There is a common misconception that preppers, adventurers, and outdoorsmen alike, must purchase gear at expensive sporting goods stores. Sure, using brands like REI, GSI, Mountain Hardware, and of course, The North Face, can definitely be a fantastic choice –but the problem is in the cost-to-quality ratio.
It is true that you get what you pay for, but sometimes there are little economic anomalies (ie. government-funded militaries), that can provide low-cost options for high-quality supplies. This is perhaps the biggest strength of military surplus gear.
Why Militaries Are the Best Preppers
Why can military surplus (milsurp) items often provide the most effective solutions for adventure and prepper gear? As per their job description, militaries are taxpayer-funded, highly advanced, and extremely experienced prepper organizations, whose sole purpose is to prepare for the worst case scenario. Also, militaries must be able to operate in the outdoors, under any climate, and over any terrain, and do so better than their enemies.
One reason military personnel and veterans make for the best of preppers is because they’ve already been trained in the art. The most elite soldiers are taught to survive in the harshest conditions, making them an asset that can operate remotely with little-to-no need for resupply.
For this reason, militaries have refined the art of designing gear, such as boots, edc knives, and paracords, that can endure torture, long periods of use, are effective, easy to maintain, and easy to transport. In addition, they love the multi-purpose, the modular, and simply have no need for frills. If you want to learn from the world’s greatest preppers, start studying military gear and strategies.
Does It Come In OD Green?
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons why I love military surplus gear is because of the cost. Sure, it is possible to get ripped off if you don’t know what you’re doing; but in most cases, milsurp stores and depots can become a treasure trove of highly useful stuff on the inexpensive side. How is this possible?
The simple laws of supply and demand suggest that when there is a high supply of something –the price will drop if the demand stays the same. So, while a nice pair of polypropylene base layer long johns will sell for $50 from Reebok, the military has a ridiculously large supply –pushing their price down to $20… for the exact same material, unissued, and still in the plastic. The difference was in the supply and not the quality or demand. Military ‘surplus’ is exactly as it sounds –and any time you’ve got a surplus, the cost drops.
Basic Gear To Consider
- Military clothing will almost always be top tier, at least in terms of wear resistance. While it is never going to be as lightweight as commercial hiker-grade clothing, military surplus clothing will beat it hands down in terms of durability (for the money).
- The new temperate weather and hot weather boots are absolutely stellar when it comes to comfort and weight. You would likely spend 2x the cash on commercial boots, while only receiving 25% better quality –in my humble opinion.
- Never go out in the wilds without an everyday carry knife, and you can bet, military knives can make a difference in any emergency situation. A small tip: look for a knife that is full tang and can withstand rough use.
- Mess kits, canteens, and other similar items are going to provide excellent value for the simple fact that the military has moved to Camelbak hydration systems and MREs. This means, the price has taken a dive, but the quality and usability are still there.
- Water storage, sanitation, latrines, and major prepper supplies are basically a given. Be done with it, and go milsurp. While you might be able to find other features in the commercial market, milsurp really nails that cost-to-quality ratio.
- Battle gear is actually a touchy topic, for the simple fact that there are quite a few commercial tactical equipment manufacturers in competition. This is a toss up.
- Tarps? You can’t beat those Marine Tarps for the money.
Not All ‘Milsurp’ Is Created Equally
Things change, and so do militaries. The lessons learned in the past have brought forth an abundance of new lessons in this present modern military era. So, if you are going to spend $4 on a pair of Korean War-era combat boots, then be prepared to have miserable feet. Military methods and technology change for good reason: because something didn’t work and there was a better way. It’s probably the only arm of the government that is actually efficient.
Keep in mind, the newer the item is (even if it’s unissued), then it will most likely be superior to older military gear …of course, with the exception of the timeless utility of P38’s, mess kits, and wool blankets.
About Author: Usman is an outdoor enthusiast and knife collector who works as an outreach manager at OnlineKnifeShow.com.
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