Let’s face it…. There are lots of products out there that cater to military members living life on the move ranging from practical to just plain ridiculous. But if you are considering what to get for your favorite veteran/service member this holiday season, here is a brief list of 5 things at various price levels I have found to be particularly useful throughout my military career:
- Art of Shaving (Starter Kits $30-$120)- If you are a male on active duty chances are high that your morning shave is a daily ritual. Every day you wake up, throw on some PTs, brew the coffee, and stumble into your bathroom groggy eyed and dazed to begin violently hacking at your beautiful man-stubble with a sharp object and some hot water. Let’s face it– no one really likes to shave. Especially in the morning. Razor burn. Cuts. Bumps. And being out in the field is even worse. Especially on a cold morning with no hot water in sight. Don’t make it worse than it has to be. Consider buying some Art of Shaving products. Their 4 Elements of the Perfect Shave shows you how to turn your morning shave ritual into something to be excited about. Do yourself the favor and check out Art of Shaving.
- JetBoil Camp Stove- If you’ve deployed or been to field before having hot water ready available can be a true blessing. The JetBoil can bring a cup of water to a boil in under 2 minutes. I would suggest getting the JetBoil Flash Cooking System ($99.95). And one canister of fuel can last you for weeks. They’re super portable and compact nicely to stow away in a ruck or assault pack. I use mine to heat water up for shaving in the field– and it really makes a huge difference over using the traditional cold water/canteen cup combo. It’s also good for heating non-MRE food and when paired with their Coffee Press attachment ($9.95)– a good way to make a quick, quality, cup of hot coffee on those long training exercises or deployments away from the creature comforts of civilization.
- Injinji Socks- ($12-$14)- These are pretty much toe socks. While they take a little bit longer to get in and out of– they are great for long runs and ruck marches or spending a lot of time on your feet. The socks keep your toes spread apart inside your shoe or boot and reduce hot spots and blisters between your toes. I have found them to be munch more comfortable and reliable than regular boot socks. The a wide selection ranging from athletic to military boot socks and made from different materials. They’re running socks come in white/black and are ankle length. They have a small tag stitched on that you will have to remove to get them AR670-1 compliant. But it’s a pretty easy process… just take a small knife and cut a few stitches off and voila! You’ll have sterile, no logo, running socks for PT.
- LaCie Hard Drive– price will vary depending on amount of storage. The LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt is what I use and it starts at $189.99. The great thing about these hard drives is they are super fast and they also allow you to partition the drive into 2 separate formats. So you can designate a certain percentage of space for iOS and Apple systems and another in FAT 32 format compatible with Windows. They’re great for backing up personal laptops, storing music and media collections, photos, GoPro footage, and just about everything else. I always have one with me on deployment and I even keep one when I’m in my personal automobile to sync my music to my car audio system.
- Mystery Ranch 3 Day Assault Pack $345 (Mysteryranch.com)- There’s a ton of tactical gear out there but even if you’re not into the whole “geardo” thing– this is one addition to my kit I always find myself coming back to. Standard Issue assault packs are pretty worthless. I don’t know too many people that use them– most opt to buy their own. The Mystery Ranch is as good as they come. It has a Y zip for easy access to the storage compartment… so you can open it and access things on the bottom of the pack without removing contents from the top. It also has MOLLE attachments so you can configure it however you like. Another really cool aspect is the frame– it is designed to be worn with body armor and has pads made to fit snuggly against the back of a SAPI plate. Pair it with the Mystery Cinch Strap to keep the shoulder straps from sliding off your ballistic vest and down your arms while on the move. It also sits high on the plates and keeps excess straps out of the way of you being able to access other parts of your kit (like your radio and ammo pouches). Furthermore, the SAPI pads are removable if you just want to use the pack as a daily gym bag, gear bag or day bag making this purchase an extremely versatile addition to your gear. I love mine and use it all the time.-TKS