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The Timeless M-65 Jacket

In the 50s and 60s the United States was locked in wars in South East Asia. First Korea, and then Vietnam demanded the lives of many young American men. Those who lived had to do so in adverse conditions, fighting through jungles and intense climates. The hot, humid weather was a drastic change from many of the climates of the homes of the men, and ailments like trench foot demanded that military clothing and footwear be altered to adapt. Boots had drains on the sides to allow water out. While it also allowed it in, this meant that feet would be able to dry at least partially while on the march, helping to prevent debilitating gangrene.

But, wars in Asia were not all hot and humid. In winters, the weather can turn bitterly cold. To stay warm, soldiers needed a jacket that was insulatory but also durable and versatile. Enter the m-65 jacket. This jacket, introduced in 1965, and bears that year in its name. The m-65 jacket replaced the m-51 jacket, which had been introduced in 1951. While the two jackets were similar, the m-65 made several significant improvements.

The most obvious improvement over the m-51 jacket was the hood design. The m-51 jacket has an oxford-type collar and a detachable hood. The hood on the m-65 jacket is not detachable, but instead stores in a hidden zippered pouch at the nape of the neck. The m-65 jacket is arguably more convenient, since the hood is always with the jacket and does not have to be stored anywhere, and cannot be lost. Also, being built into the jacket, the hood looks better when up, and not as much like an afterthought. While such things are of little concern to a soldier simply trying to keep warm in a war, the m-65 jacket is primarily worn today by individuals who are concerned with fashion, and a sharp looking jacket is important.

Other changes between the m-51 and m-65 jackets include Velcro cuffs instead of buttons. These are faster and easier to manipulate, especially with cold fingers. While Velcro might be a bit of a liability in stealth situations, this is not a concern for modern civilian wearers, and so the increased convenience easily wins out.

The pockets on the m-65 are both functional and distinctively attractive, adding to the military feel of the coat. The m-65 is a timeless style and one that has been copied and imitated for decades, and is available at Top Rank Vintage.