Friday, November 13, 2015

Extended Cold Weather Clothing System PCU Mark Twight











Twight is the technical director of Mountain Mobility Group, LLC, which provides "cold weather, high altitude, and fitness training, as well as R&D for the Department of Defense."He was hired as the subject matter expert during the development of the Protective Combat Uniform (PCU) currently issued to special operations personnel.


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The Extended Cold Weather Clothing System is considered the first of the modern environmental clothing systems and developmental systems date from the early 1980s. This layered system was the first to rely on modern synthetics such as GORE-TEX and Polypropylene. Up to that point virtually everything had been manufactured from natural fibers and in most cases, previously issued designs dated back to before World War I. A design feature that first appeared with ECWCS was that the Battle Dress Uniform was not a component of system as it was manufactured from a cotton-based fabric which in cold weather could retain moisture and result in injury or death. This same design philosophy has followed to PCU and GEN III although PCU is undergoing an upgrade with the addition of a performance combat uniform.


The most ambitious of the currently fielded systems is without a doubt USSOCOM’s PCU. It is the clothing system that changed everything. Naval Special Warfare personnel had been testing commercial outdoor clothing in various combinations at Det-Kodiak in Alaska as part of the Personal Environmental Protective Survival Equipment (PEPSE) program to see if they would provide an edge in performance, weight, and space. When SOCOM called upon Natick in 2002 to develop a lightweight cold weather clothing system after 9/11, they asked for input from one of America’s premier mountaineering experts, Mark Twight. He helped them develop a seven level clothing system that would protect our Special Operators in extreme environments. The new “Twight System” adapted from the European climbing community and codified in Twight’s seminal work, “Extreme Alpinism” differed from the layer system previously relied upon by the US military. In this new scheme, different levels were worn alone or combined for use in a wider range of climatic conditions offering a great deal more flexibility, enhanced performance, and comfort range to the wearer




All of the current environmental clothing systems adopted by the US military rely on a multi-level system of clothing options developed in the mountaineering community. The design anticipates an active wearer in a cool to cold environment, wet or dry and works by convection. In wet environs, as the wearer moves, he generates heat that is utilized to dry wet clothing within the system. 

The various levels are breathable in order to avoid overheating. When it is dry or the wearer generates a great deal of perspiration, the materials in the various components work to push it away from the body. A waterproof level is also provided for periods of inactivity or deluge in order to keep the wearer from being soaked to the bone. The final level in most systems is a puffy-style garment with a great deal of loft. It is the outermost garment because it will be needed the least and will be donned and doffed by the wearer often between periods of travel and rest.


PCU was an amalgamation of the lessons learned using commercially available clothing and Mark Twight’s expertise. A designer was then tasked with combining the latest materials into a militarized version of the Twight System, resulting in the PCU.


In 2004 Patagonia developed a turnkey environmental clothing system called the Military Advanced Regulator System or MARS. Based on their commercial Regulator line, slight modifications were made to designs and the color was changed to Alpha Green. Since its initial inception Patagonia has also added base layers in coyote.


In 2006, USSOCOM charged their support office at Natick to make incremental improvements to the system based on user feedback and streamline the production process, facilitating a partnership between major outdoor manufacturers and National Industries for the Severely Handicapped.


PCU was an amalgamation of the lessons learned using commercially available clothing and Mark Twight’s expertise. A designer was then tasked with combining the latest materials into a militarized version of the Twight System, resulting in the PCU.



Extended Cold Weather Clothing System
Extended Climate Warfighter Clothing System





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