The Importance of Base Layers in the Military

The Importance of Base Layers in the Military

Jun 08, 2022

The human body does an incredible job of regulating its temperature to 98.6 degrees. When the weather reaches temperatures below or above what the body can handle to keep itself regulated, we experience a variety of issues. There are many things that can impede the body’s regulatory system, namely illness and extreme weather conditions.

Therefore, the military implements base layers in service member uniforms during excursions in the wilderness, where the climates may be either arid, hot or cold, or windy. The extreme weather taxes the body and forces it to overcompensate to stay cool or warm longer. This overcompensation causes the heart to beat harder and faster to produce the effects necessary to maintain an ambient temperature suitable for living.

Read through this detailed list of the importance of base layers in the military to understand why the military uses this crucial feature. You can also find out how base layers work to keep military personnel active, alive, and well in extreme conditions.

Improved Performance

While out in the environment, you might notice that temperatures and weather conditions change often. Sometimes they hold a specific temperature or condition for longer stretches, but they are subject to change throughout the day. Because of this, military members must always be ready for weather changes at any time of day and in a region.

Remaining prepared for unpredictable weather isn’t always the easiest thing to pull off, however. As such, the military has come up with a layering system so that service members can adapt to the change in weather. They implemented layering after reports of lack of performance, lethargy, and even illness.

These instances result from the effects of the weather and a lack of appropriate attire for the unpredictable conditions. There is a standard by which military members must abide to be on active duty and do their work out in the field, and improper gear makes that work difficult and unsafe.

Preventing the Loss of Motivation

After an individual has endured the weather conditions long enough, their peers might notice that these service members do not act like themselves anymore. This change in motivation or expression is due to the central nervous system being directly affected by the loss or increase of temperature.

With the body no longer able to regulate itself, it’s not uncommon for affected service members may lack the energy, motivation, or willpower to push through a job. They might also experience mood swings or even mood declines, where they lack emotion due to the lack of energy.

This psychological toll makes things exceptionally difficult when trying to communicate or even reason with the individual. Therefore, having options for maintaining homeostasis is extremely important. Some layers function to protect the service member in extreme heat, while others help them adapt to freezing weather.

For example, people will want to wear less during the warmer months and utilize the appropriate fabric blends to help keep cool. Dressing in additional layers for the winter will help maintain and regulate that core body heat that protects their body.

Frost and Flame Resistance

Some layers implement specific features for active-duty military to aid them in specific situations. There are flame-resistant uniform layers and base layers.

There are also many frost-resistant layers that prevent the wearer from experiencing the ill effects of the cold. Lastly, the most common specialized layers are water-resistant layers, which repel any excess water from the body to prevent illnesses like pneumonia.

Body Temperature Regulation

The most apparent reason why service members use base layers is to help the body regulate its temperatures and remain in a normal, healthy state. When the body is at its average temperature, it can function at its best, including the brain’s functioning.

Base layers provide several mental and physical benefits. People can think and do things independently when extreme conditions don’t hinder their central nervous system, brain, and body. The body can regulate well on its own but requires help when under the stress of inclement weather for excessive periods of time. It will begin to lose massive amounts of heat or overheat if left to endure extreme temperatures over extended periods.

Defense Against the Elements

These layers act as a defense mechanism against extreme weather conditions as well. People refer to the outermost layer as the shell for this very reason.

Its sole purpose is to protect the body and all the other layers from wind, water, heat, and anything that might harm the individual on a physical level. This is one of the most critical layers because, without it, you run into the problem of exposure.

While maintaining internal temperatures is crucial, physical effects are another issue service members must contend with. Experiencing direct content with UV rays, frost, extreme heat from fires, or otherwise risks damaging their bodily systems and could lead to permanent injury or worse.

Allowing the Body To Breathe

One thing that base layers do when worn properly is wick away perspiration. This feature is extremely important when you’re outdoors. Your body constantly perspires no matter what you’re doing, only at various levels depending on the climate, conditions, and levels of physical activity.

Still, the weather is always subject to change, which is why layering is effective at absorbing moisture and simultaneously allowing the body to breathe. These characteristics ensure that the body stays dry and remains cool enough to stay comfortable or remains warm enough to function in cooler climates. When perspiration and moisture build up inside layers, that’s when the body can overheat or even become hypothermic, depending on the conditions.

Once you understand how much time the military stays outdoors, it’s easy to see the importance of base layers in the military and how the layered structure of military attire helps. When you’re outdoors, anything can happen at a moment’s notice, and you must prepare for it long before it ever comes your way. Layering has proven time and time again to be a wonderful practice for making a variety of health issues avoidable.

The Importance of Base Layers in the Military