Polartec Military

The Baldwin Articles – Cargo Pockets

There is one functional element that is found on the field uniform of practically all the militaries in the world today. It is some version of the simple but effective thigh mounted cargo pocket. Surprisingly, the genesis of that now ubiquitous feature dates only back to WWII. And it is very much an American innovation. Most militaries, including the US Armed Forces saw no need for anything other than small patch pockets on field uniforms prior to 1940. And most of those were located on issued jackets or shirts and not trousers. If you have a set of Dress Blues or Greens in your closet you can see what most truly old school combat uniforms looked like. But with global war imminent in the late 1930s new and previously untried clothing ideas found some traction and urgency.

During WWII the US Army fielded three types of field trousers each with different cargo pockets. The first and most widely issued was the Herringbone Twill (HBT) uniform (not shown). The HBT trousers had a relatively small unpleated pocket mounted high on the thigh that was secured by one button and a flap. This is the trouser worn by the Ranger characters in Saving Private Ryan (also seen in The Dirty Dozen and more recently The Great Raid). This uniform remained in service until the late 1950s generally only for summer wear. The second type of field trousers saw much more limited use. Those are the Trousers, Mountain, which were issued only to the 10th Mountain Division and the First Special Service Force (FSSF). These pants had a good sized cargo pocket with flap and two buttons for closure. Side note: even though they were also parachute qualified the plank holders of the FSSF preferred the mountain trousers to those developed exclusively for paratroopers.

But it was the development and eventual combat employment of mission specific paratrooper uniforms that rightly validated the utility of cargo pockets. By necessity the Army Airborne Command was a hotbed of invention. The leadership quickly recognized the critical need for a paratrooper to carry considerably more gear on his person than the typical soldier. Early on they produced two limited issue experimental uniforms that never saw combat: the paratrooper coveralls and the M1941 uniform. The coveralls had fair sized thigh pockets with a metal zipper across the top and no flap. The M1941 uniform had single snap closed pockets that were deemed too small but was hurriedly reengineered and fielded as the iconic M1942 Parachutist Uniform.

But by the time the American Airborne had a couple of combat jumps worth of experience it was obvious that the cotton twill of the M1942 uniform – especially the pockets – needed to be reinforced. To be fair, the troopers routinely overloaded the pockets with hard edged objects that would wear holes in almost any clothing material available at the time. Fortunately the Airborne units had a secret weapon not available to “leg” outfits. That is the Parachute Rigger. The Rigger was not only charged with packing parachutes but also with repairing them. So all were trained to use industrial grade sewing machines and had a steady supply of web material and high strength thread. Riggers were the first custom gear industry. They produced countless enlarged ammo pouches, specialized rigs for engineers and medics and anything else needed by Airborne units that was not in the normal Army supply channels.

So when time and mission permitted paratroopers turned in their uniforms to have canvas or cotton webbing reinforcements applied by the Riggers. This included leg ties, rectangular canvas patches for the elbows and knees (see photo) and webbing around all of the pockets. The leg ties were needed to stabilize and cinch the load to the troopers’ thighs during and after a drop. By the Normandy Invasion jump most of the troopers in the 82nd and 101st were wearing uniforms with these improvements. Again as widely seen on the Airborne characters of Saving Private Ryan and the first couple of episodes of Band of Brothers. I mention the movies in part because I don’t have a M1942 uniform to display. What I do have at the top of the visual aid is a set of “Rigger Pockets” that are of the same dimensions – and nearly identical design. With the aforementioned canvas leg ties and knee patches. These are well made replicas that come from a place called WWII Impressions that caters to Reenactors.


1st Row: Replica K Rations, Canvas Rigger Pockets (back and Front), M1945 and M1950 Suspenders. 2nd Row: M1965 Field Trousers (OD and Woodland). 3rd Row: OG 107 Jungle Fatigues, ERDL Green Dominant, ERDL Brown Dominant. 4th Row: BDU Woodland, DCU 6-Color, DCU 3-Color. 5th Row: ACU UCP, ACU OCP.

The M1942 uniform really was the archetype from which all subsequent US Military cargo pockets evolved. When then Captain Yarborough designed the parachutist uniform he sized each pocket based on purpose. The thigh cargo pockets specifically were intended to hold 3 K-Ration meal components (see photo). The pockets for every paratrooper were the same size to hold the same load. Not sized to look esthetically pleasing on the individual as is common today. During the upgrades mentioned above, two other design shortcomings were deemed less critical and were not immediately addressed. The pocket had bellows along all three sides. This provided for maximum usable volume. But also allowed the pockets to bulge out significantly and become a snagging hazard especially in wooded terrain. The pocket also had an “inverted box (2 sided) pleat” in the center to allow expansion (yes, I looked it up). Inverted simply means that the fold that forms the pleat is on the inside of the pocket rather than the outside (see photo). That pleat also tended to get easily caught by underbrush. But it was still the best uniform with the best pockets available into the late summer of 44.

Stateside, the Army had already been working on a replacement common combat uniform for the entire force. Experimentation was conducted on the proposed M1943 uniform beginning in 42. Early combat lessons learned by Airborne units were incorporated into the test up front. For the Trouser component six different cargo pocket configurations were tested. On some of the test pants there was actually a different pocket on either side of the sample. However, when the official type classified “M1943 Uniform” was fielded it had no cargo pockets. There were a couple of reasons for this. One, the Armor community and Air Corps did not want cargo pockets. They saw them as nothing more than an annoyance in a tank or plane. There was also some institutional resistance to cargo pockets because they made soldiers look “sloppy and unprofessional”. And, after all, the Great War had been won without cargo pockets. But I think the final decision came down to nothing more than simplifying the design so that the trousers could be easier to produce in mass quantities rapidly.

However, the Airborne still wanted cargo pockets. So even before the M1943 uniform was shipped into the European Theater the Riggers were hard at work fabricating those Rigger Pockets. Using the M1942 pockets as the best available template. They chose canvas because it was the toughest fabric they had on hand. Then as the M1943 trousers arrived the Riggers sewed those pockets to the pants just in time for Operation Market Garden and all subsequent jumps. On the plus side, the unmodified M1943 Jacket, Field was well received by the paratroopers. The new ensemble was made of sturdy cotton sateen and was more durable than the M1942. It is important to note that the M1943 Uniform was envisioned to be a 3-season temperate zone uniform. It was supposed to supplant all the specialized uniforms including HBTs. But soldiers quickly found that while the M1943 was a great improvement it was simply too hot for summer wear even in Central Europe. So by default the HBT uniform soldiered on despite the Army’s original intentions.

Rigger Pockets themselves actually have a much longer history too. Post WWII the Army continued to issue the slick M1943 trousers. But Airborne units still wanted pockets. So it became something of a rite of passage for graduates of Jump School to receive a set of canvas Rigger Pockets and leg ties. Which the cherry jumper would then have sewn on at a local tailor shop. When the Rangers and the 187th RCT made the two large scale combat jumps in Korea almost all were wearing M1943 uniforms with canvas Rigger Pockets. The M1951 Uniform was eventually fielded with built in cargo pockets but did not get to Korea in any quantity till after 53 and the Armistice. But even after the M1951 uniform was available the Rigger Pockets remained the mark of a seasoned paratrooper and continued to be worn in the back woods of places like Fort Bragg and Germany. In one book I have there are a couple of pictures of an ODA doing mountaineering training in 1961. And it appears the older NCOs still have them on their trousers.

But as already mentioned some changes were definitely warranted in the cargo pocket design despite the mystique and longevity of the originals. So when the Army developed the M1951 Uniform they created an improved version that utilized the now familiar tri-panel “knife (1 sided) pleat” configuration. Additionally the leading and bottom seams were sewn down. The new pocket therefore only expanded in the rear. Both revisions served to greatly reduce snagging issues. Moreover, the bottom front corner of the flap was bartacked down for the same reason. This now classic design, with some occasional minor tweaks, remains the standard even today some 65 years later.

I don’t have any M1951 trousers anymore but I do have three of the follow on M1965 Field Trousers* on display. The only real difference between the 51s and 65s is in the buttons. The 51s had flat plastic buttons and the 65s have the oval plastic buttons we are still using today. The 51s also had buttons on the outside of the waist so that they would be reverse compatible with the M1945 Suspenders (see photo). I have also laid out the long serving M1950 Suspenders that many of you will recognize. The M1950s are apparently still in the system and being produced today in foliage green. Paratroopers learned in WWII that if you put heavy things in your cargo pockets suspenders were practically mandatory.

I was issued M1951s and those very M1945 suspenders in Germany in 1975. In those days you used serviceable gear until you literally wore it out. I put an asterisk next to “Field Trousers” above because there is one difference between the two OD examples I have. The earlier manufactured one is labeled “Trousers, Field”. The one produced later is labeled “Trousers, Cold Weather” as is the woodland set. As I recall we almost always just called them “field pants”. Like their predecessors, the M1951 and M1965 cargo pockets have the very useful leg tie downs hidden inside. I still remember enlightening soldiers and even NCOs in the early 80s who didn’t know the ties were there or didn’t understand what they were for. I used my tie downs just about every time I wore field pants. They definitely help keep the pocket’s contents from bouncing around.

The OG107 Jungle Fatigues and the first set of ERDLs are cut in the same pattern. They have the tri-panel knife pleat but a slightly larger flap that is obviously reminiscent of the Rigger Pocket or M1942 flap. Both of these uniforms were extremely functional and popular and have been discussed many times here on SSD. The last generation ERDLs (late 70s/early 80s) had a very different pocket arrangement. The jacket pockets were square and level rather than rounded and canted. And all had the inverted box pleat including, inexplicably, the thigh cargo pocket. I was issued this pair in 83 at Fort Bragg. On my first field problem the pleat caught on brush and was ripped. When I got back to garrison I had the pleat sewn shut. Problem solved. I can only assume that somebody had not bothered to capture why that feature had been abandoned in the first place and recycled it out of ignorance. Uniforms in this straight pocket configuration were also produced and issued in OG107 Jungles and in experimental 6-Color Desert.

The early BDUs circa 1982-83 had a myriad of problems. They had a goofy big collar, turned blue after one or two washings and shrank like crazy. But there was nothing wrong with the cargo pockets. The Army wisely reverted back to the knife pleats and a relatively narrow flap with a two button closure. Another side note. Some of you may remember that the original BDUs in NYCO Twill were intended as an all-purpose 3-season temperate zone uniform. Sound familiar? They were too hot and soon “Light Weight” Ripstop BDUs were produced to fix that problem. OG107 Jungle Fatigues were also authorized Army wide as an interim fix until the lighter uniforms could be fielded. Many soldiers, unaware of the history, often erroneously refer to the heavier originals as “winter weight” BDUs. As far as I know, USGI Desert Storm era 6-Color DCUs were only issued in Twill and later 3-Color DCUs only in Ripstop.

Today the USMC MARPAT uniforms and the Air Force ABU still use the same well refined and combat tested BDU pocket design described above. But the Army decided it needed to make some changes when it fielded the ACU in 2005. They kept the tri-panel pocket body. But they traded buttons for Velcro and shock cord. I’m not anti-Velcro. I believe in some applications it is a suitable closure device. Chest pockets under body armor for instance. But it is the wrong option for cargo pockets for a number of reasons which have been discussed here many times. The flap was also canted and was no longer bartacked down. These changes were all intended to make it easier to access the pocket when seated. Maybe so. I just personally don’t recall that accessing the older cargo pockets was a problem prior to 2005.

In any case, the Army has transitioned back to a button closure on the last generation of UCP ACUs and the newer Multicam and OCP ACUs. But for some reason someone decided that there was a need for a third “expansion” button. If that works for you then by all means drive on. But after some unscientific experimentation here on the homestead, I saw no use for it and removed the superfluous third button. When I was wearing the UCP ACUs in the 2005-07 timeframe I also had the bottom front corner of the flaps bartacked down. I experienced no adverse issues with pocket access. And I felt more secure in that the flap could no longer come completely undone and dump the contents (say in a vehicle roll over).

There are a number of newer and IMHO tactically questionable cargo pockets designs out there today. The Navy just adopted the NWU Type III that according to pictures I’ve seen has cargo pockets segmented by two inverted box pleats. I’m sure that will work fine aboard ship. But this style will never travel well through a jungle. Other popular commercial examples have internal elastic to accommodate rifle magazines. I can tell you that unless there is some provision to cinch that pocket to the thigh (or you like wearing really tight pants) those loaded magazines will beat your leg to death when you run. And one last thing. The flap on the OCP ACUs is noticeably larger than previous cargo pocket flaps. I thought of early BDU/DCU Elvis Collars when I saw it. It just seems bigger than reasonably necessary for the task. For those wearing them in the field today I would be curious to hear if the pocket flap is the snag monster I suspect it can be. TLB

LTC Terry Baldwin, US Army (RET) served on active duty from 1975-2011 in various Infantry and Special Forces assignments.

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44 Responses to “The Baldwin Articles – Cargo Pockets”

  1. MB says:

    Great article as usual Sir !!!! I was issued the ERDL, in both brown and green dominant versions and OG107’s in National Guard SF. I am big and tall and the uniforms I had in my size always had the first gen style pockets that you reference. Usually, on smaller Soldiers, the pockets were square, on the blouse. At least that was my recollection.

    I have also seen an ERDL pattern, ripstop M65 field jacket, issued to a man in our unit, back in the day. I have also seen the 3 color DCU in the heavier weight twill. However, most of those were ripstop as you stated.

    I always enjoy reading your articles. Keep them coming!

  2. Mayflower says:

    Great job as usual Terry! I think I still have almost one of everything you have laid out including OG107s with my selection numbers on the legs and chest. I always keep a set of everything for reference so I don’t repeat the mistakes of the past. TR

  3. STEPAN1983 says:

    I think new button ACU flaps are so big because creators think about overloading the pocket (using third button) this way the gap between the buttons will be so huge that longer flap is needed to cover it

    • Eddie says:

      No, it’s so we can reach in and get out our Patrol caps, smack them on our thighs, and put them on our heads without fucking around with the buttons, realistically speaking.

      BDU cargo pockets were too small and impractical, harder to get into if you haven’t broken them into hell. Having the ability to carry water bottoles, food, and various soft items is in the interest of the warfighter. Velcro was fine, it was just too easy to come undone if you got snagged on something. Buttons keep it shut but you can still get your hand in there and keep stuff in with that flap.

      • Terry Baldwin says:

        Eddie,

        You do know that the cargo pockets on the BDUs and the ACUs are essentially the same size (width and depth)?

        Technically, because of the shorter front seam & canted flap the useable volume of the ACU pocket is actually less than the BDU pocket.

        But I’m glad troopers can now get their PC out without “fucking around with buttons”.

        TLB

        • Eddie says:

          Lmao, I knew I should have made a note! ACU Pockets expand a lot more and with the larger slanted opening and button placement they just feel bigger. Glad to get a response from you sir!

          Big fan of your work. Would like to see you go over cold weather clothing systems. I’m loving the M1951 and M65 mix I recently threw together.

          Keep it up sir.

          • Eddie says:

            Actually on a note, as it expands just a little more from the center, at least as it appears to expand bigger. If it feels bigger is it not bigger? Lol. You know these dimensional differences by heart. Less is more I guess?

      • D.B. says:

        Hmm, not quite. Just look at the current Marine Corp cargo pockets on MCCUU and FROG pants. They use small BDU-stlyle top pocket flap, bartacked at the front, with exception that these come now with a single button and an elastic.

        No need for over-sized cargo pocket flaps currently used on button-only ACUs. When the ACUs were velcro style, pocket flaps were much narrower. Nothing wrong with that, they were just fine. Now I get that elephant ear effect with the humongous cargo pocket flaps as I move forward.

        • Eddie says:

          THAT’S WHAT I MEANT. That tack in the front is just horrendous! Glad you brought that up! Lmao. I feel like a fool for forgetting essentially “why” it felt smaller.

          • Terry Baldwin says:

            Eddie,

            Now I see what you were getting at – as far as them “seeming bigger”. You are right, not having the flap bartacked down does allow for the top of the pocket to open wider and provide easier access.

            But it is a trade off. Having the flap bartacked reduces snagging problems when moving through thick brush. It also keeps the load in the pocket more secure by slightly reducing the opening.

            Therefore making it less likely you will lose the pockets contents if you fall down a bank in the middle of the night on patrol. In that sense it is a zero sum game when it comes to designing cargo pocket closure systems – security vs access.

            TLB

            • D.B. says:

              It appears jury is still out there on bartacked-vs-free front of the cargo pocket flap.

              US Army stucked with the bartacked design for a very long time from their m51 and M65 cargo pocket designs, to BDUs and MCCUUs and FROGs. Then they all of the sudden went to open flap design with the ACUs. This however would have been from practical reasons as getting inside the angled pocket which is closed on one side would be a little harder. Also, later in 2011 the US Navy ‘opened’ their flaps on the NWU II and III uniform pants.

              Interestingly Cry precision too had a bit of a flip-flop with their never ending self-discovery around the ‘ultimate combat pant’.

              Their R8 pants had heavily bartacked velcro flap at the front, making it sometimes a challenge to get in. Then they went ‘open-flap’ design with the subsequent AC and G3 combat and field pants.

              I have a feeling this ‘bartack vs not’ dilemma won’t finish any time soon. There’s just too many reasons pro and con, simple as that.

              • Eddie says:

                Damned if you do, Damned if you don’t.

              • Lasse says:

                According to what I’ve been able to figure out, the guy who did the Crye G3 update is not the same as the person who did the initial design- which might explain the bartack or not.

  4. Chris U'5 says:

    Great article, thank you.

  5. Joe says:

    Note: USMC trousers have only 1 button on the cargo pocket and incorporate elastic into the design.

    • Terry Baldwin says:

      Joe,

      With this article in mind, the last time I was at Bragg I asked a young Marine I ran into at the Mini-mall about his cargo pockets.

      And as you might expect got a weird look in return. But he did open the pocket flap so I could get a look.

      I thought – but could apparently be mistaken – he had two buttons on the pocket. I remarked “just like BDUs”. He said “I don’t know, I was never issued BDUs”.

      So I stand corrected. TLB

    • D.B. says:

      And that’s the way I prefer it too. They also dispensed with the 3rd vertical flap bellow (like BDU and ACU) in favor of smaller one at the bottom.

      The MCCUU and FROG pant pockets look more professional, streamlined and flatter when not carrying anything in it.

  6. Strike-Hold says:

    An excellent and thorough article as usual, but I would like to point out that the use of ‘cargo’ pockets on uniforms was not quite the all-American innovation that you suggest at the beginning of your article:

    The 1939 Pattern Battle Dress uniform issued by the British Army and Royal Air Force included a map / cargo pocket on the left thigh of the trousers. A significantly enlarged version of this pocket was also a salient feature of the 1940 Pattern Airborne Forces Battle Dress trousers issued by the British Army.

    The 1937 Pattern Jump Smock of the German Airborne Forces also incorporated large cargo pockets that hung at thigh level due to the long length of the garment. The German Luftwaffe also issued tan cotton ‘tropical’ trousers that featured a cargo pocket on the left thigh from 1940 onwards. The German Panzer Corps also issued trousers with a cargo pocket on the left thigh to their assault gun crews from around 1941-1942.

    One can only suppose therefore that Col. Yarborough drew some inspiration from some of these examples when he designed the M42 Jump Suit for the American airborne forces….

    • Terry Baldwin says:

      Strike-Hold,

      As you say, the British pocket was a flat purpose specific (map) pocket on the front of only one thigh. The German single pocket examples served similar limited purposes.

      And I would certainly agree that the M1943 Field Jacket is derivative of European Smocks especially the British versions.

      I never said the we Americans invent pockets. Just dual side mounted cargo pockets on trousers.

      Yarborough may or may not have gotten the idea for the large pockets from the long German Parachutist Smock. But he put them on trousers, the Germans did not.

      Good discussion. TLB

      • Strike-Hold says:

        Somehow I knew that’s what you’d say. 😉

        You’re right that the P37 BD trouser pocket was not designed to be much of a cargo pocket, but the one on the Airborne trousers certainly was – and it also used leather to reinforce it, in much the same way as the US paratroops used canvas on their M42 suits.

        I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the American airborne forces saw what the Brits had done and thought, “Anything the Brits can do we can do twice as good – we’ll have two pockets!” LOL.

        Again, great in-depth article – and nice to see that somebody else ‘geeks out’ so much over combat clothing and gear. FWIW, I always thought that the M65 trousers were the best damn pair of pants I ever used in the field. We only used them in Alaska though, it was back to RDF ERDLS, OG107s and BDUs when we got back to Bragg.

  7. CJOC says:

    During Operation Market Garden, several resourceful paratroopers in the 82nd and 101st procured any remaining M1942 jumpsuits, not wanting the M1943 for a combat jump.

  8. Klump David says:

    Excellent article, please keep them coming! It is amazing how something so ubiquitous as the cargo pocket can such a history. Necessity really is the mother of invention.

    I wore the OD field pants (in the field) every chance I got. Loved the button down flap on the front hand pockets and the tie downs in the cargo pockets too.

    That was one of the first things I noticed about the original ACU’s was how the front flap of the cargo pocket was not bar tacked down. After spending some time in both Ft. Jackson and Ft. Bragg, I asked HH6 to sew them down. Worked like a charm.

  9. Gruntled GI says:

    Sir- when 3D Brigade, 1st Cav drew our DCUs at Fort Hood for OIF 2 (2004-2005) we were issued both ripstop and twill DCUs. CIF issued DCUs, 4 tops, 4 bottoms. The 4 of each type were the same fabric but they didn’t care and wouldn’t switch if the tops & bottoms were different. After the draw, Soldiers traded components to have matching tops & bottoms. I saw a few guys have the Elvis collars cut down on their twill shirts.

    • James says:

      I have a few(3?) of the twill tops with the bottom pockets removed in a footlocker out in the garage. Was just about to bring up their existence.

  10. Nate says:

    I love reading this sort of thing, and SSD is pretty much the only place to ever have it!

  11. Weaver says:

    Another great article (and I like the subtle nod to SSD in the photo!).

  12. BS says:

    My two cents in the subject of Desert BDUs. There was short run of 100% Cotton Rip-stop Six Color desert cammies (plus the commercial ones) in 1990 and the Three Color ones were produced in three fabrics versions. First version was 100% Cotton Rip-stop, second was 50/50 NYCO Twill and final one was 50/50 NYCO Rip-stop.

  13. maresdesign says:

    I have an original M-42 US Army Jump Jacket. Its pretty obvious why they added the heavy canvas reinforcing on them as the material was thin cotton twill weave and could easily tear, especially with the opening shock of those old parachutes.

  14. Chris says:

    The use of rigger made pouches/pockets gets even crazier when you look at the 509th/517th/551st PIB’s which made the Southern France drops.

    As part of the uniform for Operation Dragoon the members of the 517th had bandoliers sewn into the skirt of the M1942 jump jackets for carriage of d-rations, cigs, etc.

    Battle of the Bulge Pictures show, due to issues with obtaining cold weather clothing, M1942 trouser pockets sewn to wool trousers and “tanker” trousers.

  15. Lasse says:

    Terry, care to explain more in depth what the leg tie is and how it’s used?
    I would assume it’s webbing around ones thigh to immobilize the cargo pocket, but assumptions are usually not a good idea.

    • SSD says:

      That’s exactly right, it goes back to WWII. The last uniform I saw it incorporated in, was the developmental SOF BDU.

      • Lasse says:

        I managed to google it, and found some photos of how they were used and could look like. Simple stuff, I’m a fan.

      • Terry Baldwin says:

        Lasse,

        SSD is right. I probably should have tied one on just to illustrate.

        In the 51 and 65 Field Pants they are made of ~1″ cotton webbing folded over to form a short and long tail. There is a slot in the back of the cargo pocket not quite halfway down to bring the strap through.

        The short piece goes over the pocket immediately and the longer piece is routed around the thigh and they meet in the middle of the pocket and are tied off.

        In WWII the ties were exposed and were actually sewn on a number of different ways depending on the unit. But they all tied off in the center of the pocket. You’ll have to go on line to see a picture of them being used.

        Probably the main reason the leg ties are no longer provided (or suspenders)is because we started issuing rucksacks. So starting in Vietnam most of the heavier objects that soldiers had been carrying migrated out of the cargo pockets to the ruck.

        TLB

        • Strike-Hold says:

          Also maybe because of snagging on the undergrowth?

          • Terry Baldwin says:

            Strike-Hold,

            That probably was a factor too. Vietnam was the transition point. Pushing through jungle or thick brush every day meant that troopers appreciated being as “aerodynamic” as they could possibly be.

            That meant doing anything they could to reduce snagging hazards on uniforms and gear. But if they had not had rucks – and still had to load heavy objects in their cargo pockets – I think they would have accepted the trade off of using the tie downs.

            Those are the kinds of hard earned gear lessons still well worth remembering and considering today.

            TLB

        • Ab5olut3zero says:

          I had a buddy, he’s a bit of a geardo, who while we were deployed to KFOR-XVI had his ACUs modified in theater with under-armour-type expansion joints, added knee-pads, and velcro/elastic thigh tie-down straps. The LTC was less-than pleased, and the rest of us were confused because he was on Staff at the time… Just thought you’d be interested in them maybe making a come-back, even if in unauthorized uniform configurations…

  16. Awesome article as usual Sir. Fascinating stuff.

  17. Dev says:

    As an aside, I had an instructor on my infantry course who used to pester the folks at the Q Store to give out the returned ripped and unserviceable trousers.

    He would then proceed to cut out the cargo pockets (the ones on the current issue ADF uniform were designed not to be overstuffed apparently) and use them as pouches to “compartmentalise” stuff in his packs, ie rations and batteries.

  18. D.B. says:

    Great article Terry.
    How about for the next write-up discussing a multitude of those small calf and front thigh pockets, their inception and development to this day?

    Or variations of combat pant material reinforcements on the stress points at the back side, knees from the BDU era onwards?

    • Terry Baldwin says:

      D.B.,

      I’d like to read something about that from someone who knows that particular aspect of gear history. But I don’t have enough knowledge myself to do the subject justice.

      I do know there is rarely anything truly new when it comes to military clothing. Almost every conceivable option has been tried at one time or another by someone.

      TLB

  19. Dellis says:

    Mr. Baldwin, very informative reading. I always enjoy them and very much appreciate your research and putting them together.

  20. Riceball says:

    Great article, as always. I’ve always felt that we, the US, had the best/most practical field uniforms of WW II, they may not have been as sharp looking as the Germans or even the British but they always seemed more comfortable and practical.