Clothing, like tactical gear, serves a function. Aside from the obvious benefits of not running around naked, clothing must be functional and purpose-driven aside from style. We have strong, durable clothing for hard-use work. We have business suits and tuxedos for formal occasions. We have not only sports apparel, but sport-specific apparel that supposedly ekes out better performance for the triathlete, MMA fighter, or competition shooter.
Then…there’s tactical clothing. I put tactical clothing into the following framework; articles of clothing that possess specific features, whether technical or performance-enhancing, that support the end-user in their mission objective. We see these types of clothing everywhere – a sea of nylon, kneepad pockets, integral kneepads, Velcro EVERYWHERE, carabiner loops, squared-off bottomed shirts with snaps instead of buttons, and jackets that can field at least 26 morale patches at a time. Everyone needs their “tactical flair,” it seems.
I also put tactical clothing into another following framework; a little played out and obvious. Now, for those of us that carry a firearm, safety equipment, or an IFAK for a living, the type of clothing we wear is important…but predictable.
The Velcro fields give you away, as do the cargo pants with 6 gazillion pockets and drawstrings at the cuff. Apparently, people still wear paracord bracelets, too. While the clothes may be functional, because, hey, I want to be able to carry AR mags in my cargo pockets too, they stand out to anyone with a modicum of training and experience. Many of us, while plainclothes, want and/or need to have the same level of readiness and versatility as if we were all kitted out…without looking like a walking 5.11 catalog.
I had the opportunity to assist some multimedia professionals and the good guys from Leupold, Aero Precision, StrikeForce Energy, US Night Vision, Hard Head Veterans, Kagwerks, and Baer Solutions on a video shoot a few months ago. While there, I saw a few of them were sporting some really sharp looking clothing from a new brand called Viktos. Intrigued, I took a mental note at the obvious functionality and stylishness of the clothing.
Fast forward to this past January, and I had a chance to check out the Viktos booth at SHOT Show 2018. While there, I met David Corcoran, Viktos’s General Manager, and shot a booth interview with my friends from Guns & Tactics Magazine. I was blown away by the clothing line they presented, which is to say quite a bit – I’m typically unimpressed with “tactical” or “technical” clothing, but Viktos came through on several different levels and seemed to be a perfect blend of functional AND fashionable.
I was so impressed by their clothing, a scant month later I purchased some Viktos gear; the SEREOUS jacket, and a pair of KADRE shorts to test out on my own to see how they held up. I thought that this was an opportune time to reach back out to David Corcoran and revisit some of the talking points about Viktos as a lifestyle brand, and the design philosophy behind Viktos’s line of clothing.
Chris Tran (CT): David, first, thanks for agreeing to chat with me about VIKTOS. You guys definitely bring something new to the market. Can you please tell our readers about VIKTOS; how the company started, and the design philosophy behind your clothing line?
David Corcoran(DC): Thanks, Chris. We definitely strive to push the boundaries, and be on the cutting edge of tactical design. The founders of VIKTOS, Jeff and Justin Fox, are both avid shooters and have a personal passion for the gun industry. Their goal with VIKTOS was to bring something new to the table. They noticed there were a lot of tactical apparel companies, but very few that brought innovation and design to the industry. After talking to some designers that they had previously worked with in a similar industry, they found a way to bring the technical aspects of that industry into the tactical world. In doing so, VIKTOS has created a design philosophy of everyday tactical apparel. Meaning that you can wear our gear in every facet of life. From the workouts that get you prepared for the gunfight, to the everyday apparel that keeps you ready, to the gear that helps you recover after the fight is over.
CT: Now that I own a couple items of your clothing line, I want to know how your design philosophy jibes with the clothing that you produce. Let’s start with the SEREOUS soft-shell jacket. I have been wearing mine virtually daily; both as an everyday shell, as well as out on the range in varying conditions. Can you run through some of the SEREOUS jacket features, and why it was built the way it was built?
DC: Well just like everything else we make, the SEREOUS Jacket is designed to be an everyday wear kind of jacket. It’s stylish, yet versatile design allows it to blend into your everyday apparel seamlessly, but its attention to detail gives it features that make it perfect for concealed carry. First and foremost, the SEREOUS Jacket has a dual side zipper which allows the wearer to choose how they want to access their weapon (whether it’s IWB, OWB or a full rig). It has 4 pockets (2 inside and 2 outside) for ammo, knives, and any other gear carrying needs the wearer might have.
One of the jacket’s unique features is its elbow pads. To the naked eye, these pads might just be for looks, but they also have a design feature that’s really amazing. Put it this way, you know when you drop to the prone position and take that first shot, everything tends to stay where it should be. With the second or third shot, your elbows starts to slide on the fabric of your jacket, and your base position gets shakier. The elbow pads on the SEREOUS Jacket are designed to grip the ground, and hold your elbow more solidly for the repeat shots.
So, for Part I, let’s delve into the SEREOUS softshell jacket.
SEREOUS Softshell Jacket
The SEREOUS softshell is an unassuming, lightweight jacket suitable for mid-season moderate weather conditions. It rains a little bit in the PacNW, and I’ve found the SEREOUS to be a good shield for light rains and low 40ish degree weather with appropriate base layers underneath. The DuPont coating sheds light rain very well, but I surmise that extended exposure to the elements will inevitably allow water to soak through at some point. The four-way stretch material makes for an agile piece of outerwear, and the jacket never binds on the user in athletic or unorthodox positioning conditions.
I’m a small guy; 5’3”/155, and I ordered the medium jacket – the smallest size available at the moment. The “attack posture” fit of the jacket is a little roomier than I typically wear; the tail of the jacket drops a little lower than a typical squared-off outer garment, and I have easily 2” of extra sleeve length, so the jacket doesn’t bind or pull on my shoulders when my arms are extended straight out in front of me, even with my thumbs through the thumbholes on the cuffs.
The slightly-larger-than-advertised dimensions are intentional, as VIKTOS outerwear is meant to be worn as a scalable system; wear one of their other shells, like the ZERODARK insulated softshell for warmth, and the SEREOUS can be worn right over it with no loss of mobility. Pretty slick.
The YKK “Aquaguard” zippers are overbuilt and waterproof. They slide smoothly, don’t bind, and are easy to manipulate with gloved hands. There are 5 main zippers on the exterior of the jacket, the main centerline access zipper, the zippered front pockets, and two other zippers called “Gunvent” access zippers. These two-way zippers are much like the access zippers on a duty jacket; they are a dual zipper system which allow the user to open the vent either up, or down. They are unobtrusive, but serve a great function; not only will they allow the user to vent heat during exercise or strenuous movement, but they also allow the user to quickly (or surreptitiously) unzip the vents to access concealed weapons underneath.
While out and about in public, I’ve already been in situations in my city where questionable characters acting questionably will enter a place of business that I’m in. In one situation specifically, the individual’s behavior was bizarre and alarming enough for me to start strategically zoning my position to allow for a good shooting backdrop if necessary, and to start looking for egress points and points of cover within the store. I was easily able to unzip the Gunvent access zippers and casually place both my hands inside of the SEREOUS jacket. To anyone that had seen me do so, I just looked like I had placed my hands in the pockets of the jacket, but in reality, I had already acquired a good master grip on my appendix carry firearm and was ready to draw if the situation dictated.
On the range, the SEREOUS performed very well. Again, with weather conditions as they are, the Gunvent access came in handy. For uniformed officers, in foul weather, we often will unzip the side-access vents of our coats, expose out duty holsters, and zip the coat back around the holster, allowing it to clear our jacket in the rain or snow. The SEREOUS allows the user to do the same thing, without letting sideways-blowing rain to hit the midsection.
The SEREOUS boasts another advertised feature; the reinforced synthetic suede elbows. The triangular ribbed elbow pads look like a piece of artistic flair, but they actually have a purpose, and that’s to stabilize a prone shooter’s shooting platform behind a long gun. Scrawny guys like me sometimes have an issue on varying terrain maintaining a solid elbow base behind the gun; our bony elbow skin has a tendency to roll while on the ground; the reinforced elbows actually provide a bit of traction to stay in place shot, after aimed shot.
Now, I was originally a bit skeptical of this claim when I heard it and thought it might be just a marketing gimmick, but they actually work as advertised on grass, gravel, and my comfy shooting mat.
The last feature on the SEREOUS is the voluminous hood. I appreciate the fact that I can wear a baseball cap and earpro under the hood without a ton of binding when I look off to the side. The cut of the hood definitely protects the end user from the elements without sacrificing too much peripheral vision once adjusted, however without a hat and earpro, I can get lost in the hood without adjusting the drape of the hood with the integral shock cords. The hood, when fully zipped up generously covers the user’s face all the way up to the base of the nose, which is a great feature for hard wind, rain, and maintaining anonymity – if that’s your thing.
I only really have two super-minor critiques of the SEREOUS as it is currently offered. First, I would have liked to have seen the two interior pockets to have zippers to secure contents within; typically with softshell jackets, I’ll put my wallet, creds, or cellphone in the interior pocket. It would be nice to see those items secured inside of the interior pockets.
The second minor critique I have is the shock cord system for the hood; the cinch clip is cleverly sewn inside the hood itself, I assume to reduce snag profile, but it also happens to sit right at temple height – which would definitely injure the user in the event of strike from the side as it creates a focused hard point. Additionally, if the clip breaks within the hood, then some reconstruction would be necessary in order to have it replaced to maintain functionality. I think that VIKTOS could get away with having the clip exposed down towards the base of the hood.
Other than that, with a MSRP of $175, the SEREOUS stacks up against other softshell offerings from comparably-priced companies out there. I think it was worth the investment.
For Part II, I’ll get into the Kadre shorts. I also just bought the much-anticipated EDC Tech Fleece, and a pair of the EDC shorts, you may see overviews on those articles of clothing as well in the future.
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