5.56 Timeline

Chatter and Cold Weather Gear

A Marine I served with managed to track me down.  All he knew was my name and what state I was in and he found me.  So much for my personal OPSEC I suppose.  While I was talking to him on the phone I was joking that I was going to change my number as soon as we finished chatting.

So this guy has been out for about 11 years now, he got out shortly after me.  I got to listen to him talk about how we carried a real rifle (The M16A4) not like these youngins who carry a little toy and couldn’t handle the weight of a real gun.  Etc.

Maybe someday I will be able to rant about how back in my day we fired kinetic projectiles instead of super heated plasma and focused laser blasts.  I’m kinda looking forward to that, I want a ray gun.

Unrelated.  I was asked about cold weather gear.   I am from Florida, all other weather is cold weather to me.  I am about as far from an expert on this as possible.  But I shared what little I know.

It is commonly said that you should layer clothing in cold weather.  I have to agree with that as it seems to work best.  There are few things more miserable than working up a sweat when it is freezing out then having to stop and lay prone in an ambush while your sweat is freezing to your skin.   Laying helps prevent this as you can take off layers before you do strenuous activity  in the cold, and put layers back on when you know you are going to be stationary.

For example, when I had to do patrols in the winter I would wear wool socks.  Protecting  your feet is vitally important regardless of the temperature.  If it was very cold, I preferred to keep some sort of warming layer on under my pants, for example polypros.  Yes, your crotch is going to get very warm if your wearing these and running in the snow, but it often isn’t practical to drop trousers and switch warming layers on your legs.

On the other hand, it is very easy to switch clothing on your torso.  I preferred to wear an undershirt and switch layers on top.  If we were patrolling, or doing rapid movement, etc.  I wouldn’t wear a warming layer on my torso so that I wouldn’t overheat or sweat.  When we stopped and set up a position, then I was put a warming layer or layers on my torso.  Often in the snow or inclement weather I liked to wear Gortex.  Gortex also made a good windbreaker.  As a civilian I have a Gortex jacket that was designed for police officer that I like to wear when rains or gets really cold in FL (You know, like 70°).  The major downside to Gortex is that it is LOUD.  You can hear the noise the frabric makes for a long distance.  You don’t want to be wearing it on a reconnaissance patrol or ambush, etc.  Same goes for hunting, check your Gortex and make sure it won’t spook the prey.  I’ve read that newer Gortex is quieter, but I only own the one old jacket.  For example, if I was moving in the cold I might just wear a t-shirt and the BDU blouse, or the t-shirt and a Gortex top.  When we stopped moving then I would put on a wool sweater, polypros, sweats, or similar then put the BDU blouse or Gortex top back on over that.

Side note, chemical warfare cloathing such as MOPP gear can keep you dry and warm in very bad cold weather.  On the other hand it will keep you horribly miserable in any warm weather.

Don’t forget you lose a great deal of heat from your head, so it is good to have something warm to wear on your head.  For some unknown reason in the Corps we were never allowed to wear beanies under our helmets.  No one seemed to know why.  It was probably some sort of stupid tradition from 1850, I’d be that it was considered effeminate or something back then and became Marine Corps institutional inertia.  Much like how we weren’t allowed to put our hands in our pockets because back in 1900 it was considered effeminate and the Corps never forgets anything stupid.

If you have better advice for handling the cold, why don’t you post a comment and share it with us.