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Review - Helikon-Tex Woodsman Anorak Jacket





History of Helikon-Tex

Helikon-Tex was created in 1983 in Poland and initially was a surplus-retailer dealing with military and civilian hiking clothing. In the 90s Helikon-Tex started to look into equipping the modern day soldier with modern day equipment and manufacturing lines took up the challenge to create military kit. In 99, Helikon-Tex took a step into the future and became an established brand catering for the civilian, Law Enforcement and Military end user.


For more info - visit the Helikon-Tex website.


 

Why the Helikon-Tex Woodsman Anorak Jacket?


The weather can never truly be your friend, it'll always let you down when you need it not to and it can turn quickly from burning sun to heavy rain and fog. Wherever you are, it's best to be prepared. I've previously covered the Helikon-Tex Poncho, a suitable very short term solution to remaining dry when static, the Helikon-Tex Windrunner Shirt when you need to remain on the move, but this blog covers the space between that and the NWU Type III GoreTex jacket that I also reviewed back in 2021.


Thoughts turned to a Smock and the need to be able to carry more kit on my person for example if I got separated from my pack or where a pack was overkill for what required carrying. I undertook research into a line of smocks, looking at MFH, Arktis and a range of others. They all offered nearly exactly the same thing for a wide range of prices based upon brand name and materials. As it was to be used in conjunction with the Crye Precision AVS or more typically the Spiritus System chest rig, more and more I turned away from the idea of a smock, where the pockets when worn under the AVS for example would become inaccessible, they'd catch in the micro rigs straps and I eventually lost interest. I was further trying to find something that'd enable me to remain relatively warm and dry in inclement weather and help to protect the kit and equipment that I'm wearing. That's when I came across the Helikon-Tex Woodsman Anorak Jacket.


I'll add for clarity that I watched only one review on Youtube, more to get an understanding of what it looked like and to see what it was capable of, and that was it. I jumped in both feet first with little knowledge and bought the Woodsman. Was I going to regret this?



 

Product details


Herein lies the product description from the website;


Based on the Mistral Anorak, Woodsman Anorak jacket is made of DuraCanvas® - the fabrics more suitable for outdoor and camping. The front is made of DuraCanvas® fabric, therefore it is fire-spark resistant and durable enough not to be damaged by sharp objects and branches. The back of the jacket was made of StormStretch® fabric, to provide higher breathability and better freedom of movement. The whole jacket is highly wind resistant. Woodsman anorak has three pockets, including one kangaroo on the front with internal organizer. Sides are fully zippered up to the arm pits to provide easy don and doff. The side zippers can also be used as ventilation. Additionally the jacket has adjustable, hood with visor. The Woodsman is a part of the Bushcraft line produced by Helikon-Tex.


FEATURES

  • Made of DuraCanvas® fabric

  • Additional gussets made of StormStretch® fabric

  • Large kangaroo pocket with internal organizer

  • Adjustable hood

  • Adjustable cuffs with hook & loops

  • Ventilation zippers in armpits

  • YKK® zippers

  • Press Fasteners PRYM

  • Designed by Survivaltech.pl

 

Packaging exterior


The Woodsman was shipped in a transparent plastic tough bag with only the product sticker on the exterior.


Attached to the Woodsman was the product label detailing inside, the manufacturers / parts used in the anorak. On the rear was the barcode and product details.



 

Woodsman exterior in detail


The Woodsman is manufactured using a mixture of materials; 65% Polyester, 33% Cotton and 2% Elastane across the jacket and is the Taiga Green variant. As I've mentioned in my previous Helikon-Tex Poncho blog, the Taiga Green does complement the readily available Ranger Green kit and equipment that I use. The Woodsman does not feature rip-stop material therefore any rip caused will likely have a big impact on the protection it can offer, however the material that is used across the anorak is of high quality and is not likely to let you down at all. The stitching throughout the product was clean and there were no frays or points noted or loose stitching.



In the below images you can see a comparison of the materials on one section of the anorak. In the first image (anorak exterior), the Stormstretch material is on the left hand side and appears smoother due to materials used, with the DuraCanvas being used on the right hand side. In the second image (anorak interior), the StormStretch material is again on the left hand side with the DuraCanvas on the right hand side.




Woodsman Measurements (worn)


Height 69 cm (1 - front panel)

79 cm (2 - rear panel)

Chest width 54cm

Sleeve length 58cm

Full width 170cm


Weight 706g



The jacket can be simply divided into 4 sections;

  • Hood (highlighted green)

  • Front panel Front pocket (highlighted red) Rear pocket (highlighted purple)

  • Arms & ventilation (highlighted blue)

  • Rear panel



Hood - the hood enables a variation of adjustments and features 6 adjustment points. These are located on the left and right hand side as well as two at the rear.


Vertical / peak adjustment


The first adjustment 2 points are within the interior of the neck of the anorak on both the left and right hand side. These points are at the end of the thin elasticated shock cord that run the entire width of the hood and are capped using small plastic caps. The full length of the cord is highlighted red in image one below. On the exterior of the hood on the left and right hand side are two further adjustment points with cord locks attached to the shock cord mentioned above. By adjusting the cord locks on the left or right hand side, enables the operator to tighten or loosen the hood up and over the front of the face area.



The rear of the hood houses the final two adjustment points. On the mid rear of the hood is another adjustment cord lock that is attached to shock cord that runs horizontally from the front left to front right side of the hood enabling width adjustment to the hood, highlighted in blue in image one below. Above this horizontal cord is a small flap held in place by a thin strip of velcro hook and loop material. Opening the flap enables you to see at the front of the area under the flap is a mesh vent designed to enable heat to escape from the hood when worn. This flap can be closed further by tightening and fixing the velcro strips in place.



The front of the hood is peaked though does not use wire or stiff material and is purely made from a number of material layers and therefore is flexible.



Front - the front panel of the jacket features the chest zip utilising a standard YKK zipper, which when zipped up provides chin protection against the elements using a typical chin guard.



In the chest area of the front panel are the two pockets, front (highlighted red) and rear (highlighted blue). The pockets both span nearly the full width of the front panel.



Front pocket - this is a kangaroo style pocket that is designed to be opened by use of the dual zippers running horizontally across the entire width of the pocket. The zip is covered by an overlapping band of material designed to prevent major water ingress during heavy downpours via the zip, thereby offering that bit more protection to pocket contents in bad weather. The zips when opened fully provide a 42cm opening meaning small and large items being put into or drawn from the pocket are hardly likely to get snagged. Having two zips here means that to access the pocket you don't need to fully open the zip the full width to access just one part of the pocket.



The rear panel of the front pocket is manufactured of the DuraCanvas material used throughout the anorak as is the front panel of the pocket. The left and right hand sides as well as the base inside are manufactured from mesh material which again enables water if it enters the pocket to be able to quickly exit the pocket and provides a light level of breathability.



The interior of the front pocket provides 4 further interior vertical pockets measuring 31cm across all pockets, widths of which are broken down from left to right, 7cm, 7cm, 7cm, 10cm. On the left hand side of the pocket (when worn) is a rubberised cord feed through cross which allows the operator to run a comms cable, Ipod cable etc from the interior of the pocket down the inside of the jacket to a trouser pocket perhaps. On the right hand side of the pocket (when worn) is a small plastic D ring suspended from black material that enables items to be securely fastened within the pocket to prevent anything being pulled out and dropped by mistake.


The middle image below demonstrates use of the pockets, used to carry (L to R); Cold Steel Recon, TBS Firelighter, PETZL TACTIKKA and Karrimor gloves, with plenty more space in front of the vertical pockets for additional equipment.



Rear pocket - this is a full width pocket accessed on either the left and right hand side by the vertical zip which when opened provides a 17cm opening. This pocket is designed primarily for the operator to be able to put their hands inside of the jacket without opening the jacket or affecting the protection ability of the anorak considerably. It can of course also be used as another pocket in which items can be stowed.



The material used at the front of the rear pocket is actually the rear of the front pocket. The rear of the rear pocket is mesh again enabling quick dry of items and provides some breathability factor to the anorak.


Arms and ventilation - this is where the Woodman comes into its own with a great design. The sleeves are manufactured using a single layer DuraCanvas material except on the elbow area in which the material is double thick to provide some level of protection against wear and abrasions as is typical across many jackets. The cuffs on the sleeves are a material and velcro mixture enabling the cuffs to be tightened especially during cold and rainy weather.



On the left and right hand side of the anorak is a zip that runs 63cm from the base of the front panel up the side of the front panel and across approx 1/3rd of the underside of the sleeve. This zip is the ventilation zip and enables the operator to open up the sides of the anorak nearly fully. The zip has two zippers, one at the top and one at the bottom. If ventilation is required under the armpit, the zip under the arm can be opened providing a gap ranging from 1cm to the full 63cm in length. Of note is that there is no mesh material underneath as with some other jackets that prevents debris from entering the armpit vent.



The second zip at the bottom on both the left and right hand sides can be opened the full 63cm length on the side zip. Typically opening these zips on both sides enables the operator to more easily don or doff the Woodsman rather than trying to pull the full anorak over your head. You are able to roll up the material at the front for example and more easily pull it over your head, this can be useful if you're wearing a number of layers or bulky layers underneath.



At the bottom of the zip on both sides is a horizontal tab that connects the front and rear panels of the anorak using a single PRYM Press Fastener. This further helps to cover the bottom of the zip to prevent snagging when the zip is down. If the entire side zip is open for ventilation, these tabs can help to keep the front panel and rear panel connected rather than them potentially flapping around in a windy environment.



Other - On the interior of the bottom on the front and rear panel are horizontal shock cords which run the full width of the front panel and the rear panel. These cords enable the operator to tighten the waist area preventing billowing of the anorak and windchill whereby drafts get into the anorak from the bottom.



Rear - the rear of the jacket as described is manufactured using the StormStretch material which is an elastic blend of 98% nylon (polyamide) and 2% elastane (spandex). This provides some elasticity when donning or doffing the anorak and reduces risk of damage if using a more stiffer / less elasticated material when moving around. Of note is that this material is water resistant but is not waterproof. The use of this StormStretch material was to make the anorak breathable even more so when the operator is carrying a backpack enabling airflow and cooling if required while providing a level of water resistance.



 

Woodsman Configurations


The Woodsman is configurable in two ways which makes it an ingenious product for use in a multitude of locations in my opinion. It is worth noting that this Woodsman was purchased for the ability for multiple layers to be worn underneath and / or use of tactical equipment to be worn underneath as well. For this exact reason therefore, instead of purchasing a Small which is what would fit myself, I opted for the Medium to allow me the flexibility of layers vs equipment.


Standard Config


In its simplest form, the Woodsman can be worn without any changes being made to it. When worn, the Woodsman covers the top half of the body and the additional length of the rear panel to cover the seat is useful to prevent getting wet trousers.


Accessibility


When worn as standard, the pockets are all accessible. The kangaroo style front pocket is of real use where it's large enough to house relevant items such as phone, radio, notebook, blade etc that are maybe needed quickly. Being able to pull open the pocket and look down into the pocket is of more use than fumbling around trying to find the items inside. The addition of the rear pocket means during wet or cold weather your hands don't need to be left out in the cold and is a handy second pocket for storage.



Vented Config


Similarly to above, the Woodsman when worn can be unzipped down the left and right hand sides with the front and rear panels if required, kept together using the bottom PRYM Press Fasteners. Doing so reduces the amount of material moving in windy conditions, provides additional protection against wind / draft but does provide limited further protection from ingression of rain.


Accessibility


When worn in the vented config, this enables the airflow around the armpit area which is incredibly helpful especially if walking over arduous terrain, helping to keep the operator cooler. When the entire left or right (or both) side zips are fully opened and secured at the bottom, this is a noticeable design feature. This provides the operator access to layers underneath where for example further items may be stowed in pockets on a top layer or in trousers.



Tactical equipment Config


When introducing the wearing of tactical equipment under the Woodsman, this side opening enables the opportunity for a low profile plate such as the Crye Precision LVS BVPC to be worn, a low profile chest rig such as the Spiritus System MK4 Micro Rig or even a larger plate carrier such as the Crye Precision AVS. When worn in inclement weather whether it be on the range or even during low profile reconnaissance taskings, you can have full accessibility from the left or right hand side to the tactical equipment worn underneath.


LVS + LVS Overt Cover (Mag Pouch)


The images below illustrate the LVS + LVS Overt Cover being worn and show it when the anorak is fully zipped up and shows accessibility to the LVS + LVS Overt Cover when the side zips are partly or fully opened.



Spiritus Systems Mk4 Micro Rig


The images below illustrate the Spiritus Systems MK4 Micro Rig being worn and show it when the anorak is fully zipped up and shows accessibility to the Spiritus Systems MK4 Micro Rig when the side zips are partly or fully opened.



Crye Precision AVS


The images below illustrate the Crye Precision AVS being worn and show it when the anorak is fully zipped up and shows accessibility to the Crye Precision AVS when the side zips are partly or fully opened.



 

Maintenance


As with all of your tactical equipment and clothing, maintenance should be a part of your routine of handling, using and storing your gear. If your gear is cleaned, repaired and looked after, it'll obviously last longer which is essential when considering replacement costs of damaged gear through negligence. The Woodsman can be cleaned following the instructions, namely;

  • Luke warm water and soft brush can be used to remove excess dirt / dust etc from anorak

  • Allow to hang and dry naturally

  • Once dry, check anorak thoroughly for any rips or damage to zips, shock cords, stitching, eyelets and fabric materials.

  • Recommendation to also; not dry clean, bleach or tumble dry.

  • If washing in a machine, water temperature shouldn't exceed 30C.

 

Testing


The Woodsman was tested over several months in a variety of weather conditions in a variety of locations.



Light rain


Worn - the Woodsman was worn in both the standard and vented config and the anorak provided good coverage meaning that the top half was kept dry. The vents were used on occasion when moving up and over arduous terrain and this did help with ventilation and airflow.


Heavy rain


Worn - the Woodsman was worn in both the standard and vented config. Of note is that during heavy rain, water did ingress at the base of the neck and top of the shoulders area via the StormStretch material.


Windy conditions


Worn - the Woodsman was worn in both the standard and vented config. The lower elasticated shock cords were tightened to prevent windchill up through the anorak and the fact that it is wind resistant certainly helps me to maintain warmth balance. In light wind there was some movement and in heavy wind there was slightly more movement.


Hood


One area worth noting when testing, is when the hood is used, not having a wired peak or stiffer material means that rain does get onto your face easily. It's worth wearing a baseball cap or boonie and having the hood up and over will then offer the operator limited protection but more than zero. Much like with other jackets, I tried and tested wearing a boonie, baseball cap and Team Wendy EXFIL Carbon helmet. The only issue came with the helmet which was needed to be taken off and replaced when donning the Woodsman. As mentioned above, water during heavy rain did ingress at the base of the neck and top of the shoulder area along the stitching and through the StormStretch material as highlighted below.



 

Thoughts and opinion


The Woodsman anorak has been used in a variety of weather conditions, some great, some not so, however during all of the testing it has held its own. As mentioned above, the purpose of obtaining the Woodsman was to own a lightweight, dependable wet weather solution that wouldn't let in rain easily but also didn't have the usual Gore-Tex crinkle. Whilst not fully waterproof, the Woodsman is water resistant and the primary area of water ingress concern is the neck and shoulder area, but this can be rectified by wearing a lightweight shemagh / high collar that'll keep rain away from the back of your neck. The Woodsman can further be used in a tactical setting due to its Taiga Green colouring and also doesn't look out of place on civilian street.


I purchased the Medium to enable me to wear multiple layers underneath and / or give me the ability to wear low profile tactical equipment if required. With the medium size, I am comfortably able to wear three lightweight layers and a Softie Sleeka Elite jacket underneath the Woodsman without it feeling tight. This was especially useful on the range where during downpours I wasn't having to let my kit get soaked but where it was handily accessible with minimal fuss. The material used not being rip-stop was initially of concern as working through wooded environments, inevitably it'll get snagged and a chance in reducing damage to the anorak was something that I considered. Having worn it out and about though, having snagged it on branches, having brushed it against brickwork etc I don't feel that the material is any less resilient that it should be. The cuffs were a plus as historic Helikon-Tex products had velcro cuffs where the hook flap had a rubber part attached to it to aid in grip, but which always failed after getting too wet or hot and ended with the rubber part peeling away from the cuff, thankfully this 'feature' has been dropped.


For me the biggest downsides were the hood and the rear StormStretch panel. Whilst the hood is fully adjustable (a necessity these days), it can't be stowed in the collar or neatly folded away. Stowing it in the collar can then make the collar uncomfortable and bulky but at least as the hood is made from lightweight material, it will likely not be an issue. In regards to the StormStretch rear panel, I can see that Helikon-Tex wanted to make the Woodsman breathable hence the rear panel material used, especially when used in combination with a pack, however this is a let-down considering the rest of the anorak is noticeably water resistant. If they'd used the DuraCanvas material on the rear panel instead of the StormStretch material, the anorak would've been a lot more water resistant which is the biggest negative from me.


Would I use this on the range or during short tactical time bounded operations, yes. Would I use this in a downpour instead of Gore-Tex or in a persistently wet environment, no. All in all the Woodsman is a good mid range anorak that suits a number of environments and its appeal and use will purely depend on what you need to do, where and what the weather is like.


 

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Final Note

I am not paid for my blogs by the manufacturers or companies that I purchase my items from. I am not offered freebies to promote a product. These blogs are purely written from my own experience in truth to help advise and inform others who may wish to purchase the items or understand more about them. If I am sent a freebie to review this will be stated at the beginning to make you aware.


If you have any questions about the product, want more photographs or want to learn more about a specific feature that I've covered, please comment below and I'll be happy to respond and help.

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