Welcome to Military Travel and Outdoor. This site is about military surplus items that can be used for traveling, outdoor and camping purposes. Other commercial available items that will come in handy will also find its place on this website.
This website is a continuation from Thailand Travel Base. Beside information about traveling in Thailand it became more and more a website about military travel and outdoor gear. The .EU domain was added to the website to clarify that goods purchased are send from Europe. More specific; from The Netherlands.
The Rucksack Other Arms from the British army and the Osprey Porter are both “single” compartment backpacks where you can hide the shoulder straps. This allows you to use it as a hand carrying bag. Both the backpacks are not very high compared to their width.
If you spend most of your time carrying your luggage at your back when hiking or going to the woods and mountains, then a real backpack is most suitable. If your backpack spends most of its time in a luggage compartment of a bus, train, air-plane, mini van, taxi etc. then a single compartment bag with no extra straps or side pockets is more suitable. This setup comes close to a suitcase that you carry on your back.
Now the weather is getting colder in this time of the year in Europe and large parts of North America it is wise to dress up warm. Not only for the outdoors but also for the indoors now the energy prices for home heating are rising tremendously. Despite being old fashioned wool is still a very good choice. Especially since modern wool varieties such as Merino Wool doesn’t bring the itchy feeling on your bare skin. Wool is natures own wonder material. Modern synthetic fibers are often designed just to mimic the properties of wool.
Wool blends. Very often wool is combined with other materials such as nylon or polyester fibers. In this way the fabric gets stronger and often also softer. Another reason this is done is that this makes the overall production costs lower.
Thrift-shop wool. Wool is a strong fiber that has the natural ability to bend and withstand friction. Wool clothing and fabrics tend to keep their shape and look new for much longer then other materials. In other words: Wool is made to last, slow fashion. A good wool sweater can be as expensive as 300 Euro’s. Popular brands are Dale of Norway and Paul & Shark from Italy. These garments are from a very good quality and will usually still be in good condition when they end up in a 2nd hand store. Also Canadian (or Italian made) lumberjack blouses made of wool might end up here. In this way it is possible to obtain a high value and high quality item for a fraction of the new price.
Army surplus wool. Decades ago wool was a go to material for armies around the world. Entire uniforms like the ww2 Battledress Uniform were made out of it. The Scottish regiments of the British army are known for their Tartan (aka Plaid) patterns, varieties of of colored horizontal, vertical and criss-crossed bands, made of wool. Nowadays most garments are made of cotton or synthetic fibers. Unfortunately old stocks of wool pants and jackets are getting scarce nowadays. So finding a good wool trousers in a suitable size for a bargain is almost impossible. Wool jackets can be found as Swedish and Swiss army surplus items. Wool sweaters are widely available since they were used in many countries by the Navy and their Marine Corps. Often this type of wool sweater is referred to a the Woolly Pully. Also the Dutch army surplus contains some nice wool garments. First there is the battle dress uniform model 1949 as was worn in the 2nd world war. This was used in the 50’s. Later decades also brought some wool garments. During the 70’s and 80’s some garments were made of Half Wool. Probably a mixture of 50% wool and 50 % cotton as was used by the US army. These items were a long sleeve T-shirt, a long john underwear trousers, short underwear trousers and a tubular woven shawl wit extra flaps to protect the back and chest.
Pea coats and great coats are popular jackets in both the army as the civilian world for centuries. Up till the second ww the greatcoat was worn into active battle. Later it became more a ceremonial uniform piece and for roles as standing guard. Also it remained popular for of duty time since they were fashionable items in the civilian world.
Merino Wool. Merino wool comes from several types of Merino sheep. This type of sheep is mainly hold for it’s wool production and not for meat or milk. Regular wool comes usually as a byproduct from sheep that are hold for meat and milk production. Therefore Merino wool is more expensive than regular wool. Merino sheep consistently produce wool with very fine (small dimeter) fibers. Also the surface of the fibers is much smoother than in regular wool. This results in a soft wool that doesn’t feel itchy. The softness of its wool fibers is what makes this type of wool so attractive. It can easily be worn on the bare skin. Since wool has the natural ability to stay clean and doesn’t provide a good breeding ground for bacteria this type of wool has gained popularity among travelers as a ”self cleaning fabric”. Also it is widely believed that the typical properties of wool such as moisture regulating, temperature regulating, insulation, resistance to smell etc. are better for Merino wool than that they are for regular wool. Large Merino wool producing countries are Australia and New Zealand. Also in Europe some small farms have Merino sheep.
Alpaca wool. Alpaca wool comes from the South American alpaca and comes in a variety of different colors. The lighter white and ivory shades can also absorb dyes so the variation in color is endless. Alpacas are native to South American countries like Peru, Ecuador and Chile. Nowadays they are bred around the world for their wool and also just for their charming appearance in hobby farms etc. Due to microscopic air pockets inside the fiber it is warmer and lighter than sheep wool. It contains no oils or lanolin. The wool is known for it’s softness and doesn’t feel itchy on the bare skin.
A company that specializes in outdoor clothing made from Alpaca wool is Appalachian gear company.
Single burner stoves from American manufactures Coleman have been used by armies since WW2. Not sure if the model 533 was also in military service. The single burner stoves from Coleman like the 442 Feather and the 533 Sportster are nowadays very popular in the Motorcycle camping world. The ability to work on regular automotive fuel is what makes it the stove of choice. Although regular automotive fuel will wear out the stove, resulting in poor simmering control or a blocked generator tube, it is just too tempting for most bikers. White gas such as Coleman Fuel or Aspen 4T will ensure a longer life span of the stove while burning much cleaner.
Motor cycle blogger Stuart Fillingham made a very informative YouTube movie about the Coleman 533 Sportster stove.
Other advantages of the single burner stoves made by Coleman are that they can be lighted without pre-heating. Coleman has developed a fuel adjustment system in which the volatile vapors above the liquid are burned first and so serving as a pre-heating source. The burner in mounted permanently on top of the fuel tank. So leaking of fuel as you will encounter with stoves with a tank attached by a hose will not occur. The pot holders will accommodate small cups such as canteen cups but also much larger pans.
Some army issued products are very popular for use as camping or traveling item. Among them are mess tins, jackets, rucksacks and sleeping pads. As with all army surplus they will run out of stock or are after a while difficult to find in good shape. Then it is interesting for commercial companies to reproduce them for the civilian market.Continue reading “Civilian reproductions of army issued gear”
Soldiers in the army have usually something like a kit-bag, see sack, weekend bag or duffel bag. This not to use in the combat field but to take all their clothing and gear from army base to army base or from their barracks to home during weekends. These bags are usually very simple. In case of a duffel bag it is usually a one compartment bag with rings and a clip to close it instead of zippers. Most duffel bags have just one strap to throw over your shoulders. The US army duffel bag however is one of the few designs with two straps so that it can be worn as a (improvised) backpack. To improve the possibility of carrying the duffel bag as a backpack the bag has a rectangular shape instead of a cylindrical shape. A round shape will flip sidewards all the time when you have it on your back. A flat shape will be much more stable.
This tent was was introduced into the army to replace the classic pup tent in the early 90’s. Most of them are marked KL-94. Usually from the company Wittock Industry. The design of the classic pup tent was almost unchanged since WW2; two shelter halves that can be connected into a tent without ground sheet for two persons. This new design came with a bath tub rubber floor. Quite luxury for army standards.
Although advertised as a 2 man tent it is more convenient as a one man tent. Maybe when you’re in a really close relationship this will do as a 2 man tent but that will be very tight. The dimensions are approx 225 x 90 x 117 cm.
The fuel cap on man classic camping stoves (Kerosene stoves such as the Primus 210, Primus 96, Optimus 45) made in Sweden or elsewhere in Europe are basically the same. A screw cap with a outside diameter from 23 mm, inside diameter 18 mm and a pinhole screw that can be opened to release air pressure out of the tank. In order to keep the stove working it is important that the pressure is maintained inside the tank. This is ensured by adding a extra rubber ring inside the fuel cap. Over the years and decades this rubber ring will become stiff and brittle. Although mostly not visible the rubber then doesn’t seal the fuel cap air tight. The result is that once the stove is burning the flame will fade away due to leaking pressure. Then it is time to replace the seal for a fresh and flexible new one.
Material of choice
It is from uttermost importance that the seals are made from the right material with the characteristics suitable for the purpose. In the case of liquid fuel stoves the material has to be able to withstand fuel (solvents, aromatic compounds, organic solvents etc.) in the first place. Resistance to heat and flexibility is also important. Many rubber types such as NBR or EPDM are affected by fuel. The rubber can swell up or can completely disintegrate into rumble. This isn’t immediately visible but will happen over time. Usually after a few weeks or months the problems will occur. To avoid this a high performance rubber such as Viton® (a trademark from DuPont for FKM) is a good choice.
A canteen cup as used by the military is very useful to prepare a meal or boil water for coffee and tea.
A very efficient cooking setup is the Swedish army ”Trangia” system. This is a cooking pot nested in a special designed windscreen. Inside this windscreen is a folding pot stand. The heat source is a alcohol burner. The cooking pot has a cover lid that can also be used as a pan on its own.
The cooking pot stands inside the windscreen. By enclosing the bottom from the pot by the windscreen the heat from the flames is transferred more efficiently into the pot. Also the flames stay inside the windshield instead of going everywhere. It also makes sure that rain and wind have almost no effect on the burner. This windscreen stays around the pot when carried. It acts as a storage container. Big advantage is that the black soot that will be formed on the pot cannot easily be transferred to other equipment and your hands. Alcohol burns relatively clean compared to petrol based liquids. The smell is less and the formation of black soot is also lesser. Alcohol is widely available and you can bring it in a small bottle for a day hike or a big bottle for a multiple days. With gas burners you need to bring a whole canister. If running out of Alcohol you can also burn some wood twigs in this stove.
During the 80’s the Austrian army had a load carrying system that consisted of a large backpack that looked like a US army Alice Pack and a smaller bag that could be carried as a front pack or as a butt pack. Alternately the small bag could also be worn as a shoulder bag or a small backpack on it’s own. The bags are made from Nylon (Polyamide) and usually carried in combination with a pistol belt.
The idea from a front pack was copied in later years by the Dutch army. They had a small duffel generally known as the Rotota bag or soldiers handbag. This was also attached to the shoulder straps of a backpack. However the Dutch used plastic fast release buckles while the Austrian pack system uses metal hooks. Another difference is that the Dutch front-pack is carried on the chest while the Austrian front-pack is carried a little lower, on your belly. Perhaps this was done so the soldier has more space to handle a rifle.
When you are travelling you need to wash your clothes sooner or later. Luckily you can find many laundry services in most countries. They will wash and dry your dirty clothes for a small amount of money. But sometimes you just want to wash one or two items or you just stay one night in a place. Then it is an option to do a quick hand wash in a bucket or in the bathroom sink. For these situations it is super handy to have your own small rubber bucket with you. It is light and it doesn’t take much space in your suitcase or backpack.
The Dutch / Belgian military rubber bowl will stand right up by the pressure of the water what is inside. The bowl isn’t that big (approx 4 liter) but it is large enough for a T-shirt, a pair of socks, some underwear and a short. Just let your laundry soak in the water with soap for a few hours and then wash the soap out of the laundry under running water from the tap.