FORT HOOD — Fashion and functionality surveys are on the agenda for troopers of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment’s Headquarters and Headquarters Troop as they test what could become the next generation of the Army physical fitness uniform.
About 100 soldiers from “Remington” Troop were issued the upgraded gear — created through an online survey conducted in February 2012 — to provide feedback to help the Army determine if the uniform is ready to be implemented across the force. The current uniform is about 13 years old.
“I’m definitely eager to give feedback,” said Staff Sgt. Zachary Pryor, a platoon sergeant in Remington.
About a week into the six-week trial period, he said he’s already noting some things he plans to share.
“I like the material. It feels lighter,” said Pryor, who wore the uniform on a six-mile run in the afternoon to test it outside the designated early morning exercise schedule.
“It’s easier to move in when you’re sweaty.”
Including a short-sleeved T-shirt, a long-sleeved shirt, shorts, pants and jacket, the new set is black with gold lettering, instead of the current gray-and-black uniforms. The jacket and pants are available in sizes specifically for women.
“A lot of people like the look, but there was some skepticism of the black,” said Capt. Conrad Brown, troop commander. “Because it’s so light and it breathes and wicks moisture better, it’s not bad.”
Maj. Laverne Stanley, assistant product manager for soldier clothing and individual equipment at Fort Belvoir, Va., said the shirts are made of polyester and designed to dry quickly.
“We also removed the reflectivity from the garment,” she said. Soldiers are required to wear a reflective belt during physical training, and these elements didn’t survive well in washing machines, she added.
The lining of the shorts, which soldiers would often cut out of the old ones, was upgraded to a four-way stretch material and lengthened for modesty.
Something they’d buy
Brown, a long-distance runner, said the new shorts feel like something he would actually go out and buy on his own.
“The first time I put the shorts on, it was immediately 100 percent better than the old ones,” he said. “The difference is night and day.”
Another upgrade for the shorts is an improved ID card pocket. Instead of a Velcro outside pocket, one was added to the lining, and another at the waistband for keys.
To test the material’s durability and simulate long-term use, soldiers were asked to wear and wash the uniform every day. Brown asked soldiers to keep notes as issues arise to remember what to include in the Army’s survey next month.
“I think everyone is excited to try something new,” he said.
More than 700 soldiers were selected to test the uniform, Stanley said. Aside from Fort Hood, the Army selected troops at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Fort Bragg, N.C., and Fort Sill, Okla., to gauge a variety of climates.
“Soldiers are extremely enthusiastic about it,” Stanley said. “This uniform was based upon the soldiers’ feedback and they pretty much made the choices of the design changes.”
The surveys will be analyzed and given to Army leadership for a decision. There is no time estimate for when the uniforms could be implemented.
The jacket and pants are available in sizes specifically for women.