The heavy gray T-shirt worn during physical training is on its way out.
The new black-and-yellow Army Physical Fitness Uniform will become available servicewide in October.
Its design is based on soldier feedback, said Col. Robert Mortlock, program manager at Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment at Fort Belvoir, Va.
There’s a three-year phase-in program and the cost will be about $3 less than the current uniform, he said. In total, the Army made 34 changes to the uniform.
These new uniforms first made their way to Fort Hood last summer. About 100 soldiers within 3rd Cavalry Regiment were among the more than 870 chosen at six installations to test the new workout gear.
“I really, really like it,” said Staff Sgt. Zachary Pryor, of “Remington” Troop. “I definitely think ... it’s a better uniform. It’s an improvement.”
A fan of CrossFit and tabata, he said he tried a variety of exercises and workouts wearing each of the five pieces of the uniform and had no major issues. He even ran a 10k wearing the new, moisture-wicking, black shirt and had no issues with friction or overheating.
“Everything as a whole moves really well together,” he said.
The yellow letters on the front, he said, are very visible in the dark, but eventually began to peel off the shirt. That discrepancy was noted during the unit’s testing. His only other complaint was the small neck-hole on the T-shirt.
The creation of new PT uniforms were initiated because of soldier feedback. A February 2012 Army Knowledge Online survey of some 76,000 soldiers found that soldiers had issues with the gray T-shirts and black shorts, he said. They liked its durability but believed the textiles had not kept pace with commercially available workout clothes. They also had concerns with other things, particularly modesty issues with the shorts, especially in events like sit-ups. Those concerns were expressed by men and women. Some soldiers were purchasing spandex-like undergarments to wear beneath the trunks, Mortlock said.
A four-way stretch panel was added to the inside of the new trunks, sort of like bicycle pants, to eliminate this problem. A bigger key pocket and a convenient and secure ID card pouch were also upgraded.
Pryor said the pockets of the new shorts work well.
“I played basketball with my ID in there and didn’t even notice it,” he said.
A key part of testing addressed the concern of some soldiers that a black shirt may cause overheating. Instrumented tests showed that the lighter weight material and superior moisture-wicking fabric more than compensated for any increased heat from the dark material.
The response to the new gear was “overwhelmingly positive,” he said, particularly with the trunks.
Not only that, soldiers, including Pryor, reported they wear the new gear on weekends and off-duty outside the installations. Many soldiers said they wouldn’t wear the current uniform off-duty, Mortlock said.
Pryor is approaching his medical retirement date, but said he plans to continue to wear the uniform once a civilian.
Army military clothing sales stores will stock the new gear sometime between October and December.
It will be issued to soldiers from the clothing initial issue points, starting between April and June, and to Reserve, National Guard, and Senior ROTC from July-August. The new black-and-yellow will be phased in as the gray-and-black uniforms are used up and worn out. The mandatory wear date will go into effect around October 2017, or about three years after it is introduced.
Army News Service contributed to this report.