Some of you might have seen the report on USA Today’s front page a couple days ago about the Army abandoning Velcro (aka ‘hook and pile’) on the thigh pockets of its ACU pants.

The article states that Soldiers complained the Velcro wouldn’t hold when the pockets were stuffed to the gills and that the dusty environments of Afghanistan and Iraq made the pile part of the Velcro fail because of dirt and sand infiltration.

We reported on this issue back last fall with news of an Army survey of troops and changes the service was making to the ACU to reflect Joes’ preferences — including the overwhelming need to go back to button closures instead of Velcro on the thigh pockets of the trousers.

Kit Up! received a statement from the Army yesterday contextualizing the USA-T story.

When concerns surfaced in the surveys that the hook-and-pile tape was not holding under the weight of full pocket loads, the Army evaluated several solutions, including buttons and snaps, and provided prototypes to more than 1,500 Soldiers for wear-testing. These prototypes included a variety of other changes to the uniform as well.

The end result was the Army has reinforced the seat of the trouser, substituted three buttons for hook-and-pile tape on each trouser cargo pocket, and improved the attachment of the infrared tab.

The Army also made some slight changes to the Velcro on the blouse, including reducing the size of the tape on the closures and collar.

But the biggest change is that the new MultiCam EOF FR-ACUs will have the button closures on the trouser thigh pockets. And these will be the first Army uniforms to incorporate the change. No ACUs have been issued with trouser pocket button closures so far and PEO Soldier says “eventually” buttons will be included on all future ACUs and FR-ACUs. But with the service evaluating whether UCP is still the way to go, could this change be moot for the current ACU?

Another interesting side note is that the Army considered going the button way on the blouse cuffs but decided against it for safety reasons. Officials were concerned that the buttons wouldn’t hold during a flame event (maybe the plastic in the buttons would melt?) and not keep the sleeve closed to protect the Soldier’s arm from fire.

PEO Soldier is aware of other concerns with the hook-and-pile tape and will take those into consideration in future modifications to the ACU.

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

VTGunner June 17, 2010 at 7:08 am

Just get rid of ALL the velcro already! Sew on the patches, nametapes and rank!! The velcro is a pain in my ass!

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Solomon June 17, 2010 at 11:56 am

no they can't get rid of velcro…that would kill the market for motto patches (I still can't figure out where that idea came from but you can't get rid of them)….

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VTGunner June 17, 2010 at 8:16 am

You can still make them, the airsofters will just have to sew them on themselves or pay for someone else to do it

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acg1189 June 17, 2010 at 11:57 am

I love the quote from the USA article:

"I don't mind the insignia Velcro on the sleeve pockets, but why would I need Velcro for my name tape and U.S. Army tapes?" he asked. "Am I going to change my name and join a different army?"

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drstrtt July 8, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Remove for ops

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Kilroy June 17, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Any time there's any try at innovation or forward thinking LIKE VELCRO, and there's some problem with it, all these people come out of the woodwork screaming for a return to the way things used to be. Velcro is a huge improvement to sewing everything on, and just because it's not perfect, we should go back? Do you guys know how much the cost of sewing crap on is? Every time I rank up it's around $50! Also, have any of you heard about sanitizing a uniform? Kinda hard to do if the stuff is permanently attached.
I think the army is doing the right thing with their uniforms. Listen to your troops, with a grain of salt. Buttons ONLY on the thigh pockets, velcro everything else. Well maybe, that U.S. Army tape can be sewn on, it's not like you ever move that.

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hamchuck June 17, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Honest question here: what about zippers? They work great on the flight suits versions of the A2CUs (the flight suit version); they're easy to use one-handed as long as the tassels stay on, and they're silent.

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hamchuck June 17, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Okay, the wording on that one is all FUBARed. That's what happens when you don't proofread your own stuff. But you see the point of what I'm getting at, I hope.

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Solomon June 17, 2010 at 12:56 pm

uh, who in the conventional Army sanitizes their uniforms?

why wouldn't you want sewn on name tapes? as far as rank, do the Marine Corps thing and get pin ons….but velcro is a loser except in garrison.

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ToothFairy1 June 17, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Sanitizing? Have you ever had to sanitize? In over 20 years of service, I have had to do it for one deployment. Do SF guys? Sure, but, they are not the big Army. Velcro blows. If they had just listened to the actual troops in the first place, and kept buttons, this would not be an issue. Sometimes, the simplest solution is the best…

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MTNwarrior June 17, 2010 at 9:39 pm

Sanitize: once in OEF I. As for sew on, I could care less about the US ARMY and name. Its the pin on CIB etc I can't stand. I was proud to sew it on, but now I NEVER wear it. Body armor/plate carrier/LBV or even just your day pack get hung up in it. Pin on is not practical. Even your rifle sling for a parade get hung up.

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SSG Whiting June 18, 2010 at 5:08 am

The Cargo pocket wouldn't stay shut when the pockets were full and it gets worse the older the Velcro gets. I think it was a smart move. I also think it was even smarter to leave the other pocket with Velcro—the buttons just take extra time and sometimes need to be re-sewn. I'm also glad I don't have to pay for getting new rank or new patches to be sewn on–as the blog above says—it can be as much as $50! Why spend that money if we don't have to?
One problem still lingers—the Rank in the middle of the chest gets covered by the Rifle strap. This doesn't have to be that way. I think Rank above the name makes sense; as the Fleece jackets already do this.

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TTe June 18, 2010 at 10:07 am

My comment is just from the mil-gears user. Width of only an inch is not enough to hold the full cargo weight in the pocket. That's the matter of contact surface area of hook&pile. Let's think that you put a 4"x4" pair of hook&pile (just to give idea)instead of the existing one , will this help ? Of course , now you see how to correct it DIY. To re-align the direction to vertical may help as well. You get at least more than an inch of contact surface but you will trade-off with the more chance to miss the pair when stick them together without your eyes on. The MCCUU trousers has the most optimum way of the re-design for the cargo pocket, in my opinion.

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Terry June 19, 2010 at 6:17 pm

"full to the gills" my ass. The hook and loop (if it were Velcro brand it wouldn't) fails all by itself in clean garrison duty just getting to the pocket for daily use. ( I keep my wallet in on and cel phone in the other at least till fasteners fail.)

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Heath June 20, 2010 at 9:33 pm

It is the adjustable elastic band that is meant to hold things in your pocket. Pull it tight and nothing comes out. I prefer the velcro. Easy open, easy close, and no fumbling with buttons. TTe makes a good point about contact area though.

As for the rest of the velcro – the advantage is when you receive replacement uniforms in theatre – you don't have to find the sew shop to get your tapes sewn on. Sure its not an issue if you're on KAF, but if you're out on some miserable COP for 28 days out of every 30… it is.

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arminf06 June 22, 2010 at 5:38 pm

Nice digs…I am really digging that get up

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arminf06 June 22, 2010 at 5:43 pm

As far as the velcro situation, When I was in Iraq velcros didn't even cross my mind and it didn't bother me a bit. If you want to find a solution I suggest let the army wear khaki cargo pockets and whatever shirt they want . The army is there to kick ass and not worry about the fashion statement…..

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Brimstone June 23, 2010 at 12:28 am

I ID'd the cargo pocket velcro as BS when the ACU's were first issued. Buttons are just as quick as velcro once you're used to them. And it just makes one feel good to tug on the pocket flap and feel it is secure. Anything I'm carrying into combat in my pocket is something I don't want to lose.

The best way to go is with both…if you don't close the button there's still some hope the pocket will close itself. That's the arrangement I used on my modded 3-color desert combat specials.

If designing a pocket from scratch, It's best to use an extra large pocket flap, and have two sets of button holes that allow adjustable load accomadation.

Buttons don't have to be hard plastic. A rubber button is more comfortable, unbreakable, pretty much eleminates the need for a button cover flap (which is there to keep the button from snagging things) and is just as secure as plastic. Better yet, a silicon button would be heat resistant. Buttons don't have to be round, either.

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Brimstone June 23, 2010 at 12:28 am

And while we're on the subject of pockets…cargo pockets anywhere near the knee jointline are BS too. As soon as a guy dehydrates, loses weight (ok not a big problem in today's army), or shoves a smoke grenade in there the britches will sag. Then the stuff in the pocket is gonna keep him from bending his knee comfortably. There's no need for hip pockets (Air Force gloves in old soldier lingo) at all. Just move the cargo pocket up to hip level and leave an opening at the top where it is attached to the leg fabric. Put a small pocket behind it. Maybe a zipper to keep the stuff in there while one rolls around on the ground (ok not a big problem in today's army).

OK, that's probably more info than you cherries can absorb at once. Ya'll can turn your iPods back on now. The old fart is tired and needs his nap.

Oh, and if any geeks from SSC read this, feel free to use my ideas. Though I don't know why you would after you totally ignored my email in '05 pointing out that the ACU camo pattern is BS.

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SFC Earnán March 25, 2011 at 9:18 am

Kilroy, the only time you "ranked up" was when you made E2 and that was only 'cause the first sergeant forgot to stop it.

The velcro on the uniform is bullshit. The US Army and the solder's name don't change. Rank and SSIs are hardly changing on a weekly basis. If you can't afford a couple bucks at the hadjii hut to have a new SSI or a pair of chevrons sewn-on, then you can't manage your affairs well enough to deserve a promotion.

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J W March 29, 2011 at 4:13 pm

I have problems with my unit patches coming off when a ruck strap catches it. As for "sanitizing" a uniform, if you are worried about that then you probably have some sort of cutting implement with you and can cut off whatever needs to be removed. I have had to do it once and it takes all of maybe a minute. Velcro makes more noise than buttons do also so if you are worried about sanitizing you should be concerned about noise discipline. Use some common sense here guys

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VelcroSuxors June 15, 2011 at 7:56 pm

Bottom Line –
Current ACU Pattern – A step in the right direction (multicam looks more effective though)
Current ACU Pattern Colors – What were they thinking? White and grey? Really?
Velcro – Terrible choice. Things degrade and are a violation of noise and sound discipline.
Sewing On Everything – That's why you get a clothing allowance.
Beret – WOW! At least they finally got rid of that (for ACUs anyway).

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Justenlisted August 10, 2011 at 9:06 pm

We should keep the ACU but get rid of this Univeral Cam bullshit, put the 3 color desert on the ACU and we would be fine. Also remove the Velcro from the name and US Army

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USAF WX November 26, 2011 at 3:59 pm

I have a set of COS multicam ACU's that I use for airsoft, and I love them. They're much better than the ABU's I wear everyday. As far as wearing the pin on badges, suck it up and take the extra time to put it on if you want to wear it. Sewing rank on every uniform Item I have is a pain in the *** and it adds up. As for velcro on patches, think about it, how often did the patches fade and look like smashed crap when you washed the bdu's? Pilots have been pulling their patches off to wash their zoombags forever. The army has a practical combat utility uniform that could use some refinements, but overall is a very good uniform.

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