contributed by Melissa Lucas, senior staff writer
Where it got its name is a bit of a mystery, but one thing’s for sure – the U.S. Military Woobie “blanket,” or military issued poncho liner, is a favorite among soldiers.
The military poncho has evolved significantly since it was first used in the 1800’s. Initially made of muslin with a rubber coating, the military began making their ponchos out of nylon in the 1940’s. Starting during the Vietnam War, the wet weather poncho liner was added to the list of standard issue gear. The liner, which became affectionately known as the Woobie at some point, is made of two layers of nylon surrounding a polyester filling, with gromets that can be used to attach it to a poncho.
Although the troops deployed in Vietnam wore green fatigues, the poncho liners were made of the distinctive three-color camo pattern, since they were created from leftover parachute material from WWII. Even after those old parachutes were long gone, the camo pattern remained the hallmark of military poncho liners, or Woobies.
Because of its almost cult-like following, a quick search of the internet for “Woobie” will yield plenty of quotes from military men and women describing their devotion to this deployment staple. Here are a few of our favorites.
“As for people who do not know about the Woobie…I feel sorry for them because they are missing out on one of the great pleasures in life.”
“It’s the singularly greatest piece of TA50 ever issued. I will (and have) taken the statement of charges several times over the years for my Woobie.”
“My Woobie and field jacket liner were the two most valuable pieces of TA-50 ever. When I ETSed, I brought new ones to turn in. I had to keep mine.”
“All they have to do is wrap me in my Woobie blanket and wrap a PT belt around me and I’m ten feet tall and bulletproof!”
“I left my first wife, but I kept my Woobie!”
Necessity is the mother of invention, right? And perhaps this is the reason the Woobie has gained such a loyal fanbase – it’s so much more than a poncho liner. As described by soldiers who used them in the field, here are some creative uses for a Woobie.
Blanket. Cover up anytime and stay toasty.
Tablecloth. Drape it over a few crates and you have yourself a lovely “table” covering.
Cushion. Fold it up and sit on down.
Pillow. See above but rest your head instead.
Half of a tent. Two Woobies secured together along one edge help create the perfect makeshift pup tent.
Hammock. Run paracord through the grommets and wrap them around a tree near each end. Voila, a comfy spot off the ground, perfect for a quick snooze or even a full night’s rest.
Carry sack. Toss your gear on top, cinch up the edges, and throw it over your shoulder for a simple carry sack.
Privacy curtain. Fully unfolded and hanging, this makes a great “privacy” screen for anything from showers, to changing clothes, to dividing up a larger tent.
Shade maker. Block the sun from any angle by spreading it out and placing it between yourself and the harsh rays.
Hole filler. Need to fill a hole? No problem. Stuff it with a scrunched up Woobie.
Sleeping bag. Secure two Woobies together and slide right in like you would any other sleeping bag.
Many soldiers have admitted to forking over the money to take their Woobie home upon returning from deployment. Here are a few of the ways they are using their Woobies, stateside.
Dog bed. A Woobie blanket seems to be a K9 favorite, perhaps due to its smooth texture and ability to retain warmth. Many Veterans say they gave their Woobie up to their pup, or at least purchased another for them.
Part of an emergency kit. With all of those possible uses for the Woobie listed above, is there any reason it shouldn’t be mandatory for every car to carry one in its emergency kit?
Woobie hoodie. What is a Woobie hoodie, you ask? It’s exactly what it sounds like. A hoodie made out of Woobie material. Actually, for years soldiers were having their Woobies refashioned into outerwear upon their return home. Woobie USA ran with the idea and began to manufacture Woobie outerwear. The hoodie is their most popular item in the line.
Favorite Blanket. In reality, most soldiers who keep their Woobie end up simply using it as you would any other much-loved blanket. On the couch, on the bed, for picnics in the backyard, or to sit on during outdoor events like concerts or little league games.
If you don’t have a Woobie blanket to call your own, don’t you think it’s time to fix that? Here are a few spots to purchase yours!