer) without being overly stuffy. For the most part, the UA Coldgear base layer was more than adequate, so long as I was in motion and I found myself utilizing the pit-zip vents for much of the trek. Once stopped however, I found that sweat and condensation has a tendency of getting trapped between in the inner shell and the base layer so it is critical to keep this in mind when stopping for extended periods. I would suggest considering pairing the Stealth LT with an insulated garment like the Arc’teryx LEAF Atom LT.
The Aero hood came in quite handy keeping the rain and snow off my face as well as helping to keep as much body heat contained as much as possible. The shock chords were easy to operate one-handed even while wearing gloves, though there were a few times such as when moving against strong winds, hail and snow where I wished the front of the collar came up high enough to cover the nose and mouth when fully zipped.
It is evident that TAD had the military professional’s needs in mind when they created the Stealth LT, with its subdued colors and velcro loop patches. Packed with many utilitarian features, it possibly the most well-equipped jacket of its kind on the market today.
As an everyday use Jacket it has you covered (pun intended), with more than enough pockets to hold all of your EDC items and almost everything but the kitchen sink. However, as a rain shell for backpacking and for other times when packable size and weight are a primary consideration, I would recommend looking at some lighter products.
The Stealth LT is a weather proof, water resistant, all-season outer shell that can be worn either on its own during the warmer months or layered with a merino wool sweater, or a Ranger fleece during the colder months. Whether you typically find yourself hot and sweaty, or cold and clammy (or somewhere in between), the Stealth Hoodie LT with its breathable smart fabric is just the jacket for you. The Stealth LT, is great looking, technically advanced, highly adaptable jacket that is in its element whether you’re a member of the Door- kickers’ Union or the neighborhood watch.
(I am 5.7′, 178lbs and I am wearing a size medium Stealth Hoodie LT, in ME Green in these photos.)
660 22nd Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
Ph: 1-866-613-1386 or 1-415-318-8252
General Care Tips for Technical Fabrics
Follow the care instructions provided with the garment
Care instructions are included on the product label located on the inside of most garments. Specific instructions provided by the manufacturer of technical fabrics should be followed in addition to the instructions we provide. We recommend following these instructions in order to maximize the garment’s performance and life span.
Consider using specialty cleaning products made for technical fabrics
Specialty cleaning products are available for many technical fabrics. These products rinse away from fabrics leaving no residue, which commonly occur with traditional laundry detergents.
Prepare your garment for washing
We recommend turning garments inside-out, closing all zippers, emptying all pockets and sealing all openings before washing.
Avoid using fabric softeners and dryer sheets
Certain ingredients found in fabric softeners and dryer sheets will reduce fabric’s water repellent properties. We recommend avoiding the use of any type of fabric softener for these items.
Please send a message to our Customer Support team or call us by phone at 1-866-613-1386 if you have any additional questions or concerns regarding how to care for Triple Aught Design garments.
Durable Water Repellent
Most of our water proof and water resistant garments are treated with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating. Over time this coating needs to be replenished as the garment is exposed to use and washing. If your product no longer beads up when exposed to water it is a good indication that it is time to treat your garment with a DWR finish. There are many good DWR products on the market available for purchase.
As a general rule we recommend using a spray-on DWR treatment when you wish to reapply the treatment in between washes. Wash-in DWR treatments are recommended when laundering your garment. We urge you to use a front-loading washer (where available) and recommend allowing the water and DWR detergent to mix before loading in your garments. Tumble dry on low or warm for 10-15 minutes or until your garment is dry to the touch. You can also hang dry your garment, however machine-drying reactivates the DWR properties.
Garments made with Schoeller textiles
DO NOT TUMBLE DRY GARMENTS MADE FROM SCHOELLER TEXTILES TO REVIVE THE DWR.
Garments made with a DWR treatment are generally recommended to be machine dried to reactive the Durable Water Repellent (DWR) treatment in the fabric. However, our Stealth Hoodie LT also features a lamination adhesive, which can be damaged by excessive heat. We recommend using a warm (not hot) iron with a towel between the garment and the iron to reactive the treatment as a safer alternative to machine drying. This method will reduce potential damage to your garment. Remember to use caution when using this method. Our Customer Support team is always available to help you if you have questions.
If ironing is no longer reviving the DWR properties of this textile, we recommend an exterior spray-on or wash-in DWR.
Most synthetic fabrics will melt or burn if exposed to flame or direct heat. These fabrics are not fire resistant/retardant and we advise not to use them when engaging in any activities where you may be exposed to direct heat or flame.