Army goes dark with new PT uniform

Just five months ago, about half of the Soldiers participating in organized physical fitness training here were seen wearing the grey Improved Physical Fitness Uniform.

On the morning of Sept. 14, inside the Gaffney Field House and outside track, there were only a couple of Soldiers still in the IPFU. Dozens of others were seen sporting the new, black Army Physical Fitness Uniform.

By Oct. 1, that number wearing the IPFU will reach zero Army-wide, as the wear-out date expires with “mandatory possession” kicking in for the APFU, per All Army Activities message 209/2014, which was released Sept. 3, 2014.

Soldiers seem happy with their new APFUs, according to a small opinion sampling conducted here.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t some sentimental feelings about the IPFU, however.

Spc. Lafavien Dixon, from Company C, 742nd Military Intelligence Battalion here, said he plans to wear the IPFU for organized PT right up to the wear-out date, out of a “sense of nostalgia.”

Any time a uniform changes, Soldiers will look back with a sense of fondness and happy memories, but not necessarily regret, he said.

The black with gold lettering design in particular, is something Dixon said he likes on the new uniform, as well as the two small ID card or key pockets in the shorts. The built-in spandex in the shorts is another improvement, he added.

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey joins Soldiers from Company B., 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division for a morning workout during Iron Horse Week at Fort Carson, Colorado, August 17, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Ashleigh E. Torres)

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey joins Soldiers from Company B., 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division for a morning workout during Iron Horse Week at Fort Carson, Colorado, August 17, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Ashleigh E. Torres)

Sgt. Christopher Davis Garland, from Co. C., 742nd MI Bn., said he likes the overall look and feel of the new uniform and is supportive of the switch, but will miss the “cottony feel” of the grey reflective shirt.

Rather than discard the IPFU, he said he plans to wear parts of it when doing yard work.

Garland, a self-described “PT freak,” said he will also wear parts of the IPFU when participating in off-duty Spartan races, which include a number of obstacles that must be negotiated. He said he didn’t want to tear up his APFU doing that.

Specialist Douglas Banbury, from Co. C., 742nd MI Bn., said he purchased his APFU a year ago “to weigh the differences between them.”

Like other Soldiers, he said he’s pleased with the look and feel of the APFU, particularly the material, which he said enables the uniform to dry out faster when wet.

The other difference, he said, is that in his personal view the APFU feels a bit less comfortable in cold weather than the IPFU, but more comfortable in hot and humid conditions.

The only malfunction with his own APFU thus far, he said, is one of the key/card pockets detached. He reasoned that since he got the uniform early on when they first became available, he thinks it was a problem in the initial assembly production run. But the other pocket is OK, he added, so he can still carry his key/ID card.

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey sprints with Soldiers from Company B., 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division at a morning workout during Iron Horse Week at Fort Carson, Colorado, August 17, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Daniel G. Parker)

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey sprints with Soldiers from Company B., 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division at a morning workout during Iron Horse Week at Fort Carson, Colorado, August 17, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Daniel G. Parker)

Spc. Jarvis Smith, who was PTing after-hours with the other three co-workers from 742nd MI Bn., said the APFU shorts are longer than the IPFU, and this is a positive when it comes to modesty.

Like the others, he said he approves of the switch and plans to continue to wear parts of the IPFU around the house and yard to get as much mileage out of them as he can before they eventually fall apart.

Another Soldier interviewed said she plans to give her old IPFU to her wife — who is not a Soldier — to wear.

A main goal of the PT uniform switch “was to use high-performance fabrics in the APFU without increasing the cost from the IPFU,” according to the ALARACT, which noted 32 improvements, including the “identification/key pockets, a redesigned stretchable lining in the trunks and heat mitigation and female sizing.”

All of the changes were incorporated based on Soldier input and extensive technical and user testing in various climates, the ALARACT added.

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