Cold Weather Gear Overview

Cold Weather Gear Overview: ECWCS Gen 3

The ECWCS, also known as the extended cold weather clothing system, is a specially designed system of layered clothes that help protect you from the elements. The clothing system has been around for a while, but the ECWCS Gen III is a complete redesign that helps reduce weight and bulk. Weighing in at just 13 pounds, the Gen III is easier to transport than other ECWCS generations which can help reduce back strain on soldiers. Rated for temperatures from –60 F up to 40 F, the Gen III also includes some updated moisture wicking features, keeping you warm and dry. Now that we have that covered, let’s dive right into our cold weather gear overview.

ECWCS Gen III Levels and corresponding cold weather gear

Ready to build out your ECWCS? Let us break down each layer, how to use it, and our favorite OCP ECWCS gear.

Level 1: Lightweight base layer – Lightweight shirt and drawers

ecwcs level 1Your base layer should be worn next to your body and should be comfortably loose. The purpose of the base layer is to wick excess moisture away from the body.

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Level 2: Midweight base layer – Midweight shirt and drawers

ecwcs level 2This midweight base layer provides the same protection as the lightweight base layer but is designed for slightly colder temperatures.

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Level 3: Primary insulation layer – High-loft fleece jacket

coyote ecwcs fleeceYour primary insulation layer consists of a high-loft fleece jacket, helping provide volume and trap warm air between your body and base layer while wicking away any excess moisture. If you’re working in a mild climate, the fleece jacket can serve as your outer shell layer.

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Level 4: Outer Shell layer – Windbreaker jacket

Your outer shell is the primary protection against wind and wet weather. It’s designed to help keep the elements off your body and helps improve the moisture-wicking properties of your insulation layers when you’re wearing your body armor or Army Combat Uniform. This layer isn’t available to the public, so you’ll need to rely on your Army ECWCS issued gear.

Level 5: Shell layer – Soft shell cold weather jacket and trousers

The mesh lining in this layer helps increase ventilation. The jacket has a storable hood that you can break out when the weather’s really bad, as well as an extendable tail on the jacket to keep snow from getting in. This layer isn’t available to the public, so you’ll need to rely on your Army ECWCS issued gear.

Level 6: Shell layer – Extreme cold/wet weather jacket and trousers

This waterproof layer is designed to be used when the temperatures are alternating between freezing and thawing. That type of weather usually creates a lot of slush and mud on the ground which can make for cold, wet clothing if you’re not wearing the proper protection. This layer isn’t available to the public, so you’ll need to rely on your Army ECWCS issued gear.

Level 7: Outer shell layer – Extreme cold weather parka and trousers

ecwcs parkaThe final layer of the ECWCS Gen III is the extreme weather ECWCS parka and trousers. This layer is extremely warm, but also low weight and volume, so it’s easy to pack when you’re on a mission. You should add this layer when temps dip below freezing. It’s designed to protect you in weather as cold as -60 degrees.

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Don’t let the cold weather sneak up on you, start building your ECWCS today.

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