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Military vs Civilian Travel Gear

25 Percent of the travel gear I carry is "Something Military." The gear was originally designed and manufactured for use by soldiers. I go into Army Surplus stores 10 times more than I go into gear shops,

My Army Style Mess Kit --- Purchased in Ghent, Belgium at a flea market.

Is it French Army?
Is it British Army?
Is it Swiss, Belgium, I am not positive.

Is this a French or British Mess Kit?
Army Style Mess Kit - Yeomans Outdoor
Authentic French Armee Mess Kit, Fatigues Army Navy Surplus Gear
Army Surplus
French Mess Kit -
French Mess Kit Photo
Hi Gear Army Style Mess Kit Camping Equipment
Vietnam - Equipment and Uniform

My Assumption
Pots and Pans used for 2.5 Million soldiers are tested.
Pants made for 2.5 Million soldiers are tested.
Backpacks made for 2.5 Million solders are tested.

Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala --- Friday, April 2, 2010
By Andy Graham of


Goal of Designing Gear
Perfect gear is perfect gear; it is not important who designs it.

IF designed by the Military of the USA, British, Australian, Swiss, German, Japanese or any of 252 possible countries.


Civilian Companies:
IF Victorinox, Northface, Osprey, Kelty or the thousands of other companies design it.

Some Hobo in Guatemala chasing a Windmill Backpack Design.

Fashion or Trends Rules Gear Designs
Fashion rules the backpack, and gear industry, or 90 percent of travelers would be walking around with Army Surplus gear.

Collection of Good Ideas
JD an ex-Vietnam Veteran, a man from the USA who lives in Baguio, Philippines put his finger on the pulse, the goal, the focus when he wrote the comment,

"I'm sure that by the time you add your 12 years of civilian packing along with current military specs, you just may come up with an outstanding 'hybrid' that solves a lot of the problems you have identified."
- JD Marketing Automation of Backpacks

This is the goal, to collect all the good ideas in one location, with solutions to problems.

Formula is:
Military + Civilian + Experienced Travelers + All Good Ideas Submitted + Photos = The Best Possible Gear

This is the Backpack page where I am collecting all good ideas and photos:

I suppose if a person made the perfect backpack, they could sell it to the Military.

Military vs Civilian Travel Gear


I have always preferred military gear for camping etc. My sleeping bag, bivvy bag, mess tins, emergency stove, survival blanket, whistle, knives etc. are all military surplus. And I always carry a few meters of 550 parachute chord whereever I go, and I have always ended up making use of it.

Certain kinds of gear, however, are not always transferrable to civillian travel or outdoors activities. In my opinion, military backpacks just are not comfortable. They are designed to be used by young, super-fit people, and designed to be cheap. Same with military boots. I'm not sure they meet my needs.

I recently bought a german army-issue compression sack, and broke it within a few weeks. The design was shoddy. I wonder if the surplus stores had them because the German troops stopped using them!


I am never certain, I am not sure if I am buying Military Surplus of Military copies.


There will attachments that allows a bag to expand, the main section of the bag will be carry-on size, and then you can attach a compartment to almost double the size.

I recommend everyone carry a day bag also, to hold immediate needs, such as camera, passport, etc. and this needs to be with you at all time. Do not get hung up on the word day-bag, this could be a larger purse, computer bag or special camera bag, but something you could always have with you.


There are two type of bags, one is for hiking or climbing. The other is for putting on buses, trains and buses. The wise and experience traveler almost never walks more than about 30 meters. Now, I admit there are some truly inexperienced travelers.

However, this is a pro bag I am designing, and extra pound of harness is expensive to carry when checking a bag on a plane.

I will have a great harness, but truly people need educated and learn the differences between a travel and mountain hiking bag.
Andy in Rio Dulce, Guatemala 2010