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
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
How to Choose the
boots (and trail shoes) are designed principally for day
hiking. They focus on light weight, flexibility, comfort
and breathability. As a result, they are less supportive
and durable than your other options.
backpacking—These boots (and a few shoes) are designed
for on- and off-trail hiking with light to moderate
loads. They are more durable and supportive than
lightweight hiking boots, but they are still intended
primarily for short to moderate trips over easy to
and mountaineering—These boots are designed for on- and
off-trail, multiday hiking with moderate to heavy
backpacking loads. Durable and supportive, they provide
a high degree of ankle and foot protection. Some of
these models are designed specifically for rough terrain
with heavy backpacking loads. They offer the very best
in durability, support and protection. Most are stiff
enough to accept crampons for snow/ice travel.
Salomon Explorer GTX Hiking Boots
Asolo FSN 95 GTX Hiking Boots
Most Special Operations Forces (SOF) like
to wear Salomon
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
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
gone are the days of wearing long johns. Today, undergarments are
high-tech and worth every penny spent. Why not long johns?
100% cotton items like long johns or sweat shirts will keep you warm
(although bulky), however, if you are exerting yourself you will end up
sweating and then cotton can do nothing to get rid of that moisture.
You will end up with a soggy shirt with no place for your sweat to go.
If it is the winter, you will likely also get very cold as your sweaty
shirt then cools against your skin. Go technical - get yourself
the latest and greatest undergarments and you will see the difference.
Undergarments like the award-winning Patagonia
line of clothing feels light, warms you, and wicks away sweat; also the
microfibers minimize body odor as well.
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
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.
Likewise for hot weather, regular cotton shirts and socks just won't cut
it - especially if you are physically exerting yourself. Many
sports apparel companies produce a synthetic blend shirt that "wicks
away sweat" and kills bad odor with its "anti-microbial" treated
threads. Most deployed service members will tend to wear the Under
HeatGear line of undergarments which come in a variety of
military-friendly colors such as brown, black, green, and sand-colored.
HeatGear is designed to keep soldiers cool, dry, and is light-weight.
Ideal use: Extremely warm weather. Over a decade ago, HeatGear, the
original second skin layer, sparked the revolution of performance
apparel and rendered cotton T-shirts obsolete.
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
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
Whatever your pack model, you should put about 80% of the load where it
can be most efficiently carried: on your hips. To do so, most packs
offer suspension systems with padded, contoured shoulder straps,
load-lifter straps, a sternum strap and a padded hipbelt. Check
out our complete selection of large full-features
One of our favorites is the
Osprey Atmos 65
backpacking pack which is capable of fitting your gear for several
nights of travel.
Atmos 65 Backpack Review
I have been using this pack for overnights and multi-day
backpacking trips. I have used it to carry up to 35 lbs for
up to 28 miles in a day with lots of climbing and descents.
I got this pack after using (and really liking) the Atmos 35
and Stratos 18, which I use on shorter trips.
First of all, if you sweat a lot, this pack is great because
of the excellent Air-Core ventilation. The effective
ventilation on Osprey packs contributes enormously to their
high level of comfort. I am a heavy sweater who walks and
climbs fast. The arc in the pack is meant to conform to the
body, which it does well. While this does influence the way
you pack the bag, it does not really limit what you can pack
if you know what you're doing and know how to distribute the
pack weight properly when loading it up (for example: there
should never be a need to stuff anything between the main
compartment and the ventilation mesh). I use this with a
100-ounce water reservoir. I am still able to fit a tent,
bag, clothes, food, and pleanty of other stuff without
lashing anything to the outside of the pack.
This pack has performed very well. Even with a 35 lb. load,
it felt secure and close to my body when ascending and
descending on steep, wet rock; I was especially impressed
when rock-hopping some fast rivers and streams recently. I
never felt the pack pulling on me or causing me to be out of
balance. I am impressed how the '09 version of these packs
have been engineered to put the weight closer to the body's
center of gravity; the upgrades over the older models are
When filling the pack, you can really stuff a lot into the
cavernous compartment and side/front pockets. Note: the side
pockets are not really for water bottles (get a water
reservoir of some sort). I also like that the pack is easy
to clean after use, due to the large bottom compartment.
Check out the latest prices on
A SOF favorite daypack is the
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
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
Osprey Atmos 65
BlackHawk 3-Day Assault Pack vs. Kelty
Capacity: 2200 cubic
Padding on straps are not curved, bag is
difficult to adjust, hipbelt is minimally padded.
Blackhawk pack has no side bottle holders
and does not have any daisy chain or molle attachments.
This bag is also incredibly bulky and overly heavy.
Compression straps are built-in, but minimally useful.
Weight is unknown, but feels heavy, like 5
pounds (empty) weight. Overall this bag is rough, fits
poorly, and uncomfortable.
Capacity: 2650 cubic inches
Padding on straps are curved and very
comfortable, bag is adjustable and hipbelt is supportive yet
well padded. Back panel incorporates a breathable
channel and ergonomic padding.
Redwing has external (mesh) bottle holders
and daisy chain loops. Compression straps are easy to
adjust and very effective with two on each side of the bag.
This pack will serve you well as a 36-hour
deployment bag that doubles up as a fantastic day bag,
commuter bag, or workout bag.
How to Choose a Backpack
1.Start by knowing your intended trip length and gear-carrying
2.What's your style of backpacking? We categorize our gear as
minimalist, ultralight, lightweight or deluxe. Think in systems to
optimize weight and function.
3.Good fit is a must. To achieve this, you need to know your torso
What's Your Hiking Style?
To answer this, first decide on a category of pack based on the kinds of
outings you want to take.
Extended trips (five days and
longer). These packs hold more than 70 liters (4,200 cubic inches)
of gear. They feature substantial load support and ample
suspensions. Though designed for long trips, they are also well
suited for shorter spring and fall trips when you need to carry
additional clothing. Osprey Backpacks are highly versatile, well-made packs that come
with excellent reviews.
Multiday (two to four days). This
popular category includes packs ranging from 40 to 70 liters (2,400
to 4,200 cubic inches) of gear capacity.
Technical daypacks. Designed for
trail use, these packs tote the Ten Essentials and more. Some are
set up to haul climbing tools or snowsports gear. Many offer water
bottle pockets and/or a sleeve for a hydration reservoir (usually
sold separately) and an exit port for its sip tube.
Hydration Packs. These provide
hands-free drinking while hiking or biking. Such packs include the
reservoir, usually two or three liters in size, and some room for
gear. A 2L (70 fl. oz.) reservoir is a popular, all-purpose choice.
If you're often active in warm or dry conditions, consider a 3L (100
fl. oz.) reservoir. One of our favorite pieces of gear is the 100oz
- it is insulated (to keep your
water cold in the summer and keeps it from freezing in the winter),
has tie-down rings on the outside, and a wide-mouth bottle for easy
4. Sleeping Bags and Sleeping Pads
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)
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
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.
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:
Optimum 100% Whey Protein
Optimum 100% Whey Protein won the Supplement Of The Year and Protein
Powder Of The Year award for 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008! Since the
very beginning, Optimum Nutrition has raised the standard by which
all other whey protein supplements are judged. Now we're raising the
bar again with the 3rd generation of ON 100% Whey Protein: ON 100%
Whey Gold Standard.
Vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients are the body's
fundamental building blocks. They support a strong foundation and
are responsible for our energy levels, performance and vitality. We
have designed Opti-Men™ as a complete Nutrient Optimizaton System.
By packing over 75 active ingredients into one pill, we've created
much more than a multi. .
You shouldn't have to throw back a dozen pills or juggle multiple
bottles and packs to get your daily nutrients. Opti-Men™ delivers
all the essentials in one pill that you take in the morning, noon,
and night. Convenient and complete, it's the ultimate nutrient
system for the active man.
Higher Power ZMA
Higher Power ZMA is a unique patent-pending anabolic formula
produced by a proprietary manufacturing process, containing highly
bioavailable forms of zinc and magnesium. Formulated with vitamin B6
to further enhance zinc and magnesium absorption and utilization,
ZMA™ is a powerful non-steroidal, all natural dietary supplement to
increase free testosterone, total testosterone and insulin-like
growth factor (IGF-1) levels and enhance muscle strength
significantly greater than placebo during a strength training
Higher Power Micronized Creatine
Simply put, creatine monohydrate is the most popular and effective
bodybuilding supplement on the market. People consistently using
creatine are making HUGE, AMAZING gains!
Creatine is bodybuilding's ultimate supplement, and for good reason.
For one thing, creatine can significantly increase lean muscle mass.
It is also responsible for improving performance in high-intensity
exercise, increasing energy levels, and speeding up recovery rates.
It's no wonder athletes who use it have such of an edge over those
who do not.
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
pay, incentive pays, allowances, and other benefits for your and
your family while deployed.
Anaconda and Beyond
Although this is good book overall, but one may think the author is a
former Delta Operator the way he kisses their ass. Also, he does nothing
but badmouth and degrade Navy SEALs. In nearly every section where he is
talking about the SEALs, he finds a way to make them seem amateurs in
comparison to Delta, which isn't true. He does give a nod to the
accomplishments of MAKO 26, but other than that he slags them for
reasons I don't understand.
It takes a long time for the action to kick in, but once it starts it is
very interesting and provides another example of how idiots often find
themselves in top tier leadership roles within our military/Government.
This is an account of a group of US Navy SEALS who are ambushed on a
mountain in Afghanistan and require rescue by Army Ranger rapid response
team. The Rangers are subsequently ambushed requiring yet another rescue
team. The story is told from the perspective of the soldiers on the
ground, facing unbelievably cold weather, horrible terrain and a lot of
determined enemies. Quite a few don't make it, but the story is more
about the determination of these highly trained warriors to never leave
a comrade behind. The action is quite detailed and the reader almost
feels like he is there with the troops. Highly recommended.
David Pugliese gives you the P.D.B. (Presidential Daily Briefing) digest
of Special Operations in the recent campaign against terror. While the
closing chapters are peppered with his political commentary on America's
incursion into Iraq, his reporting on operations conducted by the elite
forces of the world is a nice, tidy historical record. The photos are
interesting and it is an entertaining read for the history, military and
special operations enthusiast. I enjoyed this book and highly recommend
it- a fine addition to your military library.
Military Discounts -
Military Loans -
Military Education -
Military PCS Advice -
Military Space-A Travel