Helikon Trooper is one of the most popular Softshells on the market, mainly because of its value to money and few color (and camouflage) options available, which makes it wearable both in airsoft skirmish and in daily life. 2 years ago I was looking for a not too expensive softshell jacket, that wouldn’t be flashing everyone in the city with its “tacticalness” (so camouflage is not really an option for me) and still would fit for use in the woodlands. The main criterion of search was that my jacket must be all-year-round – most of softshell jackets on the market contain warm membrane inside, which makes it useless in hot summer. The durability in all weather circumstances was just as much important. As you can expect by the article title – I have chosen the Helikon Trooper in Alpha Green (it seems to work both in everyday use and woodlands).
The Jacket is shipped in transparent plastic foil. After unpacking it’s quite crumpled, but no worries – after some time it’ll stretch out on users body ;).
The softshell fabric is completely synthetic – 98% nylon and 2% of spandex, which makes it more elastic. The material is windproof and partially waterproof due to the DWR coating – rain won’t sink inside. The another advantage of synthetic material is that it dries incredibly fast. Breathability of Trooper is great, thanks to no membrane inside of it.
Zippers are the popular YKK, which are sewed in inversely – by doing that they’ll be potentially less affected by water and mud. Every zipper has a paracord loop, which makes the unzipping and zipping it a lot easier in thick gloves.
Cuffs are made of elastic material. There is also Velcro in there, which makes all the regulation very simple.
The stitching of the jacket is secure and solid, even after two years of constant usage.
The main zipper of Trooper is two-way, which improves the comfort of usage and makes belt pouches easier to reach.
The Helikon Trooper has a lot of practical pockets, that are arranged on the whole surface of the jacket – even if we block the front pockets with our plate carrier, we will still have a few more usable pouches available. All of the pockets are sewed inside the jacket, so nothing will stand out of the jacket profile.
The pockets are placed:
On the arms – they give a lot of space to use, but I won’t recommend putting there any heavy objects. Best thing for this pouch are: the map, wallet, documents, keys (there is a special d-ring on elastic band, which can be used for them), radio/mp3 (there is a special hole for headphones wire) or just some sweets. To present you the maximum capacity of this pocket, here is list of what have I managed to hide in it:
– my wallet
– Makarow pistol replic
– two airsoft speedloaders
– my home keys
– spare flashlight
Of course it is extremely uncomfortable to wear all this things at once it this pocket, but if someone is brave enough… why not ;). Personally, I usually put there a map of the terrain and red flag. That pouch is meant to be flat and I simply like to keep it like that.
There is also a 9x11cm velcro surface on each arm, which gives you a lot of space to fulfill with your favourite morale patches.
On the forearm – it’s also capacious. You can easily fit your Sopen hand in it. Unfortunately, it’s placed only on the left arm. I suggest you to use that pocket for maps or plastic cards.
On the chest – these are the two main (and the biggest) pockets in the Trooper jacket. Both of them contain holes for headphones wiring and d-rings for keys and small objects. The left chest pouch also has two separate little compartments to isolate things like car keys, coins etc.
Talking about the chest pocket capacity, besides of obvious equipment like maps, document, protein bars, you can also fit pistol magazines or AR15 and even AK magazine in it. It’s a great solution for longer operations, when you would want to take your vest/chest rig off to rest and still have some spare ammo nearby.
On the back – there is a high capacity double-side pocket. I think it’s best to keep there things like spare socks, gloves or beanie.
It’s hidden in jacket’s collar and secured by double-sided zipper. It is possible to regulate it in 2 ways. The first one is responsible for the hood size and is placed in chest pockets. The second way to regulate is to use the shockcord placed at the back of the head. Properly adjusted hood doesn’t interrupt our vision, because it’s “welded” to our head.
The Trooper has 2 big vents placed right below the armpits. But it my opinion, it’s not the best solution – I would improve two things. First of all, I would add some net to prevent object falling inside our jacket, when crawling. The absence of net makes some sense, when we’re using the Trooper with other clothing like fleece. But because Trooper is all-year-round model, I would recommend Helikon to place net in that vents. Talking about my second improvement – vents zippers should be the two-way ones, which would make the air circulation adjustments more precise.
Like I said before – I’m using the Helikon Trooper for almost two years. I have tested it in different weather conditions – in the rain, in the snow, even in the heat. In all of this situations the Trooper jacked performed very well.
During the summer rainy days, when it’s not cold, but just damp, there is a high chance that you’ll get your clothes wet. In this kind of situation you need waterproof jacket with good air circulation. In this kind of weather conditions I just wear my Under Armour T-shirt with the Trooper jacket on it. Trooper protects me from light rain and wind, and the UA keeps my sweat away. When it’s too hot for me, I just use the vents below armpits. When the rain goes away, I can just hide the jacket in my backpack – it’s really easy to “compress” it, so it doesn’t take much of packing space.
At this time of the year it is a little colder and wetter. Here comes an additional layer for my clothing, like some fleece long-sleeve. You can easily spend a while laying in the wet grass – Trooper will get some visible wet spots, but it’s still fully comfortable to wear.
The Helikon Trooper still does its job! For the second layer of clothing I wear Helikon Patriot fleece jacket (stay tuned, there will be a review in some time) and of course – thermal underwear. This combo does its job easily in temperatures like -5 or even -10 Celsius degrees, especially when I wear my plate carrier on the jacket. During one of our trainings in the winter, I was lying in snow for a while (we were preparing an ambush) and I couldn’t feel any dampness coming to my body. Even if it would find its way in – the fleece was still protecting me from discomfort. It’s obvious that some gore-tex or hardshell would perform better than the softshell, but it was performing just sufficiently for my needs.
The situation is almost identical to the summer or autumn. If you use correct layers of clothing below the jacket, it will perform just fine.
As can be seen, the Helikon Trooper jacket is truly a product designed for an all year long usage.
It’s almost 2 years since I’ve bought my Trooper, and I still don’t regret any penny I have spent on it. Despite of few cons, that I have mentioned before, Helikon Trooper jacket is actually one of the best value for money tactical softshell available on the market. The DWR protection doesn’t guarantee a lifetime service, but if you’re maintaining your product correctly and use some impregnates from time to time, you don’t have to worry about anything. If you’re going to purchase Trooper, I highly recommend you to try it on before making final decision, because the size label of this jacket is non-standard. For example, people who wear M size, often choose the L size. Because this jacket is quite short (it ends on your hips) it’s best to match the size of it right to your personal needs.