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It’s Time for the Army to Reconsider Pigskin Leather for Boots

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Recently, we posted “Leader Book Notes” on boots from Sergeant Major of the Army, Raymond Chandler. While we applauded his candor, there was a very glaring error in the SMA’s information.

SMA Chandler stated that Warrior Leather is a “common use” term for pigskin. Turns out that is untrue. It is actually a trademarked product of Wolverine Worldwide. You know Wolverine because they own Bates Footwear. Wolverine is the parent company of 16 global brands such as Merrell, Saucony and Wolverine as well as Bates.

WOLVERINE WARRIOR LEATHER

Oil, stain and abrasion-resistant Wolverine Warrior® Leather is treated with Scotchgard™ protector to create an invisible, stain-resistant barrier that improves durability without changing the breathability, color or texture of the leather.

Boots with Warrior® Leather are easy to clean and engingeered to resist dirt, mud, motor oil, vehicle fluids, gasoline and other oil-based chemicals.

Once we found out that the term “Warrior Leather” was an actual product that people were buying, it was time to learn more. We ended up discussing this issue recently with the folks at Bates. They’re using it for good reason. Bates found that their WWL is lighter weight, absorbs less liquid, dries faster, retains flexibility better, and is more stain resistant than cattle hide.

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The real question in all of this is “what has the US Army got against pigskin leather in the first place?” After all, the other services use it. If it’s good enough for the Marines, why not them?

The first issue that must be addressed is durability. Pigskin is, in fact, thinner than cowhide. Some would take that to mean that it is less durable. Bates shared that over the last 10 years, they have delivered in excess of two million pair of WWL leather combat boots to the US military via DLA contracts and military exchanges without a single documented case of leather failure. Plus, pigskin is more supple. It’s easier to work during the construction of footwear and it breathes better than cowhide.

When the US Air Force moved to adopt pig leather, we know that several Jewish Airmen came forward with their objections. We can imagine that Islamic Airmen may well have been concerned as well. However, cow leather has never been completely replaced by pig leather in US combat boots. It’s only been added as another material solution. So service members have never been placed in a position that would compromise their religious duties. While we understand the religious objections of Jewish and Islamic service members, the overall advantages of pig leather should be weighed as an additional material. Just like there are kosher and halal rations available to those that require them, they’ll still have footwear that meets their needs. Conversely, current issue boots force Hindu Soldiers to wear cowhide. If we are going to use religious grounds as a basis for this decision, all traditions should be considered.

One of the most compelling arguments for the adoption of pig leather is that it diversifies the supply chain for boots. Due to the very fragile nature of the US raw material supply chain it is critical the US military have multiple leather sources in the case of a delivery disruption. Right now, the other services can take advantage of such diversification. Now, it’s the Army’s turn.

The last reason I will cite is, for the Army, the most important reason. Pigskin leather is less expensive than cattle hide. It’s that simple. The Army is the largest consumer of clothing and footwear in DoD and could relieve the cost for boots both institutionally as well as for the individual Soldier with the adoption of pigskin leather for boots; at no performance cost. They can turn those savings around to improve other gear or hasten the transition to OCP.

The advantage is there for the Army if they would reconsider their ban on the use of pigskin leather for combat footwear. Now, we’re not advocating the full scale replacement of cowhide here, but rather the addition of pigskin as an authorized boot material. With the current transition to a new camouflage pattern, cut of the Army Combat Uniform and boot color underway, every option should be on the table, including this one. SSD urges the US Army to reconsider their ban in the use of pigskin leather for combat boots.

UPDATE: I forgot to include a reason. More pigskin = more bacon!

Boom: That Just Happened

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

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Something Cool Just Showed Up At SSD. Details soon!

OR Summer Market – Texollini

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Texollini is a fabric company well known in the commercial market. What many don’t know is that they offer FR fabrics as well. They use a lot of wool in their performance military FR fabrics but they don’t rely on the super wash process used by many but rather a use proprietary process. This helps control costs. They also work with FR Rayon and this material is going into the new FR bra for female Soldiers. If you’re looking for a performance or FR fabric, they’re definitely a company to look at.

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www.texollini.com

OR Open Air Demo – SG 20 Adhesive Sealant

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

SG-20 is a dual component polyurethane adhesive that is durable and flexible. Sets in 1 minute and cures in an hour. Each kit is enough for up to 3 repairs and can be used on a variety of items including waders, all neoprene a including dive suits, tents, Gore-tex, etc.

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It won’t stick to some PVCs and some hard plastics but it sounds like a great field repair kit addition. Shelf life is 18 months.

www.SG-20.com

Military Apparel Veteran Joins the 37.5 Technology Team – Dave Bywater To Head Up West Coast And Government Accounts For Cocona Natural Technologies

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

This is awesome news to me. I only have I known Dave for years I’ve been a huge fan of the Cocona fabric technology for almost as many. This is a great team up and I’m looking forward to see what Dave has in store for us in his new position.

Dave Bywater, who built the Military, Special Forces, and Wildland Fire business at Massif Mountain Gear, is now heading up all Military, Wildland Fire, and West Coast accounts for Cocona Natural Technologies, maker of patented 37.5™ Technology.

“It is an honor to be reunited with Dave, he is one of the finest men I know”, noted CEO Jeff Bowman who previously worked with Bywater at Massif. “Dave will help take our customer service to the next level.”

A lifelong user of high-performance gear, Bywater grew up climbing in Utah and spent 16 years as a Grand Teton National Park Employee. As part of the elite Jenny Lake Climbing Rangers, he routinely performed helicopter short-haul rescues as well as high-angle rock, ice, and snow rescues. Bywater received the Department of Interior Valor Award for an extreme rescue on Mt. McKinley. He has also been a Wildland Fire Fighter on engine and ground crews.

Bywater has more than 10 years of experience in the high-performance garment and textile industry and was most recently Vice President of Government Sales at Massif. Instrumental in developing and securing the company’s most successful programs such as the Army Combat Shirt and the Flame Resistant Environmental Ensemble, Bywater was also responsible for getting Massif’s flame-resistant garments approved for use in every branch of the US military.

“I’ve spent my career both using high-performance gear and getting the best equipment possible into the hands of people with the world’s most dangerous jobs,” said Bywater. “I’m excited to work with 37.5 technology, which, among other benefits, can help mitigate heat stress so you can focus on the job at hand—whether that’s training for an event, performing on a team, or protecting the country. The technology has an incredibly broad range of applications and the opportunities are limitless.”

Bywater will be at the 37.5 Technology booth at OR in August 6th through 9th. For inquiries, please email dave@cocona.com.

www.thirtysevenfive.com

An EPIC Story

Monday, August 4th, 2014

I remember first seeing the Nextec folks at Outdoor Retailer many years ago. As we make our way to this week’s OR Summer Market, I thought it would be good to sure this with you.

You’ve probably run across a material called EPIC by Nextec at some point over the past decade. If you are, or have been, assigned to SOCOM, you’ve definitely used it. The same EPIC technology, that set the foundation of the outdoor industry’s softshell category with leading brands in the late 90″s, can also be credited for helping create the much improved military uniform systems fielded over the last decade of war. If you have worn PCU Levels 4,5 & 7, GEN III ECWCS Levels 5 & 7 or USMC ECW Parka & Trouser; you have experienced the EPIC performance!

EPIC’s silicone encapsulation technology places an environmental barrier inside fabrics that does not wash out or wear off. This durable performance of water resistance, wind resistance, lowest absorbing, fast drying, high breathability and packability set the highest standard for softshell items.

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As the outdoor industry and its consumers became more savvy with the rapidly emerging softshell market in the early 2000s; products that were less about performance but more concerned about their brand strength and revenue goals captured much of this now predominant softshell market. As the outdoor market was quickly getting saturated with many softshell offerings; Nextec recognized that it did not have the brand strength, marketing dollars or the resources needed to hold onto the outdoor softshell business it ignited. More importantly, Nextec acknowledged early feedback from the SOF community after their field testing of EPIC gear. This SOF feedback generated the “walk dry” criteria and the fact that SOF expressed more concern about the user’s survivability performance of its gear versus the commercial brand strength set in motion today’s update Military uniform layering systems.

Prior to 9/11, Nextec shifted its focus from commercial market to working closely with SOF on the development of their Protective Combat Uniform system PCU. The EPIC performance became the cornerstone of the PCU system, which the Army field tested shortly after and Gen III ECWCS was born! Unfortunately with the lowering of spec performance, an inferior knockoff and budget cuts the soldier is not wearing the authentic gear the Army first fielded. Thankfully if you are SOF, NSW or USMC you are still protected with the authentic battle tested EPIC gear!

Nextec is currently supplying several large International militaries with its EPIC fabrics.

When purchasing from the range of tactical brands out there research the true item performance you are investing in…inferior well marketed substitutes should never be an option!

nextec.com

SOCOM Seeking New Materials for Jungle Uniform

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Last week, Program Manager (PM) Special Operations Forces (SOF) Survival Support and Equipment Systems (SSES) issued a Request for Information For Jungle Uniform Development and Evaluation Materials. Specifically, they are conducting market research to identify candidate materials for use in hot wet climates (tropical to jungle). I’ve gone into quite a bit of detail regarding the US Army’s interest in similar fabrics earlier this year so feel free to go check that out here if you are interested in some additional background.

Here’s what they are specifically interested in:

The jungle uniform, in a design to be determined, will consist of a jacket, trousers and cap. The evaluation is to identify performance parameters of both materials and design to meet user identified needs to include moisture management, comfort, insect protection, signature management and compatibility with individual equipment. Testing will be conducted by equal number of evaluators for each design including field evaluations in various tropical jungle environments while conducting military tasks. At the completion of field evaluations users may determine the acceptability of each uniform. Upon completion of testing one or more designs and material may be selected for production to meet the current requirement and a production run then executed. An optional block two evaluation, if needed to refine desired characteristics and performance, will be conducted by users again in tropical/jungles environments conducting military tasks.

Performance Attributes in priority order:

Comfort:
Quick drying
Breathable
Not sticking when wet (to skin)
Friction
Thermal (ability to dissipate heat)

Personal Signature Management:
Visual:
NIR or ability to be met.
Available print patterns and or ability to be printed.

Durability:
Tear strength (wet and dry)
Seam strength (wet and dry)
Puncture and tear propagation
Laundering
Colorfastness to laundering, light, and perspiration.

Insect Resistance:
Physical barrier
Treatment (DEET/Permethrin, other)
UV protection

Responses:

Material Samples:
Respondents that believe they can provide materials that meet the Government’s performance requirements are invited to submit material samples with their written responses. These samples will be degraded or destroyed during evaluation and will not be returned to the respondent. In addition, the respondent must provide the following information on the submitted samples.
1. A material description, fiber blend percentages, and Berry compliance documentation. The supplier must identify the performance of the submitted material.
2. If a supplier submits multiple materials, it is requested that they identify the advantage/disadvantages of their competing products.
3. Provide an estimated unit cost (linear yards for fabric and unit item cost for end item)
4. Submit minimum of one (1), but preferably five (5) linear yards in any color.
5. The finished cloth or end item shall not present a dermal health hazard when used as intended and tested. The respondent must furnish information, which certifies that the finished product is composed of materials, which have been safely used commercially or provided sufficient toxicity data to show compatibility with prolonged, direct skin contact

If you’re interested, you’ve got until 28 August to respond. I’m sure they’ll also be checking out what’s available at next week’s Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Salt Lake City. For full details visit www.fbo.gov.

NFM Group – EC Paint Application Tutorial Video

Monday, July 21st, 2014

NFM Group has released a new video detailing how to properly pre-treat for and apply their EC Paint to a weapon. While the video was developed with EC Paint in mind, you could easily apply these practices to virtually any weapon or gear paint.

www.nfm.no

Video concept by: www.designedtofight.com

Latest Info On US Army Transition To Scorpion Camouflage Including Accessory Colors and Schedules

Monday, June 30th, 2014

This is the latest info shared with industry during a recent briefing. Everything is subject to change but most of it jives with what I have heard elsewhere.

-The Army selected a new camouflage pattern o/a 5 May 2014 as previously reported here on SSD.

-There is still no formal announcement from Army leadership but PEO Soldier and Natick are working very closely with industry to make this happen.

-Official, Berry Compliant, Scorpion W2 fabric is being printed. It is Scorpion W2 and not the W1 variant that everyone keeps searching for on the internet. I do not have photos of the pattern yet but a friend has seen it at the printers and describes it as similar to MultiCam but with very distinct differences. Attention Chinese printers attempting to flood the market with knockoff Scorpion fabric; you’re printing the wrong pattern!

-The ACU will continue to be the style of uniform. It will just have a new paint job but also incorporate modified sleeve pockets with zippers from the Army Combat Shirt. No other changes have been announced.

-Boots and gloves will be solid Coyote 498. No definitive word yet on t-shirts.

-Pulls such as loop and hook, thread, zippers and so on, will be Tan 499 as is currently used with MultiCam OCP. I still have no word on Scorpion printed webbing or hook and loop.

UPDATE

Tan 499 Chip from ITW Nexus Coyote Color Chip from ITW Nexus

These are Tan 499 (left) and Coyote (right) color chips from ITW which we first shared in 2010 when the Army had just adopted OCP and wanted to let you know what was going on.

-Currently, a tentative mandatory possession date for Scorpion clothing bag items is 3 years from the decision date. However, mandatory wearout/possession dates traditionally have fallen on Sep 30/Oct 1 to coincide with the fiscal year. No word yet on the wearout date for UCP or MultiCam/OCP. Despite assertions to the contrary by some, DLA continues to purchase items in MultiCam/OCP and the Army is fully aware that OCIE items in a modified UCP (Coyote overdye) as well as the MultiCam variant of OCP will remain in service for years to come.

-The goal is for clothing bag items in the new Scorpion W2 pattern to be available in 128 military clothing stores by May 1, 2015 and in clothing bag issues to new accessions starting Oct 1, 2015 at the 4 major Basic Training Central Issue Facilities. This is different than previous transitions to new patterns which saw issue to new accessions and their Drill Sergeants first with slightly delayed availability to the rest of the force.

-The Army is working closely with DLA Troop Support to only procure fill in sizes of ACUs in UCP. They have to continue to purchase them so long as they continue to issue them to new accessions in the clothing bag. This is one reason that making Scorpion W2 available first to the existing force through the Clothing Sales Stores makes little sense. The sooner they transition Basic Trainees to Scorpion, the sooner they can stop purchasing UCP. This plan would waste taxpayer dollars by purchasing unneeded uniforms that do not perform.

-The Army anticipates that at least 1/2 of its Soldiers will possess Scorpion ACUs within the first year. They are also anticipating a run on the clothing sales stores and are working hard to create a sufficient stock.

-Planners have prioritized clothing and equipment into 4 tiers. Tier 1 is everything that goes into the clothing bag and these are the main priority as the Army wants these available at Clothing Sales by May 1, 2015. Tier 2 includes all combat clothing items that have been purchased through RFI. Tier 3 and 4 products such as sleeping bags are considered less critical items.

-A large amount of money is planned for the transition (I am told up to $370 million) starting 1Q FY 2015. The Army plans to acquire Scorpion print equipment in one of two ways. First, they plan to modify current DLA Troop Support contracts that have approximately 2 or more option years remaining. On other items, Natick will issue new contracts, especially for those items that have traditional long lead times through DLA Troop Support.

-The primary means of transitioning from MultiCam OCP to Scorpion for TA50 will be through RFI/Deployer Equipment Bundles. MultiCam and UCP kit will remain in some parts of the force for some time to come. Yes, expect some mixing of patterns with OCIE for the near term. It’s going to happen. Hopefully, it won’t be uniform coats and trousers.

-The Army has currently contracted 5 printers with each concentrating on a different type of material such as NYCO, Cordura, FR, etc. Already, 1,500 to 2,000 yards of NYCO and Cordura have been printed. That is but a drop in the bucket. The long pole in this tent is getting the materials to pass the shading process and then to get different printers to learn how to do more than one substrate (type of material). Each type of material or substrate absorbs dye differently and the adoption of multiple patterns by DoD over the past 10 years has taught us that this process isn’t easy for companies to perfect. Specialists at Natick must examine fabric samples from each run and ensure that they meet quality standards for color and print. The Army desires to add additional printers but the bench is only so deep and the their missteps regarding a camouflage path forward and subsequent curtailing of purchases of combat clothing and equipment have sent the supply chain into disarray. Several years ago, shading process issues with USAF Digital Tigerstripe almost ran one company out of business. Some companies may not recover.

-There is no word on whether Scorpion W2 will be an unrestricted pattern meaning it could be printed and sold commercially. Based on some legal issues, Scorpion W2 may well not be available for use by manufacturers for commercial use or for outside of program buys. If it is not, no commercial products in Scorpion W2 will be available. The Army will have to decide whether it will allow Soldiers to use commercial products such as day packs in MultiCam. The patterns are similar in nature and use similar colors but they are not exact.

-Air Force deployers: You get your clothing and equipment from the Army’s stocks. You’ll get what the Army is issuing, when it issues it. This may be MultiCam OCP or Scorpion OCP.

TWN Industries Releases Tiger Stripe Products ATT Water Transfer Printing Film

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

Princeton, Florida – June 24, 2014 – TWN Industries, Inc., the leading water transfer printing film developer and equipment supplier, has joined forces with Tiger Stripe Products to release the anxiously awaited All Terrain Tiger™ hydrographic film pattern. ATT™ is a complete re-design of TSP’s classic Tiger Stripe pattern. This outstanding design provides the optimum combination of contrasting shapes and coloration’s to effectively disguise a person’s silhouette, resulting in maximum concealment within a wide variety of environments. Any Military, Government Agency, Law Enforcement Department, or Professional Security Force can now deliver an extremely high- level of camouflage effectiveness to its personnel with this outstanding new Tiger Stripe camouflage design. The pattern has also gained tremendous popularity among hunters and Airsoft /paintball players.

WTP-716 Tiger Stripe-All Terrain Tiger

“We worked very closely with Tiger Stripe Products for the past year in order to achieve an accurate depiction of the All Terrain Tiger™ pattern. Our team is extremely satisfied with the outcome and feel confident that fans of previous Tiger Stripe patterns will feel the same,” stated Mike Richards, Director of Business Development at TWN Industries.

Tiger Stripe Products® All Terrain Tiger™ water transfer printing film is available exclusively through TWN Industries, Inc. Three-meter accessory packs are available immediately. The part number for All Terrain Tiger™ is WTP 716. To find a TWN Certified Decorator who can decorate products for you, or to purchase film, call 305-258-9622.

www.watertransferprinting.com/news/all-terrain-tiger-hydrographic-film