The U.S. military defines two types of cold weather conditions: cold/wet and cold/dry. Cold/wet conditions exist when the air temperature is predominately at or above 14° F, so protection from rain, sleet and standing water are required. Cold/dry conditions are consistently below 14° F so protection from the cold is the main requirement.
Utah Army National Guard member, armed with an M-16A1 rifle, marches through the snow during Exercise Brim Frost '83, Camp Caroll, Waegwan, Korea, 30 Jan 1983. He is wearing cold/dry overwhite parka and trousers covering other layers, and Bunny Boots.
Conditions are termed cold-wet when the temperature moves above and below the freezing point and the ground alternately freezes and thaws. On the other hand, cold-dry conditions occur when temperatures are consistently well below freezing and the ground remains frozen, possibly with snow cover and ice. The ambient temperature is affected by both wind and humidity.
Soldiers deployed to cold-weather areas from stations in warm regions are usually issued the combination Cold/Wet-Cold/Dry Clothing System which can be configured into two ensembles. The cold/wet ensemble is worn above 14° F, and the cold/dry ensemble is worn below 14° F. The cold/dry ensemble protects down to -60° F. The cold/wet configuration differs from the cold/dry in the number of layers and the choice of boots. The system uses layers of wool/cotton fabrics to trap air for insulation, and a water-repellent outer garment to maintain dryness. This system was used until the development of the Extended Cold Weather Clothing System (ECWCS) in the mid-1980s.
The cold weather uniforms are built up in layers with many options available for protection in a wide spectrum of conditions. Clothing should be loose fitting, layered, and must be maintained clean and dry. Where field conditions make it difficult or impossible to stay clean and dry, Soldiers are urged to at least try to rotate clothing and to air out used items. It is important to avoid overheating and adjust clothing as conditions change.
Components of Cold/Wet Weather Uniforms
Cold-wet conditions occur when temperatures are near freezing and variations in day and night temperatures cause alternate freezing and thawing. This freezing and thawing is often accompanied by rain and wet snow, causing the ground to become muddy and slushy. During these periods Soldiers should wear clothing which consists of a water-repellent, wind-resistant outer layer and inner layers with sufficient insulation to provide ample protection in moderately cold weather (above 14° F).
The basic components of the cold-wet uniform are the wool field uniform shirt and trousers, the field jacket with liner and hood, and the black leather combat boots (with rubber overshoes) or Mickey Mouse boots. Handwear consists of black leather glove shells with wool inserts or Mitten Shells with inserts. A poncho is worn over all in rain or sleet. Underwear, socks, and other accessories are drawn from standard issue items.
Components of Cold/Dry Weather Uniforms
Cold-dry conditions occur when average temperatures are lower than 14° F. The ground is usually frozen and snow is usually dry, in the form of fine crystals. Standing water has turned to ice. Strong winds cause low temperatures to seem colder and increase the need for protection of the entire body from windchill. During these periods, Soldiers should have available additional insulating layers of clothing. This is particularly true when entering static situations from a period of strenuous physical activity.
The basic components of the cold-dry uniform are composed of the wool shirt, wind resistant sateen trousers with liners, the field jacket with liner and hood, the parka with liner, the helmet liner cap, and the white rubber Bunny Boots (also called white Mickey Mouse boots). Handwear consists of black leather glove shells with wool inserts or Mitten Shells and inserts. A poncho may be worn over all for additional protection. Snow camouflage overwhite parka and trousers are available for white snow conditions (top photo). Underwear, socks, and other accessories are drawn from standard issue items.
More Information on Cold/Wet-Cold/Dry Uniform Components
Some of the components of the cold weather uniforms are further described in these Olive-Drab.com pages:
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