Introduction: Extensive technological developments have been made in recent years in the fields of fabric production and clothing manufacturing techniques. These developments are aimed at improving the physical properties of the final product so that, on the one hand, sustained operational performance over prolonged working durations is achieved, even in harsh environments, and on the other hand, the resulting negative effect on sweat evaporation and heat transfer to the environment is minimal. Accordingly, the Clothing department in the MATMON of the Ground Arm Command approached the Warrior Health Research Institute in order to carry out a study that would evaluate the physiological impact of a new set of combat attire and compare it with the current working uniforms.
Objective: physiological evaluation of new moisture wicking combat clothes, which were under consideration for IDF soldiers, by assessing the stress induced during exposure to mild physical activity in a warm environment.
Methods: 13 healthy male subjects aged 18-30 were recruited to this study. Following a heat acclimation protocol, the subjects were randomly selected to wear the standard working uniforms or the new combat clothes, with or without a combat vest, and then asked to perform treadmill walking (5 kmh, 2% incline) under moderate heat load conditions (30 degrees C, 60% relative humidity). Core body temperature, skin temperature and heart rate were continuously monitored throughout the exposure. Sweat rate was calculated post-hoc. Additionally, the subjects were requested to rate their perceived exertion during the exercise, using the BORG scale.
Results: In light of the similarity of physiological and subjective exertion measures that were observed for the standard uniforms and the new combat clothes, we concluded that there is no physiological advantage in replacing the standard uniforms with the new suggested clothing ensemble.
Keywords: Core temperature; Exercise; Heat; Uniform.