What is going on tribe? It's Fitzy (the Warfighter Athletic founder) here again with a new installment on the progress we are making with OPERATION TOA as we live the pursuit of excellence.
The weekend just gone was a massive success, with David and I deploying into the hills to test the newest set of prototypes in a range of extremely demanding and adverse environments.
On Saturday morning we conducted the road move from our home location, heading North and ascending up into the wild Ruahine Ranges to spot X (one of Dave's favorite hunting spots.
Once we arrived at the VDOP (vehicle drop off point) it was packs and boots on, bolts in guns, and time to begin the infil, descending down into the valley. The route starts off with a seemingly never ending snaking trail through swampy leatherwood before breaking out into native bush as we begin to lose elevation.
After a few hours and a few kms covered , the quads were happy to see the valley floor. By the time we reached the river, the gear had already been through some great tests of durability as the bush and swamp pulled, grabbed and threw mud at it's fabric.
Now on the valley floor, our objective was the move down the river to find a night location that was advantageous to our planned hunt. As we snaked our way down the river, we climbed across boulders, scrapped on rocks, conducted many river crossings and pushed through scrub, truly testing the durability and performance of the gear.
Reaching our night loc we established our 2 man camp, got the brews on and fueled up for another walk up the valley during the fading daylight hours to try and find a meat animal for the freezer.
It was time to step off and the wind was up, it was blowing in the opposite direction we were stalking which was a win, but it was starting to blow pretty hard, not ideal for hunting. For this walk we both wore the high performance 3 layer waterproof breathable jackets, pants, and base layers we are developing.
Pushing off into the wind, we seen a lot of sign out on the ground so there were definitely animals around. As we stalked our way up the valley it was back to river crossings, bush bashing, scrapping on rocks and yeah, more river crossings, it is safe to say the DWR on the pants have been tested to the max!
With the light fading and no sign of any animals it was time to head back to our night loc. Returning to camp we both agreed at how impressive the gear had performed all day. The jackets easily keeping the brief showers at bay and protecting our torsos from the gusting winds. We have invested in a 20k/20k waterproof breathable membrane for the jacket, so it was good to see how well it breathed, preventing us from over heating and soaking the jacket from the inside out.
What was truly impressive was the DWR (durable water repellent) treatment in the fabric we selected for the pants. It held out an unusual amount of water given the amount of abuse it had suffered during the day, meaning we were comfortable and left to focus on the task at hand.
As darkness set in, Dave got the fire going whilst I got dinner on. Within no time, the pants were dry and ready for another day of thrashing. With day 1 in the bag, from pants to jackets and base layers, we were both extremely impressed with the latest prototypes with only minor tweaks needing to be made (I wouldn't be pursuing excellence if I didn't find at least one tweak that would enhance performance).
Waking the next morning we treated ourselves to a sleep in before pushing back up and out of the valley. With cheese kranksys, bacon and coffee down our necks, it was packs on and time to start the exfil. The Exfil route takes us from the valley floor, climbing back up through the native bush to the snaking leatherwood forest where after 1200m in elevation gain we would be back at the VDOP.
The walk out is good few hours of up hill grind, a great test for the mobility and dexterity of the gear as our legs reach up for the next food hold. Once the majority of climbing is behind you, you are greeted with energy sapping, swampy, mud filled tracks that lead back to the 4WD track where our ride home awaits.
With a solid PT session in the bag, we were both feeling good about the trip. No we hadn't seen any deer, but half of the fun comes from just being out there doing it with good company.
We both came away really proud of the work we have been doing with OPERATION TOA and the quality of the gear we are producing. I have invested a lot of passion, energy, time and money into the project so it was really rewarding to see how close we are to finalizing gear that we know is going to change the game.
In summary this was a great trip that really proved what we were doing was going to be a massive game changer for those seeking high performance technical apparel, that is extremely functional in design, that won't weight you down, and is extremely durable.
Andrea, aka the Italian stallion, aka our technical apparel designer, has our feedback points and is already at work making sure the tweaks and refinements are implemented. We don't dwell in the aim here at Warfighter Athletic, we are in pursuit of excellence in all that we do.
Stay tuned for the next installment of our mission to create the ultimate Warrior Athlete Clothing System.