The 1990s have been calling the Air Force for a while to ask for their workout gear back, and now the service is finally making good on that request. Starting in 2022, airmen across the Big Blue will hit the track and gym in their first new physical training uniform in 16 years, the Air Force announced on Tuesday.
Whereas the old uniform had a swishy windbreaker top and pants that were about as loud as a jet engine, the new duds are made with softer, quieter fabrics that have all the quick-dry, antimicrobial, and moisture and odor control features that we civilians have become accustomed to in our land of Lululemon athleisure. Indeed, bringing the Air Force up-to-par with civilian garments was one reason why the service finally went ahead with it.
“Our main requirement [from Air Force leaders] was to develop a PT uniform that people really wanted to wear and is as good as if not better than commercially available athletic wear,” said Tracy Roan, chief of the Air Force uniform office. “The new uniform now includes all of the great performance features that you find in athletic wear today.”
The new gear includes a jacket, pair of pants, t-shirts and two pairs of shorts: one for running and one for other activities like playing basketball or lifting weights. The shorts give airmen more versatility than the old gear, which only had one pair of everything, explained Col. Paul Burger, 88th Air Base Wing Mission Support Group Commander, one of the test participants and an official with the Air Force Marathon.
“The approach the Air Force has now taken is to develop a uniform that is ear marked for runners or running and one that is better designed for some of those other athletic activities,” Burger said.
The Air Force is also developing a long sleeve t-shirt and a hoodie to accompany the PT gear. Several airmen on Reddit and the popular Facebook page Air Force amn/nco/snco said the new uniform doesn’t look much different than the old one, but 2nd Lt. Maverick Wilhite, the program manager for PT gear, pointed out that the devil is in the details. Unlike the old stuff, the new gear includes:
- A fit and tailored design to the jacket (rather than the bulky old one)
- A zipper chest pocket in the jacket for your CAC (common access card)
- Zipper hip pockets on the all-purpose shorts
- Mesh side panels on the runner shorts with improved airflow and stretch liner “for modesty”
- A t-shirt designed to be untucked during workouts and tucked back in if, or more likely when, you’re ordered to
“Overall, the entire [physical training gear] uniform has updated styling with stretch materials to provide comfort and increase performance,” the press release said.
Still, some observers said the new gear is not as cool as it could have been. In one slide that was proposed in 2018 and shared on the Air Force amn/nco/snco page, the Air Force appeared to consider some swanky designs, but since then the service has opted for a simpler look. The old proposal also included a sweatshirt, compression shirt, leggings, and the option between a jacket, hoodie, or quarter-zip pullover.
Whether you liked that proposal or the new look better, be sure to pour one out for the old swishy uniform. Despite the shade thrown at it, there were some airmen who easily made it look hot as hell. Take this guy, for example:
If the old uniform could be rocked that hard, then it shouldn’t be a problem for the brave, strapping airmen of our United States Adonis Force to rock the new one in a similar fashion.