Gore's reversible jacket provides protection from the wind and waterproofing, but could be worn with either the woodland or desert side out. (Rob Curtis/Staff)
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Gore, makers of breathable water- and wind-proof materials, has developed new textiles that the company hopes will lead the Marine Corps to adopt reversible clothing.
Creating reversible uniform items, with woodland Marine Pattern on one side and desert on the other, would cut down on bottom-line costs for the service and require Marines to carry less clothing on deployment, according to Gore representatives.
“For the Marine Corps as a whole, it saves money, logistics burden, inventory management costs,” said Tim Quinn, product specialist for special operations forces and Marine Corps outerwear. “For the Marine on the ground, it helps him save weight, pack volume in his ruck sack, and he can change patterns with one garment.”
Their latest pitch to the Marine Corps comes in the form of a reversible version of the All-Purpose Environmental Clothing System, known as APECS. It is currently issued in woodland for use in rain, high-wind and cold conditions. A reversible version, which could take on a slightly different design with regard to cut and pockets, would replace both the current APECS — which is issued in woodland — and the Lightweight Exposure Suit — issued in desert.
The Lightweight Exposure Suit serves a similar purpose, providing Marines with protection from harsh elements where desert MARPAT is needed.
Replacing the two would be a single reversible ensemble with jacket and trousers. It would provide comparable wind- and waterproofing, but could be worn with either the woodland or desert side out. While the cost of the new ensemble would be higher than either the APECS or Lightweight Exposure Suit, Gore representatives said, it would be significantly cheaper than procuring and stocking both.
The company is now able to offer reversible gear because of new technological developments in the production of weatherproof membranes that are at the center of Gore fabrics’ ability to cut wind and repel water.
The key advantage of Gore-Tex fabrics over traditional waterproof products are their breathability. While they keep water and wind out, they still allow heat and perspiration to travel from the wearer’s body outward, keeping the wearer dry.
Until recently, items using Gore-Tex were one-directional. When reversed, they had the opposite effect, letting in moisture and wind while preventing a user’s body from breathing.
Through new developments, the company has produced garments that have two finished face layers and perform equally well, regardless of which is facing outward.
In addition to replacing the APECS and Lightweight Exposure Suit, Gore hopes to replace the Combat Desert Jacket and brand-new Combat Woodland Jacket with a single reversible garment. The breathable jackets help wick moisture in the day but provide extra insulation when temperatures drop at night, according to the company’s website.
A desert version of the jacket has been issued to Marines for about five years, according to Quinn. But just this month, a woodland version, produced by Short Bark Industries using Gore-Tex fabrics and technology, was released. It will soon be available for purchase.
Marines who like the jacket and hope to use it in garrison during the summer and winter, or on deployments to different geographical regions, will have to purchase the woodland jacket, which is not issued like the desert version.
Gore anticipates that the Marine Corps will eventually adopt Combat Desert and Combat Woodland Jackets as standard issue for all Marines, said Wally Nelson, Gore’s branch specialist for the Marine Corps. But the company hopes the service will first consider buying a reversible version.