BDU - Battle Dress Uniforms

Reversible Fabrics/Clothing and Equipment

SSCOM's Natick Research, Development and Engineering Center(NRDEC) has developed a reversible camouflage fabric with a 4-color woodland pattern on one side and a 3-color desert pattern on the reverse side. The patterns were printed using vat dyes for the desert colors and pigment dyes for the woodland colors. Two different fabrics have been successfully dyed, the 50/50 Nylon, Cotton Twill and the 50/50 Nylon, Cotton, Ripstop Poplin. The twill fabric is used in temperate environments and the poplin is used in hot weather climates. Laboratory tests have shown that both fabrics may meet the challenging durability and performance requirements of combat equipment.

Reversible camouflage printed fabric is not new; however in the past there was a problem with strike through. In the 1940's, in order to solve this problem heavy, thick, and uncomfortable fabrics were printed so the dyes would not transfer to the opposite side. With the two different printing techniques used with today's technology, it is now possible to print on the lighter weight fabrics from which Combat Battledress Uniforms (BDU) are made. Future potential pattern combinations for camouflage printing include urban/desert and urban/woodland.

The standard BDU uses a flat felled seam in the construction process. To accomplish this in a reversible uniform, a lock stitch for both sides is needed. Currently a chain stitch is used in all flat felled machines, a stitch similar to that used on a sack of potatoes With little effort it can be pulled apart loop by loop. A sewing machine that allows for a lock stitch both top and bottom has been designed and is now available. This allows for the secure flat felled seam that a reversible uniform would require.

Three prototype uniforms have been circulating at various displays and briefings that do not have this necessary seaming. However, at the present, three sets of uniforms are being constructed that use the new seaming. This will give the neat, crisp, appearance that the standard combat uniform is expected to have.

The reversible uniform has been briefed and displayed to a wide audience. Further development of reversible clothing and equipment covers will reduce the logistics burden, increase mission flexibility and reduce procurement costs.