How the Military Stays Warm in Colder Climates
While the news show the majority of our servicemen in the deserts of the Middle-East, many are still serving in colder climates. When it comes to combat, cold weather has many adverse effects on U.S. soldiers. Cold injuries can range from hypothermia to frostbite, and even to more severe conditions.
Chillier temperatures also affect a soldier’s performance, which can take him out of a fight. These include numb skin and emotional attachment. Luckily for us, American soldiers dress correctly for the right conditions to keep us free. The military issues proper clothing and institutes appropriate wear to keep the mission moving forward. This involves an adequate layer of thermal wear to keep them warm, dry, and prevent overheating during combat.
The Base Layer
This is the layer that fits snug against the skin. Like every men’s thermal set, these are designed to wick moisture away and keep them dry and comfortable. They also trap in body heat. Since cotton holds moisture against the skin, the military does its best to avoid this at all costs by using polypropylene, polyester, or even a merino wool base layer of thermal wear. Many soldiers base their underlayers’s weights on their activities.
The Insulating Layer
This layer traps the warm air against the body. Many soldiers can use multiple layers to insulate themselves and usually base this off of their activity level and weather. The Army, for example, issues a mid-weight layer along with an extreme weather removable liner, field jacket liner, and also fleece. Though a soldier may start off cold, as they work on their patrol or other strenuous activity, these will keep them warm without overheating or sweating.
This protects the other layers and the body from the elements. These are usually wind, rain, dirt, and even snow. This is a soldier’s best defense against water and wind. The shell is made from a waterproof and breathable fabric. For dryer climates, a softshell is used that is more breathable for their activities and when water resistance isn’t as important. Some examples are:
• ECWS Extreme Cold/Wet Weather Jacket and Trousers
• Light Outer Layer, Army Elements Fleece
• ECWS Wind Jacket
• Soft Shell Jacket and Trousers
Also included in a soldier’s gear are boots, gloves, headgear, and even sleeping systems. Also, a soldier’s personal background and physical attributes are considered when it comes to their cold-weather tolerance. While one may need a light layer, another may need heavier ones to stay comfortable. While our men continue to fight for our freedom in dry and cold climates, it is vital to keep in mind that there aren’t one-size fits all principle when it comes to duty uniforms and requires some flexibility. Even so, a base layer of thermal wear or a mid-weight men’s thermal set will help every soldier on the field stay warm and as comfortable as possible.