The best jacket is only as good as it’s fastener, and the same thing is true of military jackets. Buttons, zippers, velcro, and clasps have been used by many designers and manufacturers over the years for the purpose of securely closing jackets. But do modern military jackets have buttons?
U.S. combat uniforms are secured with a large zipper in the front, which is then sealed with a velcro liner. Outer jackets (worn during cold weather) may have buttons on pockets, shoulder straps, liners, hoods, and storm flaps, but a zipper is still the primary method that is used to close them.
Although zippers are the most common technology that’s used to secure coats, buttons still play an important role in many jacket varieties. They also have an interesting history in the U.S. military as the uniforms developed and changed over the years. To hear more about buttons and their purposes, read below.
Combat Uniforms Vs. Cold-Weather Jackets
Before we get further into the uses of buttons in the military, we first need to establish the different types of jackets that are used by soldiers.
First of all, there’s the long-sleeved camouflage overshirt that is used in the day-to-day combat uniform. This is sometimes called a jacket or a blouse and is usually worn with a short-sleeved undershirt below it. These are usually worn during the training and daily service that soldiers provide when they’re on duty.
While these uniforms are fairly comfortable and versatile, they’re not particularly well insulated against wind and cold weather. That’s where another layer comes in handy!
The other main jacket that the military uses is their cold-weather outerwear. This is a coat or jacket that can be worn during wet, windy, and generally cold conditions. There are several different models of these that have been approved for use in the military, and the specific brand and appearance may vary from one region to another.
However, at the end of the day, almost all outer jacket will be fastened with a zipper and not buttons. However, buttons do appear in other areas of military jackets! We’ll explore some of their uses below.
The Purpose Of Buttons In Uniforms
Zippers are the main fastener that is used among U.S. military jackets. This is mainly because it makes the jackets easier to remove. This is great for the personal convenience of the soldier’s day-to-day life, plus it helps those around them if they are injured and need to quickly remove an outer layer.
While buttons aren’t generally used in the standard military combat uniform, they may appear in the outer jacket that is worn during cold weather. Zippers are still used in the front, but buttons are often used on other areas of the jacket.
These buttons might be plastic or metal, but they both get the job done!
Everyone has probably owned a jacket with button-up pockets at some point! It’s a handy feature that helps keep them closed and protect the contents from rain, snow, sand, or anything else that might be floating in the air.
Military outer jackets often have several button-up pockets. These might be on the sides, breast, or even inside the coat itself.
Another element of military jackets that involved buttons is the shoulder strap. This can be seen across many coat designs, not just military ones. Sometimes a small strip of fabric is sewn onto the top of the shoulder and secured with a button on one end.
This strap was originally used to hold bags, rifle straps, and other equipment in place. It’s not used as often in modern days, but many jackets and uniforms still have it.
Liners can be added to military coats to add extra warmth, padding, or waterproofing ability. In many cases, these liners are attached to the outer jacket with a line of buttons.
Liners have been an optional element of U.S. military jackets since 1943. They help to adapt the same piece of clothing to different temperatures and environments, which makes them useful to soldiers.
Some jackets come with built-in hoods, but others have it as an optional piece. If hoods can be added to jackets, sometimes buttons are used to attach them.
Because buttons attach at multiple different places along the hood, it harder to loosen or detach by accident. Zippers can come undone much easier, which can be a drawback when it comes to this added element.
Finally, buttons can be used alongside zippers in the front fastening area. While zippers form the main seal, there is sometimes a parallel line of buttons or clasps that runs along the length of the jacket.
This is called the storm flap, and it helps seal up the jacket opening and prevents the zipper from being damaged or weathered by exposure.
The History Of Buttons In The U.S. Military
Although zippers have taken over as the primary fastening technology of modern jackets and coats, buttons have a proud history in the U.S. military! They have been used in many wars and time periods throughout history, evolving and changing over time.
Buttons, like patches, pins, and other decorations, have been used as distinguishing features of different militaries all over the world. They can be used to identify a soldier’s rank, or which campaigns they served in.
Buttons have also been used by many civilians throughout history. These could indicate their social rank, their job, or any other special qualifications or associations that person might have.
U.S. military buttons have been around since before the U.S. was officially a country! In the revolutionary war, buttons were manufactured and used by the continental army.
Buttons were also used by both sides of the Civil war, and buttons from the Union and Confederacy are commonly bought, sold, and traded by collectors. Because of their strong metal construction, they have stood the test of time and many of them are still circulating today.
Since then, buttons have circulated in and out of use in the military. The use of specific buttons can mark changes in the uniform rules and serve as tokens of specific time periods and battles.