Photo by Botstik Collective
Helikon-Tex® Cougar Jacket Review
The Cougar Jacket incorporates a Helikon-Tex proprietary wind blocker membrane known as Shark Skin and is coated with DuPont™ Teflon®
Helikon-Tex® is an international military clothing and equipment company with a 30 year history of providing quality uniform, tactical clothing, backpacks, and boots that are popular among soldiers, law enforcement, and outdoor enthusiasts all over Europe and Asia. Not as widely known in North America, Helikon-Tex reached out to me to help increase their profile and heighten consumer awareness of their sharp looking Urban Tactical Line® (UTL), more specifically their Cougar Jacket. Most tactical clothing manufacturers are producing a civilian tactical clothing line that allows users to operate in an urban environment without attracting unnecessary attention. The Helikon-Tex design team is focused on developing applications that allow efficiency of action; they do this by creating unique cuts and neat trims. The use of high-quality materials allows their application to see action in a variety of environments.
Photo by Botstik Collective
The Cougar Jacket incorporates a Helikon-Tex proprietary wind blocker membrane known as Shark Skin and is coated with DuPont™ Teflon® which protects against dirt and water. The jacket features a deep shell hood that is adjusted without removing your hands from the pockets through two drawstrings located in both chest pockets. The jacket is also equipped with two removable front ID panels and one removable back ID panel that are concealed until the situation dictates. These panels are blank and allow customization as needed by embroidery or printing. Helikon-Tex developed an advanced feature they call the Quick Side Access™ or QSA™. The QSA™ system combines a draw cord, a Velcro tab, a quick release buckle and a side zipper. When the draw cord is pulled it opens the side of the jacket and allows access to waist-mounted accessories. The jacket has a total of seven pockets and two wiring ports located within the shoulder pockets and two within the main hand pockets. The jacket also features under arm vents, and the exterior is finished in YKK® zippers and WooJin® buckles.
The best thing to do up front is to get your perspective straight on sizing. I’m 6’5”/198.2cm and it can be tough finding the right fit, especially when it comes to tactical garments. My biggest issue is length in the arms and legs. My armpit to wrist length is approximately 21”/53cm. This jacket is made in small through XXL, but not tall, so when Helikon-Tex reached out to me I was a little leery about being able to follow through with this review. Often I find that when I size up to an XXL for length the garment has too much bulk and weight around the trunk and looks unprofessional. As I slipped on the XXL coyote-colored Cougar jacket I immediately became impressed and surprised. The length in the arms and torso was spot-on. The cut around the torso area was surprisingly trim, and I found just the right amount of girth to allow proper concealment and experienced no snagging. I found all the YKK zippers to work smoothly and all pockets are perfectly placed to allow quick and easy access with just the right amount interior storage. When fully zipped the collar is snug but allows unrestricted neck rotation. Of note I found the material to be comfortable and it didn’t snag on my short chin stubble. The hood collapses inside the collar area nicely and when deployed creates a deep pocket that provides plenty of protection from the elements.
- Material: 100% nylon
- DuPont™ Teflon® protector
- Membrane: Helikon-Tex® Shark Skin Wind Blocker
- Seven pockets:
- Two chest pockets with zippers
- Two upper arm sleeve pockets with zippers
- One small pocket at the bottom of left sleeve
- Pocket on the back with two openings
- One inner pocket
- Three removable/hidden ID Panels:
- One back ID panel (max. width: 27cm)
- Two front ID panels (max. width: 10 cm)
- Adjustable hood hidden inside collar
- Underarm zip vents
- Bottom drawstring
- Velcro adjustable cuffs
- Equipped with QSA™ system
- WooJin® buckles
- All YKK® zippers
- Two-way front YKK® zipper
I want to focus on another feature I think deserves a separate discussion and that is the QSA. It’s important to quote the specific intent of the QSA as stated by Helikon-Tex on their website:
"QSA is a unique system that guarantees quick and comfortable access to all waist-mounted tactical accessories. Due to the ergonomic solutions applied in QSA system, you can reach for a gun, paralyzer or any other accessory in one smooth motion, which greatly increases your reaction time in emergency/life-threatening situations."
I’d like to highlight a couple of observations from my experience with this system. Overall I found the system requires a high level of dexterity and use of fine motor skills. First I need to grab and pull a 3” long cord hard enough to disengage the buckle and Velcro tab to filet the zipper while hoping all 4 applications don’t fail. From my experiences dealing with emergency and life-threatening situations, I wouldn’t feel comfortable employing the QSA as intended. It’s important to note that when the buckle is clipped shut it will not open unless you pull the release cord or you are able to pull on the jacket hard enough to break the buckle. With all this said when I disengaged the buckle I became confident with just grabbing and ripping up the front half and retrieving my weapon as normal. My only feedback regarding this method is that you are still relying on the zipper to not malfunction. I’d like to see future versions utilize a Velcro closure in place of the zipper and not use a buckle. Also, I think adding a grip area instead of the pull cord to the base of the jacket would help grasp the base and aid in clearing the material. I would also suggest moving the filet seam back to the 8:30/3:30 position. At times when I pulled the jacket bottom to open the QSA the rear portion would cover my pistol grip. If the designers moved this seam back I think it would help prevent covering the grip when using the QSA.
Tall folks-you can order without hesitation. Overall I’m very impressed with the fit and would say the quality is well above most, and just below the best. With some minor tweaks to the QSA function I think this could become a valid option for accessing weapon systems during emergency or life-threatening situations. I’d like to thank Helikon-Tex for reaching out to me and trusting my opinion. I think it’s safe to say we’ll see more of these great applications from them for the next 30 years.
EAGLElement believes the outdoor and tactical communities deserve original and professional reviews of applications that add value to their endeavors. With two decades of successful military operations and a lifetime spent in the outdoors abroad dealing with experiences beyond the norm, EAGLElement understands the specific necessities associated with the outdoor and tactical end user.
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