By Tom Demerly for MILTECHREV.com
- The Multicam Man: Caleb Crye, innovator of Multicam and Crye Precision products made an appearance in his booth and shared a smile. The Crye Precision booth hosted the darling Hot Shots calendar girls making it a popular stop.
People make our industry and the 2012 SHOT show was a great opportunity to meet the faces behind the products in the defense industry. One of the many benefits of attending the SHOT show is the opportunity to speak to the people behind the products. The 2012 SHOT was an all-star cast of product innovators in defense and tactical innovation.
One of the most impressive, and unassuming figures at the the 2012 SHOT Show was Multicam innovator Caleb Crye. In contrast to many of the defense industry personalities at SHOT with their close cropped military haircuts and tactical clothing Caleb Crye sported a stylish flop, jeans and a family reunion T-shirt styled after Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. You would hardly guess he is one of the most influential military equipment designers in the world.
and equipment have vaulted the soldier’s gear forward. In many cases his advances have come so fast the military has had difficulty keeping up. The slow moving government acquisition process has been a thorn in his side. Crye Precision cleared a major hurdle after the U.S. military community realized the Army ACU pattern was ineffective in arid environments and authorized Multicam as a camouflage uniform. The change provided Crye Precision with a healthy bump in government contracts to its already massive bottom line.
Quiet, shy and unassuming, Caleb Crye is like many great innovators. It was a pleasure to meet him in person, and a little tricky to get him to smile for our cameras.
Another man responsible for innovative camouflage schemes is Guy Cramer
. Cramer uses mathmatical equations and detailed insights into how the eye and the brain perceive objects visually to develop his unusual camouflage schemes. Some of them are truly bizarre. He showed us an “urban” camouflage scheme that seemed to have buildings printed on it, an outwardly odd idea that Cramer claimed was “highly effective in maintaining visual stealth and tricking the eye in the urban tactical environment”.
Guy Cramer's innovative camouflage designs include this unusual urban concept that he claimed made it difficult to visually acquire a soldier in an urban setting.
Cramer’s designs rely on, among other features, patterns within patterns or “fractal patterns”. Fractal patterns trick the brain into categorizing visual images as something other than they are. His designs are effective. One of them is a finalist in the Army’s current selection process for the new soldiers’ uniform being conducted by the Army Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC).
Cramer's visual stealth schemes include the interesting digital pattern on their rep (left) and samples of the proposed new U.S. Army combat uniform scheme on the hangers in the background.
Between interviews at SHOT show we got a chance to meet members of some of the most interesting and elite military and law enforcement units. Some could discuss their units and be photographed, others could not due to security concerns. Among two we ran into who were willing to appear on MILTECHREV.com were a pair of Special Operators from NASA’s elite Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team. Founded in 1979 the team is tasked with high level security operations around our nation’s space centers such as the John F. Kenedy Space Center and other facilities.
Among the many interesting units we met at 2012 SHOT were these officers from the Royal Dutch Army (left) and a pair of operators from NASA's elite SWAT team that secures our nation's space operations.
Another brilliant innovator we had the pleasure of meeting in person is Beej Cronin
, Mastermind Designer along with his associate Chris Cronin
, Director of Sales for Kitanica
. If there are two greatly under rated tactical innovators in apparel design Kitanica is one of them, the other we’ll mention in a moment.
Beej Cronin showed us a number of new designs from Kitanica including their new Winter Softshell, 2 Zip Fleece and Mark V jacket. We’ve been wearing Kitanica’s impressive PNT GEN2 tactical pants
and they are the finest full-feature tactical pants available. Their new fleece tops follow that trend in technology and features and are a strong value at reasonable prices.
The new Winter Softshell uses 4 chest pockets and a unique flow-through ventilation system on the chest ideal for managing heat while carrying a pack. There are also hand warmer pockets, a rear lumbar pocket, three shoulder pockets and a waist and bottom hem drawstring. The jacket is Polartec PowerSheild laminated fleece with a windproof, water resistant layer laminated into the fabric.
The unique 2-Zip Fleece uses a raglan-pattern zipper system that enables the top to be donned over the head while wearing a helmet. This is a boon for layering while inside an aircraft or small vehicle. This also looked like something we’d want to wear under a dry suit for a diving operation. The top is heavy, made of Polartec 300 Thermalpro. It would be an excellent piece for cold maritime environments and layering under a shell jacket in arctic conditions.
Beej Cronin, Mastermind Designer of Kitanica shows us their new 2-Zip Fleece (left) of heavy Polartec 300 Thermalpro and the impressive Kitanica Winter Softshell jacket in windproof and water repellant Polartec Powersheild.
The second tactical apparel innovator we were so impressed by is Vertx. Vertx discreet tactical operator pants are the very best low profile tactical pants we’ve used. The fit, fabric, pattern, pockets and overall features are superb. It’s the tactical pant you can wear without looking… too tactical.
The gem in Vertx’s booth was their new Vertx Multicam Smock. This new version of the classic parachutist’s smock uses new patterning, fabrics and design details to reinvent the tactical smock category. This completely replaces the conventional field jacket, merging an active insulation layer with a shell garment that spans a wide range of temperatures and climates. The Vertx Multicam Smock packs so much technology and design innovation into one garment we are devoting an article to its review (coming soon).
Vertx showed us their discreet tactical pants (left) and their new softshell tactical smock, a great update on this design theme that redefines the category.
We have one final update in our SHOT show 2012 Series here on MILTECHREV.com.