ECWCS Gen III | Extended Cold Weather Clothing System
No matter which branch of the U.S. you serve, the mission often requires that you face off with the merciless forces of mother nature. This can mean living and working in a harsh winter environment for an extended period. Extended Cold Weather Clothing Systems (ECWCS) are the go-to solution for the U.S. Military in severe winter weather. This mix and match system can include shirts, pants, base layers, fleece/nylon jackets, and softshell jackets, as well as extremely wet/cold weather jackets, trousers, and parkas. Be prepared for the coldest of conditions and pick up your ECWCS pieces today!
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EXTENDED COLD WEATHER CLOTHING SYSTEM (ECWCS)
In the 1980s, the US Military tasked the Natick Soldier Systems Center with developing clothing to better protect soldiers serving in extremely cold weather. The result was the Extended Cold Weather Clothing System (ECWCS, pronounced "EK-wax"), currently worn by servicemembers across the globe.
WHAT IS ECWCS?
This highly specialized clothing system consists of multiple layers (or levels) of clothing that form a barrier against rain, snow, and ice in temperatures ranging from 7 to -45 °C. Characteristics of ECWCS clothing include compressibility, moisture management (e.g., moisture-wicking, quick-drying, etc.), flexibility, and adaptability to changing exertion levels and environments.
Since its development, there have been three distinct generations of ECWCS. ECWCS GEN I consisted of a triple-layer system that included tops, bottoms, overalls/bibs, coat and trouser liners, trousers, parkas, mittens, and gloves with inserts, caps and balaclavas, socks, suspenders, and socks. GEN II saw the addition of revolutionary Polartec fabrics and enhanced ventilation.
Generation III extended cold weather, the current phase, was a complete overhaul dubbed the Extended Climate Warfighter Clothing System.
ECWCS GEN III
The ECWCS GEN III is designed for maximum adaptability and is compliant with Army cold-weather uniform regulations for wear with OCP. This multi-layer clothing system traps body heat while simultaneously promoting airflow to prevent moisture buildup.
What are the seven Army ECWCS Levels?
- Lightweight base layer garments
- Midweight base layers/insulating garments
- Fleece jackets
- Wind jackets
- Softshell jacket and trousers
- Extreme cold wet weather jacket and trousers
- Extreme cold weather parka and trousers
ECWCS LEVEL 1
The primary purpose of ECWCS GEN III Level 1 is moisture management. Army base layer clothing consists of a lightweight short sleeve shirt, drawers, long-sleeve shirt, and pants. The ECWCS Level 1 top and bottom are made from polyester fabric with antimicrobial properties that inhibit the growth of odor-causing bacteria. These close-fitting garments slide easily under your uniform, while flatlock seams prevent friction and chafing.
Level 1 base layer garments are appropriate for base layer wear in active cold from 0 to 30 °F, wet/Intermittent wet 40 °F (±10°), cold/wet 35 to 45 °F, extreme cold -25 to 0 °F, and Static extreme cold from -50 to 0°F.
ECWCS LEVEL 2
In addition to moisture-wicking properties, ECWCS GEN III Level 2 is designed to provide insulation layering. This level consists of a fast-drying midweight half-zip shirt and pants that fit loosely to trap body heat.
Tru-Spec Gen III ECWCS Level 2 top and bottom are made from jersey knit with a plaited grid that improves flexibility, while moisture-wicking properties and Microban keep you dry and prevent odors. Add an extra layer of protection to your head and face with the Rothco ECWCS Face Mask
ECWCS LEVEL 3
The primary insulation layer is a fleece cold weather jacket. This garment can be worn alone in milder cold weather and layered over Level I or II garments and/or shells in more extreme weather. The exterior of the jacket has loop fields for name tapes, rank, and other patches.
In our humble opinion, the ECWCS Gen III Level 3 Fleece Jacket and Rothco Generation III Level 3 ECWCS Fleece Jacket tick all the boxes. Both are made with durable, shrink/fade-resistant fleece and have high-standing collars with full centerline zippers to form a tight seal against the cold.
When you need a bit more security, the Propper ECWCS Polartec Fleece Jacket has got you covered. This ultra-durable fleece liner is made from genuine Polartec fleece that can stand up to just about anything you throw at it. Level 3 garments are ideal in Active extreme cold -25 to 0 °F and Static cold/wet between 30 and 45 °F.
ECWCS LEVEL 4
ECWCS GEN III Level 4 consists of a wind-cold weather jacket. The purpose of the shell layer is to repel wind and water without adding additional bulk or weight. It can be worn as a standalone garment in milder temperatures or under heavier outer shell layers.
The wind jacket is made from water-resistant, breathable, and stretchable nylon and has a full centerline zipper with a standing collar that is compatible with body armor and ACU. Level 4 garments are ideal for Active wet/intermittent wet weather between 40 °F (±10°).
ECWCS LEVEL 5
ECWCS GEN III Level 5 Soft Shell jackets and trousers provide enhanced protection from cold and wet weather. These jackets have ventilation zippers, adjustable cuffs, and mesh liners. Like level 3 and 4 jackets, these Army cold weather jackets are multi-purpose and can be worn alone with name tapes, rank, and other ID fastened to the chest or combined with heavier extreme cold weather clothing system components.
Softshell cold-weather trousers have detachable suspenders, multiple pockets, and boot-compatible ankle cuffs. Level 5 components are appropriate for Active cold/wet conditions between 35 to 45 °F and extreme cold between -25 to 40 °F.
ECWCS LEVEL 6
ECWCS GEN III Level 6 includes an extreme cold/wet weather jacket and trousers that are designed to be used in periods of alternating freezing/thaw when the ground is covered in mud and slush. Level 6 components are worn over Level 5 to create a waterproof hard-shell layer of protection against prolonged or hard rain and cold/wet conditions.
The Valley Apparel US Army ECWCS GORE-TEX Jacket Level 6 and Valley Apparel ECWCS Gen III Level 6 Trousers feature two layers of GORE-TEX material, an outer layer, and a breathable liner. This Mil-Spec ECWCS jacket and trousers are impervious to wind and water and have pass-through pockets for quick access to gear.
Valley Apparel ECWCS Level 6 pants and jacket are ideal for Static cold/wet conditions between 30 to 45 °F and wet conditions above 45 °F. Both are 100% Berry Compliant and proudly made in the USA.
ECWCS LEVEL 7
ECWCS GEN II Level 7 consists of an Extreme Cold Weather Parka and trousers that form an insulative layer that is ideal for cold, dry weather. The Army parka extreme cold weather coat features a roomy fit designed to accommodate body armor. The trousers have full-side zippers that enable lightning-fast donning and doffing over softshell trousers.
The ECWCS parka and trousers can be worn in Static cold between 0 to 30 °F and extreme cold -50 to 0 °F.
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