3 February 2024 --- Ralph
John Hudson is, among other things, the Chief SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance & Extraction) Instructor of the British Military. Please visit John's own website for more information about him.
In August of 2021, thanks to a generous, anonymous donation and through the connections of our Advisor Ziggy, who served many years with the British SAS, John received an Anorak through our WarriorWool Program. John has tested a huge variety of gear in a wide variety of settings and conditions, and we are fortunate that he gave us permission to use his review (and photos) here.
We are indebted to the Anonymous Donor, Ziggy and John!!!
John sent us the following review and photos on 19 December 2022.
As promised, but much later than I’d planned - apologies please blame work and unforeseen events! - here’s some feedback on the Weatherwool Al’s Anorak in full-weight Duff size large which you kindly provided via your Warrior Wool scheme earlier this year.
I followed the sizing advice on your website and my Anorak arrived a perfect fit, thank you for the fabric samples you pre-sent too, very helpful when deciding on weight and colour. I work outdoors often and know and trust wool, but it hasn’t been easy to find something that I can use ‘at work’ in the military environment; until now. Most of my previous woollens were heavy sweaters that needed a windproof shell and then would quickly get too hot whenever I’m active. The anorak is able to keep me warm if static and has enough options on fasteners to allow me to easily vent when active; its numerous pockets and windproof fabric mean it can replace the shell layer too. The only thing I’ve got wrong so far is user error - most of the time when I put it on I manage to get my second arm through the gap between the pocket liner and the chest rather than down the actual sleeve. I know I’m doing it now though and it’s doubtless just me that needs to adapt and not the design!
I’ve used my anorak in moderate rain in the UK during a pretty cold month in the woods and it is such a good quality weave that the rain stayed out - I haven’t worn it yet in Cornish winter ’sideways’ rain but that’s next on the list. It also pairs well with jeans on a trip to a Dartmoor pub beer garden in early summer - bonus. (I reckon if you ever redesigned the neck opening to have a baffle behind the closure and small ‘duffle-coat’ style buttons you’d have a wearable habitat that would even tick high street fashion boxes).
So 5/5 for typical UK winter weather but interestingly it was also the perfect companion on my recent Desert trip training UK Military Survival Instructors alongside our USAF colleagues near Nellis AFB NV. Desert peoples use wool so I took my anorak along and it was my go to garment the moment the sun dipped below the mountains and for the rest of the sub zero nights. I like the chunky buttons that are very securely attached; it is easy to close vents with cold fingers. For many years I wore a UK made Buffalo, but they are no good near camp fires whereas your anorak is fine with the type of odd spark that would ruin a synthetic jacket. I also like the big hood on your anorak, wearable over big thermal hats and allowing the jacket to be packed away into itself when I don’t need it on.
Thanks very much indeed for the opportunity to use the anorak over here and on our desert course; I handed out your card to those who asked about it. Please let me know if there’s anything else you’d like to know specifically about fit or wear as I continue to reach for it on my travels!
Attached are a few pics that you’re welcome to share/post if you want to,
Using a kamal to determine latitude.
I'd never heard of a kamal until I saw this photo ... it was invented by Arab navigators in the 9th Century.
Wool is good around fire and that can be a REALLY BIG DEAL!
On 2 Feb 2024, John kindly sent me a terrif note from extreme circumstances:
Just wanted to drop you a line to say that your anorak has been the perfect insulation layer in the Arctic. I’ve been wearing it daily while working with the Canadian Air Force’s survival school on their high Arctic course building igloos and that kind of thing.
We’re up at Resolute Bay in the Northwest passage well above the 74 degree North line. I wondered if any of your other anoraks have been way up this far above the tree line and Arctic circle?
There was a lot of positive interest in the anorak from Canadian SERE instructors, many getting photos of the label so they could visit your site. Please let me know if you’d like me to connect you with the senior team members or be happy for me to share your email with them. Their main PoC is [redacted, sorry! -- Ralph]; he’s a SARTECH with some pretty gnarly rescues to his credit.
Here’s a pic I took (quickly) at minus 55 Celsius - the sun doesn’t come back for another week here, feel free to use it in your streams if you like.