Begadi (a well known European store) decided to start their own clothing line for airsoft, security businesses and outdoor activities. It gets better- they asked airsoft community what features are most missed on regular uniforms. Results are uniform sets (shirt, trousers, boonie hat) in two distinct patterns, developed by guys at Begadi: Rooivalk (Afrikaans for “Red Kestrel”) and Rooikat (Afrikaans for the African Lynx). More information about Be-X line can be found on their page, calledSpezialausr?stung.de (in German only).
So, how do Be-X Rooikat measure up?
Uniforms were fairly overlooked part of equipment- but not any more. More and more trend of digitalization is taking over traditional design with splotches in green, black and brown, US BDU being the best example. Members of special forces are always looking into ways of making their gear working better and RAID is one such trend. As far as RAID uniforms are concerned “standard” for RAID is not set, as it started its life as unofficial uniform modification for special forces (and SF has much more leeway as regular armed forces). Certain modifications (Velcro as replacement for buttons, changes to collars, pockets etc) proved to be very useful and ingenious solutions and found their way in “standardized” uniform solutions (US Army ACU, for instance).
Guys at Begadi borrowed best features of RAID uniforms, which we will discuss later on. First, a closer look at common features of trousers and shirt.
Quality of work is very good and on par with best issued uniforms (at least those I have had opportunity to examine more thoroughly. Quality of work is vastly better than MilTec’s uniforms, for example). Material is 35/65 NyCo Ripstop ( Polyester/Cotton which ensures breathability and quick drying, while still offering good protection against ripping and tearing). Here I’ll go again a little preachy- clean your uniforms as it is stated on the label. You certainly don’t want your uniform to fade and destroy the Velcro, don’t you?
Pattern is product of Begadi’s development team and it is best described as Tigerstripe with a twist. Pattern still has a horizontal pattern with black, tan and green lines with beige splotches. I was rather surprised with the percentage of black (which is currently very unpopular with camouflage uniforms, as it is not as effective as once thought)- black is used to simulate shadow and to trick an eye into forced depth perception. We will look into actual performance of the Begadi’s pattern later on. Some may be put off because of the fact that no one uses this pattern- but this may be a blessing in disguise, if you search for a special look (and yes, I’ll throw in the letters PMC – Private Military Company- for good measure).
Cut is very comfortable. Basic layout is simple and known, if you ever saw a US style Woodland BDU: shirt has four pockets, two on the chest and two shoulder pocket. Pants feature 2 seat, 2 front, 2 cargo, and a “secret” compartment on the waist.
One of the most prominent features is abundance of Velcro. While Velcro is a fabulous invention it is not undestroyable and certain precautions should be taken to preserve its function- basically it boils down to two things: lint and dirt must be regularly cleaned and secondly, wash your uniform at specified temperatures.
Shirt can be worn bloused or non bloused (more often, as it gives much more freedom of movement and looks neater). One of the most notable features is absence of buttons. Actually, there are two buttons, which are used to adjust waist. I didn’t entirely trust the original thread (looked flimsy) and to prevent tiresome looking for the identical buttons I reattached them on. It took exactly five minutes of needle work.
– “Mandarin” type collar, which can be secured by Velcro to protect against chaffing (from sling, throat protectors etc.). Naturally, it can also be worn in classic BDU fashion.
– Reinforcement elbows in order to additionally protect parts, which experience most wear and tear. As mentioned, buttons on shirt are replaced by XYK heavy duty zipper. This is excellent decision, as it cuts down maintenance time and simplifies the operation. Flap is secured by Velcro.
– Breast pockets are naturally Velcro closed. Two strips of Velcro are provided above breast pockets for ID tabs.
– Shoulder pockets are very handy for storing small and important objects. Two pieces of Velcro are provided for patches (unit patches, morale patches etc). I, however, miss a slit for a pencil.
– Pocket is not fully covered in Velcro; there are two separate pieces, which means that pocket is not as rigid as it would be if fully covered in Velcro. Again, these pockets are extremely useful for storing all the critical small pieces of equipment.
– Flaps are made out of single piece of fabric; some RAID uniforms have two-piece flaps, which would be -in my opinion, at least- a welcome addition to already great design.
– Sleeve cuffs are adjustable- with Velcro, no less. Sleeves can be rolled up, if preferred.
– Comm loops are excellent addition to RAID uniform. They are used to secure wires for communication equipment. Naturally, they can be used in thousand and one application- you can attach a torch or tie an “idiot cord.” This is why sewn on loops over Velcro loops are preferred.
– Two loops are located on the chest (left and right), one is located on the back (center) and can be used to secure Camelback’s hose into position.
Trousers are made to same high specifications as shirt. Belt loops are wide and robust, but I do miss a drawstring around the waist. Naturally, fly is not closed by buttons, but heavy duty zipper.
– Pockets are placed on the position of the original hip pockets. They are flap closed, Velcro secured, much like pockets on the shirt. They are useful for storing small parts, but I’d much rather see them somewhat slanted for easier access.
– Two identical pockets are located on the back of the trousers.
-Two bigger cargo pockets are sewn on classical spot on the calf and take surprising amount of cargo. Usual problem, associated with cargo pocket applies- transporting cargo in them is cumbersome.
– Knee areas are reinforced, to avoid wear and tear. Also, pockets for soft knee protection inserts (EVA pads) are provided. EVA pads are lightweight, flexible inserts, which are intended for additional protection of the knees. Sadly, we didn’t have access so we improvised with regular kneepads.
– Small “secret compartment” pouch is located on the inside of the trousers and can be used to store small valuable items. Some call it E&E pocket (Escape&Evade) but I cant imagine that it takes anything bigger than a very small map and maybe a button compass. Probably those are all it takes to make a successful run for safety, I guess.
– Rather large plastic ITW Cordlocs replaced the Nylon string, used as ankle drawstring. As said, they are rather big, which prohibits user to tuck pants into boots- which is a trend now anyway.
We tried it to compare it with US Woodland BDU pattern and we concluded, that it works very well. Naturally, there is no universal pattern (despite best intentions of ACU makers, I might add) and this pattern is best used in darker woods, without much green undergrowth.
We tested our set of Begadi during unusually hot summer in Central European wood. Leafage was fully developed, but undergrowth was barely springing up. Begadi Rooikat works, and as it every uniform, it works in some areas better than in others. Most notably, it worked very well in darker areas with lots of dead trees. While practicing on counter ambush drills, one of the members of ambush team was wearing this uniform while hidden behind a rather large fallen dead tree. He was virtually unseen until he was literally stepped on.
Final verdict? I would wish all (airsoft or otherwise) apparel would be built to such high standards. Yes, it is a bit pricier than ordinary. Only reason, which could turn MilSim player from purchase is that pattern is not used by any actual unit- which would be probably a non argument for anyone else but hard core reenactors.
Test item provided by Begadi.