While civilians might whine about rising temperatures, they at least have the option of wearing shorts and a T-shirt with a pair of sandals to beat the summer heat. Police officers must wear a uniform, boots, and a stifling ballistic vest. Yet despite the limitations of regulations on duty, lighter clothing is an option, even if you're not a bicycle cop.
Shirts and pants in cotton, cotton/poly, and lighter weight wool can help decrease your body temperature, even if your agency mandates wearing long sleeves year round. If you're lucky enough to wear short-sleeve uniform shirts or even polos in the warmer months, uniform companies now have a wide range of options to choose from. And don't forget the merits of undershirts that wick moisture to keep you drier and cooler, no matter what uniform you're wearing on the outside.
If your agency-mandated summer wardrobe could use a makeover, read on for ideas to help you weather the heat.
First known for its multi-pocket pants, 5.11 Tactical makes a full line of clothing for law enforcement. The Tactical Polo from 5.11 is designed not to wrinkle, shrink, or fade, and its no-roll collar stands up to frequent laundering without curling. The polo's 100-percent cotton interlock fabric looks sharp and wicks away moisture to keep you comfortable. Convenient double pen slots are located at the left sleeve and mic-clip attachments are on each shoulder and at the sternum level. The polo is available in white, black, silver tan, dark navy, and yellow, with embroidery or imprinting. The new women's tactical polo is currently available in dark navy.
The 5.11 Tactical Shirt features a cape-back with wicking mesh for optimal ventilation, plus 5.11's patented hidden document pockets, dual pen pockets, a reinforced collar, and triple stitching in high-stress areas. It's available in 5.4-ounce cotton canvas or a lightweight, 4.7-ounce nylon ripstop version. 5.11's authentic Tactical Pants, with their trademark rear strap and slash pocket design, are available in 7.4-ounce nylon canvas in four colors and 8.5-ounce, 100-percent cotton canvas in 11 colors. Shorts are also available.
Because Tru-Spec's primary focus is law enforcement tactical teams, the company has responded to requests for cooler warm weather wear from SWAT teams and other special units with BDUs manufactured from 100-percent Rip-Stop cotton, a cooler, lighter weight fabric than most poly/ cotton blends. According to the company, its hottest selling colors at present are Tru-Spec's digital woodland, digital desert, and marine digital camo patterns, all of which are available in BDU trousers and tops in a wide variety of sizes.
Like all of Tru-Spec's standard BDUs, the 100-percent cotton version is made to U.S. military specifications, with six-pocket design, bellowed and pleated cargo pockets, and reinforced seat and knee patches in the trousers.
Blauer's line of StreetGear uniforms with 3XDRY comfort treatment includes the 8810X six-pocket trouser and 8134X 100-percent cotton short-sleeve shirt. New to the line is Blauer's 8120X Under-Gear shirt. Worn under your uniform, this high cotton content compression shirt with 3XDRY technology gives you the same advantage that athletes enjoy on the field—aggressively wicking sweat away from your body to help keep you cooler. However, unlike the 100-percent polyester versions worn by athletes, the 8120X will not melt to your skin under high heat. And because of its raglan-style sleeves, there are no seams between you and your equipment to cause irritation.
The outside of the shirt's fabric is water, dirt, and stain repellent. On the inside, any moisture is quickly absorbed and distributed over a large surface area, accelerating the evaporation process. The 3XDRY fabric keeps you dry from the outside, dry from the inside, and dries three to five times faster than conventional fabrics. The result is that officers stay drier and more comfortable during long shifts in hot weather.
Elbeco's Ufx Tactical Polo, part of the company's new Ufx series, uses high-quality fabric and comfort-enhancing features. The fabric is engineered to stretch in four directions while it wicks moisture away from your body to the surface of the fabric for quick evaporation. The Tactical Polo is designed with a generous cut and side panel construction for ease of movement. The polo has a mic pocket on each shoulder and a mic clip on the bottom placket, as well as a pen pocket on the left sleeve for easy access. Other features include antimicrobial Xeede, UPF 40+ and UV protection, a no-curl knit collar, and snag and pill resistance. The polo is available in dark navy, black, and white.
Elbeco's BDU pants feature six pockets: two front slash pockets, two rear inserted pockets with snag-proof fused pocket flaps, and two bellowed inverted pleat cargo pockets with drain holes. Two adjustable side tabs, secured with four bartacks each, and nylon drawstring leg ties ensure a proper fit. The BDU pants are made of the company's Comfort Twill fabric, which is 50-percent heavier than traditional poplin fabrics. This 7.5-ounce blend of 65-percent polyester and 35-percent combed cotton is finished with stain release fabric protector for enhancement of comfort and performance.
Fechheimer has short-sleeve shirts for both traditional and more casual uniform wear. The company's CoolMax uniform shirt is made of a 65/35 polyester/CoolMax blend. CoolMax channels moisture from the skin through to the surface of the shirt, where it quickly evaporates, keeping you drier and cooler. Features of the shirt include a seven-button placket front with concealed zipper, pleated pockets and scalloped pocket flaps with Velcro closures, and sewn-in military creases. It's available in LAPD blue, white, and medium blue.
Made of seven-ounce, 100-percent cotton piqué, Fechheimer's Power 3 Polo Shirt is colorfast, wrinkle free, and shrink resistant. The polo features a three-button arrow-pointed placket, double-stitched half-moon yoke, double-needle shoulder seams, and a longer tail for stay-tucked performance. Twill tape in neck and side vents reinforces construction, while permanent stays in a never-roll, fine ribbed collar maintain a neat, professional appearance. The Power 3 Polo is available in sizes XS to 5XL and colors academy blue, black, heather grey, navy blue, red, silver tan, spruce green, and white.
In its 20th year, Liberty has come out with its Comfort Zone line of law enforcement uniform shirts and trousers. This practical, durable uniform line took more than three years to perfect with the assistance of Invista (formerly DuPont) and Burlington Worldwide.
Comfort Zone fabric incorporates Coolmax, certified for maximum moisture management performance, which dries up to seven times faster than conventional fabrics to keep you cooler in hot, humid weather and warmer in cold temperatures, and Nanotex technology for added moisture management. The fabric even protects against ultraviolet sunlight thanks to its UPF 40+ maximum protection.
For added wearability, Liberty's Comfort Zone trousers have a stretch waistband that features 360-degree elastic webbing with silicone beading. And Comfort Zone shirts feature an articulating neck button on the collar band to allow an extra half-inch plus of neck room when needed.
Propper International's new Tactical Polo shirt includes anti-stain, anti-wrinkle, anti-shrink, and anti-fade properties. It features Scotchgard Protector from 3M for stain protection. Comfort on the job is also a big consideration for law enforcement professionals who lead a very active workday. Some of the polo's key comfort features include 6.8-ounce 100-percent pique cotton, a tagless label, and cotton/Lycra armhole gussets that allow you to easily move your arms about freely.
In addition to comfort, police officers are always looking to maintain a professional appearance. With this in mind, Propper's new polo includes permanent collar stays to prevent collars from rolling or curling and a longer front/back so that the shirt stays tucked while getting in and out of the vehicle or moving around on a typically busy day. The Polo also includes three mic clips at the placket and at the shoulders for officers to conveniently hang and access their microphones.
The Special Ops Collection from The Force (formerly Horace Small) includes the Tactical Knit Polo, which comes in white, black, dark navy, and silver tan. It features The Force's Dri-Balance Technology for breathability and moisture absorption, a concealed mic loop, and an interlined three-button front placket. Short sleeve and long sleeve versions are available. Sizes range from small to 4XL.
The Force's New Dimension Shirts combine aggressive styling with performance features such as stretch poplin and twill fabrics and Lintrak permanent creases. Added length to sides helps to keep shirts tucked. Due to the poly-cotton fabric blend, these shirts not only perform all year, but are extremely comfortable and easy to maintain. The New Dimension Trouser and Cargo Trouser offer the same styling and comfort to wear year-round. The New Dimension Trouser features mechanical poly-cotton stretch fabric, Lintrak permanent creases, and Banrol technology in the waistband. For a more casual look, the New Dimension Cargo Pant provides the same features as the trouser with additional double-entry cargo pockets on each leg.