Sunday, July 24, 2011

M 70 Swiss Alpenflage Jacket & Backpacks, Model 57/70, Model 1970


Today I'll be showing off a pair of early 1970's vintage Swiss combat jackets with packs that I recently picked up.  These jackets are the ultimate camo combat jackets........ TONS of pockets, integrated pack system, heavy weight, sniper veil, in short, an amazing bit of military field clothing from the cold war era.

First off, here's a bit of back history on these jackets.  This style of field jacket was designed back in 1957 and was issued up until 1983 with several minor design changes (mostly small technical differences).  The model jackets that I have are the Model 57/70 style.  In 1970 the jackets went through their final revision prior to the new style BDU camo that was issued in 1983.  In the M 57/70 jackets, the waist cinch cord and inner wind cuffs were deleted as well as an inner pocket for the weapon cleaning kit.  The Jackets were issued with a small back pack that is designed to attack directly to the jacket, creating an integrated field combat system.

UPDATE NOTE 12-01-15: I received some additional information about these wonderful Swiss combat outfits in a reader's comments below.  I am reprinting it here so that the details are not missed:

"I realize this is an older post but being Swiss I'll be glad to clear a few things up ;)

Firstly, although in 1983 the army changed to the M83 (TAZ 83 as we call it in Switzerland) uniform sets, the RS (recruit school) continued to,use TAZ 70 jackets up until 1993 (RS is where all men aged 18-27 do their compulsory 21 weeks service, they are usually Ives the old gear)

Now I have a photo of my father doing his service in 1982 (unfortunately I don't seem to be able to post the photo) and along with the m70 jacket he also wears the ww2 service belt which they made until the mid-70s. Although most things could fit in the pocket the only reasons the service belt was worn was to keep the jacket closer to your body as well as to carry the STGW 57 bayonet with its leather frog as can be seen in my fathers photo. The service cap by the way up until 1983 when they began using the Swiss camo (Alpentarn) cap was actually the ww2 M43 wool field caps which are very similar in design to German ww2 mid was service caps"



Here is a couple of shots of the jacket and the attached pack.  We'll take a closer look at the various details a bit further on in the posting.

With pack attached.

The Swiss Alpenflage camo was printed over various base colors through the years.  The two jackets that I have a quite different in their appearance for this exact reason.  One jacket is printed over a light colored fabric and the other over a darker brown fabric.  It's interesting to see much difference this small detail makes:


The jackets are loaded with details and features. One of the very cool features is the integrated sniper's veil.  The veil rolls up into a special compartment in the leading edge of the hood.  It is very effective when rolled down and tucked in around the face.  I'm surprised that this sort of veil has not been adopted by the various modern military units around the world.  The hood has a series of buttons and a tab that allows one to fix the hood flat against the jacket when it's not being worn and to shorten the leading edge for a smaller hood.


The rear pack straps are designed to be attached to the square "rings" on the front chest of the jacket with the attached clip-hooks.  The lower straps are wrapped around the waist and buckled like a belt in the front.


There is a heavy metal clip in the front of the jacket that is used to hang the steel helmet when it's not being worn.  I use the clip on my jacket for hanging my survival knife.


The elbow and lower arm area has a clear, heavy, vinyl waterproof section sewn over the camo cloth.  I also noticed that the lower arms on both jackets seem to have been cut from a different camo batch as the cloth is a slightly different color!


The jackets have pockets everywhere!  Here is a quick diagram and listing of all of the pockets and what they are used for, courtesy of The Swiss Rifle Forum .


Here is the legend that tells what each pocket is for:

56) Magazines for Stgw 57.
57) "White" magazine (for firing rifle grenades), ABC- protection sheet, reflecting leg band.
58 ) Food, toilet paper.
59) Army knife, hearing protection, private items.
60) First aid dressing. 

61) Gun cleaning kit, universal cleaning kit.
62) Cooking utensils.
63) Canteen with cup and cutlery.
A gas mask in a carrying pouch and a flashlight (fitted to the waist belt or chest) were carried separately. 

65) Stick hand grenades / military manuals.
66) Rain protection and winter utensils, washing in plastic bag, emergency cooker.
67) Rifle grenades.
68 ) fitted to the Combat pack; the shovel or/and pick.

To finish up the posting, here is an album of photos of both of these jackets...........

15 comments:

Heavypsychmanblog said...

Nice leibermuster camo on that jacket

Bergmann Survival said...

I dont think its so much they were printed with dif back ground colors but rather some, or most are just faded badly..just ordered a set today..Im interested more in the durability then the camo..Alaska will test them..great post..

thecyclops said...

How heavy is this jacket in comparison to a M-65 FIELD JACKET W/A LINER? Is this jacket heavy/warm enough to be worn w/out some sort of inner layer during very cold weather?(It does not have a liner,correct?)and how are the sizes,pretty close to "true"? Thanks in advance.

Sharky said...

These jackets are constructed of heavy cotton fabric. The fabric is actually heavier than the US M65 jackets, but they are unlined and were never made to take a liner. With that said, they are quite warm (Think Switzerland weather!). With the pockets sewn all over the outside, and a double thick shoulder area, I would say that they are warmer than the US M65. I have longer arms, and the jackets I have that are sold as "size Medium", are just barely long enough for my arm length. The bodies are VERY roomy. There is plenty of room to layer under these jackets for cold day wear. I find them warm enough for the crisp Fall weather here in the PNW. The jackets are cut short and do not give the lower overage that a M65 jacket gives. Check out the photos of me modeling this jacket and you will see what I mean. Drop me an email if you have more question!

thecyclops said...

Hey thanks man.I ordered 2 of these at one price (Delivered for $32) One for me and one for my friend.I will post back in a week or so on what I think. I'm excited to get these coats,and thanks so much for the in-depth review.

thecyclops said...

Hey I got my jackets in and am VERY happy with them,especially considering the price.One of my jackets had the veil,the other didnt.Overall a warm,well made jacket.I will say that on the coldest of days here in NC I may need a liner,or another layer but I have already been in sub 40 temps and felt fine.Just cant imagine a better jacket dollar for dollar.Thanks again for the great review,you was one of the reasons I chose the swiss jackets over a few others.

jason said...

Thanks for this valuable post.
Helped a lot in deciphering what was used for each pocket/hook/hardware.

Good stuff.

John Crouch said...

Great info on this really good camo system. Quick question, what belt would have been worn with tis jacket and what would have been carried on the belt?
Many thanks.
John.

Sharky said...

Hello,

Glad you found the blog and the alpenflage article!


I believe that the M70 system did away with the use of gear on a belt and Y-strap suspension systems.

The integral backpack that attaches to the M70 jacket, the jacket pockets and the over-pants pockets were all designed for carrying all of the issued field gear. The suspenders were even built into the pants. On the back of the camo pack, there are loops to buckle the e-tool shovel, etc. This was all designed to be an all-in-one soldier/gear merging. It never really worked out the way they had hoped and it was not popular with the soldiers from what I understand............ after this, they went back to a gear belt, separate pack system, etc.


If you read down through the M70 article, you will see the line drawing-diagram, and accompanying list, that shows what goes in all of the pockets.......


The M70 stuff is some of my favorite camo! It is tough to wear a pack other than the issued M70 camo buckle-on pack though because of the rear pockets..........

West Point 92 said...

Snarky, thanks for your extensive posting on these alpenflange items,(jacket,pack, etc.). Your info helped me decide to pull the trigger and buy a set. I use the jacket and pack for all my day and overnight hikes now. The camo pattern even works well in the Montana timber.

Richard Altorfer said...

I realise this is an older post but being Swiss I'll be glad to clear a few things up ;)

Firstly, although in 1983 the army changed to the M83 (TAZ 83 as we call it in Switzerland) uniform sets, the RS (recruit school) continued to,use TAZ 70 jackets up until 1993 (RS is where all men aged 18-27 do their compulsory 21 weeks service, they are usually Ives the old gear)

Now I have a photo of my father doing his service in 1982 (unfortunatley I don't seem to be able to post the photo) and along with the m70 jacket he also wears the ww2 service belt which they made until the mid-70s. Although most things could fit in the pocket the only reasons the service belt was worn was to keep the jacket closer to your body as well as to carry the STGW 57 bayonet with its leather frog as can be seen in my fathers photo. The service cap by the way up until 1983 when they began using the Swiss camo (Alpentarn) cap was actually the ww2 M43 wool field caps which are very similar in design to German ww2 mid was service caps

Reggie Hodges said...

I bought 2 of these field jackets. I use one for a get home bag in the winter time . I load the pockets up with gear and put it under the seat of my truck .I love gear with multiple uses . One question , did they make a liner for these jackets ?

Sharky said...

I'm glad you found the blog and are using some of the information. I will be adding to my Alpenflage postings soon. I picked up a pair of the heavy pants that go with the jacket, so now I have one full set. The pants are interesting as well. Super heavy with huge cargo pockets and built-in suspenders. Both the jacket and pants were meant to be worn as an over-covering for the regular field uniform . Usually the Swiss guys layered with wool, sweaters, etc. in the Winter. In the summer it was worn over the lighter, long sleeve shirt or uniform tunic. So, no, there were no liners issued with this combat camo system .
All of this old 1970's style Swiss gear is getting hard to find in the US now and prices are climbing! Hang on to yours a enjoy !

Unknown said...

Thanks for that great description. I live in France and have 3 sets of those jackets and pants, just because the're fantatstic. I never saw such quality made uniforms, even compared to modern ones it's just brilliant and shows how much the swiss take care of their soldiers. For a military use, it's very efficient at fall and winter with the dark red falling leaves environnment. Also in urban environment where red is present like bricks made constructions. FYI some M70 backpacks were modified with Bundeswehr webbing, to be worn more easily than the original M70 with shoulder straps that are not very practical. I've got other Alpenflage items such as the puncho which is also excellent and very protective, and can still be found quite easily. Also were issued a tank crew suit, a jacket without sleeves, a motorcyclist waterproof jacket and related pants (different from the waterproof coat and puncho) as well as a flak jacket, all in Alpenflage. Except the tank suit, they are very rare, but with patience you can find especially on swiss surplus websites, even if the prices are a lot higher than the more easy to find items. Knowing that the stocks (which must have been huge, for all the swiss male population !) are reducing quickly. So finding a new jacket is still possible, but a new combat trouser is nearly impossible. To find them you can google TAZ83, Alpenflage, but also Alpentarn which is the german name for those camo items.

Richard Fletcher said...

I have a set what luck I actually found it at a thrift store for about 3 dollars I had to get the pack separately as it did not come with it I love mine but most of my family apparently does not but personally this is the best system I've seen anywhere and mind you there was a time when American and German made camouflage was in my mind the best out there coming across the alpenflage system has changed my mind