The single most cherished item that Uncle Sam has given its fighting men and women since the Vietnam War has got to be the poncho liner or, as it's affectionately known within the military community as, the "woobie." It shouldn't come as a surprise that the one piece of military gear that was designed with a troop's comfort in mind has a huge fan base.
It's more often than not called the "woobie" because, in practice, very few people use it for its intended purpose: lining a poncho. Obviously, there's no hole for your head to go through, so you're not actually wearing the woobie with the poncho at the same time. The designers want you to use the little holes on the side that correspond with poncho straps to tie it together, but show of hands: How many people have actually taken those steps each and every time instead of just using the woobie as its own individual item? Thought so.
Here's how the woobie is actually being used by troops:
1. Blanket... obviously
The sleeping bag system that the military offers is nice, but it's not enough. It's missing a nice, homey touch that you can only get with a warm and cozy woobie.
And this doesn't end when troops go on their last field exercise. It's not uncommon for vets to snag a poncho liner (or two) and keep them laying around the house or in an emergency kit — or on their bed, just like it used to be.
It's funny. Just one one piece of fabric can make 48-hour patrols suck a little less.
(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Smith)
2. Tent divider
While deployed, troops aren't typically given enough room for personal space. Your "personal space," at best, is usually just a single bunk that everyone can walk past.
If you need some alone time and you're willing to part with your precious poncho liner, you can string it across the tent to mark off your side.
When this is your life for 12 months, you might be willing to bite that bullet to get a bit of privacy.
(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Ken Scar)
Cutting a hole in the poncho liner to actually line a poncho is ridiculous — but walking around the barracks wrapped in a poncho liner like it's a cape is some how... not?
Troops and vets have been known to step their woobie game up by having it made into a wide assortment of apparel — like a bathrobe or a smoker's jacket. Fashion and function!
Now, the real question is, are you willing to destroy your woobie to make it into something else?
(Photo via Reddit user Hellsniperr)
4. Hammock insulator
The mesh pattern and all-weather durability of a poncho liner means it's perfectly suited to surviving outside for long periods of time. This quality is best exemplified by the fact that you'll find it in the backyard of nearly every veteran who owns a hammock. You'll probably find their old woobie inside it.
This is basically the one thing every troop wishes they could have done with their woobie while in the field.
(Screengrab via YouTube: PrepareToPaddle)
5. Dog bed
Even animals aren't immune to the draw of a good poncho liner. A folded-up woobie is the perfect comforter for the bottom of a dog's kennel.
Maybe it's the texture or maybe it's the fact that it almost always smells like the animal's veteran parent — whatever the case, expect your dog to fight you for woobie ownership.
How can you say no to that face? You can't.
(Image via Northwest Firearms Blog)
6. Family heirloom
The overly silly name that troops and vets gave a woobie makes a bit more sense when it's given to their kids. Yeah, it's kind of small for a full-grown warfighter, but it's the perfect size for their kid.
When vets pass down a woobie to their kid or grandkid, it typically comes with a long, drawn-out origin story — but it's so comfortable that the recipient probably doesn't mind curling up and listening to the same story for the tenth time.
Sleep well, future soldier. Sleep well.
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