Viper Tactical have been evolving their range over the last few years in quite an impressive way, with new designs, evolution of old lines and massively improving their material and construction methods. We saw this when Jon looked at the Viper Tactical VX Buckle Up Gen 2 Carrier and its accessories. This trend is still continuing and long may it continue!
We’ll be looking in detail at all the new Viper Tactical models soon, but 22 September saw the general release of the VIPER TACTICAL FRONTIER JACKET. We were lucky enough to get a sneak peak at the pre-production model at N.A.E this year and we liked what we saw. Jon proceeded to badger the guys at the Viper Tactical stand into sending him a final article so we could give you the initial thoughts and features rundown on this new item in their range.
Padawan “Geardo” Jon looked over the Frontier Jacket and here are his thoughts…
The Viper Tactical Frontier Jacket is a padded/filled thermal layer to compliment your current BDU or it can be used as a stand-alone jacket. It’s made of 100% Polyester and seems to have a RipStop-esc inner and outer. It’s a man-made fibrous filling material, rather than down but that’s a positive. It’s lightweight, weighing in at only 500g/17.6oz and packs down into a stuff sack that is provided, measuring only 140mmx254mm/5.5”x10”. This is great as it will fit in a daysack with little requirement for room.
The Frontier Jacket features a two way full length front zip made by SBS (for those who nerd out over zips, SBS are the Chinese equivalent to Japans’ YKK) so a good quality system. The zipper is smooth and easy to operate thanks to the Viper branded pull toggles. I had no issues opening and closing any of the external zippers on this jacket with gloved hands.
At the top of the zipper is Vipers “Chin Guard”. On me, this was more throat protection, which enabled the jacket to maximise its efficiency at keeping the heat in when facing head on winds but I can see what they’re saying. The hood is comfortable and features an elastic and toggle retention system for tightening down when the wind picks up. The hood and the chin guard are piped with soft microfiber and aren’t uncomfortable when pulled tight. It’s a comfortable fit and feel and is in no way restrictive to your field of vision when you deploy it. The full front double zip feature is handy if you want to reach inside or to items stowed under the jacket, such as a chest rig or fanny pack, without having to completely unzip the front and losing the warmth it holds. Along the inside of the zipper is a triple stitched, padded wind gusset that helps reduce (basically stop) any wind or cold getting in through the zipper. Speaking of the internals, there is a large 152mm/6” zip enclosed pocket that is large enough to hold my wallet and Huawei P30 Pro with room to spare. There is no pull toggle on this which can make it a bit of a faff to open with gloved hands but that’s nothing a bit of Paracord won’t fix. On the outer left chest is a zippered pocket, again 152mm/6” long that will hold a phone or wallet comfortably.
At the armpit there is a single layer of material that Viper classifies as “vented mesh”. I tried blowing through it and was met with a lot of resistance. It’s not mesh in its truest form but a single skin of Polyester with a little stretch. It’ll allow for things to be cooler there but it’s not vented. In a backhanded way, this is actually a bonus as you won’t be losing a lot of body heat here where a mesh would, but you’ll still be able to warm your hands there should you need to.
The waistband and cuffs are “elasticated” which provide a good seal around your wrists and waist but it’s worth noting that there isn’t much give due to the microfiber piping and Polyester construction. Again, although this reads negative, it’s not. The cuffs and waist are tight enough to ensure good heat retention, reduced drafts but flexible enough to not be a hindrance when moving.
On the left sleeve there is a hook and loop panel that is 90mmx90mm/3.5”x3.5” for ID or morale patches. This is held in place with a continuous single stitch running along the edges. Speaking of construction and quality, the Frontier jacket is mainly held together with single stitch lines which are well finished. I have only spotted one or two loose strands, which is more than acceptable at the price point. Other areas of the jacket, such as the wind gusset and seams are held together by three “tramline” single stitches.
The reason there aren’t more elaborate stitches or complex construction methods is to keep the weight and bulk down. I’ve pulled and yanked at this jacket and the way it’s designed, cut and finished, I’d be surprised if it came apart any time soon. The fit of the jacket is great. The waist area at the front sits at trouser fly level and the rear sits halfway over your derriere pockets and doesn’t ride enough to expose your core. That, in my experience, means that you will undoubtedly be keeping yourself warm and cosy whilst wearing it. I wore it out on our coldest evening yet at 14°C/57℉ and I was toasty warm but not sweaty. I’m really excited to try it out in colder weather.
Viper states that the material is rain resistant but if I’m honest, I’d avoid anything other than a short spell of drizzle, remember this is a thermal layer and not a water protection layer.
As it’s 100% polyester I’d be cautious when wearing anywhere near an open fire but that’d be the same if it were an Arcteryx or RAB jacket.
Available in Tan, Black, and V-CAM (pictured) overall, this is a well-designed, well-cut, comfortable and practical addition to your kit. If worn correctly and in conjunction with other items of a layer system, this jacket could well save your skin on a cold day. I’m genuinely interested to see how this Viper Frontier Jacket performs over the winter months in my Airsoft and Bushcraft adventures and will report back in due course.