The beloved 'woobie' gets a much-needed update

It’s about the most useful item the U.S. military has ever issued and has earned a soft spot in every servicemember’s heart for its versatility and the cozy comfort it delivers when Mother Nature turns against you.

But while the success of the elegant square of quilted heaven rests largely on its simplicity, it has recently received a much-needed update that’ll deepen a trooper’s smile.

Enter the Woobie 2.0.

Marines are now being issued the so-called “enhanced poncho liner,” which to most of those who’ve cuddled up to its synthetic-filled goodness will notice has a huge upgrade that many a servicemember has been clamoring for for years. The new version of the woobie keeps its various tie down points and parachute chord loops, but adds a heavy-duty reversible zipper to turn the thing into a no joke cammo cocoon.

One of the most logical moves in the poncho liner's redesign is the addition of a reversible, heavy-duty zipper to turn it into a lightweight sleeping bag. (Photo from Breach Bang Clear)

One of the most logical moves in the poncho liner’s redesign is the addition of a reversible, heavy-duty zipper to turn it into a lightweight sleeping bag. (Photo from Breach Bang Clear)

“They added the zipper because most people like to use these as a really lightweight sleeping bag,” said Brian Emanuel, general manager at Climashield, which make the insulation that gives the woobie its magical warmth.

The changes to the new poncho liner are more than skin deep, with the old insulation being replaced by the more durable Climashield insulation that can be compacted tighter, is lighter than the old version but delivers more insulated goodness than the poncho liner of old.

“Basically you now have the same weight and 50 percent more warmth,” Emanuel said.

The insulation is so tough, the new woobie doesn’t need to have as much stitching (the old version had what’s called “dumbbell quilting” in order to keep the insulation in place). In fact, the insulation and new shell materials are so tough, there didn’t need to be any stitching at all — typically a major contributor to cold spots when the mercury dips.

(Photo from We Are The Mighty)

(Photo from We Are The Mighty)

But the Corps was worried about large rips, so developers kept some stitches running down the liner’s length.

While the Marine Corps has outfitted the enhanced poncho liner to its Leathernecks, the Army is still tweaking the design for its own use, Emanuel said.

“They tried to entice the Army to adopt this system as is, but they’ve decided to change the dimensions so it’s the exact same size as their tarp, which is significantly larger than what the Marines have,” Emanuel explained.

So Climashield is trying to work with the Army to decrease the weight of their poncho liner by reducing the amount of insulation with the larger size.

“We’ve said we can reduce the weight by 10 percent from what you’re using today and deliver 30 percent more warmth,” he added.