It’s no secret that the same companies that produce the technical gear we use to adventure into the mountains and forests also supply the military with items that help soldiers operate in the world’s harshest environments. Sometimes these things become available to civilians — you can buy military gear from brands like Mystery Ranch and Darn Tough — but mostly, these items get a military-only designation until they wind up on the racks of surplus stores. What’s more, the “military-issue” gear in those stores isn’t always the real deal. To clear the air, Polartec, a prominent military contractor, just made its standard-issue cold-weather clothing system available directly to civilians for the first time.
Polartec’s new military collection is called Gen III Extended Cold Weather Clothing System — or E.C.W.C.S. for short (sort of). The US Army has been using this basic yet practical clothing since 2007. The collection consists of six items based on the concept of layering for warmth in varying climates and conditions: there are lightweight silk baselayers, thicker fleece layers and a high-loft fleece jacket.
The same ingredients that go into the E.C.W.C.S. are frequently employed by outdoor brands to make equipment for camping, hunting, mountaineering and more. Compared to those items, Polartec’s Military Issue Collection cuts straight to the practical and efficient chase. You’ll find few bells and whistles here, but no shortage of utility. The apparel in the collection comes in a tactical tan color and is notably affordable ($89 for a military-grade fleece jacket is quite a deal).
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