The Extended Cold Weather Clothing System
The inspiration behind Manchester Brand 7L is the ECWCS, the Extended Cold Weather Clothing System designed by the military to keep their soldiers protected in all kinds of terrain and variable weather climates.
The ECWCS is a protective clothing system developed in the 1980s by the United States Army Natrick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center in Massachusetts. Over the years there has been 3 separate generations of systems, each time improving innovation and effectiveness of that system.
The first generation of combat / protective outerwear consisted of a simple parka jacket and trousers. 20 additional elements of other individual clothing, including hand wear, head wear and footwear were used in various combinations to meet the cold weather and environmental requirements of the US military (and others).
The entire ECWCS ensemble (1st generation) consisted of:
- Undershirt, cold weather, polypropylene
- Drawers, cold weather, polypropylene
- Shirt, cold weather, polyester fiberpile
- Overall, bib, cold weather, fiberpile
- Liner, cold weather trousers, field
- Liner, cold weather, coat, men's
- Trousers, cold weather, field, nylon and cotton
- Parka, extended cold weather, camouflage
- Trousers, extended cold weather, camouflage
- Parka/trousers, snow camouflage, white
- Glove inserts, cold weather
- Gloves, men's and women's, light duty
- Mitten inserts, cold weather, (trigger finger)
- Mitten shells, cold weather, (trigger finger)
- Mitten set, extreme cold weather
- Mitten shells, snow camouflage, cotton, white, two finger
- Cap, camouflage pattern
- Hood or balaclava
- Socks, men's, nylon, cushion sole, stretch type
- Boots for Cold Weather
- Boots, extreme cold weather (Type II-white)
- Suspenders, trousers, M-1950
THE ECWCS PARKA
The parka which is a particularly popular component – is characterised by a cobra hood (which fits over a combat helmet) with woven nylon drawstring adjustable pulls and an attachment piece that allows fastening of a fur ruff (early models of the parka lacked this attachment piece). There is a two-way, full-front slide fastener to provide full-face protection, leaving only the eyes uncovered.
The parka has raglan shoulders / sleeves, a non-freezing, double-pull zipper with storm flap and a seven snap closure, a flap-covered pocket on the left sleeve with hook and loop (Velcro) closure, adjustable hook and loop wrist cuffs, armpit ventilation zippers and double reinforced elbows.
A badge / insignia tab with snap is located on the storm flap.
There is an interior back ventilation opening, two slash (handwarmer) cargo pockets on the lower front (with extra large flaps and double hook and loop single snap closure on each) and an inside draft skirt (windskirt) with elastic drawcords and barrel-locks at the waist (without pulls).
There are also two concealed map pockets at the front zipper with hook and loop closures that can be opened without unzipping the parka.
Unfortunately, due to the limitations of "waterproof-breathable" fabric, the parka did not breathe well in field use by active troops.
The second generation (2G) ECWCS included two different layers made with Polartec fabrics: the Polartec Classic 300 shirt and the Polartec Classic 200 overalls.
When used in combination with other layers in the ECWCS system, the system provides protection between +40 °F and −40 °F (+4 °C and −40 °C).
The parka was improved by vents to help deal with the condensation problems resulting from the use of "waterproof-breathable" fabric. A lightweight underwear set was also introduced to combine with or substitute the polypro undergarments.
The GENERATION III ECWCS is designed to maintain adequate environmental protection in temperatures ranging between -60 and +40 Fahrenheit (about -51 and +4 Celsius).
The third generation 3G or GEN III Extended Climate Warfighter Clothing System is a radical re-design of the system. It features seven new layers of insulation including three Polartec fabrics: two layers of Polartec Power Dry and a layer of Polartec Thermal Pro High Loft. It has also featured PrimaLoft® Silver Insulation USA in the extreme cold weather parka and trousers. Initial fielding of the system began in August 2007 to the 73rd Cavalry Regiment in Afghanistan. The water-resistant "soft shell" is far more breathable than any "waterproof-breathable" garment and is used for most field applications, back-stopped by a waterproof nylon parka.