Uniforms: What do I need, where do I get it, and where does it go?
Aside from the simple CAP golf shirt, you really should start off with at least one other official uniform. The three that are most commonly used by Civil Air Patrol Seniors are:
The easiest to put together of the three is the White CAP uniform. Anyone can wear it regardless of grooming standards, and you probably own about half of what you need for it already. Start with a pair of gray pants, a black belt, black shoes and socks. It’s more casual than the Blue uniform because it can be worn without a tie (however, when wearing a long-sleve shirt a tie is mandatory). Jump down to the last paragraph below for a handy shopping list for the rest of the items and where you can get them.
The Blue uniform is more formal, and you’ll need to purchase more “official” items, which makes your shopping list a little longer. Again, Vanguard is where you’ll get the CAP-related items, but here is where the local Air Force Base may be a better choice for the items common with the Air Force uniform. Sizes are run a bit small on some items like shirts and by going to the Base, you have the opportunity to try things on without having to return items thru the mail. The staff in the uniform shop are typically friendly and can provide you with helpful advice too.
Now if flying’s what you’re after, go right to the flight suit. You can wear it to the squadron weekly meetings, and you’ll need it to fly with other squadron members on our monthly Night Proficiency Flights. A proper flight suit contains Nomex (or “aramid” fibers) which provide some degree of flame protection. Be prepared, a new suit can run $250, but you can find them used at military surplus shops and eBay for less than $50. Nomex washes out over time, so a used well-worn suit may look okay, but not be a good bargain in an emergency situation. The less-worn and less-washed, the better. Also look for patches that need to be removed or cuts where patches were previously removed. Pen stains in pockets and frozen corroded zippers also warrant a good pre-buy look over. A wax pencil can be used to free draggy zippers.
While Vanguard is where you need to go to get CAP-specific items, items that are common between the Air Force and CAP uniforms can be purchased at the local Air Force Base. Many items on the base are less expensive than Vanguard’s prices too. Los Angeles Air Force Base is located at: 483 N Aviation Blvd in El Segundo. Do yourself a favor and don’t go there by yourself the first time. Take a mentor from our squadron with you to show you around and teach you the rules (you can’t buy just anything you see in the store for example).
For details on all CAP uniforms, download: CAPM-39.1 (4.4MB)