What Is A Woobie? The Facts On The Awesome Field Gear

It’s amazing how necessity can breed and give birth to ingenious inventions especially in times of desperation. Then, few events raised desperation like war. Desperate need that often marks wars throughout our history has given as many modern innovations such as air traffic control, mobile x-ray machines, sanitary napkins, and the much-coveted woobie.


What is a Woobie?

The Woobie is military slang that refers to the poncho liner, or more officially: liner, wet weather, poncho.” Generally, the poncho liner serves as a synthetic blanket that is light and packable.

The US military designed and issued the poncho liner to provide warmth and some rain cover for soldiers as well as to complement to their army poncho. Hence, when troops in the field need more protection from the cold and the elements, they would then attach their woobie as an extra layer to the standard-issued poncho via the poncho’s grommets.

Typically, a poncho liner would have the familiar camouflage print that is also present on military uniforms.​

Meanwhile, in milder climates, a person only needs to wrap the poncho liner around their bodies for warmth.

History of the Poncho Liner​

Although the poncho liner exact origins are unclear, there is evidence that the US Army first used the poncho liner in the humid and rainy jungles of Vietnam during the US-Vietnam war in the 1960’s. The poncho liner may well have been recycled parachute material from earlier wars.

What Is A Woobie

In jungle warfare, soldiers need a layer that traps heat, is very lightweight, easily-packed, and dries very quickly. These features are exactly what the woobie provides as it can take up little space in a soldier's pack and becomes remarkably practical as a quick rain cover or extra insulation during colder days.

Hence, US soldiers during the Vietnam War had an expedient and portable layer as well as shelter. Away from their homes and in uncertain territory, they found literal warmth and comfort in the woobie.​

Poncho Liner Design​

A military standard-issue poncho liner measures 82 inches by 62 inches, typically featuring a camouflage print on one side and an olive color on the other. Poncho liners generally feature two layers of nylon with rip-stop stitching and quilting. This type of design keeps the loft of the liner from its polyester filling.

What Is A Woobie

Feature-wise, it is the nylon the gives the poncho liner its resistance to rain while the polyester filling gives it cushioning and thermal insulation.

Why call it Woobie?​

Ever since the poncho liner became standard issue, it quickly became a much-loved field gear. Until today, veterans and novice soldiers hold the poncho liner in high regard, and it is not uncommon that army personnel would choose to pay for the cost of bringing it home at the end of their service.

The love and respect that the military had for the poncho liner preceded it’s now common name, the Woobie. The affectionate name, apparently, was taken from the 1983 movie, Mr. Mom, wherein a character refers to a child’s security blanket as a woobie.

So, it’s perhaps this idea of a child’s love for his “blankie”, and the security he gets from keeping it with him, was where the much-loved woobie sources its otherwise silly name.

And for a good reason, since that once a soldier learns of the many benefits of his poncho liner, the two can become quite inseparable. But unlike the standard purpose of blankets, soldiers use their poncho liners as a means for survival.

Nevertheless, it was only after the Mr. Mom film that the term woobie caught on. Since then the majority of those with poncho liners refer to the versatile blanket, affectionately, as the woobie. Also, you can still find this term of endearment for the woobie, even among today’s soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Uses and Advantages​

Although the army originally designed the woobie as an attachment to their poncho as an additional layer, active soldiers found much more uses for the versatile woobie​

What Is A Woobie

Comfort and Warmth​

The Woobie endeared itself to both the Army and the Marines primarily for the comfort and warmth it provides. It served as a blanket to wrap around oneself or a cushioned ground pad and mattress during cold nights. Next, if you fold or squeeze the poncho liner, you’ll quickly have a pillow or seat cushion.

Therefore, whether you are in the army or you’re just into camping, the poncho liner is an excellent tool to bring to the outdoors.

​Shelter and Camouflage

What Is A Woobie

Due to the water-resistant property of woobies, they became an invaluable form of makeshift shelter as well as a comfortable hammock. A poncho liner tent would then protect one both from the rain and also act as a shield against the chilly wind.

The camouflage and dark green print on the woobie provides natural concealment. It is a vital feature of warfare. However, you’re not in combat, the concealing characteristics of the woobie will also keep bears and dangerous wildlife from noticing your campsite.​


A venerable woobie is indeed a valuable tool, whether you’re a soldier or a citizen. This versatile panel of warmth braves the outdoors and the elements. Careful, though, you just might get attached to your woobie and end up bringing it everywhere​

What Is A Woobie
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