Military surplus gear and clothing have made a more viable option for gear choices in recent decades since the days of the “Army and Navy Stores” of previous years.
The clothing, in particular, often gets made with higher quality materials such as Primaloft and Polartec and by well-known outdoor manufacturers such as Wild Things, Camelbak, or even Patagonia.
Sometimes heavier, usually more durable, and typically less expensive, the military surplus can make for an excellent option for the budget-minded consumer or someone who wants excellent value.
A case in point, and something I previously mentioned, is the silk-weight bottoms from the current ECWCS the military uses for issued clothing.
Made with Polartec Powerdry, these layers dry quickly, last long, come in at 4.75 oz for men’s medium, and are only $20.
They are my cool weather choice of garments. They work well for active use during the day or as a layer at night for mountain use during the summer in such places as the Colorado San Juans.
Perhaps more expensive layers may work better for my hiking use. But probably not.
The downside? As a pale khaki color, they aren’t exactly going to win fashion awards. And why I’ll save you from seeing me model them for active use.
They also, as far as I can tell, do not have a readily available women’s version. A similar garment may be the Coldpruf Women’s single layer. I looked at these layers at a local outdoor store; they seemed identical in thickness and for active use. I’ve successfully used their bottom layer for cold weather (ski tours).
Overall? The silk-weight layers make a light, affordable, at $20, and effective layer for three-season use. And I have no reason to use something else after almost five years of actively using them. Get them at a surplus store, an eBay or Amazon storefront.
Laughing over here because I’m still wearing the older black version that belonged to my husband during his military career. He’s been out 10 years. They’re definitely durable and comfortable!
Good deal! They work well. Women can certainly wear them for sure. Since I’ve been with Joan, I’m trying to make an effort to include women’s options, too.