Why Is It Called A Woobie?
The Woobie. The most beloved piece of equipment in any soldier's arsenal. Entire blogs are devoted to extolling the virtues of this simple piece of fabric. Grown men become like children talking about their favorite stuffed animal. Ask any veteran how they felt about their woobie and you’ll see what I mean.
So why “woobie”? Why would a group of the toughest people in the USA, battle-hardened soldiers, use a word like “woobie” for their favorite piece of gear?
But first, a little background for the uninitiated:
What is a Woobie, anyway?
Officially known to the United States military as the “poncho liner”, a woobie is constructed of two layers of nylon ripstop, quilted together with polyester insulation in between. The woobie can be worn underneath a poncho or a jacket for added protection against moisture and cold.
It begs the question: how did such a simple thing become so damn beloved?
Why do soldiers love the woobie?
It’s simple. Take a soldier in a hellscape, and make them warm, dry, and comfortable. You’ll have a fan for life. The woobie has done this for generations of soldiers. Woobies often get passed down from parents to children, making tens of thousands of lifelong fans of the woobie.
The origin of the woobie
The woobie has a long history with the US Military. The poncho liner was initially issued to special forces in the 1960s, during the Vietnam War. The problem it solved? The woobie’s predecessor, the US Army Wool Blanket, was relatively heavy and took a long time to dry. Take a wool blanket to the wet, humid jungles of Vietnam? You’re going to be SOL, quick.
Some of the first woobies were made with parachute fabric- the fabric wasn’t wide enough to make the full poncho, so these early models had a signature center seam running down the middle.
To this day, woobies are made with ripstop nylon - the same material used in parachutes. Their durability and ubiquity in military issues have seen them be used in so many more ways than just a poncho liner. Woobies have been used as everything from hammocks to privacy curtains to carry sacks. There are even stories of woobies being built into improvised stretchers.
Whether it’s the deep history, the comfort, warmth, or sheer utility, it’s easy to see why a soldier won’t ever leave home without their woobie.
So with all that background, finally the question:
Why is it called a woobie?
It's theorized that U.S. military poncho liners were nicknamed “woobie” in reference to the child’s security blanket in the movie Mr. Mom. The timeline fits, as there aren’t any records of them being called woobies in the Vietnam War. The moniker came later, after the movie would have made its debut in 1983.
As with all name origins, however, there are divergent theories. The other prevalent theories suggest that it comes as a combination of “would be” or “will be” because you “would be” (“woobie”) cold without it.
Maybe this second theory is correct. Or maybe it’s a theory fabricated by men who don’t want to admit they have a security blanket.
Whatever the origin, the woobie is without a doubt a must-have for deployed soldiers.