Mid Weight Base Layers Page 1, 2
This section features Mid Weight base layer garments
As a sizing reference: I'm 5'7", 155 lbs (yeah, I'm a little guy), medium build (BDU top medium/regular, BDU pant medium/short), waist 32", chest 43". Keep this in mind when you read my comments with respect to sizing, so you have an idea of how the garments featured below will fit on you. ALL garments in these pages are size Medium, unless stated otherwise.
TO VIEW FULL SIZE IMAGES: USERNAME and PASSWORD are both "mm"
Military Clothing Systems
Over the past decade, we've finally been seeing the
military take notice and adopt some of the advanced technology/high
performance fabrics and clothing that civilian mountaineers and backpackers
have been using for quite a while. Lighter, more compressible, breathable,
quick drying and wicking fabrics now clothe the soldier, doing their
part to make a tough job a bit more efficient and a bit less uncomfortable.
Clothing the soldier presents a unique challenge as temperatures in
certain regions may range greatly over a 24 hour period, or missions
might start off at low altitudes and end up much higher. Soldiers
most often have to be self-sufficient, carrying everything in their
rucks and on their person, so light weight and clothing versatility
rank high in importance. Unlike most sporting events, the soldier
might have to wear the same clothing for days or weeks on end, and
subject them to abuse that civilian use won't.
Typically, there can be several different manufacturers/contractors making the same garments. Sometimes different manufacturers make different levels in the same program, and I hope to feature more of them here. I'm also learning that the item of the same name might vary by manufacturer with differences in materials and features. I was surprised to find this out, and expected the garments to be more standardized.
NS82 PCU Level 2 Long
Sleeve Midweight Tee
(below) - Also meant to be worn next-to-skin, the
Midweight Tee is constructed of Polartec® Power Dry® with
'Comfort stretch and voided construction' (sometimes referred to as
'R1' fleece, used by Patagonia's R2 jacket). Immediately noticeable
when handling the Tee is the grid pattern in the lightweight fleece
on the inside surface. The grid pattern serves to trap air in the
void for warmth while reducing bulk for more compressibility than
standard fleece. More for less - that's a great idea. It also feels
very comfortable against the skin.
NS83 PCU Level 3 Half
Zip Pullover (below) - The level 3 pullover is mainly
constructed of Polartec®
Thermal Pro® fabric, which is a family of fabrics with a variety
of patterns and textures. The fabric used by Insport is an extremely
high-loft material which has the highest warmth-to-weight ratio of
the Polartec fabrics. Like the Thermagrid R1 fabric, it makes use
of minute pockets of air space to keep the person warm and increase
evaporation of perpiration. As seen in the above photo, the outer
surface of the Thermal Pro has a diamond-pattern of small tufts of
fibers. The inside has a soft, fuzzy, shearling-like texture.
It's a very comfy feeling, well put-together garment. The only design change I'd personally like to see would be a smaller sleeve cuff, maybe elasticized, to keep the cuffs snugged at the wrist.
A bit about STEPS Inc. - Located in Virginia, STEPS stands for Southside Training, Employment and Placement Services, and is a private, non-profit organization that provides job training for individuals with disabilities and welfare recipients which will lead to an employment outcome. These outcomes can range from employment within one of their facilities to working in an unsubsidized community job. Their services "assist individuals with disabilities and welfare recipients to become fully integrated, tax paying members of their local communities."
For ordering info, contact Nancy Conner (firstname.lastname@example.org)
at (434) 696-1117 or (434) 315-5909.
PCU Level 2 Gridded Fleece
Long Sleeve Shirt and Pant - For additional warmth,
the Level 2 Long Sleeve Shirt and Pant are made of the Polartec®
Power Dry Fleece with comfort stretch and voided construction "R1"
type material with the grid pattern on the inside. The fleece grid
is visible through the smoother outer surface of the fabric and is
most noticeable when you hold it up to the light. Again, depending
on the light, it can look greenish, or coyote brown (see the pics
above - the rightmost photo is taken under fluorescent lighting).
3/23/05 - Wore the Level 1 long sleeved shirt and Level 2 Long sleeve shirt on a short hike. Temperature went from about 62° to 57°. Pretty strong, cool breeze. I was comfortable-warm with both on, and on the way back, when I started working up a sweat, I had to remove the Level 2 as it got too warm. The Level 1 kept me comfortable on the move despite the breeze and dropping temp.
3/20/07 - This is the Rammite Merino Zip Polo, Mid Weight (item at the top of this page). It's a long sleeved, mid-weight zip polo. The mid-weight material is heavier than that of the Short Sleeved T-shirt shown above, and made of the same 100% Australian Merino wool. As mentioned above, the Merino wool is softer than "traditional" wool products, but still has an inherent prickliness that may or may not be irritating, depending on how sensitive your skin is. For the majority of people who can wear and prefer wool products to synthetics, it shouldn't be a problem. I've found that after wearing it for a while, my skin seems to 'desensitize' or get used to it, but it doesn't ever feel silky smooth like the other synthetic fabrics.
We've had some very weird weather lately - alternating hot and
cold weeks, so I wore the Zip Polo when the weather turned colder
instead of a sweatshirt. The 9" zipper in front allows for
some temperature control and also keeps the mock turtleneck collar
snug around the neck. I found performance as far as insulation
and wicking (when the temperature was too warm for this type of
garment) to be better than cotton, and comparable to most of my
The Zip Polo pictured here is a size Medium, not a Large. Note that like the T-shirt above, it will shrink about 5% (my estimate) if you machine wash and dry it (like I do with all my clothing). The photos above show it after washing, and it's form fitting, but not tight whatsoever. It also has some stretch to it. It's a well-designed and constructed garment, and if you like Merino wool products, it's definitely worth considering.
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