U.S. Army uniform officials are working on an Improved Hot Weather Army Combat Uniform that features lighter fabric, fewer pockets and not as many layers.
The current Army Combat Uniform top weighs in at about 650 grams, or about 1.4 pound – a good part of that is pockets and multiple layers of fabric, making it dry more slowly.
As a solution, Program Executive Office Soldier is working on an Improved Hot Weather Army Combat Uniform that may eventually be available for all soldiers, Gen. Brian P. Cummings, commander of PEO Soldier, said in a recent Army press release.
PEO Soldier is responsible for managing most items soldiers wear or carry such as individual and crew-served weapons, protective gear, weapons sights and sensors, and uniform items.
Cummings said the current Army uniform has a lot of good feedback from soldiers.
But the current ACU has "all this stuff on it,” Cummings said, referring to shoulder pockets, and pen pockets and leg pockets and Velcro swatches to hold flags and unit patches. Each one of those pockets requires multiple layers of fabric and fastening material, and buttons.
"And they all hold water,” Cummings said. “And they cost money."
The Army wants to issue Improved Hot Weather Army Combat Uniform to soldiers in the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii, who operate in hot, jungle environments. But Cummings said the Army also hopes to bring the uniform to all soldiers -- to make it available for purchase in military clothing stores.
Cummings said he hopes to have a light-weight uniform available within a year, saying that because it is based on an existing uniform that has already been extensively tested, getting this light-weight uniform to the field will take less time.
One issue with the Improved Hot Weather Army Combat Uniform’s light-weight fabric is that it might prove itself more susceptible to wrinkling after washing. That could be fixed, Cummings said, with the application of an anti-wrinkle treatment. But that would only happen if it didn't interfere with the uniform's ability to wick away water.
Uniform officials are also looking at a flame-resistant version, Cummings said.