First of all, I want to thank everyone for making this a great last half of the year for me. Since I've taken over Kit Up it has been a blast. The fellas and I enjoy writing on here tremendously, and what makes it even better is that we have such a great group of people that engage with us on here.
If you haven't noticed by now, we really only feature Kit we believe in and that we would use ourselves. We often get requests to feature substandard stuff, but we just don't go there. If it sucks, why tell you about it? We would rather just focus on stuff we trust as good kit.
So as we wrap up this year I wanted to give you our Kit Up tactical "must haves" for 2011. This is a very focused list and very personal to me. I also asked the guys to chime in and they've given their two cents as well. I hope you enjoy this years Editor's picks, me and the guys (and Laura) wish you Happy Holidays! Enjoy, and let us know what you think via the like button!
Oh yeah, check out the Prize Giveaway & Scavenger Hunt Laura put together for you guys. It will post 12pm EST, get some! -Brandon
The Emerson Commander BTS $239.95
I've had my Emerson
for five years and it's still going strong. The patented "wave" function allows you to draw the blade from pocket with instant opening. Faster than any auto and a bad ass blade.
Arcteryx Woolie Toque $50.00
A wool beanie is a must have for any operation (Desert or the Mountains of Afghanistan) in my opinion. A wool beanie has saved my a** on more than one mountain top far from home. Arc'teryx makes some of the most technically advanced outerwear in the world (look for more reviews soon). Here, they're keeping it simple with a 100% wool toque.
Swarovski SLC 42 Binoculars $1999.00
What can I say, you get what you pay for with most things. With optics, it's all about reduction in light transmission loss and Swarovski is among the best. You'll have them for the rest of your life.
London Bridge Trading Company Load Out Bag $382.50 (ask for a Military discount!)
Every person needs a bag that just gets it done. This is a bag from London Bridge Trading Company (Made in the USA) that answers the mail for sure. We did a post on this recently and you can Click Here to check it out.
Light My Fire FireSteel Scout Fire Starter $12.95
This is essential Kit. If you're alone in the damp cold woods and need fire this will get it done. Also a great addition to any survival kit. I have this in my personal Go Bag. At $12.95, you can't beat this with a stick...well, maybe.
Suunto X10 Military $649.99
Ok, just to set the record straight. That lame piece of crap Luminox that claims to be the "Official Navy SEAL" watch, it's all BS. We may have ordered a few for test samples (their claim to fame) and soon threw the batch over the side of the ship for good reason---they suck. The only watches we have been issued in the Teams are Rolex, Rolex variants, Casio G-Shock and the Suunto. The latter is a modern day bad ass. If you can't afford a Rolex Submariner then get yourself one of these and never buy a watch again. With built in GPS, Barometer, Compass, and everything else, you can leave the Luminox where it belongs, in the purse.
Zamberlan Trekker Hiking Boots $225.00
Ok, easily the best boots I've ever owned. When I was a new guy M-60 gunner in Golf Platoon, these boots held up to the harshest of punishment and are still taking care of me to this day. You will not be disappointed with anything Zamberlan.
Nemo GOGO EX Tent $329.95
If you wondered who makes some of the best tents in the world, look no further. Nemo has been taking care of the SOF community in recent years and they make some bitchin tents. This one is a personal favorite and will not do you wrong.
NightForce Optics NF 3.5-15x50 $1599.99
Ok, you guys asked about optics, so here you have it. Need a good piece of glass for your semi-auto or bolt action rifle? The best bang for your buck is surely the NightForce series. While there are superior optics on the market in my opinion (Swarovski, Schmidt&Bender, Zeiss, etc), none can touch NF when it comes to durability and price point. When I was with the Naval Special Warfare Sniper Cell, we pushed hard to get these into the inventory. You can't beat the illuminated reticle (where they made their name) for low light or night urban ops. More than one bad guy has taken a dirt nap thanks to NF.
Arcteryx Combat Jacket $349.00
Everyone needs a go-to jacket. This light weight combat jacket is minimalistic in nature and will keep you warm and dry when it counts. Arc'teryx is making the most technically superior outdoor apparel on the market these days. It's the choice of Tier One units and there's a reason for that....
Princeton Tec Remix Pro $59.99
We recently posted about the Princeton Tec Charge, a great piece of Kit developed in partnership with some tier one units. The only feedback we have on the Charge is , smoothe the edges and recess the light and maybe add a draw string to convert it into a headlamp.
Every operator needs a good headlamp. If you've ever lived in an FOB then you know what I mean. The good people at Princeton Tec sent us a Remix and this light rocks and is a must have. There are other great light companies out there, but Made in the USA counts in my books.
SureFire G2ZX Combat Light $115.00
Like a good headlamp, another must have is a tactical light that can literally light up the room and blind adversaries. SureFire has be doing this for a long time. In my opinion, they continue to make the best weapon lights, and for the money you can't beat the G2ZX.
From Glock: The Glock 17 $599.00
The Glock is a combat proven trusted pistol. It's become a "woobie" of sorts for its reliability. That, and you can't beat the price which drove the choice. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my H&K but for the money you can't go wrong with Glock. I recently purchased the 19 for conceal carry but the 17 would be my number two overseas because of the longer barrel.
Peltor: The Peltor 6 $159.00
Want to hear what your friends are saying without losing your hearing? Then get a pair of these for the range.
Galco concealable belt holster $99.95
Galco makes great leather products for just about anything that goes bang in the handgun category. They're a personal favorite and I carried the USP .45 and G17 holsters (rotated) in Iraq as concealed options. Everyone should have one.
Oakley Infinite Hero "Plaintiff" Shades $160.00
Every operator needs a good pair of "eye pro". And no reason not to look cool. Not only are these bad ass shades, they are part of Oakley's Infinite Hero program, a great cause that I was just talking about with Jason Kenitzer at Oakley. Jason, tell the guys at Oakley we said what's up and keep up the kick ass work.
Comments from the guys....
From Jack Murphy This year I had the opportunity to get my hands on a number of new products and reflect on some of the better ones that I've used in the past. Overall, I've been very satisfied how military equipment continues to evolve, although I am still very disappointed at the lack of creativity shown by many weapons manufacturers and how slowly the firearms industry accepts new innovations. That said, the best seller on Black Friday this year was gun sales on the civilian side, so I suppose we can be grateful for that! My buddies back in SOCOM are pleasantly surprised that SOF units are getting back to their roots as light, highly mobile, and maneuverable strike teams and unconventional warfare units. When going tactical ultra-light, I still say that you can't go wrong with the Mayflower UW rig. I know troops are using it overseas at this very moment and they have very good things to say about this piece of kit. The UW rig has everything you need (well, except a pouch for a water bladder) and nothing that you don't. Even though I had some criticisms with the cut of the pants, I would still pack my PenCott Badlands uniform into a duffle bag when heading overseas. There are more than enough redeemable features to warrant taking the pants down to the sew shop and having them altered yourself to meet your specification. Badlands is an amazing pattern that seems to change as you move from one background to the next, or as you step from the shadows into the sunlight. I don't know how they do it but they need to keep doing it! I've only been playing with the Princton Tec Switch light for a couple days now, but I would already substitute this for lesser flashlights that I've carried in combat in the past. I'll do a direct comparison to two other helmet mounted lights in the future, but suffice to say that the Princton Tec light resolved a couple of different problems found in similar products. I especially like the various mounting options, as it can be mounted on your kit or helmet and can also be used as a gun light on your carbine. I wouldn't use this as my primary weapon light, but in an emergency it would serve its purpose. For EPW searches (don't give a s**t what the current politically correct term is) this light is spot on. 30 years from now the public is going to find out about some hair raising operations that our troops conducted deep in enemy territory when the FOIA requests start getting approved. If I was heading out into austere conditions, behind enemy lines, and in a small team or even as a singleton operator, I would want one knife above all the others that I've used. The 10-inch Grayman Sub-Saharan is the real deal. More like a Gladius than a knife, I'd leave my wimpy Benchmade knives back at the FOB and roll with some serious metal. On those aforementioned deep reconnaissance patrols, you are also going to need a serious ruck. The Alice pack served its purpose but is obsolete. The Molle ruck sack came with a instructional video tape on how to use it... Do I need to say more? Tactical Tailor's Malice Pack is great, but if you want the Rolls Royce of rucksacks, you need to go with Kifaru. The Kifaru's ZXR is hands down the best pack I've ever used, and I've done a lot of rucking from the Middle East to Central America. Last but not least, I want to follow up on David's suggestion about oral rehydration tablets. I highly recommend those as well, but let me take it one step further. Go to the PX and buy yourself some of those Airborne tablets that are supposed to square you away when you've got a cold. I'm here to tell you, the vitamins and whatever else in those tablets will square you away even more when you're hungover! So the morning after St. Patrick's day when you are running from the back of formation and puking your guts up behind an ICU-90, remember to dump one of those Airborne tablets in a glass of water and drink up!
From David Reeder
There aren't a lot of things I can add to the list the others haven't prepared, but here are a few things I would want on my Christmas list if I was about to deploy (or, if New Jersey was overrun with zombies and we had to take it back).
First, weapon lights, specifically my M3. There are several that I find acceptable for a long gun, but I want my very own Streamlight M3 for my pistol. I know there are others you might think are better, but I've had mine for about a decade and it has never failed me. In fact, at RAFO Masirah in '01, it vibrated off the rail of my GUU during an ATV patrol on the SW side of the cantonment area (had it on my rifle then because someone jacked my Surefire when it was racked in the armory). Three months later, after they'd moved things around and were putting in new Hescoes and moving the tent lines, I no kidding scuffed it up out of the sound while I was doing post checks. Took it to the armory, blew it out with an airhose, wiped out the bezel and interior with a soft cloth and put it back together. Good to go, same battery, 3+ months buried in the sand (and it even rained twice in there). Note: I'm eventually going to look at some other pistol lights, so if you have some suggestions I'm all ears.
Second, holster: I don't think there is any way you can beat the G-Code SOC holster for fit and modularity. I love mine, and I'm astounded so few people know about them. [Note: Dave will be doing an article about the G-Code shortly. -Brandon]
Third, SAR Eclipse: As you know from my previous posts and my bio, I'm an abseiling, HAHO, going downrange snake-eating doorkicker from way back. I've been on missions to places they don't even have names for, never allowing geographic and political boundaries to stand in my way when it comes to the defense of my country. When I'm not playing X-Box 360 and writing fiction, though, I don't get outside the wire much. Even so, I carry a SAR Eclipse. In all seriousness, whether you're running convoys or doing SAR work, or you're on a manhunt in the Cookson Hills on behalf of the District 27 Drug Task Force, as light as this is, why wouldn't you carry one?
Fourth, knives: Three. One plain looking DDR Gunhammer in a TIE scabbard on my (rigger) belt, one Medford fixed blade and a very banged-up old Benchmade Triage (in orange, so I can find the damn thing if I drop it) hooked inside my pocket. Don't get me wrong, I don't think I'm a Gurkha, I just have different knives for different reasons.
Fifth, I would throw Oral I.V. in several different places in my kit along with the other standard medical goodies. If they don't come in handy, you can at least use them after the morning you get hammered with a bunch of bearded German guys who later turn out to be KSK with way more tolerance for booze than you (not saying that happened Christmas Eve 2001, it's just an example).
Sixth and lastly, if I thought I was going to be able to mooch about looking cool and staring wistfully off into the desert sunset in front of even reasonably attractive NGO females, I would wear my Yates Cobra CQB Belt, because it looks as good as it performs. In the interest of looking tacticool and impressing women who probably wouldn't even speak my language (or have all their teeth), I would also probably wear my Polarized Shears.
Merry Christmas, especially to Chad, Raymond, Chap and my other friends who'll still be there this Christmas. You boys come home safe, and make sure your face doesn't wind up on that wall.
From Bill Janson
Here's some stuff I couldn't live without!
Raven Concealment Phantom Holster Trusty old Surefire 6P Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra 2 (My absolute favorite kicks, wore them all 3 years in Bagh ... not the same pair) My Glock 17 iPhone Magpul Case Oakley Gascan Northface Beanie Waterborne Watch Strap Peltor Ear Pro (6s or ComTac's) Sam Adams Winter and Copenhagen
I guess there's a lot I can't live without! Merry Christmas! -Bill