If you have ever heard the term “scarce as hen’s teeth”, then you can aptly describe the Marine Corps issue Combat Desert Jacket. Designed by 180s, an innovator in the outdoor industry, and manufactured by Tennessee Apparel, the CDJ has seen limited fielding. The concept actually goes back to the early 90s when Raven Industries, the first full-scale contractor for ECWCS, developed prototypes of a lightweight Gore-tex 3-color desert shell for MARCORSYSCOM.
Naturally as the CDJ was designed specifically for desert operations, it is available only in Marine Desert Pattern Camouflage. Since the CDJ utilizes a complex print, the design’s strength has caused a bit of a technical challenge. As you can see from the photo, the sleeves are slightly discolored compared to the body. This is because the CDJ is made from various fabrics which are strategically placed in the design to provide diverse forms of protection and these fabrics all absorb dyes differently. For example, the lower back and shoulder area of the jacket are made from Freedom-Plus, a lightweight Gore-tex fabric in order to keep the wearer dry while the middle of the back, which requires more breathability when wearing a pack is made from a lined, knit fabric. The sleeves are crafted from a four way stretch material. Rather than pit zips, from the waist to the sleeve, along the entire length of the underarm, the CDJ features a stretchy wind resistant nylon material. Lined with coyote gridded fleece, it also features color matched waterproof zippers throughout. The pockets include handwarmer, chest, and sleeve as well as a rank tab. The sleeves are capped with a monkey paw design and the Marines hope to incorporate FR technology into the sleeves in future versions unless the winter FROG shirt is developed. The CDJ also has a roll up neck gaiter incorporated into the collar. To top it all off, the entire jacket is treated with silver to suppress the growth of odor causing fungus.
*UPDATE: A reader has sent me an update and a new version is being issued. They have solved the shade issues on the sleeves and dropped the monkey cuffs.
Photo Courtesy Eric Chevalier
For those who need a CDJ, the early version with shade differences on the sleeve is available from AFMO.