POLAR FLEECE:

It Rates Amongst The Greatest Military Products of All Times

Bradley's Military President - William McKinney By: William McKinney President, Bradley’s Military Enterprises
When I think of the Army's most beloved products the P-38 can opener, the quilted nylon poncho liner, polypropylene underwear and Gore-Tex wet & cold weather products rates highly. Now this list needs to be expanded to include polar fleece products. Polar fleece is soft, warm and quiet. It softly conforms to the body without chaffing. When it is used in conjunction with polypropylene or grid fleece the combination is unbeatable in extreme cold weather settings.

The Evolution of Military Polar Fleece:

Generation I Polar Fleece Jackets & Trousers: Commonly known as the "Bear Jacket"

Generation I Fleece Jacket & Trousers - Bear Suit
Features:

• 100% synthetic poly fiber interior will keep you warm • Zipper front closure • Two expandable breast pockets with Velcro snap flaps • Two front insulated hand warming pockets • Black nylon re-enforced shoulders and underarms • Nylon panels under the arms to allow breathability The generation I Gore-Tex parka & bear jacket combination was a step in the right direction. It was superior to the field jacket & quilted nylon liner in many respects, but the bear jacket had its shortcomings. This fleece jacket had a very snug fit. It ran 1 size smaller than what was stated on the label, and it was tight around the shoulders. Furthermore, the poly fiber material was less supple or less conforming to the body as the polar fleece generations to come. This tight clinging fit reduced comfort and restricted movement, but it was very warm. This warmth explains why it was also known as the "smoking jacket." It was so warm it could make you smoking hot when active.

* Note: Bradley's has a clearance sales on used bear jackets for only $9.95. We only have small and medium sizes, but if you have a slender build it's an excellent deal.

Generation II Polar Fleece Jackets & Trousers: Commonly known as the "Spear Jacket"

Purchase Jacket Here - $59.95 | Purchase Trousers Here - $39.95 Generation II Polar Fleece Jacket & Trousers
Features:

• Polartec® Classic 200 • Polartec® Classic 300 • Light & warm • Highly breathable • Dries quickly • Durable • Machine washable • 2nd Generation Extended Cold Weather Clothing System (2G ECWCS) includes two different layers made with Polartec® fabrics: Polartec® Classic 300 shirt and Polartec® Classic 200 overalls. When used in combination with other layers in the ECWCS system, the system will provide protection between 40°F and -40°F (4°C and -40°C).

The generation II polar fleece jacket; also known as the "Spear Jacket," was another step in the right direction. The first generation jacket was thicker and warmer than the generation II model, but the spear jacket was softer, more comfortable, and was less prone to overheating. The latter generation had a looser fit, and it was less restrictive in nature. The arm pit zippers could be opened to reduce overheating. The polar fleece material used with the generation II jacket and trousers was significantly more supple and it conformed to make a better fit. In my opinion, the generation II model was grossly superior to the first generation.

Generation III High-Loft Fleece Jacket:

Purchase Jacket Here - $59.95 Generation III Fleece Jacket
Features:

• Constructed with Polartec® Thermal Pro® material • Traps air and retains body heat • Increased warmth with significantly less weight than previous generation ECWCS • Lower bulk with increased durability • High collar with full zipper-front and wind protection flap • Two internal chest pockets and two outer side pockets • Nylon reinforced collar and elbows • Polartec® Power Dry® Grid side panels for increased stretch and comfort • Velcro fasteners for rank and name plates • Color: Tan, Foliage Green • Can be used as a jacket or jacket liner. • Full front zipper. • Armpit zippers that increases ventilation and prevents overheating. • Drawstring waistband and hook & loop sleeve adjustments. • Front slash zipper pockets. • 2 inside mesh pockets.

The evolution of the Army issued polar fleece jacket has had a consistent trend. The material used to make each generation has become less thick and has provided less warmth. It should be noted that each generation had a looser fit, it conformed to the body better and it was more comfortable. I should also point out that each generation reduced the likeliness for overheating due to more breathable material and arm pit zippers. For most cold weather climates, the generation III model would provide enough warmth, and many would consider it to be the better jacket. Since I live in an extreme cold weather environment where the temperature commonly dips down to -20 F during the winter, I would prefer the generation II spear jacket model over the generation III high loft fleece jacket. I will confess that the high loft fleece jacket is the most comfortable and most breathable polar fleece jacket ever issued to US Army soldiers, but I would prefer the additional warmth of the generation II model. In the story of Goldie Locks the first bowl of porridge was "too hot" and another bowl was "too cool." Likewise, the generation II spear Jacket was "just right." It had the right combination of warmth, breathability, comfort and wind blocking ability. I feel the generation III jacket needs to be a little bit thicker, warmer and have more wind blocking ability. This is especially true for use in Afghanistan or at Ft. Drum New York. Final notes, the generation I and II models had polar fleece trousers with built in suspenders. The generation III model doesn't include polar fleece trousers, but the larger ECWCS system does offer new products known as grid fleece & soft shell trousers. I also want to point out that the Army uses a polar fleece watch cap during physical training. The new polar fleece model is softer, lighter, and more breathable than the older wool watch cap. All of the Army's polypropylene, grid fleece and polar fleece clothing items are grossly superior to the older wool products.

MY OPINION:

The Army issued polar fleece jackets, trousers, and watch caps are all outstanding products. When polar fleece is used with silk weights, polypropylene, or grid fleece it only makes a good thing better. Polar fleece goes together with polypropylene or grid fleece like peanut butter and jelly. It's a match made in heaven. Toss in a Gore-Tex cold weather parka with this fleece combination and you can survive prolonged exposure to bitterly cold weather. If you need more warmth the ECWCS system offers a generation III level 7 extreme cold weather jacket & trousers more commonly known as the "loft jacket & trousers." These layers trap air creating warmth, and these layers can be added or subtracted to stay warm while avoiding overheating. I know my customers that are largely comprised of 10th Mountain Division soldiers love their polar fleece products. I'm also aware that civilians such as hunters and survivalists also enjoy polar fleece because it's quiet and doesn't make noise when it comes in contact with various surfaces. If you are an active person that enjoys extreme cold weather outdoor activities you will cherish the military's polar fleece clothing items. This is especially true when combined with silk weight, polypropylene and grid fleece under garments and a Gore-Tex parka on top. The polar fleece jacket serves as an excellent liner. When I go steelhead fishing in the heart of winter I always use this combination so I can enjoy myself when temperatures drop into the teens or even lower. * Note: For more information about military polar fleece jackets & trousers manufacturer information is available here: ADS Inc. Generation III ECWCS Sincerely; William G. McKinney Bradley's Military Enterprises President

A look at just some of the Polar Fleece items we have to choose from:

Rothco Polar Fleece Watch Cap - Purchase Here Rothco Polar Fleece Balaclava - Purchase Here Rothco Generation II ECWCS Black Fleece Jacket - Purchase Here Rothco Generation III ECWCS Level III Foliage Green Polar Fleece Jacket - Purchase Here