One size no longer fits all, updating the Canadian Forces Anthropometric Survey

Emma Moon 
Human Factors Support Cell DGLEPM/DSSPM

Anthropometry is a science that deals with the standardized measurement of the human body. It ensures appropriate fit of equipment and clothing.

Anthropometrics are used to answer questions about fit and form such as: “Where should we place pant pockets, and at what angle, so the most military members will be able to comfortably access them?”

Anthropometric data can also be released to industry in order to ensure their designs align with the needs of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) population.

That is why the CAF is introducing a fleet of 3D scanning technology to systematically capture the body morphology of military members and provide key measurements for sizing and fit.

Given the individuality and diversity of its members, the CAF will also modernize the collection methods and database. This will improve the procurement of individual clothing and equipment to ensure all body types and gender considerations are taken into account.

The process is being led by the Directorate Soldier System Program Management who also maintains the database of information for these updates.

This change comes as the CAF evolves to attract members of different genders and ethnic backgrounds. As the CAF membership changes, the way they outfit their members must also evolve. The goal is to get as close to customized clothing and equipment for each individual as possible.

Updating the survey

Currently, the procurement of individual equipment and clothing is done using a database of measurements generated in 2012. As the demographics of CAF members have changed, the existing anthropometric data is becoming obsolete and less reliable for acquisition decision making.

The new portable scanners will be deployed across Canada to capture more inclusive and relevant data. This will also support targeted efforts for data gathering in specific under-represented populations such as the Canadian Rangers.

Scan implementation will take place via Personnel Support Programs, on a voluntary basis, in conjunction with Force Test evaluations. Due to the sensitive nature of the data being collected under this program, multiple privacy, security, and legal entities within DND are involved to approve and advise project documentation and decisions.

The full deployment of the scanners is expected in 2024 – 2025.

Once the new system is in place, it is expected there will be drop in the number of required special sizing requests, improvements in supply chain management forecasting and availability of correct sizes, and an increase in member satisfaction with respect to fit of issued clothing and equipment. These outcomes will support the Minister of National Defence’s goal to make the CAF a more diverse and inclusive organization.

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