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Retro Cold Weather Gear | U.S. PATRIOT NEWS & REVIEWS

Soldiers complain. When we first got issued bivi bags in the early 1990s, we complained because they had a drawstring hood and not a zip closure. The cold weather boots we got for Bosnia didn’t have enough grip, the cold weather hat was itchy, the Gore-Tex waterproofs were too noisy to wear as an outer layer. There is a solution though. The quartermaster has had a rummage around the shelves at the back of the store, and there’s a whole new range of high quality gear available for this year’s winter deployment. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Blanket, wool – A highly versatile item. Slightly more compact than a sleeping bag and with almost 10% of the insulating capability, this can be quickly rolled around your shivering body at night so you can keep shivering but look slightly neater. It magnetically attracts dead grass and leaves, so doubles as a camouflage net.
  • Greatcoat – Basically a blanket with sleeves, this knee-length item is extremely warm even when wet. It’s also extremely heavy, even when dry. When combined with the blanket, it’s sometimes possible to stop shivering long enough to get some sleep.
  • Ammunition Boots – Steel hobnails give these boots spectacular grip, as long as the ground’s not too hard, and aren’t really that noisy. You’ll also get the benefits of ankle-high protection and an almost lightweight, practically flexible triple leather sole. Equally (un)suitable for all weather conditions.
  • Poncho – Don’t bother with complicated rain gear when you can simply stick your head through the middle of this waterproof sheet. Yes, there’s a big hole in it.
  • CapCap Comforter – This knit woollen tube can be worn around your neck as an itchy scarf, or folded into an itchy cap that will come unfolded as soon as you start running and flop amusingly over your face.
  • Steel Helmet – Do you ever have trouble working out what the season is? Don’t worry – this steel head enclosure will tell you. If your brain’s baking, it’s summer. If your hair has frostbite, it’s winter.
  • Balaclava Helmet – Disappointed that the cap comforter only irritates small parts of your head? This woollen ski mask will make your whole face itch.
  • Gloves, Field, Wool – What could be better in winter than a pair of gloves that absorb water and aren’t windproof? Not that it matters; they have no grip at all, so put them back in your pocket and let’s see some skin on that rifle.

Well, I could go on. The Shirt, Man’s, KF; awesomely warm, but apparently knitted from brambles and so irritating that people used to shave the inside. 1960 pattern combat trousers – double lined and incredibly warm in dry cold, but capable of soaking up pints of water in wet weather. The Jersey, Heavy, Wool… no, wait, that was actually quite good. I think you get the point, though. Some of the gear I’ve listed dates back to World War II; some was in use as late as the mid-1990s. Modern cold weather equipment might not be perfect, but it’s come a very long way in a short time. In fact, I used to cheer myself up on cold, wet nights in the field by imagining how bad it would have been with the kit I had in the late 1980s. Yeah, I’ll stick with the modern gear, thanks.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Fergus Mason

Fergus Mason grew up in the west of Scotland. After attending university he spent 14 years in the British Army and served in Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Kosovo and Iraq. Afterwards, he went to Afghanistan as a contractor, where he worked in Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif and Camp Leatherneck. He now writes on a variety of topics including current affairs and military matters.
Fergus Mason

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