Well I have been wearing the new “Navy Working Uniform” now for a couple of weeks. This is my user evaluation. I wrote a while back about the Navy going to this uniform whose camouflage serves no real purpose, other than perhaps to help hide from sharks if you fall overboard. In that post I compared the uniform design and look with that of other camouflage uniforms currently being used by US Forces.
As far as the uniform itself. It is pretty comfortable. It has a similar feel to the USMC Woodland MARPAT. It is permanent press and very easy to care for, wash and wear all the way. The uniform has no Velcro on it at all. This is a slight deviation from that of the Marine uniform which has Velcro to fasten the shirt pockets. The NWU has buttons like the old BDUs, but since no pressing or starching is needed you do not need to worry about the buttons wearing through the material. Sleeves are rolled in the “Army” style versus the traditional USN/USMC way. This is actually easier to do than the other way and does look good. Once you figure this way out it is really hard to screw it up. If you are purchasing them please know that they fit “larger” than the old BDUs. I wore a large size shirt in the BDUs. However a large in the NWU, like the MARPAT could be modified to be a double breasted suit jacket. It is big, so don’t just assume that if you wore a certain size in the BDU that it is the same as the NWU. Try them on before you purchase four sets of NWUs on-line.
The Navy Blue T-shirts are a lot better quality than past t-shirts. They hold their form, don’t shrink and don’t have areas where the seams are frayed or loose. The trousers fit comfortably. Like the USMC MARPATs there is a bit of elastic in the waist which makes them very comfortable. The only thing that takes getting used to is the fact that the NWU, unlike every camouflage uniform that we have had since the 1980s has a zipper versus a button fly. I am still undecided about if I like this or not. The zipper is good quality, but takes some time getting used to on a camouflage uniform. Let’s face it, I had gotten used to the buttons on the BDUs, DCUs and MARPATs.
Name Tapes and insignia rock on this uniform. Since it is not a field uniform the name tapes and rank are not subdued. Enlisted members, in pay grades E1 through E6 have silver name tapes, rank insignia and warfare devices with a few exceptions such as the Navy Gold jump wings . Chief Petty Officers have gold name tapes and rank and keep the silver enlisted devices with the same exceptions as the junior enlisted. Officers have the gold name tapes, and rank the same color as their metal insignia, either gold or silver depending on the rank. Officer qualification badges or warfare devices are also gold, with some exceptions such as the basic EOD badge or entry level “Army type” jump wings. The gold colored devices really look sharp against the blue background of the uniform. All insignia on this uniform are sewn on. Plan on spending an additional $18-$24 per uniform for sewing. This could be cheaper, but I think that $3 a patch is pretty standard most places now days. If you can get it done cheaper do it.
The “cover” or the “hat” to non-Naval Service types, is the traditional USN/USMC 8 point cover. Sized in 1/8th of an inch increments it is easy to find a size that fits perfectly. The bill can be formed into a nice shape without damaging the cover. Rank is worn on the front panel by all pay grades.
The best things for those ashore are the suede boots. They are steel toe safety boots. However unlike most boots of this type they are pretty comfortable. I spend a lot of time on my feet in the ICUs that I work in and really like them. They broke in very quickly, the fit well and my feet don’t feel sore when I leave work. The suede upper ensures that there are no “hot spots” on ankle or Achilles tendon areas. I am not required at this point to have the smooth leather boot since I am not on ship. However I do not hear as good as report about the smooth leather version. Evidently they are harder to break in and the Belville brand have similar problems to the USMC and Army Belvilles. I had a pair of Belville’s briefly in Iraq, but they were uncomfortable and fell apart really fast. My suede boot are made by Bates and the only real drawback to them is the price. At $122.00 they are more expensive than the smooth leather, but I find the added comfort to be worth the cost. Boots are worn bloused as they have been with all USN and USMC camouflage uniforms.
I cannot report how they wear outside at this point. I do think that in a hot weather climate on a stationary post that they could be quite the heat collector since they are so dark. The overcoat, which I do not yet have seems very well made and looks like it will be a good piece of gear for cold or foul weather at sea or ashore.
Anyway, I hope this helps those who are getting ready to get this uniform and makes the Army guys jealous as their ACU Velcro sticks to everything in sight. I was wondering if our enemies will start erecting Velcro barriers to hang our Army guys up on instead of barbed wire or concertina wire? That would be interesting and if I was the Velcro folks I think I would start marketing that idea. After all the economy can use all the help that it can get.