Sunday, April 13, 2014

How to carry a hatchet on a MOLLE pack.

If you are like me, you probably carry a pack that has some sort of PALS webbing on it for the attachment of MOLLE pouches. If you have ever wanted to carry a hatchet with you as well, you may have been left wondering how to do this. You could put it in the pack, but a hatchet is an item that just feels like it should be carried outside the pack. You could use some paracord to attach it to the outside of the pack, and that is a viable solution, though tying and untying it is not very efficient.

I read about this trick on an internet forum. I wish I could say exactly which one, but I can't quite remember. It may have been or it may have been, or maybe someplace else. I wish I knew for sure so I could give them proper credit.

For this trick, you will need a 40mm grenade pouch. These are available as military surplus for under $5. They really don't seem to fit anything well, besides 40mm grenades, which is why they are so cheap. The one I have here I believe I purchased for $1-$2.

If you look at the bottom of it, you will see that it is partially open. This is why it is not good at holding anything other than 40mm grenades. 

In order to make it useful for carrying a hatchet, we need to open it all the way. Simply take a razor blade and cut the stitching that partially closes it. Here is the amount of stitching that needs to be cut outlined in red. This needs to be cut on both sides.

This is what the pouch should like at the bottom, completely open. Once you are done, the modification is finished.

This is the pouch mounted on a backpack. For carrying a hatchet, I like to fold the flap down into the pouch. You could also cut it off completely.

And finally, here is the pouch carrying a hatchet.

This could also hold a shovel or other similar tools with handles. 

This is a simple, cheap, and effective way to carry a hatchet on a MOLLE pack. I hope that at least a few people out there will find this useful on future expeditions. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Gear Review: Czech Military Police Sleeping Bag

Sometime last summer, I purchased a surplus Czech Military Police Sleeping Bag from After having spent a few nights in it, I decided to write a review about to aid those who may be considering this sleeping bag.

The one that I received was in excellent condition. I would not be surprised if it was unissued. The first thing to notice about this bag is that it is big and heavy. When rolled up and compressed with the built in compression straps, it is 15" tall and 13" in diameter and weighs 7 pounds. The size and weight would make it a poor choice for backpacking. Once rolled out, the exterior is made out of two different materials that are the same color, but have different textures. The bottom is made of a nylon like material. I did not test it, but it is probably water proof. The top is made out of a different material that is more felt like. Unlike the bottom material, the top does not look like it would be waterproof. Both materials seem durable and resistant to tears or general wear.

When sleeping in it, it is very roomy. I am 6'2" and weigh about 260 pounds, so I am no small fellow, and I found it to be quite comfortable. Height wise, I think I am near the maximum that would be comfortable. 6'3" might also be comfortable, but I would not recommend anyone taller than that try it out. Width wise, there is plenty of room to move around, both in the torso as well as in the foot area. The only issue I have as far as comfort goes is the zipper. Unlike most sleeping bags that zip on the side, this one has the zipper right in the middle with pulls on both the inside and outside. The result is that the inside pull often touches your chin when it is zipped upped, making for a mild annoyance. It is not bad enough to prevent you from sleeping, but it is noticeable. Despite this, I still consider this a comfortable bag overall. And even though the zipper may be an annoyance, it is very heavy duty and zips up and down quite easily. I have never had any issues with it snagging.

I could not find a temperature rating for this bag, but based on my experience, I think you could comfortably sleep in 35-40 degrees in this bag, maybe even a little less if you are fairly well acclimated to colder temperatures. There is no extra insulation in the foot area, so your feet may be a bit cold at the lower end of the temperature spectrum unless you wear socks or do something else to add some extra insulation.

This bag also has one other feature: a piece of bug netting that is stored in a small pocket inside the sleeping bag. If you are not using a tent or bug net, you can unfold the netting and place it over your face inside the bag to keep the bugs away at night.

Bug netting that comes in the bag.

Overall, I like this bag for what it is. The positives are that it is durable, comfortable, and cheap. The negatives are that it is heavy and bulky. It is not adequate for backpacking, but I would highly recommend this bag to anyone for car camping in moderate weather.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Developing Outdoor Skills: Learning and Doing

When it comes to outdoor skills, one should never stop learning. There is always something new learn or skill to refine. The knowledge to develop such skills can come from many places, but in this article I place them in three categories: people, books, and experience. There will often be overlap between them, and by using all three, you can become a highly skilled outdoorsman.


In the past, this has consisted of only one form: in person interactions, which is still the best form of learning from people. If you know someone with a great deal of outdoor experience, talk to them, ask them questions, get their opinions and views. Or better yet, go on an outdoor trip with them. This way, you can combine learning from people with learning from experience. One of the most common ways to learn outdoor skills from people is if your parents ever took you camping when you were a kid. Being taught something as simple as starting a fire by someone who has done it is a great way to learn.

In today's age of computers and internet connections, learning from people has taken on further forms. Youtube is full of all kinds of videos from people offering advice on any outdoor skill you can think of. Web forums offer places for people from all over the world to come together for discussion. Blogs (like the one you are reading right now) offer a way for those with knowledge and experience to share it.

One note about learning from people: it is often very effective, but it can be unreliable. Someone may want to teach you their favorite technique, even though it may be a poor one, or even if it is a good technique, there may be even better ones out there. One of my personal life mottoes applies here: just because something works doesn't mean it works well, and just because something works well doesn't mean there isn't something that works better.


This could be considered another form of learning from people, but I have decided to list this in a separate category.  Books are typically more formal, organized, and linear than learning directly from people.

My personal favorite source for books on outdoor skills is United States military field manuals. The military has invested a lot of money into making manuals on just about everything, and many of them have non military applications as well. They are completely free to download online, and you can print them out for yourself. Many field manuals can be found for sale online in print form as well. If you look up only one field manual, make it FM 3-05.70 - Survival (this manual, and all the others I mention, can easily be found with a simple Google search). This manual has basic information on just about every outdoor topic you can think of - starting a fire, basic first aid, building a shelter, gathering food and water, identifying edible plants, operating in hot environments, operating in cold environments, etc. There are also other manuals that give more detailed information on specific topics. Here are some that I recommend.

FM 3-97.6 - Mountain Operations
FM 31-70 - Cold Region Operations
FM 21-11 - First Aid for Soldiers
FM 21-26 - Map Reading and Land Navigation

There are also many other potentially useful field manuals out there. Field manuals do have some weaknesses though. The most obvious one is that they contain a lot of information that a typical outdoorsman has no need of. Subjects like "Survival Movement in Hostile Areas" are not needed by someone who is just camping. Fortunately, you can skip over the sections that are not applicable to you.

Books in general have the weakness of being bulky and heavy. They are fine for reading at home, but they are more difficult to actually take with you camping, especially if you are hiking or backpacking. The most obvious way to overcome this is to study everything in advance so that way you know it when you get outdoors. The problem with this is that you cannot remember everything and you really need something on hand for reference. Another option is an ebook reader like an Amazon Kindle or a Barnes and Noble Nook. These can digitally store thousands of books in a small package for easy reference later. But then you run into issues associated with all electronics, like battery life, durability, and general reliability issues.

My choice is to have several books that I read at home, then when I am actually outdoors, I carry a small pocket survival book that is lightweight and easy to carry. The one that I have is called SAS Survival Guide by John Wiseman. It contains a lot of valuable information, yet is small enough to carry in a pack without taking up too much space or weight.


Experience can be a rough way to learn, but it is also extremely effective. You generally do not want to rely on experience alone to develop you outdoor skills (i.e., running off into the woods without doing any studying about the skills needed to survive and expecting to learn them along the way). You want to combine actual experience with learning from people or books (or better yet, both). If you want to learn how to start a fire without matches or a lighter, read up on it first; then, go out and try it.

Be careful with learning from experience, as it also is the riskiest way to learn. Always go in armed with information and equipment and always have a backup plan. For example, bring some matches along just in case you can't get that fire started without them. When trying something the first time, it is usually best to over prepare. Bring more water, more food, more clothing, etc., than you think you may need. Likewise, try studying different ways of doing the same thing. As you are out in nature and you use your gear and try different techniques, you will learn what gear you really need and what techniques work the best for you.

There will also be times where you do learn something purely from experience, despite not having studied it beforehand. For example, I accidentally learned a trick when I left my boots outside my tent overnight. I left them in a spot where they were in direct sunlight in the morning, which made them warmer and more comfortable to put on in the morning than if I had left them somewhere shaded. Obviously, certain weather conditions may prompt me to put my boots in a more protected location, but when I think the weather will be fair, I always leave my boots out overnight in a location where they will be in direct sunlight in the morning.

Ultimately, experience is how you will really learn everything. Until you actually get out and do something, it is only theoretical knowledge; it does not become practical until you actually do it.


Learning about the outdoors is really a lifelong lesson; there is always something else to learn. The purpose of this article is to get you to consider the different sources of outdoor knowledge, to consult them, then to finally get out and do them. Whether you have never even been camping or if you are an experienced outdoorsman, keep learning and keep trying new things. Try a new fire starting technique, try using a tarp and paracord to make a shelter instead of using a tent, try foraging for food. The more you learn and expand your outdoor knowledge and experience, the more enjoyable and more safe your outdoor adventures will be.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Lake Alpine, California

I have been to several outdoor locations in my life (and hope to visit many, many more), especially here in my home state of California. There are a few areas that I frequent, and I hope to occasionally describe some of these areas. In this blog post, I will be starting with Lake Alpine.

I first visited Lake Alpine in the summer of 2013 at the suggestion of a friend who had visited the area. After a short but difficult hike, we made it to the top of a mountain just northeast of the lake where the view was absolutely stunning. 

Looking southwest toward Lake Alpine, about 1.5 miles away. That is Inspiration Point to the left of the lake.
Looking further south from the same location. That is Inspiration Point on the right side of the image.

I actually have not done very much at the actual lake, just the areas surround the lake. I have only done some day hikes and car camping in the area. However, I have done enough here to be able to tell that it is a great place to visit.

To navigate the area, I use a compass and National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map 807. This map offers both topographical data and shows all of the major trails in the area. There are trails all around the area in just about any direction. If you like to do any hiking at all, you can finding something in the area that you will enjoy, whether it is a short day hike or a week long backpacking trip. There are also plenty of places for car camping, whether you want to pay for a campsite or do some primitive camping.

As far as weather goes, it tends to be fairly cool here in the summer. Low 80's is typically the hottest it gets here, but it is usually in the 70's. I have not yet been here in any other time of year to gauge the weather.

Setting out on a group hike.

This can also be a decent area if you want to do some target shooting, though some precautions must be taken. First, make sure you follow all state and federal laws. Do your homework on what is legal. Second, while it is generally legal to shoot in a National Forest, there are wilderness areas to the north and south of the area where it is only legal to discharge a firearm if you are (legally) hunting. This is where the map comes in handy because it shows the boundaries for the wilderness areas. Lastly, make sure you pick a good spot where you are in an open area with a good backdrop and that you are not shooting over or near any trails. Again, the map will help you here. I am not going to suggest any specific locations to shoot, but I will suggest you drive past the lake at least half a mile before looking for a spot.

Beautiful Lake Alpine.

I have only had two visits to Lake Alpine and I feel like I have barely scratched the surface of the area. I am looking forward to many more visits here in the future. If you enjoy the outdoors, I highly recommend a visit to Lake Alpine. If anyone has any questions about visiting Lake Alpine, let me know in the comments and I will do my best to help.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Military Surplus Gear


Military surplus equipment is a rather popular way for people to get the gear they need for various activities. Simply put, military surplus (or "mil-surp") gear is known for generally being very cost effective. Mil-surp encompasses a very wide variety of equipment, from small pouches all the way up to ships. This article, however, will be exploring mil-surp gear that can be used for outdoor activities, including packs, sleeping bags, clothing, boots, mess kits, etc.

Explanation of Military Surplus Gear

First of all, let me explain the nature of military gear in general and military surplus gear in particular. When a nation want to equip its military, it generally goes through a process of putting out requirements for a specific piece of equipment then taking bids from various contractors. There is usually testing of various prototypes, then the contract goes out to the company with the lowest bid who met the requirements. They then manufacture the item for the military in very large quantities.

After a time of military service, the military may deem that they no longer want to use some or all of a particular piece of gear that is in service. Sometimes, it might be replaced by a different piece of gear for various reasons. Other times, the piece of gear is still in use, but some that have been used for a while are wearing out and need to be replaced by the same piece of gear. And still other times, the military may simply have more of a piece of gear in inventory than they need.

However, the gear in question may not always be instantly surplussed. It may first be mothballed for an extended period of time. The military may keep it in storage for a while so that they have a supply of older, useable gear to supplement their supply of newer gear in an emergency. For example, if a country got into a major war and had to draft 500,000 men, they may not have enough newer equipment for such a surge in demand. By keeping the older gear in storage, they at least have something to equip their soldiers with in such a situation. This is why a lot of gear that suddenly shows up on the surplus market is decades old and hasn't been used in years. But as time goes on, even the gear they have mothballed eventually gets surplussed.

US surplus mess kit and canteen cup.

Advantages of Military Surplus Gear

Now that I have provided a description of mil-surp gear, I will now get to what this article is really about, starting with advantages.

1. Price

When a military gets rid of their older equipment, they do so because they no longer want to have it on hand. Therefore, they have no desire to maximize profits and sell it very cheaply just to ged rid of it quickly. Because of this, there are some excellent deals to be had on mil-surp gear. Let me give you a few of examples from my own collection.

The sleeping bag that I currently use is a surplus Czech military police sleeping bag. I find it to be quite comfortable and it has kept me warm in temperatures down to about freezing. I paid $20 for it.

There are two packs that I use, an ILBE main pack and ILBE assault pack. I use the larger main pack for overnight backpacking trips and the smaller assault pack for shorter day hikes. These packs were designed by Arc'teryx and manufactured by Propper. They are both very comfortable and durable packs and work very well. I paid about $150 combined for them.

My favorite pair of boots was made by Belleville. They are very comfortable and rugged. They normally retail for about $150, but I got them surplus for $30.

One other note about price: military surplus items follow a rather unusual, yet predictable, supply and demand curve. When a new surplus item is brought to market, it is done in very high numbers and supply usually surpasses demand. This causes prices to be very low. But the supply, no matter how large it is, is limited; no more will be released based on market demand. As time goes by (anywhere from months to decades), that supply is used up until a point is reached when demand is greater than supply and prices go up. Eventually, it may even reach a point where it is considered a collector's item and then prices really go up. If you see a mil-surp item that you like at a good price, get it now. It may not be available in the future at that same price, if at all.

Czech military police sleeping bag, ILBE main pack, and ILBE assault pack

2. Durability

Military gear often has to go through some very rough conditions. Conditions on the battlefield are not tolerant of fragile gear. Gear that has the chance of being blown up, run over by a tank, or, worst of all, being handled and used by grunts on a daily basis, has to be tough in order to last very long. When choosing gear to use, durability is a huge priority for a military. As a result, the surplus gear that get passed down to the civilian market is quite tough. Be assured that if you buy a piece of mil-surp gear, it is a very tough piece of gear that will be able to withstand a lot of hard use for a long time.

On the flip side of this, there are some people who use a lot of mil-surp gear who think that it is tougher than anything on the civilian market. This is simply not true. There is actually a lot of equipment that is as tough or even tougher than mil-surp gear made by companies like Arc'teryx and Patagonia. However, this toughness comes at a price (literally). These are high end brands that charge a lot of money for a very high quality product. A pair of pants can cost $300. A parka can cost $500. A main pack can cost $800. Then there are custom gear manufacturers that charge even more. They all offer excellent products made out of exotic materials that can be very tough, but they are equally expensive. Military surplus gear has the advantage of offering toughness at a much lower price.

3. MOLLE/PALS Compatible

Modular Lightweight Load-carry Equipment, or MOLLE (pronounced "molly," like the female name), is a system that allows users to customize their gear. 1" straps are horizontally attached 1" apart from each other on different pieces of gear to which various pouches can be attached. This can also be seen as a disadvantage as it adds weight, and of course not all military surplus gear is MOLLE compatible. But the gear that does has a level of customizability that most civilian gear lacks (though I will admit that I have seen a handful of civilian packs that have PALS webbing; however, it is definitely not common). Extra pouches, including specialty pouches designed for specific pieces of gear, can be added to many packs, vests, and belts. Holsters, magazine pouches, canteen pouches, first-aid kit pouches, e-tool pouches, and a plethora of general purpose pouches, can be easily added or removed as the user desires. In addition to customizability, the extra pouches also allow quicker access to specific items. For example, if someone was hurt and I wanted to get to my first aid kit quickly, I don't have to rummage through my pack to get it. It is right there in a dedicated pouch on the outside of my pack for quick, easy access.

There are some things that are simultaneously an advantage and a disadvantage, so I am listing them in a separate category.

1. Usability

Military gear is usually subjected to all kinds of testing and is only put into service if it meets a certain level of performance. Basically, the military only adopts gear that works. Also, the military contains personnel with a wide range of intelligence levels, and gear is usually designed with the lowest common denominator in mind. In other words, it is usually designed to be easy to figure out. Therefore, you can generally expect mil-surp gear to be simple and able to get the job done.

On the other hand, while it is designed to work, it it not necessarily designed to work well, only well enough. For example, a lot a military gear is usually heavy (more on that later). While it still works well enough with the extra weight, it would work better if it were lighter. Also, just because soemthing is easy to figure out does not mean it is easy to use.

2. Appearance

Military gear typically comes in different camouflage patterns and earth tones, and it just has this certain look to it that just says "military." It is great to have camouflage if you plan on doing any type of hunting. Personally, I prefer to have more subtle tones that don't stand out when outdoors anyway. Some of the really bright colors that civilian gear usually comes in I consider to be a bit of an eyesore in the wilderness, and I know I am not alone in this thought.

However, you also have the issue of associating military gear with actually being in the military (a natural association to make). This takes one of two forms. First, people may think that you are or were in the military. This is not so big of a deal if it is true for you, but for someone like me, a civilian who uses a lot of mil-surp gear, this can create some awkward situations. I have had a few people ask me if I was in the military. Recently I even had someone forego that question and go straight to asking me which branch of the military I served in (and the only military gear I had was boots and a pair of OD green BDU pants). It was kind of awkward to explain to her that I had not been in the military at all.

Second, people may think that you are not in the military but like to pretend that you are. You may get weird looks and attitudes from people who think you are out playing soldier. But this is especially awkward from people who are in the military who think you are pretending just to get the respect of being considered in the military. The term for this is stolen valor. This is not my intention at all and I carefully try to avoid this. I have the utmost respect for those who have served in the military and have no desire to steal any of the respect they deserve and have similar attitudes as veterans themselves toward those who try.


1. Weight

This is probably the biggest disadvantage of military surplus gear. While the military wants gear that is tough and that works, they are really not too concerned about weight. For example, the Czech sleeping bag that I mentioned earlier weighs 7 pounds; it is also bulky and takes up a lot of space in my ILBE main pack, which itself weighs 8-9 pounds. Add in my 4 pound tent and I am carrying close to 20 pounds already without any food, water, mess kit, or clothing. If you stock up on nothing but surplus gear, expect to carry a lot of weight.

2. Age

Mil-surp gear tends to be kind of old, sometimes decades old. It has been sitting around for a while. There is a certain smell that surplus tends to have, and while it is not a terrible smell, it is usually there. Just walk into a military surplus store and you will instantly know what I am talking about. The military usually does a good job of storing their gear, so I have not had very many issues with things like mold, water damage, or damage from moths and other insects, but some items still do not age well. For example, I recently purchased a US issue canteen. It was made from a plastic/rubber like material and 1997 was printed on it as the date of manufature. After an initial cleaning with soap and hot water, I tried to drink out of it. The water had a strong plastice taste to it. Not a big deal, I thought; I have experienced this before with some other canteens and the taste would fade away over time. Well, I used this canteen several times and the taste never went away; it never even faded. Eventually, I ended up throwing it away because the plastic taste just would not go away.

3. Size availability

This can be frustrating when looking for a specific size of something wearable. There is very inconsistent availability of sizes, and there are some things that you just will not be able to find in your size. I was recently looking at some boots online and they were only available in two sizes: 4 and 14, with nothing in between.

My beloved Belleville boots in action. I was able to find them in my size.

Comparisons to Civilian Gear

In my opinion, there are three traits to any piece of gear: light weight, high durability/functionality, and low price. You can find gear that has any two of these three traits, but not all three. Let us consider the different combinations.

Light weight and high durability/functionality.
This is the high end brands like Arc'teryx and Patagonia. Their items items are lightweight, and work very well. However, they are very expensive.

Low cost and light weight.
This is the low end brands like Coleman. Basically, anything you would find in the outdoor aisle at Wal Mart. They tend to be fairly light weight. The high end brands may be even lighter, but they are still lighter than most mil-surp gear. They are also inexpensive. However, their durability/functionality is the lowest. They will typically only hold up to light to moderate use.

Low cost and high durability/functionality.
This, of course, is where the military surplus gear comes in. It is low cost and has high durability/functionality, but it weighs a lot.

Closing Thoughts

So, should you buy military surplus gear or civilian gear? Well, that depends on several factors, including what activities you plan on doing, how often and under what conditions it will be used, and what your budget is. Military surplus gear is most popular among those on a small budget who want quality gear that can withstand some abuse, and it fills that role nicely. If all you want to do is some light hiking and car camping a few times in the summer, the lower end civilian gear should be perfectly adequate. And if you want something that is tough and lighweight and you have a larger budget, the high end civilian brands will serve you very well.

Personally, I own mostly military surplus gear, but that is in part because I am on a fairly limited budget. My main pack, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, boots, and mess kit are all mil-surp. The only major item I have that is not mil-surp is my tent, which is a one man tent made by Alps Mountaineering and weights 4 pounds. As time goes on, I will probably invest in some better civilian gear to cut down on weight, starting with a lighter sleeping bag (I already have my eye on a down bag from REI that weighs only 3 pounds). However, I don't think I will ever completely stop using surplus gear. Despite the weight, I really like my ILBE main pack and plan on getting years of use out of it. I also love my Belleville boots and won't be giving them up any time soon.

Your choice of gear may be different than mine, and that is fine. We all have different needs, different budgets, and different preferences. I hope that this article has served to help those who are looking into military surplus gear. But ultimately, get the gear that will get the job done. That is being a tactical outdoorsman.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


I am starting this blog in order to share my thoughts on outdoor activities. I have a great love of the outdoors and would like to share some of my knowledge with others.

Tactical. What does that mean? The word often has a military connotation to it, and I will admit that I have been highly influenced by the military. I have never actually served myself, but I know lots of people who have and some of their styles and attitudes have kind of rubbed off onto me. Among other things, I admire the efficiency and practicality of the military. However, the word tactical really goes far beyond the military. Tactical is the adjective form of the word tactic. A tactic can best be described as the implementation of a strategy. For example, let's say I went up to the mountains and my strategy for food was to live off the land by catching animals and finding edible plants. My tactics would be how I actually did that. Do I hunt or trap animals? Where do I look for edible plants and how do I tell them apart from non-edible plants? These are tactics and being tactical. As you can tell, the word tactical can be used to describe many things in life. You could say that a synonym for tactical would be practical.

It may be easy to think that being tactical means using all military style gear. I will admit that I actually do own a lot of military surplus gear. It often works, but it does have it's disadvantages (which will be the subject of a future article). Truly being tactical means using the best gear of what is available to you in order to achieve your objective, which often times is not military gear. Based on this definition, many of you may already be more tactical than you realized. However, choosing gear is only part of being tactical. As mentioned earlier, tactics are the implementation of strategy, and gear selection is only part of that. How you use your gear and other resources is the biggest part of being tactical.

When I am outdoors, I am many different things: nature lover, hiker, hunter, trapper, amateur botanist, camper, photographer, survivalist. The list keeps on going. I draw inspiration and skills from each of these areas and combine them for a broad and well-rounded outdoor experience. I don't box myself into just one thing. I don't just hike. I don't just hunt. I don't just take pictures. I do everything, or at least several things. The one word that best describes me is an outdoorsman. I enjoy just about anything outdoors. Thus, I am The Tactical Outdoorsman.
Spike bayonets make really good flat-edge screwdrivers.

When speaking of outdoor activities, we have a tendency to lump together certain types of people. There are hunters, fishermen, mountain climbers, bird watchers, etc. Each one is compartmentalized into doing one thing, but rarely do we think to try to combine all of them into one grand outdoor experience. And this is what I challenge everyone reading this to do.

Look at all the different types of outdoor activities and try to draw from as many as you can. If there are some you specifically don't want to do, that's fine. You don't have to do all of them. But broaden your horizons. Don't limit yourself or hold yourself back. I buy a lot of gear from military surplus shops, but I also buy gear from REI and Bass Pro Shop. Talk to different people. Use all the resources and tactics available to you in order to experience nature in its fullest. Nature is full of variety and the way we experience it should be full of variety as well. This is enjoying nature. This is being tactical.