Waterproof, breathable, and fire resistant. The Elements Bib from Massif. An innovative solution to a unique problem.
Everyday is like Christmas around here because the Postal Service, FedEx, and UPS are always dropping something off for us to open up. I only tell you guys about the good stuff. Case in point, these fire resistant foul weather bibs from Massif Mountain Gear.
Over the course of fourteen years I used 4x4s, ATVs, snow skis, Snow Cats, snow shoes, snow mobiles, mules, horses, air boats, canoes, motor boats, inner tubes, motorcycles, Jetskis, bicycles, HUMMWVs, and deuce and a half trucks to get to more than 350 backcountry emergency scenes but most of the time it was done on foot or by helicopter.
While the helicopter was always my favorite mode of ingress it is statistically the riskiest and the one most likely to kill me if a mishap did occur. One of the things that was always in the back of my mind was fire. Dying pretty much sucks no matter how it happens but I am pretty sure burning to death rates right up there as one of the worst ways to go.
When I transferred to Aviation and became an Airborne SAR Tech it was something I actively tried to address with regard to my clothing for obvious reasons. In my role as the third crew member not only was I on the aircraft more than anybody else I was almost always involved in refueling them. It was almost always a hot refuel too which means the engine was running and the rotor was turning. To make matters even more interesting my seat in both of our aircraft was perched on top of the main tanks. Yikes!
My standard personal protective clothing was as follows – wool socks, leather boots, cotton bike shorts, cotton t-shirt, a customized 27P flightsuit, Nomex gloves, and once in a while a Nomex balaclava which all worked fine in moderate temps. The problem came in the fall, winter, and early spring when the nights were cold and there was plenty of rain and snow. My protective clothing wasn’t suited for doing mountain search and rescue work in those conditions. That is an issue because my ability to survive and perform on the mountain was the very reason I was on the bird in the first place so that was my priority. I wore polypro base, fleece or synthetic insulation, and Gore-Tex shell layers head to toe instead of my Nomex. That’s a lot of nylon and nylon doesn’t do well in a flash fire. If anything did happen and there was a fire I would have gone up like a Roman Candle.
Enter a little company that was started by a couple of Jenny Lake Rangers who had exactly the same problem I did but they decided to do something about it. Massif Mountain Gear made fire resistant (FR) zip t-neck tops, long john bottoms, and fleece jackets that looked like they would be worn by a mountaineer not a race car driver which up until that point was our only alternative. The new Massif products were game changers for me. Quantum leaps forward in safety and performance for someone that did what I did in the environments and conditions I did it.
Fast forward a few years and Massif produces a full suit designed for military flight crews. Now they are making an entire line of base and shell layers for all branches of the military in solid colors and service branch specific camouflage patterns.
The Elements Bibs are unique and perfect for the SAR Tech, Ski Patroller, or LEO that has to fly to the scene. They are designed like a technical mountaineering bib but protect like a Nomex flight suit so you get the best of best worlds. They are waterproof, windproof, vapor permeable (breathable), they stretch, are quiet, cut for layering and are highly abrasion resistant. Pretty awesome if you ask me.
More on these after I have had a chance to use them in the field but expect to see big things from Massif in the near future.