Service Dress 1903-Unification
Khaki Drill


Battle Dress


Combat Uniform


►CF Uniform Unification-1986






Unit Shirts



Combat Uniform

Combat Dress was the Canadian Army's first all-purpose field uniform intended to be worn in all weather. It was also the first uniform not patterned after British garments, and was designed over a period of three years by the Directorate of Inter-Service Development.


The combat uniform was introduced in 1963, consisting of a General Service combat jacket, a blouse (called a "shirt coat" officially, the concept was a departure from previous combat garments), GS trousers, and new boots. Battle Dress was relegated to non-operational uniforms, along with the heavy wool greatcoat, though like all Army-wide issues, it took several years for new uniforms to filter through to all units of both the Regular Force and the Militia.1 Canada's brigade in NATO, 4th Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, received the new uniforms that year.2

The combat uniform would remain the standard field uniform of the Canadian Forces into the 21st Century.

Shirt Coat, Man's, Combat, General Service

The olive green combat shirt-coat was introduced in 1963 and began seeing widespread issue the next year to units of the Regular Force. The material was a nylon-cotton twist, and the shirt-coat was issued in twelve sizes.

  • Size 1 - Short Small

  • Size 2 - Short Medium

  • Size 3 - Short Large

  • Size 4 - Regular Small

  • Size 5 - Regular Medium

  • Size 6 - Regular Large

  • Size 7 - Long Small

  • Size 8 - Long Medium

  • Size 9 - Long Large (Size 9x was Long X-Large)

  • Size 10 -

  • Size 11 -

  • Size 12 -


Shirt-Coat, Man's, Combat, OG 107, General Service, insignia of corporal of The Royal Canadian Regiment, late 1970s.

The NATO Stock Number was 8405-21-840-9181.

All ranks wore the pattern of shirt-coat, which was approximately hip length, fastened with 6 plastic buttons, though the top button was generally left undone. Button up cuffs were provided, with medium (18mm) plastic buttons securing them closed; the sleeves could be rolled up for summer dress. A v-neck t-shirt in olive drab was worn in conjunction with the shirt-coat.

Lower bellows pockets were roomy, with nylon subdivisions custom made for two FN C1A1 assault rifle 20 round magazines apiece, with the upper pockets sized and angled to accommodate one 20-round magazines apiece also. These were necessary due to the newly designed 1964 Pattern Web Equipment's lack of magazine pouches. The left breast pocket (from the point of view of the wearer) had a small pocket along the side to place a dosimeter, though many soldiers found it a handy pen or pencil receptacle. All four pockets were closed with large (25mm) buttons.

Two interior breast pockets was located on the shirt, and a drawstring was provided at the hem of the shirt.

Shirt-Coat, Man's, Combat, OG 107, General Service

In 1970, the designation of the shirt-coat changed, and was produced in a variant colour of Olive Green known as Olive Green 107. Some modifications to the new shirt-coat had been made, including shortening of the elbow patches by 25%, adding vertical vents to the cuffs, and reducing the number of interior pockets to one, on the wearer's left chest.

Shirt-Coat, Man's, Combat OG 107, General Service, Mark 2

In 1972, a Mark 2 shirt was introduced, further modifying the combat shirt-coat. Two finishes for the nylon-twist material were provided. An additional drawstring was added at the waist, the elbow reinforcements were deleted, and buttons on the front, cuffs and shoulder straps were now attached by cloth loops in the same manner as the pocket buttons. Velcro was added to the interior breast pocket, which was generally reserved for personal items such as wallet, identification, 404s (military driver's license), etc. An experimental version of this shirt-coat in camouflage material was never widely issued.

Final modifications to this pattern occurred in the 1990s with the addition of reinforced elbows once again. Variants in light olive and tan were known as Coat, Combat, Light Weight Mk II Type A, and Type D, respectively, and were issued to The Canadian Airborne Regiment Battle Group in Somalia. A tan version of the combat uniform was also issued to Canadians in Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

Coat, Combat, Light Weight, Mk III

A new combat shirt was introduced in 1983, once again influenced by a new style of load bearing gear, in this case 1982 Pattern Web Equipment. With ammunition pouches officially introduced, a new style combat shirt was introduced with just two external pockets on the upper chest, flatter and wider than the previous magazine-carrying pockets. Several slots were included for carrying writing utensils (or other items), the number of buttons on the front increased to seven and larger reinforcement patches on the sleeves were introduced, which actually encircled the entire arm. The new shirt was nicknamed a "tuck-in" though it was rarely worn that way. Other unflattering nicknames included "maternity shirt."

The Mark III was never issued in large numbers and saw service side by side with the older shirts.


The trousers were in matching olive drab material and featured belt loops as well as buttons for suspenders, a zippered fly, and large cargo pockets (sometimes called "map pockets") on the outer legs.


Coat, Combat, Light Weight, Mk III, insignia of sergeant of The Calgary Highlanders, 1990s.


A Combat Cap in matching material was issued with Combat Dress, though other soft caps were permitted in field such as the toque, skull cap, or regimental/corps/branch headdress. Soldiers of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps were particularly fond of wearing their black beret in lieu of the Combat Cap.

The Combat Cap (also called Combat Hat or Bush Cap) was issued as part of Combat Dress from the 1960s into the 21st Century when replaced by a CADPAT hat. It was an olive drab coloured cotton hat, worn with the brim down, or less commonly seen, folded up "Robin Hood" style.

The hat was very often personalized, by the addition of drawstrings looped through the ventilation holes, "cat's eyes" reflectors, nametags, and grenade pins, to name the most common modifications. Officially, the only insignia worn on the Combat Cap was a combat cap badge, an embroidered olive drab disc with a simplified version of a corps, regiment or branch cap badge.

A soldier of Communication Command during disaster relief efforts following Hurricane Hugo in 1989. DND Photo ISC89-543, WO John Blouin.


Insignia worn on the combat uniform was limited. CANADA titles were worn sewn to the upper sleeves initially, in 1990 a low-visibility national flag was located on the left sleeve. Red-white-red flags were traditionally worn only by soldiers on operations outside of Canada.

Rank insignia for Officers was worn on slip-ons on the epaulettes, along with "combat titles". Before Unification, olive drab rank stars and crowns were worn, and after Unification, slip-ons with embroidered rank rings replaced the older style slip-ons.

Rank insignia for Non-Commissioned Members was at first worn on the sleeves, even for warrant officers who had traditionally always worn them on the lower sleeves of other uniforms; for a period in the 1980s they were worn on slip-ons on the epaulettes; over time they migrated back to the upper sleeves.

Various combat insignia, showing variants on Combat Cap badges and short titles, as well as the olive drab officers' stars in use

Name tapes came to be of Olive material, similar to US Army name tapes and worn over the right breast. A drab version of the parachute wings was worn over the wearer's left breast if qualified. No other trades badges, decorations or insignia was worn on the combat shirt-coat, or combat coats.


  • The shirt-coat was universally referred to simply as a "shirt".

  • Over time, unwary recruits were sometimes told that the plastic buttons on Canadian combat uniforms or arctic gear were edible "survival" buttons; these stories are of course nonsense.

Care and Maintenance

Care and Maintenance was discussed in Canadian Forces Administrative Order (CFAO) 17-4. The reference to "puttees" suggests that at least part of these regulations were written shortly after the introduction of Combat Dress.



1. This order prescribes the policy for the care and use of combat clothing.


2. Combat clothing is worn by:

a. all ranks of the land element while engaged in operations or training; and b. members of the sea and air elements to meet specified needs.

3. Training refers to field oriented military activity and instruction normally conducted outside of the unit lines.

4. Combat clothing should not be worn for fatigue duties, work of a dirty nature, or light training when other clothing meets the dress requirement.


5. The concept of combat clothing is based on the layer principle. Items of clothing are designed to fulfil the Canadian Forces needs within a specific climatic environment. As temperature decreases, additional items of clothing are added to provide the warmth and comfort necessary to allow the combat soldier to carry out his tasks effectively.


6. The following items comprise combat clothing:

  • a. Coat, Man's Combat, GS, OG 107. This coat is designed to provide climatic protection, in conjunction with the liner, shirt-coat, sweater, scarf, and thermal underwear, down to -13C.

  • b. Liner, Coat, Man's Combat, GS, OG 107. The liner is not worn by itself but only when buttoned into the Coat, Man's Combat.

  • c. Shirt-Coat, Combat, GS, OG 107. The shirt-coat is worn under the coat as a shirt or as the outer upper garment in hot weather. The shirt-coat can be worn with the tail in or out of the trousers. When worn as the outer garment, it is worn tail out to take advantage of all pockets. Ties are not worn with the shirt-coat. Shirt sleeves may be rolled if not contrary to unit policy.

  • d. Singlets, Men's Cotton, OG 107 V-Neck and Drawers, Men's Thigh Length Cotton Broadcloth, OG 107. The singlet and drawers are the undergarments worn with combat clothing except when thermal underwear is required for climatic protection.

  • e. Sweater, Crew Neck, Rifle Green. The sweater crew neck, rifle green, may be worn under or over the shirt when required for extra warmth, but is not worn as the outer garment.

  • f. Trousers, Men's Lightweight, OG 107. The trousers are designed for wear in temperatures above + 16C. In extremely hot temperatures, when extra ventilation is required, the bottom of the trousers may be worn loose outside the top of the boot.

  • g. Boots, Combat, High, Black, GS. These boots are designed to dispense with puttees, require no major repair and provide a high degree of water repellency. The Mk III boot incorporates a nylon mesh insole as part of the improvement over earlier models of the boot.

  • h. Cap, Utility, Field, Combat. The cap, utility, field, combat, with peak and ear flaps, is designed for wear in all temperature ranges when the steel helmet is not required. It cannot be worn under the steel helmet. When not worn, the cap can be folded and carried in a pocket.

  • j. Scarf, Combat, OG 107. The scarf is designed to provide additional comfort under temperate and cold weather conditions.

  • k. Parka and Trousers, Wet Weather, Field type, OG 107. The parka and trousers are made from polyurethane coated ripstop nylon, and are intended for wear over the shirt combat, coat combat GS, and trousers combat lightweight, as dictated by environmental conditions. The parka has an integral hood and carry pouch, magyar shoulder/sleeve styling, zippered front closure, and button down flap. The trousers have an elasticized waist, pass-through openings at each side, and fly front.


7. Alterations:

a. Combat clothing shall be worn as issued and not be altered in any manner.

b. If any modifications or alterations are made at non-public expense to any item of combat clothing, the complete cost of the item shall be recovered from the individual who ordered the modification and disciplinary action shall be taken.

8. Laundering: a. All clothing can be laundered by normal means including automatic washers, commercial laundries and coin washers; bleach and starch must not be used in the process. Soap, detergent, grease or dirt will adversely affect the water repellency, therefore it is important to keep the clothing as clean as possible and to ensure that the garments are well rinsed after washing so that traces of soap or detergent are not left in the fabric. b. Combat clothing shall not be dry-cleaned, pressed, or ironed.

9. Removal of Badges and Name Tapes. Rank badges, cap badges, and name tapes shall be removed before the coat, shirt-coat, or cap is returned to a supply facility or exchanged for a new item.

10. Water Repellent Treatment. The coat, combat, GS and cap utility, are made from heavy-weight cloth treated at the plant with an oil and water repellant finish. These garments may require periodic application of NSN 8030-21-112-7271, Water Repellant Compound Textile Finish.

11. Replacement Standards. Combat clothing is designed as an operational ensemble with stress placed on utility and durability rather than appearance. Small tears shall be repaired and detached buttons replaced by the user. Fading and minor repair work shall not be considered as a basis for replacement of combat clothing. Boots shall not be replaced on the basis of scuffed or scratched uppers or faded colour. At the discretion of the Unit/Base Supply Officer, boots showing extensively worn soles or heels, broken seams, deep cuts or scratches, etc may be replaced.

12. Maintenance of Parka and Trousers, Wet Weather, Field Type. To clean, wipe with a damp cloth. Do not launder or dryclean. Do not use bleach, starch, or detergent. Do not press. Do not treat with NSN 8030-21-112-7271, Water Repellant Compound Textile Finish.

13. Re-Issue of Combat Boots. Combat boots used for training purposes by training centres where re-issue practices are established may have replacement heels installed to extend boot life, provided the remainder of the boot is suitably serviceable to warrant such action. Repairs will be carried out under local arrangements.

14. Combat boots shall not be shined or treated with any compound other than NSN 6850-21-874-0593, Silicone Compound, Water Repellant, Clear. Scuff marks should be touched up with NSN 6850-21-874-4527 coating compound to preserve the soldierly appearance of the boots. Unlike boot polish or dubbin, the silicone compound does not reduce the breathing properties of the leather. If applied excessively, the blackening compound will cause leather deterioration.

15. A stiff brush or a damp cloth shall be used to remove dirt, dust, mud, etc from the boots. Silicone compound shall be applied only if water will not form beads on the uppers of the boots. Daily application of the silicone compound shall not be made because the silicone compound contains an oil which, while acting as a vehicle to transmit the silicone to the pores of the leather to provide water resistant properties, cumulatively tends to degrade the leather. For this reason, only necessary applications of the silicone compound to retain the water resistant properties shall be made.

16. The latest model of the combat boot, the Mk III, incorporates a nylon mesh insole (8355-21-857-8914) as part of its new features. This insole shall not be worn with earlier models of the boot but must be worn in the Mk III boots at all times to ensure comfort and proper fit. When the insoles become soiled from perspiration they should be removed from the boots, washed in warm water with a mild soap, and rinsed thoroughly. Under no circumstances shall the insoles be subjected to extreme heat or placed on hot surfaces to dry.

17. The inside of the Mk III boot should be cleansed as required with clear water. Where foot sweat is heavy, salt deposit can be high; this will reduce the water repellent property of the silicone and, in turn, may lead to too frequent application of the compound with resultant damage to the leather upper.

18. The practice of retaining one pair of combat boots for parade and special use only and keeping the other pair in continuous daily use is no longer permitted as it leads to accelerated deterioration of boots and potential foot hygiene problems. Frequent periodic rotation of the two pairs of combat boots on issue to an individual is required and should be done on a daily basis when possible; this will prolong boot life by ensuring that each pair has relief from continuous perspiration and can be properly cleaned, dried and aired before being worn again.


19. Units shall ensure that the information in paras 7 to 18 is brought to the attention of all users through Routine Orders at six-month intervals. (C) 1605-17-4 (DLR) Issued 14 Nov 86


  1. See Tyler, Grant Drab Serge and Khaki Drill: The Foreign Service, Universal Service, Battle and Combat Dress Jackets of the Canadian Army 1899-2003 (Parks Canada, 2003)  for a good summary of Canadian combat clothing of all types in the 20th Century.

  2. 4 CMBG: Canada's NATO Brigade (Gesamtherstellung: Moritz Schauenburg GmbH & Co. KG, Graphicher Großbetrieb, Lahr,/Schwarzwald, 1983)


© canadiansoldiers.com 1999-present