The Average Person’s Guide to Military Surplus for Travel Gear

Here’s a little secret. You don’t need to be in the military to use or wear military gear.

Over the years, we’ve found that military gear has it’s place in the travel world and can often be purchased for much less than similar, but much more expensive, travel specific gear.

Military surplus gear has advantages in the travel world

For one, military and army surplus tends to be well made, and can withstand heavy use. It’s also usually made to be portable and practical.

A huge bonus to military gear is that you can often find it for much cheaper than it’s travel themed brethren and let’s face it, military and tactical gear definitely has a cool factor.

army surplus backpack for hiking

Those are all great perks for travelers and what travel aficionado doesn’t want travel gear and clothes that are well made, durable and cost effective.

In fact, army surplus gear that’s built to withstand wear, tear, and exposure to the elements is a great choice for adventurous travelers.

Army surplus gear can be especially useful for camping and outdoor gear use, whether you’re exploring the Amazon, taking a RV road trip, or just on a short hike. From water bottles to camp lights to dry bags and hiking boots, military or army surplus gear likely has something you could use in your travels.

Combat pants and cargo pants for travelers

Cargo and combat pants are designed to be tough, durable, and made for mobility.

Even better, they’re loaded with pockets of all shapes and sizes, and some are even reinforced in the knee or seat.

Not only can they make carrying things easier, they’ll also likely outlast anything else in your closet.

army surplus pants for travel

Army surplus backpacks and other bags

We talk a lot about backpacks here, and we’ve reviewed some of the best for business travel, carry-on, and even family travel.

However, we haven’t talked about army surplus backpacks a lot. They do have some advantages, including price. Many backpacks made specifically for travelers are expensive, and army surplus backpacks can be a great way to save money.

Plus, military gear has a lot more than backpacks. You can find waist packs, hydration bladders, shoulder bags, day bags, dry bags or even suitcases.

Military gear and base layers

Tactical and military sources are a good place to find base layers to keep you warm and dry. You can even find them in well known brands like Pentagon, Tervel, and Helikon.

Since dependability is the cornerstone behind most military gear, finding the perfect base layer is easy when you’re searching for just that right item for your travels.

What to look for in great tactical or army gear for travelers

There’s a lot to consider when looking for great tactical gear.

Durability is one of the most important factors to look at when buying travel gear (or even everyday clothes). Make sure that the fabric is suitable for the climate. Fabric weight and breathability are especially important.

Cotton is one of my favorite fabrics, but unfortunately it isn’t great for hot and humid climates, as it dries relatively slowly and holds moisture. Lightweight, quick drying fabrics are best for hot or humid climates.

If you’ll be traveling outdoors, weather resistance is important. Choose waterproof or water resistant fabrics for wet climates. For cold climates, heat retention is important.

Options to consider when buying Army Surplus

Worried about looking like an army sergeant all the time in head to toe camouflage? Luckily, not all army and military gear is camouflage patterned. Neutral tones like olive, black and tan are also pretty common and are staple colors when looking for typical travel clothes.

One of the biggest advantages of military gear for travelers is the amount of storage built in. Military gear tends to have plenty of pockets and storage space. Even so, think about how much gear you carry, and make an assessment of the number of pockets you’ll need when choosing pants and shirts. Hidden pockets are also incredibly useful for travelers.

Carrying weight is another thing to consider. Decide how much gear you’ll typically need to carry, and based on that, make an assessment of roughly how many pockets and other storage compartments you’ll need.

While military surplus is often affordable, it’s always important to weigh cost vs use and enjoyment. If a piece of gear is a little more expensive, but is more durable, and with more features, it may well be worth the extra money.

Why is military surplus so affordable?

Military units across the world buy a lot of equipment. When they buy in such large quantities, they often pay a discounted price.

Often, the military overbuys, just in case, or even purchases items that are no longer needed due to changes in world events. When this happens, the surplus is sold, generally at a significant discount, to the civilian marketplace. Entrepreneurs then purchase the gear and resell it at a big discount over the original price.

What this means to you is that you can get dependable travel gear, often for a fraction of the cost as the often overpriced travel items currently out there, leaving more money for your travels or the option to buy gear you always wanted but couldn’t normally afford.

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Have you tried army surplus travel gear? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below.

Military surplus travel gear