Crye’s G3 Combat Shirt is another of the brand’s famous products which is well overdue for an update.
Luckily, someone has done it for them: Arcteryx LEAF.
I still stand by my review of the G3 shirt from a few years ago, but you just know that a brand with the outdoor experience of Arc’teryx is going to produce something very good indeed.
That being said, everyone’s fit is different and fit is probably the single most important factor when choosing between products which are very much alike. And, given that I get on so well with the G3 shirt, it was always going to be difficult to beat. Which just demonstrates what a good job LEAF has done.
Aside from the velcro hook field on the collar, this shirt is almost perfect. More on that later.
Arc’teryx LEAF is no Haley Strategic when it comes to explanatory videos, but here’s one they put out about the shirt which runs through its main features:
As you may have detected from the tone of this piece, I’m going to be making comparisons between Crye’s G3 Combat Shirt and what I see as LEAF’s equivalent. Why am I making this comparison? Well, because Crye’s shirt is the gold standard. However, it just so happens that LEAF’s shirt just nudges into platinum standard.
The Arc’teryx LEAF (Law Enforcement and Armed Forces) Assault Shirt AR (All-Round) builds on Crye’s successful G3 Combat Shirt architecture; swapping Crye’s raglan sleeves for a more traditional shoulder line.
I was hesitant at first about this shoulder configuration, because I’ve always found raglan sleeves to be the most mobile of configurations. In actual fact, there is no noticeable difference in mobility between the two.
The arms and shoulders are in a robust ripstop, no melt/no drip, 50/50 NyCo Cordura knit. The torso is composed of no melt/no drip 40/60 NyCo Cordura weave.
Compared to Crye, the fabric on the arms and shoulders of the LEAF shirt feel more robust and harder wearing. Similarly, the woven torso feels more substantial – but not by much. Arguably, this toughness should come at a cost: heat management, based on climate, aerobic exercise, or both.
3. Heat Management
Whereas the G3 is built for hotter climes, the LEAF is ‘AR’ – All-Round – which is Arc’teryx’s language for all conditions. Sounds perfect for the UK, right?
Because of this orientation, you may reasonably expect LEAF’s shirt to be slightly warmer than the G3. However, Arc’teryx being Arc’teryx, they have a trick up their sleeve – if you’ll excuse the pun.
A. Ventilated Armpits
The LEAF’s armpits are composed of TenCate Defender mesh. This encourages air flow and is particularly well placed to direct it underneath armour carriers etc.
All stitching is straight and true, throughout the item, as can be seen here.
The shirt can be further ventilated at the neckline, although it isn’t as deep as that of the G3. I’m guessing that’s because, with a PC in place, you can only open the neckline so far; regardless of how long the opening is.
The neckline is secured by a velcro and a chunky, robust, slotted button. The latter is taped in the Canadian style, through its slot.
I can see why LEAF decided to dispense with zips. If a zip breaks in the field, it’s irreparable. Velcro is highly survivable and buttons are easily replaced.
As I mentioned in the Introduction however, the velcro here represents one of my few gripes with LEAF’s shirt. Basically, if the collar isn’t secured and the hook field is exposed, items like weapon slings can hang. It’s not dreadful, but it is annoying. Last time out, I took to gaffer taping the hook field to prevent hang-ups.
Cuffs can also be put to good use in heat management, and LEAF’s cuffs are very nicely delivered indeed. LEAF dispenses with Crye’s velcro tabs and goes with more of those chunky, robust slotted buttons; again taped secure, in the Canadian style.
The buttons are easy to manipulate. At the cuff end they are arranged in two positions, to suit.
The cuff is fairly broad, while not resembling a wizard’s sleeve. This makes it easy to roll the sleeves up, as far as the elbow pads. Worn without elbow pads, the sleeves can be rolled up even further.
A. Elbow Pads
Unlike the G3, the LEAF shirt comes complete with elbow pads and they are very good. They sit in the right place, don’t affect the elbow’s mobility, and offer a good deal of protection.
It’s very easy to insert the pad into the pad pocket, where its held securely, but also easy to remove the pad, when you want to wash the shirt. There’s no velcro involved, which is another win.
The LEAF shirt exhibits a similar protective collar to Crye’s but it’s not nearly as high.
There are big pockets on both arms, accessed from the front by a GoRuck style zip pull. Anyone who has used a GoRuck will know that their zip pulls are the most effective out there. The zip pull is composed of gutted paracord with heat shrink, knotted at the end. Simple, but it really works.
There are large loop velcro fields on both pockets.
Inside the pocket, we can see a daisy-chain for tethering items.
Arc’teryx does articulation really well and their LEAF brand inherits this. You can see here how the arm is pre-bent.
This kind of articulation really makes it a joy to move while wearing the LEAF shirt. It feels like nothing is holding you back.
For anyone not yet over globalisation, the LEAF shirt is made in El Salvador. Sorry!
Now, I own far more pieces of Arc’teryx apparel which have been made in Canada than those made anywhere else (I have a lot of Veilance stuff). This top being made in El Salvador doesn’t bother me in the slightest. What concerns me is quality control and this a very high quality piece.
If you already have a Crye G3 Combat Shirt which has been serving you well, I wouldn’t rush out and buy LEAF’s equivalent. However, if you are investing in a new combat shirt, this is the one I’d go for out of the two.
Sizing is consistent with Arc’teryx’s outdoor range, so if you’re a large in an Atom LT or whatever, odds are you’ll be large in this top, too.