When Kevin Plank founded Under Armour in 1996, he did so with the idea of creating a garment for athletes. He designed a T-shirt to support your muscles and wick away sweat. By moving the sweat away from the skin, you would then stay cooler and drier. This is what Under Armour (UA) calls their “Signature Moisture Transport System.” Using this technology, UA became a runaway success in the sports world and the template for many copycat products. But it didn’t take them long to realize the value of this amazing performance fabric for anyone who works in strenuous environments. UA soon began creating products aimed at the military and law enforcement communities. They even created a new label and website called Under Armour Tactical (www.uatactical.com).
The original Under Armour undershirt is still one of their best and most popular garments.
Under Armour’s Tactical Duty Pants truly take it to the next level.
The original UA undershirt became an instant favorite amongst LE and military units due to its ability to keep you cool and dry. Anyone who wore a ballistic vest or had to hump a rucksack for miles was able to appreciate this garment. But like we are prone to do, we began demanding more products aimed at our specific needs. UA met the demand and soon came out with different colors, long and short sleeves, tight and loose fits and even cold-weather clothing for those who wanted UA technology and moisture transport but for use when the temperature drops. They call it ColdGear and the Tactical Base Crew and Pant are a great example of it. Think of it as space-age thermal underwear.
You wear it in cold weather to keep you warm but it still allows for strenuous activity by pulling your sweat away from your body, allowing it to evaporate and keep you dry.
UA even began making boxer briefs. I remember the first time my friend and editor Sammy Reese told me about them. We were out deer hunting and he said he had just spent $20 on a pair of underwear. I laughed and said I thought it was a little extreme, but he eventually talked me into buying a pair. I wore them on our next hunting trip and immediately order six more pairs! Once you wear underwear like this you can’t go back!
UA’s technology and products have become invaluable to our men and women over in the sand box. Regardless of weather or time of year, our brave soldiers are sweating daily. The use of performance fabric under garments has become the order of the day for our troops, with many units actually issuing this type of clothing. The US Marine Corps even approved the Men’s Heatgear Tactical Short Sleeve T-Shirt in Marine Corps Green! This shirt features ergonomic seaming and UA’s Armour Block anti-odor technology, making it about the most comfortable T-shirt you can find anywhere.
These aren’t your grandpa’s thermal underwear! UA’s Tactical Base layers
feature ColdGear to keep you dry and warm while exerting yourself in cold weather.
The Breech Boot is a serious piece of footwear, ready to kick
in some doors or just keep your dogs safe!
Not Just Underwear
In the last few years, UA has greatly expanded their product line to include pants, shirts, outerwear, uniforms, socks and footwear. Tactical pants have gone from a specialty item used only by a select few, to the go-to garment for anyone from the SWAT operator to the weekend shooter going to the range. Everybody and their brother makes a so-called tactical pant, so when UA decided to do one, they had to ensure it wasn’t just another carbon copy of stuff already out there. They started with the basic cargo pocket design and then added some really nice features such as rip stop material, a water-resistant coating, hidden document pockets and an adjustable waist to accommodate concealed weapons. This is a really cool idea for anyone who wears a gun. Usually you need to buy pants a size larger but UA solved this little problem, allowing you to buy one size that will fit you whether you wear a gun inside the waistband or not.
UA now has a complete footwear line aimed at the athletic, outdoor and tactical consumer. They have shoes for fitness training, boots for hiking and hunting and tactical boots designed specifically for military and police work. Two of my favorites are the Ridge Reaper and Breech Boots. The Ridge Reaper boots are comfortable right out of the box. They have a GORE-TEX lining and are perfect for use from hot weather to light snow. It has a full-grain leather upper and a really aggressive outer sole along with a rubber toecap. I like this feature as it protects the boot when used in harsh, rocky environments. The Breech Boot is designed for serious battle. It is a stiff boot that wraps your foot in comfortable but firm protection. It has a GORE-TEX membrane, full-grain leather, HeatGear sock liner, rubber toecap and instep reinforcement. This instep reinforcement is designed to help protect the boot from wear when fast roping. Even if you don’t plan to drop from a chopper while wearing these boots, this added protection makes them great for any rugged application. I have personally worn both of these boots for long periods of time and they are some of the most comfortable I’ve ever owned.
UA has over half-a-dozen garments in their tactical outerwear line, ranging from warm fleece jackets to extreme parkas. Many of them are waterproof and windproof. UA achieves this by using their Armour Storm technology. This is a combination of their waterproof and breathable fabric coupled with fully-taped seams. The garment breathes and allows perspiration to escape while keeping out the elements. This stuff is also warm, thanks to their lightweight insulation called Armour Loft. When you wear a complete layering system of UA clothing, topped off with one of their jackets, you get the full effect of how good this stuff really is.
The heart and soul of Under Armour technology is breathability and moisture transport, which translates into comfort regardless of which UA clothing item you choose to wear. With their commitment to new products and innovations, Under Armour continues to lead the way in technology for athletic and tactical clothing. Whether you are defending our country, policing our streets, or simply enjoying physical hobbies, this stuff is for you.
By John Russo
From The GUNS Magazine Combat 2013 Fall/Winter Special Edition