Useful Military Equipment

When I left the Army, I got rid of just about everything. I didn’t keep any uniforms, or the tons of “hoohah” gear I had accumulated over the years. I had about 2 1/2 duffel bags worth of stuff. Most of it I gave away to a friend’s son to “play army” with. I didn’t even keep a pair of jungle boots.

Oh, sure, I kept my dog tags, and a set of my medals, but anything camoflage went away. With one notable exception- my poncho liner.

The poncho liner is simply two sheets of thin nylon stitched over poly batting filler. But it is the most useful piece of equipment the Army has ever come up with. It was originally designed for the highlands of Vietnam. The idea was that you would use the ties in the corners to attach it to the grommets on a poncho and use that as a sleeping bag. Usually, though, it is used just as a blanket. I wasn’t surprised at all when googling for the image that a bunch of pictures came up captioned “woobie”. It pretty much IS a security blanket for soldiers.

You’d be hard pressed to find a soldier since Vietnam  that hasn’t had one. And a goodly number of them are like me, keeping it and using it well into civilian life. I actaully have two of them. One is fairly new, maybe 15 years old. I acquired the other one back in the early 80s, years before I even joined the Army. It was fairly old then. I’m not sure if it went to Vietnam, but I suspect it was old enough. It is worn thin now. The pattern has faded, leaving it a light green overall. The repeated washings over the years have depleted the batting inside. It is translucent. But it is just the thing to wrap around your shoulders on a chilly evening.

I still sleep with my poncho liner. I have real linens and such on my bed. I just prefer the poncho liner. If it is warm, I’ll sleep on top of the covers with just it. If it’s cold, I’ll coocoon myself under the covers with it.

Just about the only  time I don’t sleep with it is when family stays with me. Then there’s a fight over who gets to sleep with it.

19 thoughts on “Useful Military Equipment”

  1. You ain’t never lied. I never let mine out of my sight – for thirty-four years. Once coming back to Germany from leave in Panama, the Air Force wienies confiscated mine (it was great for sleeping in military air terminals waiting for a stand by flight). I’ve taken my rage out on every Zoomie I’ve met since.

  2. Well, they wouldn’t let me on the plane. They had all the cards. I suspect they just wanted their own poncho liner. In Germany, before the Gortex parka, I had a tailor sew a poncho liner into a wet weather jacket – the best piece of equipment I ever owned.

  3. I slept with mine every night I was in Iraq, and it’s on my couch as I type this…pure awesomeness.

    I loved my wool sweater that went under the BDUs as well.

  4. Never a sweater guy, and i especially hated the wool sweater. The sleep shirt was pretty handy.

    And yeah, back in the days before Goretex, every troop worth his salt had a wet weather jacket lined with a poncho liner- the only exceptions being a few luddites that went with a wool blanket liner.

  5. Mine is on the floor in front of the TV with the Olympics on.

    I travel lite but the liner is the one compact piece of equipment that goes everywhere.

    For some reason it is preferable to regular bed linens, just feels good and right.

    Nothing ever produced by the DOD, short of notable spy planes, comes close to the poncho liner.

  6. I LOVE my woobie. In fact when I PCS’d from Drum I went to buy a new one to turn in because I had broken mine in rather well when I was in Afghanistan. I sleep with it every night, I have taken it with me when I had surgery at the hospital, and it goes with me in all long truck rides and plane trips. I am crazy about my woobie and I dread the day that this one falls apart and I have to get a new one. I have 1000 thread count sheets, yet my woobie is my blanket of choice. When I am having a bad day my woobie makes it better! Even my cats love the woobie! I am glad that I am not the only one with this kind of obsession! I agree, best thing the Army has ever made!

  7. I was on a sub in the Navy and they gave these out to us as blankets. Still have and use mine and don’t plan on getting rid of it anytime soon.

  8. Sox greatly enjoys scrunching up with it. For some reason, though, his favorite blanky is a throw on one of the ottomans. Which is just as well, as I don’t want to have to fight him all the time for the woobie.

  9. Heh,

    The Mrs thought I was nuts when I bought 5 of these, and 5 ponchos to go with them. She changed her mind the first time she used one, though. I bought them as part of the family survival kit, so that we don’t have to carry any extra gear if forced to evacuate the house. The poncho & liner not only act as a foul-weather jacket, but, as you point out, make an excellent sleeping bag, especially if you have a set of sweats to wear with it. Rolls up nice and straps under the knapsack. No muss, no fuss.

    The only other piece of gear I really liked, well, two, actually, was the steel helmet and the butt pack. The helmet was handy for any number of uses, and I still use a butt pack as a man bag for short hikes, etc. I took a sling and made a shoulder strap for it. It holds just enough gedunk for a day’s worth of getting around.

  10. Tim, your wife was half right.

    You weren’t nuts for buying 5 poncho liners.

    But that doesn’t mean you aren’t nuts.

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