I’ve been digging into podcasts over the past several months and further exploring the origins of the clothing system that I am outlining in this series of posts. One of the things that I’ve discovered is that there are a few people out there who have very deep knowledge on clothing systems design and performance. Many of these folks are connected with the modern backcountry hunting community. Quite a few have ties to the military and some were influential in developing the systems that started as the Protective Combat Uniform and morphed into the current version of the US Army’s Extended Cold Weather Clothing System.
If you are interested in a deep dive on the topic, listening to John Barklow, director of Big Game Hunting Apparel for Sitka Gear is a great place to start. Barklow formerly taught cold weather combat and survival skills at the Naval Special Warfare school on Kodiak Island, AK and has been a guest on several podcasts to discuss cold weather survival and clothing systems.
Listening to Barklow talk about clothing systems and his experiences in testing and evaluating different materials and designs is humbling. I’ve been in the outdoor biz for 25 odd years but I don’t have a fraction of the experience that this guy has with real world cold weather living. Not to mention the crazy testing. I’ve never pulled a clothing system out of a bucket of water, put it on and gone cross country skiing to see how quickly it will dry. Barklow has.
As you might imagine, Barklow has some very interesting, very seriously informed ideas about clothing and insulation systems including some real world comparisons between down and synthetic insulation and merino vs synthetic baselayers. I learned a lot by listening in.
Likewise it was interesting to listen to Mark Twight describe the origins of the PCU and how he began to work with the special operations community.
The podcasts linked below are a sampling of some of the conversations that I’ve found to be particularly informative. These podcasts provide some background on the development of modern military clothing and the current standard of training associated with the new gear. Of particular interest to me is Barklow’s cold water immersion drill which tests how well different clothing systems dry in use. The drill was developed on Kodiak island and is presented in a video from the Sitka website. I hope that if you’re curious about effective clothing systems you’ll check these resources out.
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