Desert DPM Windproof Trousers

Windproof clothing was first developed in World War II as a set of finely woven cotton clothing for those exposed to the element- when wet the cotton swelled and closed up making it somewhat waterproof. This fabric was called ‘ventile’ and was found to be reasonably effective at keeping the wind out as well as water- wind chill being a major factor in reducing a soldier’s efficiency on operations. The fabric was later updated to a polyester/cotton mix, but the use of windproof layers of clothing remained a part of British Army clothing through to the present day.  

Today we are looking at an example of the windproof trousers produced in desert DPM fabric for use in operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. The trousers are designed to be worn over other items of clothing so are both baggy and designed to be easy to put on and off without removing the wearer’s boots: 

The cuff of each trouser leg is secured by Velcro to make it easy to open and pull on over the boot: 

A pair of large cargo pockets are sewn to each thigh: 

The pocket flaps have a distinctive pointed design: 

They secure using two strips of Velcro: 

The trousers have a series of belt loops around the waist to hold them up and a single internal pocket is fitted to the seat over the right buttock: 

The label inside contains the usual sizing, contract and care instructions: 

The windproof clothing system was not universally appreciated as one former soldier explains: 

“Windproof trousers were issued for all manner of cold weather environments including Norway, Bosnia and Afghanistan. They are shite (the trousers as well as the afore mentioned countries).“ 

Others were more appreciative, “Have to disagree, 6 winters in Norway, AWI course, Arctic Windproofs are the dogs bollocks.” 

A third soldier gives a more detailed assessment: 

It is worth noting that the general issue w/proof strides have a split lower-leg with velcro fastening, so you can don and doff them over your boots, and by implication, over another pair of trahzis.

They were seldom worn in Norway by my mob, because their wind-proof-ness means they tend to keep in the heat generated by vigorous exercise, and can thus create a risk (of all things) of overheating (yup, in the Arctic – overheating. Who’d have thunk it?!).

The coldest I experienced there was a still, clear, bright-blue-sky when thermometers were showing (IIRC) -38 in the shade. Basking in full sunlight, and not even moving around much, we were happy as Larry in trousers L/W, shirt Noggie and smock windproof. Take three paces into the shade that day, however, and instantly it felt like one of them Harry Potter Dementors was sucking the living warmth out of you.

Meanwhile, back in more temperate climes (NW Germany, Catterick, NI) the biggest problem with the gaberdine fabric was that when impregnated with muck and muddy water it abraded very rapidly, compared either to its own rate of wear in Norway, or to that of the bog-standard heavyweight DPM fabric in its natural environment, so there was a pretty good chance that one day, your beloved, ally, warry, frayed smock W/P was going to disintegrate mid-exercise, in the space of a few minutes, just when you needed it most . . . 

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