Ready in red: Canadian Rangers get uniform upgrade

The Canadian Rangers are getting some new equipment. The iconic hoodie will now be joined by a red fleece and water-resistant shell jacket.

New raincoat has a waterproof shell and resembles gear worn by search-and-rescue technicians

This photo released by the Canadian Forces is the first look at the new Rangers' jackets and fleece. (Canadian Forces)

The Canadian Rangers are getting a new look.

The first photo of the new uniforms released by the Canadian Forces shows a jacket with reflective stripes and pockets. It resembles the kind of waterproof shell worn by search-and-rescue technicians.

Another new item is a fleece shirt.

The rangers have famously worn hooded sweatshirts for years with patrols relying on rangers' own equipment.

However the Forces are signaling a move towards new red coats and pants with a Cadpat camouflage design.

Canadian Rangers use their own equipment, especially when it gets cold. This returning patrol, photographed in Inuvik NWT, has many people wearing locally-made fur hats and mittens. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

'You have to have your own gear'

Canadian Ranger Sergeant Wade Istchenko goes on patrols out of Haines Junction. He's also the MLA for Kluane in Yukon.

He says he's looking forward to seeing the new gear.

"When we first started the Ranger program, all we got was a red sweatshirt and a ballcap. And over the years we've slowly got combat pants, combat boots and more and more and more. And now the coats and the fleece are next in the list of things to get," he says.

Istchenko says the Rangers still use a lot of their own gear, including larger items like vehicles in exchange for what's called an Equipment Usage Rate.

"Part of being a Ranger is you have to have your own gear. Snowmobiles and boats, depending on the season. They pay you a rental for it, you get equipment rental usage for it and when it comes to clothing, most of the guys get pretty cold out there, we wear whatever we can get for real warm gear."

Istchenko says he wears hunting gear while on patrol.

He says in Yukon the tricky balance to stay warm, but also allow for sweating while working.

"You're usually breaking trails out here, and that means you need to stop and get the chains out, cut a tree and clear some brush and keep on going," he says.

Many Rangers wear home-made mitts and hats, often made by family.

"When we first started the Ranger program, all we got was a red sweatshirt and a ballcap," says Ranger Sergeant Wade Istchenko of the Haines Junction Yukon group. He says he's glad to see the new coats on the way. (Wade Istchenko )

New coats look good, says sergeant

Istchenko says the new gear looks useful, even if it's not meant for Yukon winters.

"They'll be great for spring and fall. I think I'll still wear my warm winter coat when it's really cold out," he says.

He expects Rangers will wear the gear for ceremonial functions, such as when they participate in parades. Rangers are members of the supplementary reserves and therefore a part of the Canadian Armed Forces.

The Canadian Forces have not yet said when the new coats will be distributed in Yukon, NWT or Nunavut.

The new equipment is part of the same push that saw Rangers' rifles replaced.