Well I guess I must’ve done something right as Alice has asked me to pen another wee post for her blog, and this time I am going to let you know all about our Raptor Waistcoat.
For those who didn’t catch my last post (back in December 2015), my name is Maria Chilvers and I own Country Innovation, which I set up some 20 years ago to specialise in gear for the bird and wildlife market. It was a classic case of starting with one product (which was our Rover Ventile® Jacket which I wrote about in my previous post) and the company has just grown from there to provide a whole range of garments specifically for anyone interested in watching and photographing wildlife.
The Raptor Waistcoat (Gilet, Vest or whatever you want to call it) was a really big challenge. We have always had our Venture Waistcoat, which has sort of become part of the birdwatchers uniform, but I wanted to create something that was tougher and more suited to be able to carry hefty camera lenses and photographic equipment. I looked at many fabrics but the tear tests just weren’t good enough. I finally hunted out an extremely tough, military grade fabric with a ripstop (quite literally stops rips) weave called Rip-Tec. The strength of this fabric is incredible, perfect for what I was looking for.
Now to turn to the design and features. I’ve managed to get 15 pockets into this garment, all of which have been very carefully thought out in terms of size and position, and all highly reinforced where the pocket joins the garment, as there’s no point in having a tough fabric if the stitching then just tears away under the strain of the contents (and let’s face it I’ve seen some customers putting things the weight of house bricks into some of the pockets!).
The 2 upper bellows pockets have press-studded flaps and incorporate 2 pen slots. Then there are the 2 really big vertical zippered pockets which are the size of the whole of the upper part of the garment….easily large enough for fieldguides, notebooks etc.
But of particular note however are the lower pockets….6 in all! Each of the lower bellows pockets has an inner zippered security pocket and side entry pockets to put your hands in, but the really clever bit is that the top opening of these pockets has been elasticated to not only be able to create a bigger opening for camera lens’ (opens to approx. 15cm) but also to again take the strain off of where the pocket joins the garment.
There is a large external rear pocket with flap (40cm x 22cm) and a large internal rear pocket (37cm x 20cm). 3 inner pockets, one of which is ideal for phone or pager, makes up the total tally of 15.
I’ve added in some extra padding in the shoulder area for a bit of comfort when carrying hefty loads, and shoulder epaulettes to secure camera straps. A two-way main zip means that the Raptor can be undone from the bottom for ease of movement and additional ventilation, and the side adjusters can be pulled in for a neater fit. A rear pleat gives that little bit of extra room across the back and the slightly longer scalloped back is of a good length for comfort.
All in all, this garment is highly suitable to carry some of the equipment that you need readily accessible when photographing wildlife. CLICK HERE to take a further look at it and read some of the reviews, and if you have any queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me at: firstname.lastname@example.org