I’ve spent more than 5 months wearing items from the Berne Concealed Carry Workwear (CCW) line nearly every day. I wore them on the range, on a tractor, in town, in a chicken coop, and even to church. I’ve worn them at a desk, while helping move two households to new homes, mending fences, and hiking. I’ve worn them in heat, cold, rain, and snow. Now I’m ready to talk about them.
There is a lot of ground to cover in this review and I’ll do my best to structure it in a way that maintains readability. I’ll start with what all the garments have in common: The Adder System. Then, I’ll share some observations on each specific item and finally observations in general.
Background and Disclosure
Before I dive into the review, I should mention my background with Berne Apparel. I used to use a certain brand of insulated coveralls. Eventually the brand I used started to go beyond affordable and more toward cheap. They shortened zippers, the material became less durable, and they didn’t feel as warm as they once were. That sent me looking for a new brand of work wear and I landed on Berne. The quality was as good or better than anything else I laid hands on and it cost a bit less. On top of that, the company seemed to be run by people like me (and you). We even have some of their coats for our daughters.
I featured their CCW line on these pages a few times and last summer, someone from Berne reached out to me. In the interests of full disclosure, you should know that these 4 clothing items were sent to me free of charge. However, you should also know that I am a long time Berne customer who has plunked down plenty of my own cash to wear their gear.
The Adder System
The Adder System is at the heart of every garment in the Berne CCW line. I liked the idea of before I tried it and now, having used it for several months, really appreciate the details that went into getting it right. It also has it’s own website where you can learn all about it.
The Adder System is a clever pocket setup that is designed to carry handguns and other gear in a way that is easy to access, discreet, well organized, and versatile. The outside of an Adder System pocket appears like any other flap covered bellowed pocket, because that is what it is. This outer pocket is placed over an inner pocket that contains a matrix made up of MOLLE compatible alternating elastic and loop material webbing. This matrix gives you the ability to mount hook backed pouches, MOLLE compatible pouches, and holsters inside. Alternately, the elastic webbing can be used to secure all kinds of things without a pouch.
As cool as the inner pocket and it’s organization potential are, the really subtle features are all found in the outer pouch. The outer pouch secures over the inner pouch with hook and loop around the entire perimeter and snaps at the corners. In order to ensure that the pockets mate up squarely even if they are stuffed with gear, the designers added bellows to the both the inner and outer layers of the outer pocket. This allows it to expand for the contents that are both in it and behind it but still mate up flush which is key for hiding the inner pocket.
The outer pocket is closed with a flap not unlike what you would find on any pair of cargo pants but even this shows thoughtful design. It is a somewhat large flap but still proportional to the pocket and it has a single snap in the center. This creates a large, easily gripped corner of flap on both sides of the pocket that can be grasped and pulled down to instantly reveal the inner pocket. It’s a subtle but clever touch that shows that the designers were switched on and this design is key to the Adder System’s function as a concealed carry method.
When using the Adder System to conceal a handgun, the drawstroke is fast and easy with two hands and slightly slower but still easy with one hand. You simple grab the flap, rip the pocket down and open, and then index your handgun. I found that the MOLLE-Link holsters from KCT work very well for this application but you should be able to adapt a number of holsters to work.
I also found that Blue Force Gear’s Dapper line of pouches were ideal for use with the Adder system when carrying mags, tourniquets, or other items. The Dappers lay flat when not in use and can be installed and removed easily thanks to the hook packing. So far, I have used the Adder System to carry handguns, first aid items like tourniquets, spare magazines, hand tools, and a host of other things.
When you buy a Berne CCW garment, you are basically buying the functionality of the Adder System. It’s thoughtfully designed and functional.
Echo Six Zero Cargo Pants and Shorts
The Echo Six Zero Cargo Pants and Shorts are basically identical save for the length of inseam – one is pants and one is shorts as you can tell from the name. They are made from a lightweight cotton/poly blend with some spandex for a little stretch and some kind of treatment that makes water bead on them. There are several features that ensure full range of motion including a stretch waistband and a gusseted crotch. All the important seams are triple stitched, the front pockets feature an internal coin/mag pocket along with reinforcement for pocket knife clips, and the waistband has a series of elastic loops sewn in the interior for discreet organization.
The Adder System on these is tucked away behind the cargo pockets on the upper thigh. This location is well suited to carrying items like tools, first aid, and some magazines but I found it to be too low and loose for use with a handgun.
The belt loops on these pants are excellent. They are wide and very securely fastened to the pants. I am glad to see that since a lot of “tactical” pants get this wrong.
These pants and shorts are comfortable, durable, casual, and good looking.
Echo Zero Eight Soft Shell
The Echo Zero Eight Softshell is an important part of the Berne CCW line because it is probably the piece that will be most at home in urban, everyday, and even office settings. I live in a community where workwear is normal everyday apparel but that isn’t the case everywhere. The Echo Zero Eight is the Adder System garment that bridges that gap and looks very smart while doing it.
It is made of a heavy duty soft shell material with light fleece backing. It’s very warm for its weight, breathes reasonably well, stops wind, and sheds water very well. The cuffs are adjustable, there are two chest pockets, and a generous flap over the front zipper. The Echo Zero Eight also features a media port so ear buds can be routed to the outside of the jacket while your smart device is stored in an inner pocket.
The Adder System pockets here are located on the lower front of the coat. The length of the coat is such that a holster carried in these pockets would be placed in a similar position to AIWB carry though slightly higher. I frequently carry a J-frame revolver in these pockets wrapped up in a KCT MOLLE-Link holster. These pockets are suitable for smaller handguns like the J-Frame.
If you are carrying your handgun on your belt, the Echo Zero Eight has you covered there too. It features break away side vents that allow immediate access to a belt mounted holster.
Echo One Zero Vest
The Echo One Zero Vest has the appearance of a standard workwear vest. It is made from a heavy duck canvas material with a fleece lining. It also features a similar pocket layout as the Echo Zero Eight Softshell with chest pockets and dual front Adder System pockets but the pockets are taller which can give you room for a larger handgun.
I wear this layered over a wool sweater or fleece frequently while working. It is very warm, lets me carry gun even if something like insulated bibs preclude the use of a belt holster, and absolutely bomb-proof. I usually use the same KCT holster as I do for the softshell.
Observations from Use
The quality of these garments is quite good – on par with other Berne Workwear that I have been using for years. I’ve used them like workwear and they have taken it without complaint. The pants and shorts have washed well with only very mild fading which should be expected for as much as I have worn them.
The Adder System is very clever but you will want to pay attention to Berne’s sizing system. Some of the garments may have Adder System pockets that will not conceal larger handguns. Berne does a good job of labeling each garment online and on the hang tags you’ll find in retail stores.
I can see these garments being used in much the same way any tactical garment line is used but they fill a more specific niche than that for me. These are clothes that blend into my world and provide me options for carry when my options would have otherwise been limited. We all know you should be carrying on your belt when possible but what if you are wearing insulated bibs? What if it is extremely cold out and you need to spend time seated while driving a tractor or truck? The Adder System provides a method of carry that addresses the access issues that typically come with several layers of winter gear in addition to discreet casual carry.
Even when you carry your handgun on your waist, the Adder System provides a mean to discreetly carry additional supplies like magazines and first aid items. The system is versatile enough to serve a lot like a chest or belt rig would but completely integrated into your garments.
These garments have found a place in my everyday life and that is probably the highest compliment I can give them. I am just an everyday joe living on property with lots of work to do and they suit me well. However, my gut tells me they could have all kinds of interesting potential for all kinds of interesting people.
The Adder System is at the heart of the entire Berne CCW line and it does not disappoint. It’s thoughtfully designed, discreet, and versatile. If you have ever worn any other Berne apparel, you know the quality is right.
Solid design and solid quality come together in this line. I highly recommend them.
Check out the Berne Workwear CCW line at BerneDirect.com.