ECWCS GENERATION III: LEVEL VII
EXTREME COLD WEATHER LOFT SUIT PARKA & TROUSERS
By: William McKinney
President, Bradley’s Military Enterprises
With the exception of the level VII extreme cold weather parka & trousers, I have written articles on all of the Generation III ECWCS items. In this article I will critique the final clothing items and close out this subject. I look forwards to speaking about some of the other impressive advances the military has made in its new equipment systems. The changes that has taken place over the past decade are truly amazing.
The "Old School" M1951 & M1965 Arctic Fishtail Parkas:
As the name suggests the extreme cold weather fishtail parka was introduced in 1951. It consisted of 3 parts that included the parka shell, a removable liner and hood. The original shell was made of 100% cotton material, and other blends followed. The older removable hood had fox fur around the brim which later was replaced with synthetic fur. The original liner was made of mohair, and later models were made of quilted nylon.
I will confess that I was never fond of the fishtail parka. The outer shell was only useful for blocking the wind. The main thrust of the fishtail parka's warmth came from the liner and trapping air. The mohair liner was warm, but it was uncomfortable, heavy when wet and took forever to dry. The quilted nylon liner lacked the warmth of the older mohair model, but it was light, comfortable and dried quickly. Although the M1956 Fishtail Parka is commonly called the "Extreme Cold Weather" or "Arctic" Parka I couldn't image using it in subzero conditions, and I truly empathize for the Korean War era soldiers that used it in combat. During this time frame if your objective was keeping warm in extreme cold weather conditions a N3-B or N2-B parka would have been much better. Bottom line, I wouldn't rate the fishtail parka highly in any extreme cold weather settings.
Despite the shortcomings associated with the fishtail parka various versions of it has been issued to soldiers for 5 decades. I was issued one in 1982, and Bradley's regularly sold these parkas until the early 2000 era. Without a doubt, the Gore-Tex Parka and the Generation III Extreme Cold Weather Parka is grossly superior in almost every respect.
Level VII: Extreme Cold Weather Parka & Trousers
The GEN III Extreme Cold Weather Parka and Trousers are designed for use during static operations in extreme cold, dry conditions. Constructed with an outer shell fabric that has a water resistant finish and with PrimaLoft® Sport thermal bonded high-loft insulation, Level VII is highly durable and breathable. The Parka and Trousers maintain warmth even when wet and provide protection in extreme cold conditions during static operations.
G.I. Generation III Level VII Extreme Cold Weather Loft Jacket:
Purchase Loft Jacket Here - $99.95
• Two-way center-front zipper with protective wind flap
• Nylon reinforced elbows
• Two front zipper pockets
• Ripstop nylon inner lining
• Bottom hem with elastic cord for adjustability
• High collar with collapsible, stowable insulated hood
• Velcro fasteners for rank and name plates
• Color: Urban Gray
G.I. Generation III Level VII Extreme Cold Weather Loft Trousers:
Purchase Loft Trousers Here - $99.95
• Zippered fly opening
• Nylon reinforced knees
• Full-length side zipper openings
• Elastic waist with provisions for suspenders
• Color: Urban Gray
The Generation III extreme cold weather parka and trousers live up to its name. It is much lighter and more airy than the N3-B parka; and as stated before, it is substantially warmer than the fishtail parka. This may be confusing, but soldiers commonly call this product the "loft Jacket," not to be confused with the level III high loft fleece jacket. Soldiers also call it the "Michelin Man Suit" because you will look like the Michelin Tire mascot when you are wearing it. It makes sense that soldiers call this extreme cold weather gear "loft" jackets & pants because it resembles something you would see at a ski loft. Although it looks like typical ski clothing it is surprisingly light and comfortable. Most importantly, it stands up to bitterly cold weather.
I will confess that I'm not into military fashion wear, but I like the appearance of the new ECW parka. It is has a very stylish look to it, and I sense that skiers, snowmobilers, and ice fishermen would love this product. It looks like the type of high end clothing you would find at Orvis, Cabellas or Gander Mountain. The reason for this stems from the fact that it is made from cutting edge technology and the best materials available, but this surplus clothing has an unbeatable price tag.
If you are an unlucky soldier who hasn't been issued the generation III extreme cold weather parka & trousers or any of the ECWCS components I highly recommend this product line to you. Once again, I also recommend this extreme cold weather clothing to serious outdoorsmen and survivalists. If you fit these demographics I'm confident you could use these items. Most likely you will like the light, breathable and water resistant qualities associated with the system, but you will love the price tag Bradley's can offer you. Do your homework, and you will find Bradley's has a nice selection of extreme cold weather gear at very reasonable prices. Enjoy your outdoor activities and stay warm!
G.I. Generation III Level VII Extreme Cold Weather Loft Suit Set:
Purchase Loft Jacket Here - $99.95 | Purchase Loft Trousers Here - $99.95
William G. McKinney
Bradley’s Military Enterprises