Soldiers encounter all sorts of weather conditions on the battlefield: blistering winds, broiling heat, drenching rain. Through it all, they face one constant problem: What to wear? Soon, their fashion dilemma could get a little easier.
According to a recent call for research proposals, the Army is on the lookout for a fabric that could adapt to temperature. This “environmentally responsive” material would keep a soldier not too hot and not too cold, constantly adjusting to outside conditions as well as body heat. Think of Marty’s super self-drying jacket in Back to the Future II — only in camouflage.
Right now, soldiers tote around multiple layers that offer different levels of cold and wet weather protection. While versatile, all those clothes are still pretty heavy and take up a lot of space. Combining many layers into one would mean less weight and more freedom to move. But it’s a tricky feat to pull off: not enough warmth could mean hypothermia or frostbite. Not enough cooling power could mean heatstroke or dehydration.