14 July 2011

Massif: Part 2

In our first installment if Massif products, “Massif: Part 1”, we talked a lot about the Massif ABS. That little guy continues to impress with its durability and comfort, so I think we are going to put it to bed on its evaluation period. Verdict…it is well worth the buy if you aren’t in a position to get it issued to you. Conversely, if you are actively serving, talk to your Supply NCO about making it part of your standard issue!

We were going to make Part 2 of the Massif overview a catch-all for everything else they sent us, but I think we are going to change it up a bit. Instead of going over a bunch of product, I am going to highlight just one: the Helium Crew long sleeve shirt.

I happened onto this review on accident. During this Iraqi Security Forces training course, we spend the first week out on the firing range, getting the students familiar with their AK47, getting familiar with different firing positions, weapon zero, firing drills, and finally qualification with their weapons. During that time, we spend all day cooking out in the sun; so we do everything we can to stay cool in the Iraqi summer sun. When I got up on DOT 4 and realized I needed to do laundry the night before, I was a little bummed because I knew I was about to get destroyed by the sun that day. Digging through my pile of lightweight T-shirts, looking for one of my paper-thin DriFire undershirts, I came across my Massif Helium Crew. I passed over it for a second…but came right back to it with a thought. These shirts are basically the combat shirt without the uniform sleeves…why couldn’t this thing be worn under my armor to protect my arms from the sun, while still giving me protection in the prone position. The simple answer was that it could be. I knew it would keep me cool because it was lightweight and is moisture wicking. I already knew the lightweight material on the torso of the combat shirt wore comfortably against my skin while wearing armor, so this should too. Really the only big thing I was missing was the padded Super Fabric elbows of the combat shirt.

-As predicted, this shirt kept me cool. The moisture wicking capability worked as advertised, keeping sweat saturation way down under my armor. Please understand that when it is 125-130 degrees out, you’re going to sweat. There isn’t a product in the world that is going to keep your clothing from absorbing and holding a little bit of sweat. The moisture wicking technology is something that can help mitigate that, but it cannot defeat it completely in those temperatures.

-Because this shirt is made out of very lightweight material, it made wearing that long sleeve shirt completely bearable. It has a bit of an athletic fit, which I liked, but wasn’t like wearing an Under Armor Heat Gear shirt…those things feel like you’re wrapped in plastic wrap all day long!

-Durability was something I had concern with wearing the Helium Crew under my armor. It wasn’t really designed for such an application so I expected it to deteriorate a bit from the friction of my armor carrier. I expected to take off my plate carrier and see fuzz balls all over the torso from the nylon rubbing on the material…didn’t happen! I expected the same on the elbows from being down in the rock and sand while in the prone position…didn’t happen! This thing looks like it is in the exact same condition in which I removed it from the package.

The final verdict on the Massif Helium Crew is that it is a lightweight, cool, and durable long sleeve shirt. It is a great piece of kit to be worn under your uniform shirt, or under your armor. I was really impressed with the fit and comfort of the Helium Crew, and would recommend its use and purchase. Keep up the good work Massif, I’m looking forward to the further development of your clothing line!

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