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Boonie hat

Boonie hat

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A boonie hat, also known as a bush hat, is a form of wide-brim hat commonly used by military forces. Its design is similar to a bucket hat
Bucket hat
A bucket hat, or fishing hat, is a soft cotton hat with a wide and downwards sloping brim which is worn by both men and women. The brim offers shade from the sun for the eyes and face. The hat is usually made from heavy-duty cotton fabric such as denim or canvas...

 but with a stiffer brim. Often a fabric tape band of 'branch loops' is sewn around the crown of the hat. This 'foliage ring' is meant to hold additional vegetation as camouflage
Camouflage is a method of concealment that allows an otherwise visible animal, military vehicle, or other object to remain unnoticed, by blending with its environment. Examples include a leopard's spotted coat, the battledress of a modern soldier and a leaf-mimic butterfly...

. A strap provides stability. The crown may be vented with rivets or mesh panels. Snaps may also be provided with which to fix the brim in the style of an Australian bush hat
Slouch hat
A slouch hat is a wide-brimmed felt or cloth hat with a chinstrap, most commonly worn as part of a military uniform. It is a survivor of the felt hats worn by certain 18th century armies. Since then, the slouch hat has been worn by military personnel from many nations including Australia, Britain,...


U.S. Military Boonie Hat

The boonie hat was introduced to the United States armed forces
United States armed forces
The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States. They consist of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.The United States has a strong tradition of civilian control of the military...

 during the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

, when United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 Green Berets began wearing them in the field, along with Australian
Military history of Australia during the Vietnam War
Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War began as a small commitment of 30 men in 1962, and increased over the following decade to a peak of 7,672 Australians deployed in South Vietnam or in support of Australian forces there. The Vietnam War was the longest and most controversial war Australia...

 and Army of the Republic of Vietnam
Army of the Republic of Vietnam
The Army of the Republic of Viet Nam , sometimes parsimoniously referred to as the South Vietnamese Army , was the land-based military forces of the Republic of Vietnam , which existed from October 26, 1955 until the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975...

 units. These tigerstripe
Tigerstripe is the name of a group of camouflage patterns developed for close-range use in dense jungle during jungle warfare by the South Vietnamese Armed Forces/US Forces. It derives its name from its resemblance to a tiger's stripes...

 boonie hats were locally procured, the tigerstripe camo cloth was usually salvaged from other uniform items or made up by the tailor. In 1967, the US Army began issuing boonie hats, as the "Hat, Jungle, with Insect Net", made of cotton
Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fiber is to aid in seed dispersal....

 and wind-resistant poplin
Poplin, also called tabinet , is a strong fabric in a plain weave of any fiber or blend, with crosswise ribs that typically gives a corded surface.Poplin traditionally consisted of a silk warp with a weft of worsted yarn...

, in olive drab, tigerstripe, and ERDL pattern
ERDL pattern
ERDL pattern is a camouflage pattern developed by the United States Army at its Engineer Research & Development Laboratories in 1948. It was not issued to elite reconnaissance and special operations units until early 1967, during the Vietnam War....

. It was meant to supplement and replace the patrol and baseball cap
Baseball cap
A baseball cap is a type of soft cap with a rounded stiff brim. The front of the cap typically contains designs or logos of sports teams ,...

s that had been in service since World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. As the U.S. military evolved away from a garrison
Garrison is the collective term for a body of troops stationed in a particular location, originally to guard it, but now often simply using it as a home base....

 mentality, the boonie found a permanent place as part of the uniform of all services. The boonie has changed little through the decades since Vietnam and is still in use in Iraq and Afghanistan
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

 as an alternative to the patrol cap
Patrol cap
A patrol cap, also known as a field cap is a soft cap with a stiff, rounded visor, and flat top, worn by the military personnel of some countries in the field when a combat helmet is not required.-M1951 Field Cap and Ridgeway Cap:...

. The U.S. Military boonie hat has come in a variety of camouflage patterns; the current assortment includes US M81 woodland
M81 Woodland
Woodland pattern is the name of the default camouflage pattern issued to United States soldiers, Marines, airmen, and sailors from 1981, with the issue of the M81 Battle Dress Uniform until nearly the present day...

, three-color desert, UCP
Universal Camouflage Pattern
The Universal Camouflage Pattern , also referred to as ACUPAT or Digital Camouflage is the military camouflage pattern currently in use in the United States Army's Army Combat Uniform. The pattern was chosen after several laboratory and field tests that occurred from 2003 to 2004...

, and both desert and woodland versions of MARPAT
MARPAT is a digital camouflage pattern in use with the United States Marine Corps, introduced with the Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform , which replaced the Camouflage Utility Uniform. The pattern is formed by a number of small rectangular pixels of color...

, as well as the Air Force ABU
Airman Battle Uniform
The Airman Battle Uniform is a service-distinctive camouflage battledress uniform for the United States Air Force. It is currently in full production and replaced the Battle Dress Uniform November 1st, 2011 after a four year phase-in period...

 pattern. The boonie hat is often worn with the wearer's rank insignia pinned to the front, above the branch loops.

Hat, Camouflage (Tropical Combat) Type II

In 1968 the Army authorized use of the woodland ERDL pattern (Engineering Research Development Laboratory) material, used in the 1969 and later production of hats in cotton ripstop
Ripstop fabrics are woven fabrics often made out of nylon, using a special reinforcing technique that makes them resistant to tearing and ripping. During weaving reinforcement threads are interwoven at regular intervals in a crosshatch pattern. The intervals are typically 5 to 8 millimeters...

 material. These were labeled, "Hat, Camouflage (Tropical Combat) Type II" with contract dates starting in 1968. They were in use from 1968 for both the Army and Air Force, and from 1969-70 for the Marine Corps and Navy.

Hat, Sun, Hot Weather

Later boonies are called "Hat, Sun" or "Hat, Sun, Hot Weather", which is still the designation for this type of cover. They are made in various patterns, in cotton ripstop or nylon blend cloth.

Australian Army Boonie Hat

There is evidence that the Australian Army
Australian Army
The Australian Army is Australia's military land force. It is part of the Australian Defence Force along with the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force. While the Chief of Defence commands the Australian Defence Force , the Army is commanded by the Chief of Army...

 had been using wide-brimmed boonie hats, also known as giggle hats or bush hats, during the First
Military history of Australia during World War I
In Australia, the outbreak of World War I was greeted with considerable enthusiasm. Even before Britain declared war on Germany on 4 August 1914, the nation pledged its support for the Empire alongside other Commonwealth nations and almost immediately began preparations to send forces overseas to...

 and Second World War
Military history of Australia during World War II
Australia entered World War II shortly after the invasion of Poland, declaring war on Germany on 3 September 1939. By the end of the war, almost a million Australians had served in the armed forces, whose military units fought primarily in the European theatre, North African campaign, and...

. However, the headgear was not very common among Australian troops, who mainly used the slouch hat
Slouch hat
A slouch hat is a wide-brimmed felt or cloth hat with a chinstrap, most commonly worn as part of a military uniform. It is a survivor of the felt hats worn by certain 18th century armies. Since then, the slouch hat has been worn by military personnel from many nations including Australia, Britain,...

s issued to nearly all Australian troops in the field.

The bush hat gained popularity during the Malayan Emergency
Malayan Emergency
The Malayan Emergency was a guerrilla war fought between Commonwealth armed forces and the Malayan National Liberation Army , the military arm of the Malayan Communist Party, from 1948 to 1960....

, in which protection from the searing heat of Malayan tropical conditions and the heavy rain that occurs regularly throughout Malaya proved to be necessary. Alongside the British, the Australian Army started issuing this type of hat, which had a steeper and shorter brim than its earlier counterparts. It was made with the same materials as the hot weather combat uniforms, unlike the slouch hat, which was beginning to take on a more ceremonial role rather than being field gear.

These hats gained even more popularity during the Vietnam War, where they were called 'hats utility, jungle green', although they were colloquially known by the Australians as giggle hats or bush hats. During this conflict, nearly every Australian soldier was issued with the hat, mainly to protect soldiers from the elements. To ensure the latter, the army created several regulations: the hat was not allowed to be modified or cut whatsoever, and it had to be worn when outdoors at all times. The hat had also served the purpose of breaking up the recognizable outline of the soldier's head. It was made with cotton twill, and was issued in olive drab, the standard colour of Australian combat uniforms at the time.

Current giggle hats are issued in Auscam and Desert Auscam. They continue to be heavily used by the Australian Defence Forces, and are issued to nearly every person serving in the ADF.

See also

  • Patrol cap
    Patrol cap
    A patrol cap, also known as a field cap is a soft cap with a stiff, rounded visor, and flat top, worn by the military personnel of some countries in the field when a combat helmet is not required.-M1951 Field Cap and Ridgeway Cap:...