For more than 30 years, Salem, OR-based WaterShed has been supplying bad weather wear for law enforcement officers. The company’s StormForce product line includes pants, jumpsuits, and jackets, including the Alpha and Tango.
The Alpha was WaterShed’s first law enforcement jacket, and Jodi Shearman, WaterShed’s design manager, says it remains the company’s most popular law enforcement outerwear. One of the reasons that the Alpha is so popular is its versatility.
A very traditional looking police jacket, the Alpha offers three layers of Gore-Tex laminate and tape-seals for weatherproofing. Shearman says the jacket is modular so that it can be worn in most regions of the country for three seasons per year. “It has a zip-in liner. The zip-in system does not affect the waterproof capabilities of the exterior shell and it keeps you nice and warm,” she says.
Features of the Alpha include billowed hand-warmer pockets, storage areas with hook-and-loop closure, places for pens and flashlights, and articulated sleeves.
Originally designed to be worn above the belt line so that the officer could access their tools, the Alpha is now available as a full-length jacket. A variety of options are available for the Alpha, including multiple collar choices, weapons access areas, and venting.
While the Alpha is designed to be worn over the officer’s uniform shirt and concealable vest, WaterShed’s Tango jacket was created for wear under exterior vest carriers and load bearing vests.
Like the Alpha, the Tango features Gore-Tex waterproofing and tape sealed seams. Additional features of the Tango include two zippered pockets on the chest, articulated sleeves, a left arm pocket, and a weapons access zipper. There are also many options available on the Tango. One interesting option available for the Tango is narrower sleeves for female officers.
Offering narrower sleeves for female officers is a natural for WaterShed. The company is big into making sure that its apparel fits the buyer perfectly. “Everybody has their own ideas about what fits best on them. Some want it skintight. Some want more room. What we developed is sizing samples that we will send to a department or individual with instructions on video and paper,” Shearman says.
WaterShed doesn’t just listen to its customers about their individual sizing preferences. The company has a stated mission of listening to its customers and incorporating their suggestions into its products. “All of our garments are wear-tested in the field. We want to listen to what our customers want and don’t want,” Shearman says.
Many of the features and options on the Tango were suggested by customers or modified to meet customer requests, Shearman says. For example, the first version of the Tango had the pit zipper and the weapon access zipper combined. Police testers told the company they wanted a different design. The Tango now has two separate zippers for access to weapons and pit venting.
WaterShed StormForce jackets are made in the USA using some of the highest quality materials available, including Gore-Tex fabrics, YKK zippers, and 3M reflective. The quality of materials makes the jackets extremely durable, according to Shearman. “We have some agencies that have been wearing the same jackets for 30 years,” she says.
One reason why that is possible is that WaterShed will refurbish and repair its jackets for much less than the cost of new garments. The refurbishing process restores all of the weather proofing the jack-et had when it was new. Shearman says that repairing and refurbishing the jackets matches the company’s philosophy about its public safety products. “These garments are designed to be tools to help officers with their jobs,” she says.