The Extended Cold Weather Clothing System or ECWCS is a full soup-to-nuts clothing system developed by the U.S. military to outfit soldiers for deployment in climates ranging anywhere from +40 to -60 Fahrenheit.

ECWCS - Extended Cold Weather Clothing System

The ECWCS clothing system is based on the principle of layering which has become the overall preferred method for protection from the elements. Layering allows the wearer to better regulate their overall temperature by adding or removing clothing depending on physical activity to keep from getting soaked with sweat and causing chilling.

Since it’s first generation ECWCS has gone through 2 major re-designs (now GEN III) but the core elements and principles have remained the same. The changes have mostly been in new improved fabrics and a refinement of the overall package.

The first generation ECWCS system, released in the 1980s consisted of a whopping 22 pieces in it’s entirety (imagine packing that all day). Since then, the third generation system has been slimmed down and improved to only 12 pieces and is currently in use by the U.S. military around the globe.

ECWCS Components

With all it’s changes, the overall core and principles of the system have remained the same and can be broken down into 3 parts:

  • Light moisture wicking base layer – This is a thin base layer designed to pull the moisture away from your body.  It should not be too tight and should be comfortable.
  • Mid-weight insulating second layer – The second layer is often worn alone in more mild weather conditions normally made from some type of  Polar Fleece.
  • Extreme cold weather outer layer – When it gets really bad, this is the layer that you will want to have on stand-by. Gortex parkas and pants keep you dry and out of the wind.

Using this layering system you can mix-and-match your clothing to suit any outdoor activity; if you are serving your country at the far ends of the earth can make the difference between coming home or not. Thankfully most of us spend time in the outdoors for fun and applying this system or at least the layering principles means more fun and enjoyment outside.

If you would like to see what the soldiers think about it check out this video overview of the GEN III ECWCS clothing system

Great Deals on ECWCS Clothing

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