Whilst the 1958 Pattern webbing set was generally well liked and served the British soldier well in the field for many years, it was not without its shortcomings. One of the biggest problems was a fundamental one related to the material it was made of. Being made of pre-shrunken cotton, the fabric was very hard to decontaminate on the nuclear battlefield and when wet the fabric acted like a sponge, absorbing large amounts of water and becoming very heavy. By the early 1970s it was decided to trial a nylon version of the webbing set to see if by replacing the cotton with a man-made fibre these problems could be overcome. It is known that nylon belts, yokes, poncho carriers and ammunition pouches were produced in very small amounts for trials and original pieces are not common today. So far I have just one piece of the nylon 58 pattern set, which came via a friend and fellow collector in Australia of all places! This is the left hand ammunition pouch and it is clear at a single glance that this is not made of the usual cotton:
The design is taken directly from the normal 58 pattern set, although the top fastener for the pouch is clearly made from a slightly different colour of nylon tape to the shade of the main pouch body and is not as stiffened as one would expect, even if it works exactly the same as a normal pouch fastening:
The same nylon tape is used to create the bayonet frog fastening on the side of the pouch:
Again the rear of the pouch is identical to the more common cotton variety:
As well as the loop at the base to attach to the poncho carrier, we have a pair of angled belt loops and a loop to attach the yoke to at the top:
The nylon 58 pattern set seems a well thought out idea and would have resolved many of the issues with the cotton webbing, however it was not persued and beyond a small amount of trials sets did not see widespread manufacture making it one of the rarer variations of 58 pattern to track down.