One of the most popular items we currently sell at Vermont's Barre Army Navy Store is the much beloved and highly praised Poncho Liners which have graced our product stocks for many many years. Sometimes it seems a little odd that something that seems so simple could have gained such a wide usage and loyal following, but the more you look at it, the more sense it seems to make.
Poncho Liners were originally used by military troops as a form of warmth in damp or chilly weather. Lightweight and reasonably warm, these liners were used as blankets, sleeping bags, and under layers for ponchos or jackets and became one of the most renowned items a soldier could have. Often referred to by military personnel as a "Woobie" this nickname refers to the way some men would become attached to their poncho liner much like a small child with their favorite blanket as well as most soldiers' desires to keep it in good condition for as long as humanly possible even after leaving the military.
Most widely popularized during the Vietnam War, the liners provided just enough warmth on tropical nights without being bulky or difficult to carry.
The construction of most traditional poncho liners (as well as some of the more modern ones) is a fairly simple formula. Generally speaking each liner is made with an outer shell made of nylon material that holds and inner (usually quilted) polyester fill for insulation. These two layers together form a lightweight sort of blanket that is both water resistant and insulated and all one really needs to do is add a head hole to make them wearable (90% of liners have no head hole as it makes using it as a blanket much less effective). Modern poncho liners can sometimes include a zipper closure (making them a convenient sleeping bag) as well as a much wider range of colors and styles from what was originally used in the military.
The most common coloration tends to be a reversible style. On one side of the liner, you have a printed camouflage of some sort (usually Woodland, MARPAT, or Universal) and on the other you have a solid color of either coyote tan or olive drab. Nowadays, liners can come in any range of camouflage patterns and solid colors and cater to a much wider range of locations and situations.
While poncho liners are usually not used in cold temperatures, many people will attest to them being effective to temperatures as low as 40 degrees. Remember, these were never meant to be used in winter, but depending on how you prepare yourself, you might find them to be of some use when things start to get a bit chillier than usual.
For the most part, there aren't many negatives when it comes to these little pieces of military history. Whether you use it in the field of duty or on a camping trip, Poncho Liners are compact and useful in most any situation. Whether you need a blanket, an extra layer under you jacket, a sleeping bag, or just something to cover your gear, poncho liners are a safe bet that wont run you a small fortune and have held true for many years.
We like to think our customers are pretty savvy shoppers and if they love these liners so much then who are we to disagree?
(we really couldn't think of a reason even if we wanted to)