Friday, 8 January 2010

Stealth Gear Extreme Photographers Suit

In the past couple of months I have found it very cold sitting in hides, despite wearing multiple layers and thermally lined trousers. Recently, I read a review of some new outdoor clothing by Laurie Campbell in Outdoor Photography Magazine, in which he viewed it favourably. The clothing in question was the Extreme Photographers Suit by Stealth Gear. As I know Laurie, I know how importantly he views the right equipment, so I decided to get one for myself.
The suit consists of trousers, a fleece jacket, photographers vest and an overjacket. The vest wasn't something that seemed that useful for me and I am yet to try it, but there wasn't much difference in price between getting the other items individually and the suit as a whole. In addition, the fleece could be zipped into the overjacket. All of the items are made from microsuede and are both windproof and waterproof. It only comes in one colour - olive green, which is actually ideal for a bit of camouflage. The sizings are a little eccentric, so I went for the small.
The suit didn't arrive too soon, as I had been freezing my proverbials off the previous couple of days and we had heavy snow the night after it arrived. The first test was walking through the town through four inches of snow, followed by an outing just outside of Bridgwater to photograph some snowy landscapes. It was actually still snowing, but I remained dry. Even though I'd got the smallest size possible, it was on the large side, but it did give planty of room for all the layers I was wearing. However, as it turned out, I probably didn't need quite so many layers, as I actually overheated. The next test was sitting a few hours in the hide. Again, walking to the hide resulted in overheating, despite having thinner layers than I was used to wearing and being even colder than it had been previously. Once in the hide, I was able to easily keep warm, well except for my hands and feet anyway.
It then had the ultimate test, crouching and lying in the snow, while trying to photograph water rails on the ice. Crouching wasn't too much of a problem, as it wasn't really in much contact with the snow, but even after lying in the snow for abouit half an hour, I didn't have any effect from the cold snow and I was completely dry. At one point a water rail came from behind me and walked across the pathway, but it was only when it got close, that it realised I was a person and flew into the woodland, even then though, it didn't alarm like it would normally, so I was able to continue photographing those in front of me.

While it isn't perfect, it is a very good piece of clothing that does the job it's supposed to, keeping you warm and dry in the most extreme of weather the UK can throw at you. The biggest problem is the sizing, while I'm not large, I'm not small either, yet the smallest size is large on me. This is something that Laurie Campbell also noted and I believe they are addresing this. There a a few stockists across the country, but I ordered mine online from Extreme Nature Gear and although their communication could be improved, I received it in a week, with New Year in between, so not bad delivery really. Full details of the features (which I haven't even begun to list, there are so many) can be found at both companies websites.

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