More on the Marine gear front, it turns out the Corps is on the cusp of fielding a new sleeping bag and associated gear that dramatically reduces the weight and bulk of the current Modular Sleep System.
The so-called Three System Sleep System, or 3S, basically comes with a 10-degree synthetic fill bag, a compression stuff sack and a bivy sack that incorporates a small pole that keeps the head area clear so the bugs can't sting your schnoz.
In an ongoing effort across the spectrum of individual equipment to lighten the load for the individual Marine, the 3S is warmer, drier, smaller and lighter based upon advanced commercial materials and designs. The 3S provides approximately 12 degrees more protection than the green patrol bag of the currently fielded Modular Sleep System (MSS) and is 0.7 lbs lighter with less comparable packed volume.
What SysCom has realized is that you can save a lot of weight and room if you supply a 10-degree bag and tell Marines to wear their fleece and long johns in the bag to boost warmth. You can just keep layering on clothes as the temperature drops. The addition of a bivy cover helps trap some heat, boosting temps as well. It's a great idea that I've employed on my winter trips to Iraq, where temps can drop into the 20s and 30s at night. I hardly ever saw any Marines using their heavy black bag, and those that did were either vehicle crewmen or hating it because of the weight and bulk.
Sleeping Bag – single sleeping bag with center zip for easy use, adjustable draft collar, antimicrobial lining to reduce odor, two sizes for better cold protection and fit.
Bivy Cover – one size, fully encapsulating for superior weather protection, adjustable standoff to keep bivy off the face, large screen window, breathable but waterproof.
Compression Stuff Sack – waterproof, simple 2 compression straps with hands free air purge valve for minimum packed volume that fits into main ruck, exterior pocket holds visual user guide to effectively use the entire 3S.
Mesh Storage Bag – 3S storage item for garrison use to maintain insulation and waterproofness that is degraded when left in compression stuff sack.
SysCom says the new bag is over 2 pounds lighter and eats up 500 cubes less than the black intermediate cold bag of the MSS. That's a big break for grunts…
The Corps has bought a limited number of the 3S for Centcom deployers (Afghanistan) for around $500 each and is still working to determine a final supplier to outfit every Leatherneck.
ADS Tactical is the subcontractor supplying these first systems right now, along with Cascade Designs (MSR) and Clay Creek.