In 2012, I found myself in a frigid Quonset hut somewhere in Manas, Kyrgyzstan. It was the middle of December and dear old Uncle Sam gave me a six month deployment as an early Christmas present. I could write novels filled with the accounts of the overwhelming heat in the Middle East, but not a single person bothered to mention anything about the brutally cold winters. We kept the choco tacos we’d acquired from a freezer in the back of the chow hall buried under a foot of snow just outside the door of our ramshackle tin can abode. I climbed in the rack to a set of damp sheets and sadness it was then that a hero revealed themselves, the woobie.
The poncho liner was introduced during the Vietnam War and has been a military staple ever since. As you could imagine it was quite vital to have rain gear like a poncho in a consistently rainy environment. While the poncho is made of an impermeable plastic, the underlying liner is made of rip stop nylon with polyester batting for warmth. There are also corner ties that are integral to the utility of this unassuming set of fabric. When paired with the poncho these ties affix to the poncho allowing for an insulated rain cover. The uses for the liner are many to include using the liner as a shelter, rolling it up into a pillow, wrapping material inside to carry away in bindle form, impromptu stretcher for a man down, insulate your body from the ground when sleeping on the ground.
The weight of these liners varies depending on the generation you get your hands on, but in the neighborhood of 22 ounces this is an easy carry that you won’t even notice is in the bag. Because of the plastic materials the woobie will also dry out relatively quickly should it get wet on a trip. Basically, the woobie is an essential item for any outdoorsmen kit with little to no impact on the total weight of your bag.
Surprisingly, the origins of the term woobie comes long after the government decided to add the poncho liner to standard military kits. In 1983 Michael Keaton did his best to talk little Kenny out of his “woobie” in the classic American film “Mr. Mom”. Like many military men and women, Kenny clung to his baby blanket because of the overwhelming sense of security and comfort that was provided. While there was no official confirmation of the woobie origin this is the common belief because the poncho liner serves the same purpose for many while they serve in some of the world’s harshest environments. It is for this same reason that many veterans keep their woobies after EAS and even buy more for the family to use around the house. And if you’re looking for your woobie we’ve got you covered with our own selection of woobies here.