Review - NWU Type III AOR2 Gore-Tex Jacket
History of Navy Working Uniform
The NWU (Navy Working Uniform) is utilised by the United States Navy across multiple branches and units . The NWU is designed as a working uniform and therefore is designed for use in the field and standard duties. The NWU is manufactured using a ripstop nylon-cotton blend and the NWU Type III is designed for temperate environments.
For more info - visit the Wikipedia page.
Why the NWU GT Jacket?
Rain, inclement weather, chilling crosswinds and a frosty underfoot can all contribute to an operator suffering if not prepared enough. The United States armed forces are sourced with kit and equipment primarily from the United States, but also incorporate kit and equipment from across the globe. With a large proportion of tactical wear and equipment being manufactured in the United States, their armed forces are prepared for most eventualities. The focus in this blog will be on the recently purchased NWU Type III AOR2 Gore-Tex Jacket. Keeping warm and dry when the heavens open is important , when you're either moving through a dense wet jungle environment or sitting in an OP (Observation Point) for hours at a time without moving, Gore-Tex is likely going to be a saving factor.
Gore-Tex is one of the best waterproof materials out there. If you're working outside throughout the year, one of these jackets should be in your truck, ruck or on your back!
What does it actually mean?
NWU Type III Navy Seal AOR2 Gore-Tex Jacket
NWU - Navy Working Uniform (standard US non ceremonial dress)
Type III - worn by;
Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU / SEAL Team 6)
Special Amphibious Reconnaissance Corpsmen
Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technicians
AOR2 - Area Of Responsibility / Any Other Region - pattern name given to green variant of disruptive pattern.
Gore-Tex - a waterproof and breathable membrane.
The NWU has three variants, NWU I, NWU II and NWU III;
NWU I represents the Navys origins and is blue / grey in design.
NWU II is primarily for desert and arid regions.
NWU III is for all other temperate regions.
Highlighted below are three of the main variants seen for Gore-Tex in current use by the USN; AOR1 (Desert Digital), AOR2 (Woodland Digital) and Blue Digital. Both AOR1 and AOR2 are generally seen in use by land forces of the US Military and USN personnel. The Blue / Grey Digital variant is generally seen worn by personnel serving on maritime vessels. These three variants are broadly covered under APECS (All Purpose Environmental Clothing System), an improved series of designs over the Gen 2 models and conform to the NCTRF/PD 06-11 standards relating to them requiring to be reliable and utilising waterproof / vapourable materials.
NWU GT in detail
The NWU GT purchased was Small Regular (SR) and is marked to fit;
Height: 67" - 71"
Chest: 33" - 37"
The NWU GT purchased was only the exterior GT shell and did not include the inner fleece liner which is pictured here.
The NWU GT has either a black or tan fleece liner. The materials used for the fleece liner are Polartec 100% Polyester. The fleece has it's own identifying NSN and depending upon size has a different ending NSN - ie NSN 8415-01-581-***. As with the GT exterior the fleece would be the same size ie SR in my case.
Returning to the GT, even marked as a SR it does feel large without the liner inside and can easily fit over a covert plate if required or a low profile micro rig that is lightly packed. The arms are long even for a regular but velcro cuff adjustments help to fit the sleeves comfortably.
The exterior of the NWU GT purchased is the AOR2 disruptive pattern, marked with the USN (Untied States Navy) logo, whilst the interior of the shell is a base tan colour. The materials used are 100% Nylon (woven) and PTFE laminate is used on the interior to cover over the pocket seals, joins and stitching. As the item was new and still within the original packaging, the AOR2 exterior was not sun bleached, damaged or showing signs of being worn.
The below images break down the key features of the NWU GT and these features are covered in further detail in the below sections.
NWU GT Front exterior
The front of the jacket boasts 6 pockets;
2x chest vertical pockets (accessed via zips)
2x large pockets at base of jacket (sealed with velcro tabs)
2x hand warmer pockets behind the large pockets (not sealed)
The chest vertical pockets on both the left and right of the chest are large with an opening of 21cm. This is by standard used for map cases and other equipment. The YKK zip is sealed at the top and bottom ensuring water does not leak into the pocket. The interior pocket is fabric and measures approx 17 x 30 cm (W x H - measured across the largest distance). On the left chest pocket is a vertical rank slide held in place by a velcro tab.
The large pockets at the base are opened by lifting the flaps secured in place by 2x velcro tabs. The pockets measure 21 x 29 cm (W x H) and the opening measures 20 cm. These pockets can be used for most items. These pockets are individually manufactured and are made from GT material and then stitched onto the GT exterior, therefore the interior of the pocket is GT lined. Inside of each pocket is a draw cord and a toggle. This is the waist adjustment and by pulling the cord, it tightens the jacket and using the toggle, the desired length can be fixed. The pockets do not have drainage holes.
The final two pockets are behind the base pockets and are accessed from the side. These have been incorporated into UK forces smocks where small items can be placed and hands on colder days. When items are placed inside, they are between the exterior of the jacket and the rear of the pocket. These pockets are not sealed and items can fall out.
NWU GT Rear exterior
The rear of the jacket is plain and other than the waist adjustment band that runs horizontally, there is nothing else of note.
NWU GT Arms exterior
Both arms are identical in relation to pockets and materials. On the bicep on both sides there are small pockets measuring 13 x 19cm (W x H). These are sealed by two velcro tabs. These pockets are generally used for small items such as pens / notebooks.
The elbow has an additional layer of material added to provide resistance against wear and tear such as when in the prone position firing, of note is that this elbow area is not padded.
The wrists feature the standard velcro cuff strap allowing the user to tighten the jacket around the wrist. With the SR there is enough material to have it tightened comfortably and it's easy to adjust when required.
Ventilation zips are located underneath each arm and run from the underside of the elbow to just below the armpit, measuring 36 cm. This vent is a standard zip and the opening doesn't contain mesh material such as other jackets do which stops items entering the open gap, such as leaves or debris. The zip as expected can be opened for full ventilation or for part ventilation if required.
NWU GT Interior
The NWU GT is designed to have a fleece liner attached to the inside for additional comfort and warmth. As shown in the first picture below, the NWU GT features a double zip. The larger zip on the left hand side is for the fleece liner and the zip on the right for the exterior shell. In each of the sleeves there is a tab that is designed to be inserted through a loop sown into the fleece sleeve and secured in place to stop the fleece arm riding back up the sleeve.
The interior of the jacket is a tan base colour and is mainly featureless. Tan PTFE tape is used to seal pockets, stitching and joins, and is generally seen double layered to provide extra security.
Each part of the jacket is manufactured separately (arm L, arm R, hood, jacket L, jacket R, rear) and each section is marked in ink with a simplistic section number, examples of which are shown below.
The right chest pocket on the interior also has sown in the product details; sizing, NSN, cleaning instructions and other related information.
NWU GT Hood
The hood can either be rolled up and stowed in the neck collar or unfolded. When rolled up the neck collar does become bulky and can get in the way if worn with a helmet and comms. The hood does further feature a small peak. At the base of the hood on the neck there are 2 draw cords and toggles that allow the hood to be tightened.
On the interior of the hood at the bottom is the section that the hood rolls up into. On the exterior of the hood are three velcro tabs that allow the roll section to be fastened down.
NWU GT Testing
The NWU GT was purchased to provide some protection against the elements. Whilst the jacket was new out of the packaging and had zero signs of wear or tear, there was a need to conduct a couple of water based tests to ensure that it did in fact stand up to and meet the standards. There was at the time of testing no shortage of rain...
The jacket was worn whilst walking for approx 2 hours in a forest environment, for over 1.5 hours the rain fell, however no leaks / run through were found. On a second walk on another day across open terrain for approx 1 hour in the rain, no issues were identified.
The jacket was worn whilst walking for approx 3 hours in a forest environment, for over 2.5 hours the rain fell. No leaks / run through identified. Due to the GT material working as expected, the run off of water from the bottom of the jacket onto my trousers (non GT) soaked the trousers. A second walk in an urban area for approx 45 mins in heavy rain again did not identify any issues.
Thoughts and opinion
Rifle. Equipment. Self. That's the priority order you're taught to adhere to. Ensure that your rifle is clean, functional and ready. Check that your equipment is packed, serviceable and you have everything to hand. Self administration of food, sleep and preparation. Remaining warm and dry falls into the latter. Deployed on operations, being prepared for a number of scenarios and eventualities means packing extra kit that won't be required or running the risk of not having the essential kit when you need it most. Inclement weather turning to light rain, turning to heavy downpours for prolonged periods of time is something that's never comfortable to be in. Gore-Tex in these situations may provide some level of protection from the elements and when stationed in an OP, on guard or transiting the FOB, Gore-Tex is suitable. On a recce patrol or in an ambush, it's not a wise choice due to the noise it makes when moving. Gore-Tex has it's place.
The availability and choice of Gore-Tex jackets is huge. The ability to recoat them, ensuring and prolonging longevity is a huge bonus and with military surplus jackets being so freely available, they are obviously made from genuine materials, to a good standard and therefore unlikely to fail any time soon.
Whether you decide to go for a light waterproof that packs away into a frag pouch or the larger Gore-Tex jackets, having that extra level of protection from the elements takes some weight off at the back of your mind. If deploying into the field, Gore-Tex is highly recommended, even if it sits in the pouch never being taken out or worn. It's presence provides peace of mind that when the weather worsens, you are prepared.
The NWU III AOR2 variant that I purchased is specific to the units it's designed for and it suits my needs. It's always packed in my ruck, ready for that day I need it and with a new fleece liner on the way it'll certainly be a morale multiplier on those days the heavens open.
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I am not paid for my blogs by the manufacturers or companies that I purchase my items from. I am not offered freebies to promote a product. These blogs are purely written from my own experience in truth to help advise and inform others who may wish to purchase the items or understand more about them. If I am sent a freebie to review this will be stated at the beginning to make you aware.