Afghanistan Deployment Gear List
Deployment to Afghanistan
A deployment in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM can be harsh and challenging, especially if you are not outfitted with the proper gear. Most of Afghanistan is dominated by steep terrain and high altitudes. Temperatures jump from one extreme to the other. Let's face it, the gear your unit will issue you just isn't as good as commercial off-the-shelf gear that you can buy at the best outdoors stores today.
Read our article to see our recommended Afghanistan Gear List. We recommend the same gear that our Special Operations Forces are using in the rugged mountains of Afghanistan. Even the troops in garrison are challenged with long days, no breaks, and the main base in Afghanistan sits at 5,000 feet of elevation. Before purchasing any gear, make sure you consult with your unit or the unit you will be attached to and find out their protocols regarding commercial off the shelf equipment. Today's commercial off the shelf gear far surpasses the level of quality, ruggedness, and technology used in the military-issued gear. From boots to sleeping bags to backpacks, you will find the best gear at your favorite outdoors store - or for even better savings, order your gear online.
1. Treat your Feet Right
Military-issue boots are fine, unless you are trudging through the Konar Valley in northeastern Afghanistan surrounded by 15,000-foot snow-capped peaks - then you'll wish you had purchased a sturdy pair of serious hiking boots. Military-issue boots lack in comfort, are not supportive, and are uncomfortable - especially under harsh conditions like in Afghanistan. For boots (or any footwear in general), make sure you break them in before going out in the field with them, or you will be crying from the blisters. Breaking them in means wearing them on a trail, preferably one with elevation - you won't break them in by wearing them around the house or to the office!
When testing your boots for a good fit and when you are breaking them in, pay attention to how the inside of the boot shifts against your foot's heel. If there is enough displacement there and when you climb or descend over terrain your boot shifts, you will end up with terrible heel blisters. Compensate by a properly adjusted boot and wear thick socks with the optional sock liner too.
Most Special Operations Forces (SOF) like to wear Salomon Boots or Asolo Hiking Boots. The Asolo-brand hiking boot (model FSN 95 GTC) are issued to several SOF units and are well regarded by those unit members. Both Salomon and Asolo make models with Gore-Tex (water-proof, breathable skin) and their boots accept orthotic insoles. Don't confuse the ever-popular Merrel boots that you see around town as a serious hiking boot - it is neither rugged nor supportive and is most appropriate for your "urban soldier" walking around downtown Fayetteville, NC or Columbus, GA.
Next, invest in some good pairs of socks. Although it may seem expensive to spend $15 - 20 per pair of socks when those cotton tube socks from high school are so much cheaper, just remember how much you'll be humping and your socks will save your feet. Most SOF units recommend Smartwool socks or Thorlo socks. These versatile socks come in a variety of thicknesses, lengths, and materials. Most will opt for the very thick hiking socks, but some prefer a slimmer, more athletic fit. Try them on and wear them with your hiking boots so you can really know how they will feel. We recommend going with the Hiking Medium socks or the Trekking Heavy socks or the Mountaineering Xtra Heavy socks.
2. Underrated Underwear
The open, highly breathable knit and feathery weight of Capilene2 affords unhindered airflow, excellent wicking for endurance activities in warm to moderate temperatures--it's also our fastest-drying Capilene®. Because of its low-bulk design and streamlined fit, Capilene® 2 also acts an excellent layering piece beneath Capilene® 3 or 4 during colder weather.
Ideal as a baselayer for endurance activities in cool to cold temperatures, Capilene3 moves moisture effectively to keep you dry. Its brushed interior retains heat, while its smooth jersey exterior glides easily beneath layers. The fit is contoured and sleek without being restrictive. Made from quick-wicking, fast-drying and insulative 64% post-consumer recycled (and 100% recyclable) Capilene® 3 polyester, with Gladiodor™ natural odor control. Our absolute favorite undergarment is the Capilene3 - if you are headed to Afghanistan in the winter, get at least two sets of Capilene3 tops and bottoms.
3. A Good Pack Saves your Back
Let's face it - military-issue packs are terrible; they don't fit, can't be adjusted, won't organize your gear, and hurt when carrying any significant weight. Commercial-branded hiking backpacks on the other hand fit well, are very ergonomic, organize your gear in many compartments, and come in many sizes and are fully adjustable. The end result - you can carry more weight with less effort more comfortably.
are so many different brands and types of packs that it would be
exhausting to talk about them all. These days, almost all
backpacks feature an internal-frame design. The body-hugging nature of
an internal frame enhances your balance and freedom of movement. This is
ideal for many activities, such as mountaineering, skiing, scrambling
and hiking in rough terrain. Why are hiking backpacks better than
standard military issue? They are much more comfortable, made of
more modern (and lighter weight) materials, fully adjustable chassis,
more rugged and padded hipbelts able to distribute your load, and have
smart features like a separate sleeping bag compartment and
panel-loading access. Using a commercial off the shelf hiking
backpack will allow you to carry more weight with greater comfort for
A SOF favorite daypack is the Kelty Redwing 2650 Backpack. This daypack is rugged and very supportive with a nicely padded hipbelt. Plenty of interior pockets and exterior compartments keeps your gear organized. And it is just the right size at 2650 cubic inches. This bag is versatile enough to carry your gear in garrison, carry your workout gear to the gym, or your personal gear and laptop on the rotator flight across the pond. The Redwing also has side mesh water bottle sleeves and a daisy chain on the outside to latch extra gear to it.
One thing to mention - you will more than likely get your share of gear issued to you - especially backpacks. Over the years, we have been issued more than a handful of daypacks, "36-hour" bags, gear duffels, and backpacking packs. So many have been substandard - the ubiquitous BlackHawk backpack that most SOF teams get issued is a sub-par piece of equipment - it is overly bulky, uncomfortable, non-adjustable, and with a terrible hipbelt. Additionally, latching gear to the outside of it or below is a complicated chore. Plus, this vanilla daypack was issued to be used as a "36-hour" bag - no way could you fit 36-hours worth of clothes and personal items in this! Get yourself a nice Kelty Redwing or an Atmos 35 Backpack as your 36-hour bag. Another sub-par piece of equipment is the Eagle Creek backpack often issued to SOF units (model Thrive 65L). This pack is overbearing - although large in size, is heavy, boxy, and uncomfortable when bearing any weight or sizeable load - for a 65L pack, I would recommend going with the Osprey Atmos 65 instead.
4. Sleeping Bags and Sleeping Pads
Sleeping bag technology has come a long way. Gone are the days of huge overstuffed mummy bags that weighed ten pounds and couldn't fit in the trunk of a car. The latest sleeping bags are filled with 100% goose down, keep you warm to below-freezing temperatures and compress to a very small size - easily fitting in a minute stuff sack and saving your room and weight in your pack. Although synthetic bags may keep your warm and are cheaper than 100% down bags, they do not compress nearly as well - get the goose down bag for a truly warm sleeping bag that will save room and weight in your pack. Deploying to Afghanistan in the winter? Check out the best 4-Season Down Sleeping Bag for the maximum warmth. Sleeping Pads provide two things - comfort padding underneath your sleeping pad and insulation to displace you from the cold (or frozen) ground beneath.
5. In-Garrison Gear
Many of the troops deploying to Afghanistan will end up in-garrison somewhere instead of at an FOB or COP. Mega-bases like Bagram AB, Kandahar AB, and Kabul are likely places to end up in-garrison. If this is where you are destined, there is a whole separate set of gear you will require. Instead of a sleeping pad on the ground, you will be sleeping in your hooch on a bed (albeit a small unsupportive mattress). In the winter months, you are going to freeze your butt off in your hooch. Bring flannel sheets and the most efficient and warm blanket you can find (think compressible down and fleece). You will be walking to and from your hooch to the bathroom, showers, gym, mess hall, your office (Tactical Operations Center, etc.) and all places on the compound on foot. You will also need to gear-up with the cold weather garments listed in section 2, above. We highly recommend the Capilene3 by Patagonia.
6. Nutritional Supplements
It is hard to meet your nutritional goals when you are deployed. It is sometimes hard just to eat a few hot meals in one day! The best thing you can hope for from your Dining Facility is a couple of candy bars and the best you will find at your Shoppette is a power bar. If you are taking the time to work out and try to build some muscle while you are deployed. Find out how to ship nutritional supplements right to your APO address.
Take your muscle-building assault to the next level and finish your goals strong by combing these incredible top selling supplements today. We recommend the Muscle Building Stack. This stack includes these and more:
7. Military Deployment Pay
Find out exactly what your benefits and entitlements are for your next Iraq or Afghanistan deployment. This article lists all of the military deployment pay, incentive pays, allowances, and other benefits for your and your family while deployed.
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