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GEN III, PCU, and NBS7: Tactical Clothing for Cold Weather

April 26, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 252

Extreme Cold Weather Clothing Systems have been in use by the military for more than twenty years. The first generation system, GEN I, consisted of tactical clothing for cold and wet or dry conditions. A hard shell jacket and trousers with a semi-permeable membrane were the base garments for this cold weather clothing system and kept wind and moisture out while letting perspiration escape. The jacket and trousers were accompanied by light and medium weight polypropylene undergarments, a heavy fleece jacket, and bib overalls. For extreme cold temperatures, a quilted nylon jacket and pants filled with polyester batting could be worn under the base outer shell.

The first two generations of Extreme Cold Weather Tactical Clothing could only be used in a limited range of climates and temperatures and involved placing additional garments under the jacket and trouser base. The most recent system, GEN III, however, is a radical redesign incorporating the best of the earlier systems and expanding the range of climates and temperatures covered by the tactical clothing system.

An Extended Climate Warfighter Clothing System, GEN III was developed by the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development, and Engineering Center after soldiers complained of the bulkiness of GEN II. Using seven levels of protection, GEN III consists of various base, insulation, and shell garments designed to keep soldiers comfortable in temperatures ranging from -40°F to 60°F. Compared to GEN II, GEN III is 33 percent less bulky and is 25 percent lighter and uses moisture management principles to wick moisture away from the skin.

GEN III base garments, Levels I and II, sit next to the skin and are made out of PolarTec® Power Dry® Silkweight, a breathable material that wicks perspiration away from the skin. Insulation layer Level III is worn on top of the base garments. Level III is a fleece jacket made out of PolarTec® Thermal Pro®, a breathable material that traps body heat.

Levels IV through VII are shell garments, all of which provide wind protection and can be used in wet or dry conditions. A wind jacket, Level IV is a low-volume shell layer made out of nylon with a water resistant finish and can be worn under body armor. Level V is designed for moderate cold conditions, and Level VI, made out of GORE-TEX®, should be worn in cold and wet conditions. Made out of Primaloft® SPORT, the Level VII is designed to be worn in static operations in extreme cold and dry conditions.

A system of fire-retardant cold weather tactical clothing, New Balance System 7 (NBS7) uses similar concepts as the GEN III system. With full environmental and flame protection, NBS7 consists of seven levels of breathable and water-repellant garments that are lightweight and integrate with standard uniforms.

The Protective Combat Uniform (PCU) also uses a similar seven-level system but is designed for colder climates. PCU was developed by the Special Projects Team, who consulted with extreme alpinists and outdoor apparel companies to create a tactical clothing system for extreme cold conditions. A 15-piece system replacing Lightweight Environmental Protection (LEP), PCU protects soldiers in temperatures ranging from -50°F to 45°F. Much like GEN III's base and insulation garments, PCU's lower and mid-level layers wick away moisture while keeping heat close to the body. Upper shell layers, however, are stretchable, windproof, water-repellant, and breathable garments made out of silicon-encapsulated fibers by Nextec Applications.

Source: EzineArticles
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