Military Clothing (Non Uniform)Page
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This section features Military clothing that are not uniforms/BDUs.
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.
NS21 PCU Level 1 Lightweight
Pant (below) -
The Level 1 lightweight pant is constructed of Polartec® Power
Dry® fabric with X-STATIC® in coyote brown. Intended to
be worn next-to-skin as a base layer, the fabric is a wicking material,
designed to keep your skin dry when you sweat. It's a bi-component
knit that uses different yarns on either side of the fabric. Look
at the photos above and you can see the inner surface which is optimized
to move moisture away from the skin, and the outer surface, for fast
drying. X-STATIC® inhibits the growth of odor-causing bacteria
in the fabric, and incorporates pure silver-bonded fiber that is permanantly
knit into the fabric construction and will last as long as the fabric
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 1 T-shirt and
Boxer- The Level 1 Silkweight T-shirt and boxer are
constructed of smooth Polartec® Power
Dry® fabric. Designed to keep your skin dry when you perspire,
the stretch material has a smooth texture that feels very soft next
to the skin. Depending on the light, the material (and most of these
other PCU materials) can look "bronzine/gray-green" (as
described on the SEKRI website) under fluorescent lights to a coyote-ish
brown under natural and incandescent lighting. The medium size T-shirt
was a perfect fit for me and cut very comfortably - no binding or
restrictions; neither too tight nor loose. It's cut longer in the
back than in the front, which seems to be common feature amongst the
PCU Level 1 Long Sleeve
Shirt and Pant- Also meant to be worn next-to-skin,
the Level 1 Long Sleeve Shirt and Pant are made of the same Polartec®
Dry® fabric with X-STATIC® I've already covered in the
Insport review above. Rather than the silky fabric of the T-shrt and
Boxer, it has minute holes in the outside surface that aids in evaporation
of moisture. A 12" zip in the front closes the 2.5" high
collar. Also cut longer in the back, it'll stay tucked in.
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).
PCU Level 7 Loft Garments
- Level 7 is the warmest of the PCU clothes, meant for extreme conditions.
SEKRI's Level 7 Loft garments are fully insulated, water and wind
resistant, breathable and washable. The shell is constructed of the
same lightweight alpha green/grey EPIC® nylon
(called 'Praetorian', a 2.8oz fabric) by Nextec,
as the Orc Ind. Level 5 soft shell. Nextec uses their encapsulation
process to encapsulate the individual fibers of the fabric with silicone-based
polymers to provide all-weather protection without coatings or laminates.
Note that Epic® Nylon is water resistant, not 100% water
proof. For use in wet conditions, the Level 6 Wet weather
suit is recommended to be worn over the Level 7.
PCU Level 7 Loft Jacket - The SEKRI Loft jacket shown below is of a medium-length, hooded parka design. The front zipper is a YKK water resistant coil type with plastic splash guard. The removable zip-off hood is also fully insulated and quilted, with an elastic shock cord opening adjustment. It attaches behind the 3" tall collar. Both the jacket and hood are lined with soft, ripstop nylon material. On the front are two slanted slash pockets, with water-resistant zipper closures. The pocket openings are further protected by a flap to prevent water from dripping into them. The sleeves have elasticized cuffs. Inside the jacket are two large mesh pockets. The bottom of the jacket hem can be tightened around the hips with the elastic shock cord drawstring. The tops of the shoulders have Epic 'Glacier' (5.8 oz) non-swish material patches for abrasion resistance when wearing a pack.
PCU Level 7 Loft Pant
and Vest - The matching Level 7 Pant is also completely
constructed of Epic® Nylon with Primaloft Sport insulation. It
has a zipper fly and heavy duty snap waist. The waist is elasticized
but also has velcro tabs on each side for adjustment. The pants don't
have any pockets. The sides of the legs can be fully zipped open (actually,
completely unzipped at the top), for ease of donning or a bit of ventilation
if partially opened. The pant legs are pre-curved at the knee to better
match the anatomy of the leg and bend more easily. The bottom of the
pant leg cuffs are elasticized and have a velcro tab that protects
These garments are surprisingly easy to move in, despite their loft. I would have thought them to be more restrictive than they are. One minor nitpick (and it applies in general to most smooth nylon garments, not just these) is that they Epic® Nylon fabric is 'swishy' (might be because they're new) and might be of a concern to those who need stealth. The sound is most apparent when the inside of the thighs rub past each other when walking. On the shoulders of the jacket are two panels of Nextec® Glacier fabric that are different from the rest of the Epic® Nylon. It's a less 'swishy' sounding material. If SEKRI put a panel on the inside of each leg, from the crotch to the bottom of the knees, I believe this would really help in alleviating the noise. The 'swish' is a problem common to most smooth synthetic materials; that's why hunters wear silent fleece clothing when hunting.
Despite their 'loft', these garments compress quite nicely (one of the main features of the Primaloft® Sport insulation). I was quite surprised to find that I was able to stuff both the jacket with hood, and pant into the Kifaru back pouch shown below. The whole suit can be carried attached to the outside of your pack in a relatively compact package.
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.
|SPEAR (Special Operations Personal Equipment Advanced Requirements) jacket from USCAV (manf by Adventure Tech). Polartec 300 fleece - very comfortable and warm. Non-binding and breathable. The pit zips are an absolutely essential feature for proper temperature control. It has a windproof front and back yoke, and reinforced elbows. The two internal pockets are also accessible through the slanted handwarmer pockets on the outside. Great all-around jacket.|
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