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Military Gear for Civilian Camping

Friday, September 30, 2016 6:17 PM

Military Gear for Civilian Camping

04Aug  15 military products that are ideal for civilian camping purposes

Many military related items are ideal for civilian camping purposes.  Since soldiers have to train in the great outdoors for much longer than they might like they tend to use the best survival clothing and equipment that’s available.  Here are 15 military related products that might be very practical for the average civilian on their next camping trip.   

#1.  Multi-Purpose Tools


The average soldier places a premium on multi-purpose tools.  Gerber Multipliers, Leatherman Tools and Swiss Army Knives are 3 of the most popular models, but there are others to choose from.  There is also the military’s entrenching tool that serves many purposes such as a shovel, pick and axe.  Then there are some impressive military multipurpose axes that can be used in many different capacities.  These multi-purpose tools are critical for military field training, but they’re also very practical for the civilian camper as well.


#2. Ready-to Eat Meals (MREs)


Soldiers regularly survive on MREs for weeks on end in the field.  As a civilian camper, I’m sure you would prefer hotdogs, hamburgers and steaks, but bringing MREs camping might be very wise.  MREs are great for back packing purposes.  They’re also outstanding for emergency rations.  If a camping experience goes bad you may be happy you have some of these rations around, and they can last for many years if they’re properly stored in your vehicle.  Keep in mind that this could serve as an additional benefit if your vehicle ever broke down, and you found yourself stranded on a road in the middle of nowhere.  Set aside the benefits of camping purposes, if you have 12 MREs located in your vehicle it would be wise for many emergency situations.  For the amount of money that’s involved, buying MREs is a good insurance policy.


#3.  P-38 Can Opener


This device is so small, so light and so effective at opening cans, it’s a “must have” for many campers.  It’s also amazing how well P-38 can openers actually work.  Clip one onto your car key chain, and you will always have quick access to a can opener.  P-38s can also serve as a flat tip screwdriver, and they can be used to remove bottle tops.  This could be a plus when you want quick access to a bottle of beer.


  #4.  Chemical Light Sticks


When my children were younger they always insisted that I brought chem-lights when we went camping.  They loved to play with these sticks at night.  It also made them feel safe when they went to sleep at night in our cabin tent.  The combination of a camp fire, fire flies lighting up the night, starry-starry skies, and glow sticks creates a certain camp site ambiance.  Without a doubt, children love chemical light sticks.


#5. Back Packs


A good military surplus store will have many backpacks to choose from.  You can chose from the larger rucksack models that are good for carrying heavy loads.  Assault packs that are practical for smaller loads, and keep in mind that most assault packs can typically attach to a larger military rucksack model.    Then there are many old-school canvas models that are good for everyday purposes.  What makes military style backpacks very practical for civilian camping purposes is that they tend to have many additional pouches, and they’re very durable.  If it will take care of a soldiers for many weeks or longer in the field, it can surely take care of the average civilian.


  #6.  550 Cord


I can’t tell you how often I find a need for 550 cord when I’m camping.  I use it to secure items on the roof racks of my car.  I use it for a wide variety of purposes such as with my canoes and kayaks.  I have even use it as a cloth line.  The number of uses for 550 cord is absolutely endless.  I have even seen people use it to kill time while they braid necklaces.  Soldiers love 550 cord, and so does many civilian campers.

#7.  Hydration Systems


Many campers could make good use of a good hydration system, and this is especially true for hikers.  The more active you are as an outdoorsman the more you should invest in one.  What makes military hydration systems so ideal for hiking is that they are very portable, comfortable and practical.  The elongated hose and hands-off bite valve offers quick access to water while you stay on the move.  Every hiker should invest in a good hydration system.


#8.  Ponchos


Without wet weather gear an enjoyable camping experience can quickly become a nightmare.  A poncho is ideal to prevent this from happening.  Its clever design allows it to be very compactable and quickly deployed.  What makes military ponchos significant better than the average civilian model is that it has a multipurpose design, and it is highly durable.  Although civilian models tend to be less expensive, they also tend to rip apart easily.  Furthermore, military ponchos can be made into a sleeping bag by tying in a poncho liner, and snapping the buttons closed along its sides.    Military ponchos can also be used to make a pup tent or lean-to shelter.  Two ponchos can be snapped together, and with the use of some 550 cord and stakes, it can be used as a pup tent.  Likewise, with 550 cord and stakes you can quickly build a lean-to.  Since military ponchos are light, compactable, and incredibly durable they can serve many purposes, and they’re very useful for camping.  


#9.  Military Style Cargo Shorts


Military style cargo shorts tend to have many pouches, and the large utility pocket on the outside of each leg offers additional carrying capacity.  Typically they’re made of breathable rip-stop material, and military style cargo shorts dry out quicker than many other types of shorts.  The clever use of additional pockets makes it easy to gain quick access to your personal possessions.  It allows you to carry more items when you go hiking, and it allows you to dry off faster if you get caught in the rain.  If you are a hiker or serious outdoors enthusiasts, I would suggest you try a pair.  Try it you may like it!


#10.  Military Boonie Hats


Boonie hats keep the sun off the back of your neck.  They reduce the amount of rain on your face, and if they’re made of rip-stop material they will dry out fast.  The outer webbing or band that goes around the circumference of the hat allows quick access storage.  You can place fisher lures, shot gun shells, mosquito repellant, chap-stick or a waterproof match case in the loops of the hat.  Just the appearance of a boonie hat projects that you are “die-hard outdoorsman.”  Both soldiers and many civilian campers love boonie hats because they’re so practical.    


#11.  Bug Head Nets


When the bugs are unbearable a head net system can be a source of great relief.  This is especial true in spring when the black flies are at their worst.  This is one piece of equipment that many fishermen will love.  Campers will also like some relief in the worst of times.


#12.  Hiking & Tactical Boots

           Military boots are designed for grueling road marching conditions, so they are also ideal for civilian hiking purposes.  The best made military boots are made with hi-tech materials such as Gore-Tex, Thinsulate and Cambrelle.  They have built in foam rubber that serves as a shock absorber and heavy duty Vibram soles for good traction.  Some of the tactical military boots are as light and comfortable as a running shoe.  Other models offer heavier durability that’s unsurpassed.  There’s no question that some hikers and hunters would love certain military boots.  The key is to purchase the right model that’s right for you.      


  1. Jerry Cans

           If you need to carry large quantities of water or fuel a military jerry can be very practical for civilian camping.  The typical jerry can is made of metal or a heavy duty plastic, and they have a locking cap that prevents spilling.  Since it has a large fluid capacity, it prevents spilling and it’s incredibly durable the military jerry can serves many purposes 


  1. Fire Starters

           The average soldier or survivalist uses many types of fire starters.  If you camp comfortably you might like waterproof matches, a waterproof match case and trioxane fuel tabs to help start your camp fire.  Trioxane lights up quickly and burns slow.  In most cases it’s safer and works better than pouring gas on a fire.  Start a slow burning fire and then work upwards.  This usually produces better results than high octane approaches.

          If you are a hardcore survivalist, there are many light weight magnesium fire starters that store away without taking up much space.  Do your homework and invest in the best fire starters for your needs.  If you are a serious survivalist the fire starter you need can be easily found on-line.    


  1. Tarps

          As a camper, how often do you want a floor matt?  How often do you want an overhead area outside of your tent to block the rain?  Most importantly, how often do you want a quick solution to resolve a leak in your tent?  All of these potential problems and many others can be resolved with something as simple as a waterproof tarp.    When the roof of your tent leaks, you will want a good tarp.  When you want a floor matt don’t use a blanket, use a large tarp that has been be folded.  Likewise, if you want an overhead area just outside of your tent’s door to block the rain a good tarp will do this job and many others.  If you are going to go camping bring a few tarps.  This will be of good use when it rains.



          Think about it.  Soldiers have to train for long periods outdoors, and they have to survive for even longer periods outdoors when they deploy into combat.  Therefore, learn from those who have extensive experience in the hardest conditions, so you can better enjoy a simple camp fire setting.  Many of the approaches that military soldiers use can make an enjoyable outdoors setting even more comfortable.  The 15 items I have provided above have the potential to make a good camping experience even better.  It can also prevent things from going horribly wrong.  Remember that an ounce of prevention is always better than a pound of cure.  With this in mind, call Bradley’s 1-800 503-4954 and ask for free advice.  We are the type of company that will direct you to another company if we can’t satisfy your needs.  We want to be a good source of information for anyone who needs advice.

          As always, I wish you the best on your next camping adventure!



William G. McKinney

Bradley’s Military Enterprises


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