Gore-Tex's Reversible Outerwear, printed with desert Marine Pattern camouflage on one side and woodland MARPAT on the other, would allow Marines to transition from one climate to another simply by turning their rain suit inside out. (Mike Morones / Staff)
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Fabric giant Gore-Tex is pitching a new reversible rain ensemble that would cut down on the amount of gear Marines carry on deployment.
The company's Reversible Outerwear, printed with desert Marine Pattern camouflage on one side and woodland MARPAT on the other, would give Marines the ability to transition from one climate to another simply by turning their rain suit inside out — without compromising performance, company representatives say. The ensemble is also windproof, but breathable.
"You have symmetric performance no matter which way you have out," said Wally Nelson, the company's branch specialist for Marine Corps products.
The ability to use one ensemble in any environment means Marines can pack one set, instead of two, according to Nelson.
On a Marine expeditionary unit pump, for example, Marines can't be certain whether they will end up in the desert or the jungle. As a result, they have two articles of clothing in stock. One is the Apex jacket, which comes in woodland, and the other is the Lightweight Exposure Suit, which comes in desert. They perform the same function, but Marines have to have both because of the camouflage requirement, Nelson said. Reversible Outerwear could replace both while also saving money and space on the logistics side.
Tim Quinn, a product specialist for Special Forces and Marine Corps outerwear, said the new product sandwiches a rainproof and windproof membrane between identical outer layers printed in different colors.
But what really makes the new ensemble possible is printable seam tape, he said.
Any time a Gore-Tex product is stitched, holes are made in the product's protective membrane, Quinn explained. To restore its waterproof properties, Gore-Tex products use seam tape to cover those holes and seal the garment 100 percent. Older garments used seam tape on the inside, but that was printed with the Gore-Tex brand. New seam tape can be printed with any pattern — in this case, MARPAT — and offers near infrared properties, maintaining the integrity of the camouflage during the day or night.
The ensemble also provides equal access to pockets and zippers from either side. It was on display at this year's Modern Day Marine exposition aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., from Sept. 25 to 27.
At the show, Nelson and Quinn said there is no formal Marine Corps requirement to procure new rain ensemble, but they have been able to get them into the hands of a few Marines in the field and have received positive feedback.
They are now trying to gain favor by pitching the new product at both the Marine Corps' top-level program offices and the unit level, Quinn said.
Over the past 11 years of war, urgent needs statements — requests from combatant command-level Marine component commanders for an additional war fighting capability, often initiated at lower levels — have become almost common. Between that and the limited discretionary funds each unit has to purchase equipment for unique operating environments, new procurement initiatives often go from the bottom up, rather than from the top down. That has gotten new pieces of gear into the hands of Marines much quicker, sometimes in months rather than the years it often takes through the traditional procurement process.
Gore-Tex hopes to create a groundswell that could get its Reversible Outerwear downrange quickly.
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