Air Force’s new PT uniform was designed to rival commercial athletic wear
By WYATT OLSON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 2, 2021
The Air Force has finalized the design for its first new physical training uniform in 16 years, an ensemble that features a quick-drying fabric and two variations of shorts that will become available next year.
The design comes after numerous tests and feedback from 150 airmen who donned prototypes for real-life workouts, the service said in a news release Tuesday.
Preparations are underway to produce the new PT gear, the Air Force said. It is expected to become available to airmen in 2022, with a four-year transition period to mandatory wear.
“The new uniform now includes all of the great performance features that you find in athletic wear today,” Tracy Roan, chief of the Air Force Uniform Office, said in the news release.
The mandate from Air Force leaders for a new uniform was explicit, Roan said. “[D]evelop a PT uniform that people really wanted to wear and is as good as, if not better than, commercially available athletic wear,” she said.
The update is intended to oblige a variety of athletic interests.
“In the past, there was one uniform for all athletic pursuits, whether you were running, playing basketball or lifting weights,” Col. Paul Burger, a test participant and an official with the Air Force Marathon, said in the news release.
“The approach the Air Force has now taken, is to develop a uniform that is earmarked for runners or running and one that is better designed for some of those other athletic activities,” said Burger, who commands the 88th Air Base Wing Mission Support Group at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
The full uniform consists of a jacket, T-shirt, pair of pants and shorts.
The fabric used in the jacket and pants will largely silence the “notorious” swishy sound of the current nylon material, the Air Force said.
“The jacket will be sleeker looking, so instead of having a bulky jacket, you’ll have a fit and tailored design,” 2nd Lt. Maverick Wilhite, the uniform office’s program manager for PT gear, said in the news release.
The jacket sports a zipper chest pocket for holding keys or the all-important common access card.
The fabric also features an antimicrobial technology that helps with moisture and odor control, the Air Force said.
The two types of shorts include a shorter running style and an all-purpose lengthier version.
“The runner’s short is a lightweight stretch-woven fabric with mesh side panels to improve airflow and improved stretch liner for modesty,” the Air Force said.
The longer shorts are an unlined knit with a zipped hip pocket.
The T-shirt is designed to be tucked or untucked, the Air Force said.
Commenters on Air Force amn/nco/snco, a Facebook page popular with airmen, offered mixed reviews of the new design Tuesday.
“Still no hoodies,” complained one. “Instead we get track suits that make us look like we work for the Mob.”
Another wrote: “As long as I still get to watch my spouse workout in those daisy dukes of freedom, I’m fine with it.”