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A short guide on the Woodland BDU Jacket


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There is another active post that discusses collecting the BDU. Just to help those who may be interested I thought I'd provide some basic information on the various versions of this uniform. My comments are related only to the U.S. Army. Every service wore the BDU but I am only familiar with how they were worn/issued in the Army.


The Woodland BDU was first authorized for wear on 1 Oct. 1981. Its purpose was, for the first time, to provide all Soldiers with a cammo uniform. Prior to its introduction, most Soldiers were wearing the poly/cotton durable press OG 507 utility uniform introduced in 1975. Select units like the Ranger Battalions, the 82nd Airborne, 101st Airborne, SF, etc. were either wearing the old OG 107 jungle fatigues, the brown dominant slant packet ERDL, or more commonly the woodland variant of the RDF pattern cammo. This photo shows the OG 507 and the woodland RDF.




The first version of the BDU is shown below. This one has a 1983 contract date. These were all made with a heavy weight 50/50 cotton/nylon material. The identifying features are the large "butterfly" or "Elvis" collar. The top pockets are sewn flat on the outside and the inside and bottom have are bellowed to allow the pocket to expand. The bottom pockets have a bellows on both sides and the bottom. The cuff is adjusted by a tab with two buttons. All 1981 contract BDU's have white tags, 1982 and after a light green tag.




Here is a tag from a first year production jacket.




Experience in Grenada led the Army to tweak the jackets design and to introduce a new lightweight 100 % cotton rip stop version n 1985. After the introduction of the lightweight BDU, the Army referred to the heavyweight version as the "temperate BDU" and the lightweight version as the "hot weather BDU". Both were permitted for wear year round but you could not mix and match uniform components.


Identifying features are the smaller collar, and an adjusting tab at the waist. The upper pockets were now sewn flat on the inside and the bellows were moved to the outside of the pocket. Here is the temperate version, the left side is pinned over to show the waist tab.




Here is a first year (1985) hot weather version. As can be seen they faded quickly and wore out pretty fast.




The next version came out somewhere around 1993. The identifying features were the removal of the waist adjusting tabs, The bottom pockets were now sewn flat on the bottom and inside edge with the bellows to the outside. Three inches of material were removed from the waist to present a trimmer appearance, and finally the cuffs were now changed from an adjusting tab to a normal shirt style cuff. The temperate version is shown below.




The hot weather version was identical. All of the hot weather 100 % cotton BDUs I have in this style from this time period have an asterisk at the top of the size tag. If I remember correctly, this version was supposed to be made in 50/50 nylon cotton material but that was delayed so the asterisk was put on the tag to signify that the uniform was still 100 % cotton.




Finally we have the Enhanced Hot Weather BDU that came out in 1996. This version was the same style as the above but was made in the 50/50 nylon cotton material. This change was made primarily to enhance the durability of the hot weather uniform.


The Woodland BDU was in use from 1 Oct 1981 until its wear out date of 1 April 2008. Other services wore it well beyond that date. It was an excellent uniform for its time and the heavy weight version wore like iron. It was copied by Armies around the world and was worn by the U.S. Army in places like Grenada, Panama, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, Desert Storm and during the later stages of the Cold War. Throughout its service life the Army made no distinction between the various styles and all were authorized for wear until the wear out date was established. The DCU version certainly saw more action but modern body armor exposed its short comings leading to the introduction of the ACU in 2005.


This uniform does not have much of a following among collectors. I wanted to post this to provide some details to those who may want to collect these uniforms. I believe that I got most of the dates correct. I used to have specific documentation but can't find it. I hope this helps.

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Do you recall when we received the hot weather/rip stop cap? I'm thinking mid-90s.

Be well,


Chad C. Rogers

Retired Army

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Do you recall when we received the hot weather/rip stop cap? I'm thinking mid-90s.


Yes, as I recall it was 1995 or 1996. I remember buying one at clothing sales as soon as they were available. I just went and checked it out, it is dated 1996. I miss the BDU. I know the Army is about to select yet another camo pattern. I hope they get it right this time.

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nice bit of reference posting on the woodland bdu. Thanks for putting this up!

As woodland gets more attention from collectors, and it will, this is the type of information people will be searching out.

Good work!


to all who have served!


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My USAF experience jives with your dates. My favorite uniform is still ripstops. I've got a set of ABU's but I feel they are too heavy. I picked up a ripstop cap in 1991 but can't remember if it was from clothing sales or aftermarket. It was ripstop with the ear flap in it. I cut the ear flap out of it. I worn summer weight all year in Alaska.





GOD Bless Texas And All That Serve Her

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The USAF history with the BDU is different from the US Army. The mandatory wear date for the USAF was October 1st 1991 and the mandatory wear out date was November 1st 2011. The Air Force started issuing the BDU to airmen in basic military training in 1988. Majority of the BDU uniforms I've seen with USAF insignia and patches were type 6, ripstop wind resistant poplin, elbow patched, infrared reflectance. Prior to the BDU the USAF wore the OG-507 (1977 - 1991) and all 3 types of OG-107 (1952 - 1977). The Air Force also wore or wears other utility uniforms (tiger stripe and OG-107 jungle fatigues, blue and white utility fatigues, DBDU, DCU, ABU, OCP and a test uniform from 2003 - 2005)



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Awesome thread thanks for this info!

I collect items from The Battle of Iwo Jima (1945).

Top Iwo Jima Items I'm Looking For:

1) IDed 5th MarDiv Corpsman Jumper or Forest Green Coat.

2) IDed Coast Guard Navy Jumper

3) IDed CB's Sea Bee's Navy Jumper

4) IDed 147th Infantry Regiment Army Service Coat

5) IDed 32nd ID Army Service Coat (Occupation Kyushu with 5th MarDiv).

I am always looking for named and dated WWII USMC Forest Green wool alpha jackets/coats from the 5th Marine Division or other units who participated in the battle.

My Blog "Marines In Forest Green" http://marinesinfore...n.blogspot.com/

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VERY good thread even if I absolutely hated having to wear the 50/50s in the summer, at Parris Island, in 1983.


Capa, that made me laugh. It triggered some similar memories. I remember wearing 50/50 at Ft. Benning Ga. during basic/AIT in 1985 with the temperature at 100 and the humidity seemed just as high. Those uniforms were hot, especially when new.


My brother went through Parris Island in 1977 and they were issued two sets of the VN era slant pocket ERDL camo. That was great stuff. Semper Fi!

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I absolutely love it ! I believe they are a nice field for a collector with a small budget and to me they are very desirable and i think interest in them will grow ...already noticable here.


Thank you very much !

Buying 2nd Armored Division "Hell on Wheels" Forward Items like BDUs, Coins, Class As

pedites pugnas decernent !
Proud member of the BDInf

Looking for Items related to Task Force 1-41 (Fighting 41) Operation Desert Storm

USMF Member 4523

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Thanks for the history lesson. It is much appreciated. The SEALs until recently were wearing the Woodland pattern stateside.Now they are wearing something different. BUD/S trainees still wear them. I think we can all agree that the woodland pattern is far better than the current US Navy Camouflage Uniform. Besides being downright ugly it is also to baggy and not fire retardant enough for shipboard wear.

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Here's another first contract year (1981) BDU for reference.


Note again, the "Elvis" or "Butterfly" collar, and short cuffs.




Different white tags from what was previously shown. (wonder why?)






No side adjusters.



The paint stripping of M1 helmets, particularly protestor helmets, is destruction of history by the very men who claim to protect it.
Always looking for gear and items linked to the following: Joe S. Tamura US Army; Ken Tamura 442nd RCT; Capt. Emerson US Army Medical Corps, Norman Albert Wells Fifth Infantry Division



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  • 8 months later...

I am putting together my personal gear from the Panama Invasion in 1989. I was a Light Infantryman with the 7th I.D. It's been 25 years so I wanted to thank you for putting this tutorial together. I wish I'd read it when I began this journey this summer. I might have saved time and money when I bought new BDU's to be part of my collection. My goal is to fully equip five fully articulated Mannequins with full gear to make an M60 AG gunner PFC (that's me), and R.T.O. a Platoon Leader butter bar, A sergeant, and a S.A.W. gunner. But first I hope to just complete my own personal gear I carried in the Panama Invasion as an M-60 gunner's Assistant, or A.G. I suppose I have two goals. First to complete the impression with the correct gear, and then as a second goal, to have ALL 100% period correct gear as part of my display. As part of my display I have about a half dozen original items that I actually carried including, the reason I am posting here, my BDU top. I got a kick out of reading this post and going over my original point by point and then comparing them to the later production BDU's I have been getting off of ebay. I am looking for any help in correcting my problem once everyone gets to know me a little better. I hope to do this impression, head to toe, including what was in my pockets in full color photographs on a live model. In fact I may have a veteran or two I know from the invasion who still fit in their gear to pose in it when I take the photos. Like having the ultimate collection. INCLUDES VETERAN!! One of them is coming to live with me for a little while so a reunion with the benifit of seeing the gear as worn by the veterans who wore them. Thank you for all the info. I was very pleased to find it without much effort via google. Now, all I have to do is get my images online.

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A photo of my Woodland BDU top. 100% Cotton Ripstop. Issued about a week into the Panama Invasion on Coiba Island Right around New Years Day of 1990 as part of a clothing re-fit. Several of my squad mates had dried blood on their uniforms after almost two weeks of combat operations and it stank like death. I kept this uniform like a good luck charm. It has several stitched up rips in it and it is pretty faded but I wore it for a lot of field problems after we came back and even added the pocket on the shoulder post invasion. At one point I shoe-gooed all the insignia on so that is why the name tapes have been removed. I am cleaning all that up and prepping this top to have them all sewn back on correctly. To be period correct I also have to remove the C.I.B. (since until the invasion was all the way over we hadn't earned it yet) and the combat Division patch. It will be restored to its former glory!

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  • 11 months later...
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