Comfortable, light, resistant and waterproof: The French infantry banks on rain suits with GORE-TEX technology

PUTZBRUNN (June 26, 2019) – New tasks and deployment scenarios have changed the specifications for protective garments for soldiers. Alpine troops and infantry combat troops of the French army will be equipped with innovative GORE-TEX rain suits.

Soldiers have to function at the highest level in different climatic conditions. So they need reliable protection against water, wind and cold. In recent years, the clothing specifications for many armed forces have changed, however, including for the Alpine troops and the infantry combat troops of the French army. They’ve been given new tasks and have been deployed in a wide range of military scenarios. For example, they are often deployed in various regions of the world under different conditions and having to carry a range of equipment. So they need weatherproof clothing that offers a high degree of functionality, flexibility and durability.

In addition, comfort is crucial, to allow the wearer to perform at the highest level. After all, these garments are worn for long periods of time and in extreme situations. Thermal comfort, which is aided by breathability, is a key factor, but there are non-thermal comfort factors as well that must also be taken into account. Ergonomic comfort, for instance – the fit and weight of the garments – determines whether the wearers are comfortable in their protective clothing and can therefore draw on all their physical and mental resources.

The current weatherproof clothing used by the French army does not longer meet these requirements. Those in charge therefore decided to procure a new, light, durably waterproof and extremely breathable GORE-TEX rain suit for the 20,000 soldiers of its infantry combat troops, including 8,000 soldiers of its Alpine troops. The new military rain suit is manufactured from the well-known garment manufacturer Grassi incorporating the functional textile technology of the company W. L. Gore & Associates. The soldiers will have clothing adapted for high Alpine regions as well as for Mediterranean climates. It will also be suited to many different tasks in combination with various equipment configurations. Maximum mobility and comfort are key specifications.

Enhanced comfort and ruggedness

The new GORE-TEX rain suit – consisting of a jacket and over trousers – is based on Gore Micro Grid Backer Technology. It uses a very thin, open mesh and fine-thread, yet highly robust, woven polyamide fabric as the backer of this GORE-TEX three-layer laminate. This backer combines high resistance to abrasion with enhanced snag resistance – making the inside of the suit better able to withstand rough surfaces. The backer also slides easily over the garment layers worn underneath, makes the jacket easier to put on and allows the wearer to move more freely and comfortably. The use of this textile technology ensures a lighter load. The new rain suit weighs around 30 percent less than the one previously worn by the soldiers. A lighter weight also means less volume, so the clothing is small and packable enough to carry easily.

The GORE-TEX membrane provides durable waterproofness and high breathability. The outer material absorbs a minimal amount of water. To keep heat stress as low as possible, the physiologically optimized product technology helps transport heat and moisture away from the body. It also protects from various liquids and common chemicals, such as diesel, oils and lubricants. The durability of the membrane is ensured even with buckling at very cold temperatures. Wearers of weather protection garments with Gore Micro Grid Backer Technology reap the benefits of improved performance and enhanced wearer comfort.

With the new GORE-TEX rain suit, the soldiers of the Alpine troops and the infantry combat troops will also benefit from optimized design and improved usability. The garments can be put on and taken off quickly, they adapt easily to individual needs, and they allow for good mobility.

The jacket can be closed using a waterproof zipper with an underlying flap. Front openings allow access to BDU pockets, which offer space for personal documents or smartphones and bring at the same time good ventilation. The hood can be stowed away in the collar, and the wearer can adjust the sleeves and waistband for tightness. Zippers on both sides facilitate putting on and taking off the over trousers. And the three-point suspenders are easily adjustable using a Velcro. The lower section of the trouser legs has been reinforced to avoid abrasion, for example, from the ski boots worn by the Alpine troops. Any damaged areas can be repaired by the wearer using a special repair kit for GORE-TEX textiles.

Successful field tests

In this way the rain suit will offer a great deal of functionality, flexibility and comfort. Its long durability also means very low life-cycle costs. Alpine troops have successfully tested the suits in the mountains under cold conditions and with high activity, before they have been qualified.

The infantry combat troops have also tested the suits in operational condition with use of weapons, vehicles, etc. This is the way to ensure the troops’ top performance in various weather and deployment conditions.

Source: W.L. Gore press release

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