Army has 25th ID test prototype of new ‘cooler’ uniform

| October 26, 2017 | 0 Comments

Soldiers with the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii tackle obstacles in February 2017, while evaluating a new, lighter-weight uniform. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army)

C. Todd Lopez
Army News Service

WASHINGTON — The current Army Combat Uniform top weighs in at about 650 grams, or about 1.4 pounds. It’s got a lot of pockets and multiple layers of fabric. When it gets wet, it tends to stay wet. And when it’s hot out, it tends to keep Soldiers hot.

The Army has a solution for that: the Improved Hot Weather Army Combat Uniform that has a whole lot fewer pockets, layers of fabric and Velcro, as well as a new fabric that is actually lighter than the current ACU.

“You can hold that uniform up with one finger,” said Brig. Gen. Brian P. Cummings, who serves as Program Executive Officer Soldier, out of Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

Cummings said the current Army uniform has a lot of good feedback from Soldiers. But, he said, those uniforms have “all this stuff on it. And they all hold water,” Cummings said. “And they cost money.”

A new uniform changes all that. It has a lot fewer pockets on it, and less extraneous fabric. And the fabric is lighter than the current ACU fabric.
The Army wants to bring that uniform first to Soldiers in jungle environments, the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii, in particular, where it’s both hot and wet. But Cummings said the Army also hopes to bring the uniform to all Soldiers – to make it available for purchase in military clothing stores.

Cummings said he hopes to have a lightweight uniform available within a year, saying that because it is based on an existing uniform that has already been extensively tested, getting this light-weight uniform to the field will take less time.

…And a lighter boot, to boot
Already the Army’s looking at a new jungle boot, something requested by senior Army leadership. Thirty thousand pairs were provided to Soldiers in the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii last month for evaluation.

Initial feedback on those jungle boots has been positive, Cummings said, but he did say Soldiers are asking for something that is more comfortable.

Cummings said Soldiers want the new jungle boot to be lighter and softer. And they have asked also that the soles of those jungle boots be thinner than they are now.

Cumming said that’s going to happen.

The next iteration of samples, he said, are “a lot more pliable. But instead of lasting five years, they last two years.”

Those newer boots, he said, will have the same capabilities as the jungle boot Soldiers are currently testing.

Among other things, those abilities include puncture resistance, more drainage holes, the ability to wick away water, the ability to push water and mud off the soles, speed laces, and lower profile heels so as not to catch on vines on the jungle floor.

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