|Wearing clothing that is fit for purpose sounds obvious enough and while the choice in outdoor clothing is vast it is worth considering apparel designed specifically for photographers.
If you love being outside with your camera, it makes sense to wear the appropriate clothing.
For clothing that is aimed at photographers and designed to perform at its best in challenging conditions, have a close look at the Stealth Gear Extreme range. On offer is a jacket, a smock, trousers and various accessories such as card holders. Here I tried the Stealth Gear Extreme Urban Photographers Smock which sells for £199.99 and sits at the top end of the outdoor clothing market.
The manufacturers often give products names just to give customers some idea what the product is designed for. The example here is that Stealth call their charcoal-colour kit ‘Urban’ and the green-colour kit ‘Rural’. It does not mean, however, the urban kit can’t be worn in the country or vice versa. Personally, I prefer the charcoal look which is seen here.
The expression 'you get what you pay for' is spot on when it comes to Stealth clothing. You only have to pick up this smock to appreciate that it is a substantial piece of kit that is full of practical features that many photographers will find indispensable.
Getting the right size is obviously important for any item of clothing. I had a Large smock designed for a 46in chest and I found this smock a snug but comfortable fit. I am medium build and once on the fit is perfect. Getting it on and off just took a little practice and I soon learnt to undo the side zips for greater ease.
As it is just Autumn I found one base layer under the smock to be fine and certainly warm enough. In really chilly weather I might have two layers and getting the smock on might be more of a challenge. If you are buying in-store it is worth visiting the shop wearing what you might typically have on in terms of thermal layers and so on. If you are buying online just check with the retailer about the arrangements should your chosen size be incorrect.
All that said, I think it is quite possible that a good base layer with this smock is good enough (plus woolly hat, scarf and so on) for all but the most extreme temperatures we are likely to experience in the UK.
Anyway, with the ambient temperature of 10°C (cool, rather than cold) and a chilly breeze for my test I found a thin base layer and this smock to be an excellent combination. In fact after walking a little way with camera bag and tripod, I had to call the ventilation zips into action and very useful they are too. Equally, once I stopped, started taking pictures and cooled down, doing up the zips keep me nice and toasty.
Being able to adjust the climate inside the smock so easily is clearly important because taking off and putting on the smock is not something you want to be doing every five minutes. Also, unlike a jacket, you can’t just undo it.
The smock comes with padded shoulders and elbows, plus there is plenty of padding in the front pouch. Personally, I found I preferred using the smock without the padding just for a bit more freedom of movement. It takes a few seconds to remove padding which I left in the car. The beauty of the design, though, is that if I decide later that I want to enjoy the extra comfort offered by the padding it is a quick job to put it back in place.
The big front pocket is perfect for storing things. It is big enough for a 13in screen laptop and I found it handy for carrying my iPad, especially knowing that if it rained that it would be afforded excellent protection from the elements. I also included snacks, a drink, spare cards, filters, tripod plates and much more. You can also use it to hold your camera to stop it bouncing against your chest as you yomp along.
I found the smock a pleasure to use. It kept me warm and I could regulate temperature quickly enough with the underarm vents, there are numerous nice touches including the anti-slip grips on both shoulders and the many pockets, zips and studs on offer.
Ruggedness, excellent protection and comfort all rate highly with this Stealth Gear smock. If anything, you could accuse Stealth of over-engineering it because there so many features such as pockets, zips and thoughtful touches including the Sit Anywhere Sheet. The flipside of this is that they offer excellent value for money and photographers who invest in these products will want for little.
Go out in this Stealth Gear outfit and you are seriously well equipped for virtually anything that the photography weather gods can throw at you. It is more than likely that you or your camera gear itself will give up the ghost long before this clothing outfit will.
Stealth Gear Extreme Urban Photographers Smock: Pros
Built to last
Lots of pockets
Zipped underarm ventilation holes
Stealth Gear Extreme Urban Photographers Smock: Cons
Getting it on/off can be a challenge
Styling that you will either love or hate
Stealth Gear Extreme Urban Photographers Smock: Specification
|VALUE FOR MONEY
||0845 652 0013
||40in, medium 42in, large 46in, X-large 50in, XX-large 53in
||Outer shell is polyester micro suede and has TPU lamination to give waterproofing and breathability. DuPont Teflon treated to repel dirt. Outer shell is designed to be rustle-free.
100% nylon reinforced panels that are waterproof, windproof and breathable
||Side two-way zippable vents give more comfort, flexibility and make getting it on easier
Large front pouch – this is ‘floating’ to allow a camera bag waist strap to go underneath
Elbow and shoulder pads
Anti slip shoulder pads for extra grip
Taped seam give waterproofing
Adjustable cuffs with elasticated inner storm cuff
Strengthening on the back to cushion photo rucksack
Sit anywhere sheet – acts as a pocket when not in use
All pockets are waterproof
Corduroy collar for comfort and to cushion camera strap
Choice of hoods, fastened with press studs. Two hoods and a mesh face net are supplied
The Stealth Gear Urban Photographers Smock is price at £199 and is available from Warehouse Express here:
Stealth Gear Extreme Urban Photographers Smock
See our review of the matching Stealth Gear Extreme Urban Photographers Trousers here