The following is paid content from Horace Small
By Greg Bogosian
Several common problems have plagued every uniform I’ve worn in nearly 15 years in the field in EMS and police: inflexible fabrics, heavy materials used throughout a garment, shirts that constrict my range of motion because of their cut and construction, and, probably the worst of all, materials that simply don’t breathe at all, trapping me in a furnace on hot days when I’m working outside.
Now, if you look at the uniforms for a different profession, that of professional athlete, you’ll notice that there have been a lot of changes in the way they’re constructed in recent years — one of the most visible of which is the fact that the entire side of most professional baseball uniforms is now composed of flexible, breathable mesh. This left this reviewer wondering why we’re just now starting to see the same kind of innovations coming into our uniforms, which we wear under far more stressful situations, and for many more hours.
Fortunately, I recently had the opportunity to wear-test a brand-new product line from Horace Small, the Deputy Deluxe Plus, which incorporates not only the panels we see in sports uniforms, but many more innovations clearly designed by folks who know what we have to do, and how we need to move, in our daily work, be it in EMS or police out on the streets, or for fire departments in their station wear.
To begin with, let’s talk about that most fundamental piece of the uniform itself: the fabric. Most of us think about how many pockets our pants have, and how they’re configured, as our first consideration when evaluating a uniform, but how the fabric itself is built, and how it performs, are really the most important piece of the puzzle. Horace Small, when selecting the fabric for the Deputy Deluxe Plus line, conducted a worldwide search to find the fabric with the best possible qualities of flexibility, durability, and breathability, which ultimately led them to find a solution that not only met but exceeded their goals. As I was wearing the uniform components around, I realized just how much they breathed, with a soft feel, lightweight construction, and great “give” in my range of motion — and also, by contrast, how little other uniforms I’ve worn have had those features.
Now, that’s not to say that the number of pockets or how they’re configured isn’t important, of course. I tested both of the currently offered configurations of the Deputy Deluxe Plus pant, a 4-pocket trouser and a 6-pocket cargo trouser, and found the pocket configurations both well-thought-out (for instance, a zippered top-loading pocket on each side of the cargo pant to keep things held inside) and also highly usable — on both pants, even with a full police utility belt on, all of the pockets, including the top two, were still easily accessible, something we usually pretty much forego as law enforcement officers when we gear up for the day.
I also found several other useful features on the pants, most notably a stretch panel directly between the legs which allowed for both flexibility and additional breathability, and two stretch waistband tabs which account for how we move at the hips (any EMS professional will tell you just how important that is when carrying a backboarded patient down a spiral staircase) as well as what happens to the shape of our bodies as we sit down or crouch. Some other nice features for the long run include bartack reinforcements at every stress point, and a tough zipper that Horace Small says is basically crush-proof, along with Horace Small’s Ban-Rol® technology, which, as the name suggests, keeps the waistband from rolling down on you during the day.
As far as the shirt goes, the Deputy Deluxe Plus short sleeve shirt I wore around was also impressive for a number of reasons. The entire side panel, from the armpits on down, is constructed of a flexible mesh that seemed to let off a lot of heat from my internal armor carrier, and allowed me to twist in ways that simply aren’t usually possible in my regular uniform shirt. The epaulets, pockets, and cuffs have an interlining of fabric in them for reinforcement, which kept the shirt looking sharp throughout the day, and the buttons have a metal component in them that I think will help to keep them from breaking over time.
One of the more important things for me, however, was that Horace Small seems to have built the shirt with body armor in mind: the chest diameter and the cut of the shirt are built in such a way that the “button stretch effect,” which most of us are used to when we put on the correct-sized shirt we currently have, simply wasn’t there. Some of us have our shirts tailored to reduce that effect, traditionally, but that doesn’t seem to be necessary here — it laid properly and looked great, while still allowing me to move around freely. For EMS and fire station wear, that cut also means that you have more room in the shirt as you move around — not baggy, but comfortable.
Finally, my last positive impression of the shirt was something often overlooked but pretty important to those of us who have to wear a uniform all day: the side panels, as well as the front and back, were longer than normal to help keep the shirt tucked in no matter what contortions we’ve put ourselves through in the day. This is the first shirt I’ve tested that has that feature on the side panels — most extend in the front and back, but I often find that the sides come out with most of my current shirts. Not an issue here.
Overall, the Deputy Deluxe Plus line seems to have a lot of great features which take advantage of the benefits that modern materials can offer in terms of breathability, flexibility, and durability, with a thought-out design that takes into account what we actually do out there on a daily basis, and lets us be more comfortable doing it. Check it out if you get a chance.
To find a local distributor for Horace Small’s Deputy Deluxe Plus line, along with their other products, please visit http://www.horacesmall.com/Distributors.