How does a German nature photographer get the bright idea of writing a report about clothing produced by a British company? The answer is to be found in the results of the ‘acid test’ of the wear and tear the clothing weathered. I view the opportunity to wear and test the clothing as a piece of good fortune. I first came across the products of Stealth Gear when visiting my Scottish friends Laurie Campbell and Neil McIntyre.
I was immediately impressed to see how the special wishes and demands of nature photographers were implemented in full. Shortly before my departure for Spitzbergen I became the proud owner of the Extreme Jacket/Vest and the Extreme Trousers.
All the advantages they provide for nature photographers were evident during my trip.
The material the jacket is made of is wind and waterproof to the extreme – as well as hard-wearing and durable. Of course, this is characteristic of outdoor wear of many manufacturers. What cannot be ignored is the fact that Stealth Gear clothing is tailored to meet the needs of nature photographers and is distinguished by the perfect attention to details.
The many strategically-placed pockets make it possible to safely store all necessary accessories not in the camera bag. If the need arises, the jacket can even be used as a substitute for the camera bag. In the large pockets even a 2.8/70-200mm lens fits comfortably. Nature photographers must always be at the ready. Thus a tripod with camera firmly attached is often carried over the photographer’s shoulders. This habit has been taken into account in the form of specially reinforced shoulder pads and extra padding in the Stealth Gear jacket. The result is that the pressure on the shoulder is reduced considerably – a sensible idea which has been perfectly executed.
A wide patch of thicker material and padding is also to be found at the elbows. Obviously the manufacturer has recognized that animal photographers like to shoot pictures of their ‘prey’ at eye level while lying on the ground propped up on their elbows. The well-thought out Stealth Gear jacket has taken this fact into consideration so that even on stony terrain, this is no longer a problem.
It goes without saying that the jacket comes with two hoods in different sizes.
As already elaborated on as concerns the jacket, for the trousers, all possible wishes and desires of nature photographers were successfully dealt with. Nature photographers are particularly fond of gauging their movements to match those of the objects they wish to photograph and thus are often to be found crawling around on all fours through rough terrain in order to be as inconspicuous as possible. Before becoming the proud owner of Stealth Gear trousers, I was forced to use not-very-suitable aids such as knee padding designed for craftsmen. Often when most needed, I had to face the fact that I had forgotten to bring them with me. The Extreme trousers have solved the problem once and for all. The material at the knee of the trousers is not only thicker; there is a removable pad integrated into the knee area. During the Arctic summer of Spitzbergen I learned to appreciate how extraordinarily convenient it is to be able to kneel down or crawl around on the ground without having to give any consideration to one’s clothing.
Another innovation that proved a blessing – the ‘internal gaiters’. Walking through creeks and embarking from the rubber dinghy, the gaiters kept my feet dry.
Of course the trousers are made of the same heavy-duty (and low-noise) material as the jacket. More strategically located pockets and a high-rise piece at the back rounded out the all-over good impression.
Stealth Gear clothing provides the nature photographer with an exceptional multi-functional outfit designed to meet his needs. The jacket and trousers are water proof and wind resistant, maintain warmth, and will be an intricate part of my luggage for every future trip. In central Europe, they are of use in late autumn, winter, and early spring – and of course in Spitzbergen during the Arctic summer.