U.S. Army Rangers wearing patrol caps, 1986

A patrol hat, also known as a field cap, is a soft kepi constructed similarly to a baseball cap, with a stiff, rounded visor but featuring a flat top, worn by military personnel of some countries in the field when a combat helmet is not required.[1]


U.S. Military

M1951 Field Cap and Ridgeway Cap

Two officers wearing the M1951 Field Cap-Anyang South Korea, Lt. Green and Captain Ray

The M1951 Field Cap, introduced with the M1951 Uniform, was a derivative of the M1943 Field Cap, part of the M1943 Uniform.[2][1][3] The M1951 cap was worn in the Korean War, where it became known as the "patrol cap" by the US Army Rangers there.[1] It was constructed of wind-resistant olive-drab cotton poplin, and had a flannel wool panel that folded down to cover the ears and the back of the head.[1] It was soft enough to be worn underneath an M1 helmet.[1]

M1951 Ridgeway Cap

After the Korean War, the cap was replaced by the Ridgeway Cap, a stiffened version of the M1951 made by Falcon and known as the Jump Up cap.[1] The hat became famous outside America after being worn by Fidel Castro. The patrol cap was replaced altogether in 1962 with a baseball-like "Cap, Field (Hot Weather)"; during the Vietnam War in-country troops were issued the boonie hat.[4][5]

In 1980, the Army introduced the Battle Dress Uniform (BDU), which featured a patrol cap similar to the M1951 Field Cap, including the wool panel to cover the ears, except it was in Woodland camouflage. The BDU was replaced, starting in 2004, with the Army Combat Uniform (ACU).

Starting on June 14, 2001, Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki made the black beret the standard headgear for Soldiers in the garrison environment. On June 14, 2011, the M1951/ACU soft patrol cap became once again the primary headgear for all Soldiers as the duty uniform headgear after a 10-year hiatus in favor of the beret, according to Army Directive 2001-11.[6]

Modern patrol caps

In 1981, following the introduction of the M81 Battle Dress Uniform, the patrol cap was reintroduced.[7] The patrol cap continues to be worn with the Army Combat Uniform, introduced in 2004.[8] The materials are 50% cotton, 50% nylon blend.[7] It has been available in different variants and patterns, such as hot weather models which have eliminated the ear flaps.[7]

Patterns have included US Woodland, Six color desert camouflage, Three color desert camouflage, Universal Camouflage Pattern, and Operational Camouflage Pattern.[7][8] The ACU patrol cap features a velcro-backed patch on the back with the soldier's name printed on it and a small internal pocket, the soldier's rank insignia is pinned on the front, as seen in the image below.

Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces

Former President of Cuba Fidel Castro meeting President of Russia Vladimir Putin while wearing a solid color olive drab Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces uniform with a patrol cap in December 2000.

The Ridgeway Cap, a stiffened version of the M1951 Patrol Cap made famous after being worn by Fidel Castro, is a standard issue cap in the Cuban Revolutionary Army, and Cuban Revolutionary Air and Air Defense Force. American style patrol caps were worn by Cuban soldiers before, and during the Cuban Revolution. After the Revolution, the patrol cap kept being issued to Cuban military personnel. It is most commonly seen in solid color olive drab, but Cuban patrol caps with camouflage patterns like the grey lizard pattern have been made.[9]

Israel Defense Forces

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Zion Mule Corps wearing patrol caps

This style of military uniform cap was worn by the Muleteers' Battalion founded in January 1948 which was named for the British Army's Zion Mule Corps of the World War I, a forerunner of the Jewish Legion. The IDF adopted the "Kova Hitelmacher" [(in Yiddish): hatmaker's cap] for soldiers' uniforms in its early years.

Russian military

Russian soldiers wearing the plain patrol cap on Victory Day 2011 in St Petersburg.
Russian troops, wearing the second more elaborate style of patrol cap, during 2022 Russian mobilization in Sevastopol's Nakhimov Square.

The Russian army adopted the patrol cap when it adopted the woodland pattern Flora camouflage and then EMR camouflage VKBO uniforms in the early 2000s. There are two versions, a plain one worn by conscripts and a more elaborate one worn by kontrakniki and officers.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f CAP, FIELD, M-1951
  2. ^ "M-1951 Cotton Field Cap".
  3. ^ Field Cap
  4. ^ Cap, Field (Hot Weather)
  5. ^ M1951 Field Cap
  6. ^ Army Directive 2011-11
  7. ^ a b c d Battle Dress Uniform (Bdu)
  8. ^ a b Army Combat Uniform (ACU)
  9. ^ Dougherty 2017, p. 66.