This is how Special Operations Forces layer clothes for 40°F to -50°F

This is how Special Operations Forces layer clothes for 40°F to -50°F

Both the Extended Climate Warfighter Clothing System and the Protective Combat Uniform were developed by the U.S. Military and outdoor industry as a system of clothes to be worn in a wide range of conditions from +40° and −60°F (+4° and -51° Celsius) for the Gen III ECWCS and +40° to -50°F (+4° to -46°C) for the PCU. Both systems are meant to protect users from rain, snow, wind, and cold during periods of inactivity and high intensity activity.

They are designed to manage moisture from Mother Nature and from your own body. The clothes are highly breathable, retain warmth even when wet, and transport moisture out to dry fast.

These clothes were selected for being light weight, portable, and versatile. They are not meant to be worn all layered in a specific way (layer 1,2,3,4) but for the layers to be picked according to the level of activity and weather i.e. layer 1,2,4 or 2,3,6 etc.

The main principle behind these clothing systems is to drive moisture out as efficiently as possible instead of trying to keep moisture outside. Very breathable, windproof, water-resistant soft shells are emphasized over waterproof hard shells. The use of waterproof shells is limited to conditions of intense rain or wet snow.

This is how Special Operations Forces layer clothes for 40°F to -50°F

Base Layers or next-to-skin

These thin layers wick moisture away from the body and add insulation. Level 1 and 2 can be combined for use under a soft shell for intense activity in cold weather.

Level 1 Short

This is how Special Operations Forces layer clothes for 40°F to -50°F

PCU: Crew neck silkweight T-Shirt and Silkweight boxer shorts

Made of durable, silkweight Polartec Power Dry fabric.

 

Level 1 Long

This is how Special Operations Forces layer clothes for 40°F to -50°F

ECWCS III: Long-sleeve silkweight Top and silkweight Long Underwear (Polartec) Tru-Spec Top, Tru-Spec Bottom

Made of durable, silkweight Polartec Power Dry fabric.

Level 2

This is how Special Operations Forces layer clothes for 40°F to -50°F

ECWCS III: Long-Sleeve top and Long underwear  (Power Grid or similar)

Rothco, MilitaryUniform, Splav Top, Splav Bottom, Tru-Spec Top, Tru-Spec Bottom

Made of Polartec Power Grid, a high efficiency gridded fleece.

 

Insulating Layers

Level 3

Adds warmth by adding space between layers and trapping air. They are very breathable and transport moisture to the outside.

 

This is how Special Operations Forces layer clothes for 40°F to -50°F

Mid layer fleece jacket made of High-Loft, Polartec Thermal Pro

ECWCS III: Polartec Jacket, Rothco

PCU: Patagonia R2 hybrid design featuring Polartec Thermal Pro and Polartec Power Grid

Civilian: Mountain Hardwear

Soft Shells

Level 4

Levels 4 and 5 are used as an inner layer to trap heat and block wind, or as a water resistant outer layer.

 

Soft windshirt

ECWCS III: Fire resistant, ACU

Civilian: Patagonia Houdini jacket

 

Level 5

Softshell top and Softshell pant

ECWCS: Helikon Jacket, pants

PCU: pants Patagonia (Gen 2), Orc pants

Waterproof Hard Shell

Level 6 layers are only used during heavy rain or wet snow because even though they are made of Gore-Tex or other waterproof breathable membranes they trap moisture from inside. The principle of this clothing system is to transport moisture to the outside, and that is why the use of this shell is limited.

Level 6

Hardshell top and Hardshell pant

PCU: Jacket Miltec, Pants Beyond,

Civilian: Patagonia Torrentshell Jacket and Torrentshell Pants, OR Foray Jacket, Marmot Jacket, Marmot Pant

 

Outer Insulating layers

Level 7

Insulated coat

ECWCS III: Primaloft jacket, Fire resistant set, Helikon Jacket

PCU: Beyond Clothing Parka

Civilian: Patagonia DAS Parka, Rab Strata Jacket,

Insulated pants and Insulated vest

ECWCS III: Primaloft Pants, ADS pants, Fire resistant set

PCU: Wild Things pants

Civilian: Patagonia Nano Puff Vest, Primaloft Pants

Gloves

Extreme cold weather mittens and glove, Outdoor Research mitts, and gloves

Fire resistant gloves, liner gloves and intermediate cold gloves

Headwear

Wearing two merino buff bandanas is more comfortable and versatile than wearing a thin balaclava. Additionally you can rotate the bandana when it is soaked in moisture to dry it out.

For very cold weather a double layer fleece beanie works great.

Footwear

For Two-season use:

Trail running shoes are ideal, Salomon XA Pro

Snow and shoulder season:

A waterproof mid shoe works great, Salomon XA Pro Mid Gore-Tex

Winter:

Neos Adventurer Overboots can be used over your shoes or with a thick boot liner for extreme cold.

 

 

Sources:

soldiersystems.net/2012/01/26/pcu-block-2-preview/

2fast-team.com/doc/vug_pcu.pdf

ontariogeardo.com/2011/12/pcu-buyers-guide.html

ontariogeardo.com/2011/12/protective-combat-uniform-pcu-history.html

itstactical.com/gearcom/apparel/comprehensive-guide-protective-combat-uniform/

ciehub.info/clothing/CW/PCU.html

militarymorons.com/gear/clothes.1.html

loadedpocketz.com/protective-combat-uniform-pcu-overview/

books.google.ca/books?id=CnjBAgAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=true

gearterra.com/blogs/pcu/protective-combat-uniform-pcu

webbingbabel.blogspot.ca/2016/02/patagonia-military-advanced-regulator.html

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extended_Climate_Warfighter_Clothing_System

soldiersystems.net/2008/11/10/outdoor-research-modular-glove-system/

 

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