21 Pieces of Gear That Every Infantryman Can’t Live Without

If there is one thing an infantryman loves it’s his gear. We’re always trying to optimize our gear for better performance. Whether it’s modifying our issued gear or buying better new gear. Why does so much effort go into our gear? It’s because our gear determines our performance on the battlefield. We also want to be as comfortable as we possibly can.

Look, I’m not going to cover weapons in this article. Weapons are a given and slightly or dramatically change depending on your MOS.

Here are the main pieces of gear that every infantryman can’t live without and no I didn’t include cammie paint. I’ve yet to use that shit in combat.

I can’t cover every piece of gear either. If I’ve missed something do me a solid and tell me what you can’t live without in the comments section.

Make sure to read the entire post. I definitely make it worth your while. I give my own personal experiences with the gear and the occasion tips for you boots out there. Maybe you’re not in the military and you need it broken down for you.

Well what are you waiting for? Start scrolling! Or would you rather push???

Assault Pack

Assault Pack

Assault packs and infantry go hand in hand. We use them to carry water, ammo, radios, batteries, pogey bait, dirty magazines, and anything else our heart desires. Sometimes you’ll have to do longer patrols or missions. So having a good pack is vital! When I was part of a Scout Sniper team we would do many 3 day missions. We never inserted by vehicle. We always left the wire by foot (due to our AAO). So having a good assault pack was important for those longer missions.

In that instance, I needed a good 3-day assault pack that could be used for longer and shorter missions. Something I could use without having to bring a rucksack or my ILBE.

Let’s face it! We wear a lot of gear and that shit gets heavy. Anything that will help lighten the load helps.

We actually weighed our gear to get an idea of how much extra weight we carried on longer missions. It was around 120 extra pounds! The last thing you want on your back is a large pack that makes it harder to navigate difficult terrain. We all know getting stuck in a canal sucks. It takes your entire team to get you out.

Honestly the standard issued assault packs just flat out suck. I mean they’re ok if you’re going to be riding in a truck most of the time, need a carry-on bag at the airport, or your MOS doesn’t require you to leave the wire and do patrols or missions. Other than that I would never use them on real patrols or missions. Even if it was a short mission.

You never know if that short mission or patrol would turn into a firefight. Sometimes orders change and that patrol just turned into an all day or multi-day mission.

If you’re thinking about getting a new assault pack I have a guide on buying the best assault packs. I cover which are the best in the market right now.

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Tactical Watch

Best Tactical Watches for Military

Being in the military means always being aware of the time. If you’re in the infantry or other combat related fields then your granddaddy’s Rolex won’t cut it. You need a watch that is tactical. Usually, it’s a watch that’s all black, doesn’t glare, durable, waterproof, and has long lasting batteries. G-Shock makes some really good affordable Tactical Watches. I personally go after watches that can be charged with solar energy. That way I never have to worry about replacing the batteries.

You don’t always need a watch with all the bells and whistles either. Unless you just want them and are willing to pay for it.

Before you buy your next tactical watch check out this in-depth guide on buying the best tactical watches. This guide will help you choose the perfect watch and save you hours of time doing research.

Casio Men's GA100-1A1 Black
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Pistol Holster

Pistol Holster

Assault rifles, 203 grenade launchers, machine guns, and other badass weapons always get the attention. What’s not talked about much is an infantryman’s sidearm (Pistol). Whether it’s clearing a room and you want a lower profile peeking corners, your main weapon malfunctions, or you just run out of ammo. A good sidearm with the right holster setup can be your best friend in combat.

What’s just as important as your pistol is your pistol holster. I prefer a drop leg pistol holster strapped to my leg and connects to my belt. This will ensure my pistol doesn’t bounce around while moving.

Another feature you want in a holster is one that has auto-lock capabilities that takes the weapon off safe when you draw. This is so you can immediately begin engaging the enemy after you draw your weapon. Assuming your pistol already has a round in the chamber.

Also, I don’t like to keep my Pistol mags on my holster. I prefer to have them on my FLACK or Chest Rig. This makes for faster reloads and I don’t have to reach across my body to find my next mag.

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Combat Knife

Combat Knife

Having a durable pocket or small fixed blade knife is a tool you’ll use almost everyday. Hell I’ve even cleaned out dirt under my nails with my knife. You’ll use it to cut cord, open MRE’s, widdle dicks out of sticks, pry open things, hammer tent stakes into the ground, and anything else you could imagine.

You never know! You might actually have to use it in a fight against the enemy. That is highly unlikely, but it’s good to have. A good knife is also a valuable survival tool. Whether you need to make tender for a fire or skin animals for food. It’s never a bad idea to always have a good knife with you.

A good knife is definitely something you don’t want to skimp on. I’ve never been a big fan of the K-Bar or Bayonet’s that come issued with M16’s and M4’s. They make good hammers though. Yea they look cool, but I’ve never really had a use for them. They were just to big for my liking. That’s just my preference though.

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FLAK Jacket/Chest Rig

Best Tactical Chest Rig

I remember when I joined we still had the old FLAK jackets. You know the ones without all the extra BS like neck guards, groin protector, side sapis, etc… It wasn’t until my last deployment where we had to wear the new IMTV’s. This added a lot of extra weight to our already crazy load out.

Luckily the command let us only wear the front and back SAPIS due to the nature of our mission (Scout Sniper Platoon). We needed to be more agile, quick, and silent than the other Infantry units.  Not to mention we took most of our gear off once we got to our HIDE Site.

Another piece of Gear I used frequently was a Chest Rig. This allowed me to have better modifications to my load out than fixed attachments to my FLACK.

Condor Recon Chest Rig (Tan)
List Price: $41.95
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Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK)

IFAK

Ah the good ol IFAK. If you’ve ever been part of an infantry unit then you know that most units like to have their gear assembled in a similar fashion. Especially the location of the IFAK. See the IFAK really isn’t for personal use (It can be). If you get shot your not going to be using it’s contents.

Your buddy next to you is going to be using the quick clot, gauze, etc… for you.

If you get to choose it’s location don’t put it on the front of your FLACK. It makes it really uncomfortable to lay in the prone position. Most units I’ve encountered put it on the side or the back of their FLACK’s. If your command decides to do that just switch it when you get in country.

Condor Rip-Away EMT Pouch Lite Tan
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Magazine/Grenade Pouches

Mag Pouches

This is pretty much a no-brainer. Most units are issued Magazine and grenade pouches. Usually attached to the front of your flack jacket. Again some units might make you assemble your gear the same. Just make sure to test the placement of your pouches that best suit you.

I ended up getting my own magazine pouches or using a Chest Rig over my FLACK jacket. I found this to be a much better setup to meet my preferences for the nature of my missions.

Sometimes I would attach Mag Pouches to my Assault Pack. This was just extra Ammo for my team. So when shit hit the fan it was easy to access.

TIP: Make sure the curve of your magazines face your shooting hand and the top faces the deck (That’s the side where you see the ammo geniuses). This is so when you draw a magazine it’s already orientated properly to insert into your rifle.

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Eye Pros

Eye Protection

Protecting your eyes is pretty damn important in the infantry. You’re always shooting, blowing things up, or just acting like crazy people.

We usually have 2 types of eye pro on us at all times. The main eye pro we wear are ballistic glasses. Usually with changeable lenses, including clear and tinted. Some hard charges buy Oakley’s because it makes them feel like ballers.

The other type of Eye Pros we have are Goggles. These come in handy when in the desert. They keep sand from getting in your eyes and causing you to go blind. I mean have you ever tried to shoot a terrorist with your eyes closed? We’re not FU$CKING Chuck Norris. Wait that sounded weird???

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Kevlar Helmet

Kevlar Helmet

The kevlar helmet also known as the “brain bucket” is a vital piece of equipment for a grunt. Even if you’re not a grunt you realize the importance of your helmet. It’s the only thing stopping you getting your head blown off. Just do a search on Youtube. You’ll find plenty of videos of Marines and Soldiers being shot in the head and surviving. That shit wasn’t because of luck. It’s dadgum friggin science.

Don’t get me wrong. It can be a pain in the ass wearing it, but no one really complains. It’s because it’s importance doesn’t have to be second guessed. A headshot is almost a guaranteed kill every time.

There really is no wiggle room for using a non-issued kevlar unless you’re MOS requires it or you’re special forces. The most important thing to consider with a Kevlar is to ensure it fits snug on your head. You don’t want that thing bouncing around or covering your eyes.

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Tourniquet

Tourniquet

We love Tourniquets… Why? Because their simple and highly effective. This allows us to quickly stop the bleeding by cutting the circulation off to ligaments that have been damaged. For Example: If my buddy just got shot in the thigh I’m going to use my tourniquet high on his leg close to the groin. As a result, my buddy doesn’t bleed out and die, and we’re still effective on the battle field.

Because applying a tourniquet is quick and easy it allows you to address major wounds and call in a CASEVAC and still effectively engage the enemy.  We’re grunts… Not dad gum freakin doctors.

SOF Tactical Tourniquet SOFTT-NH
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Combat Boots

Combat Boots

In the infantry you’re on your feet most the time. You’re patrolling for hours and hours almost everyday while deployed. It’s part of the job and having a good pair of combat boots are key. Luckily the ones we get issued aren’t half bad. I’ve destroyed many pairs of boots while in the Marines. But over the years there have been many companies creating their own version of combat boots.

You want a boot that compliments your feet. Taking care of your feet is a high priority for grunts. I always had a pair for Garrison and then different pairs for training/deployments.

Also don’t get some light weight futuristic Michael Jackson looking boots either. You’ll look like a tool and more than likely they won’t be durable enough while deployed. Case in point, take a look at what we thought about the Nike SFB Boots.

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Poly Pros

Poly Pros

I loved my Poly Pros. This is what you wear under your uniform to keep warm. I even had them with me when deployed in the Sandbox. The reason I used them on deployment is because we mostly moved at night.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a desert, but the temperature fluctuates dramatically once the sun goes down. So while we moved we only wore the bare necessities. That we wouldn’t sweat as much.

I don’t know how many of you numb skulls paid attention in science class, but evaporation causes cooling. So by the time we get to our HIDE site and sit for a few hours you get pretty damn cold at night.

So having our poly pros would come in handy to keep us warm during the night.

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Knee Pads

Best-tactical-knee-pads

While in the infantry you’re on your knees… A lot… Whether you’re taking a shooting position for better stability or just flat out tired of standing for several hours. It’s good to have a good pair of knee pads.

While they are good to have I usually only wore one. As I was never on both knees at the same time… STOP IT I know what you’re thinking… You dadgum nasty…

If you’re thinking about getting some new knee pads check out our guide on the best tactical knee pads.

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Tactical Gloves

tactical gloves

Having a good set of gloves is what will save your hands from abuse like cuts and burns. They also come in handy when it’s cold out. Especially for Marines. Where technically not allowed to put our hands in our pockets. WTF OVER!

If you’re smart you’ll got some with Kevlar plated knuckles. Why? Because nothing says FU@K YOU Terrorist like a punch to the face with Kevlar plated gloves. MERICA!

If you’re used to shooting without gloves it will take some getting use to. Some grunts cut a slit for their trigger finger so they can feel the trigger.

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E-Tool

E-Tool

Every grunt is highly familiar with the E-tool. It’s basically a small collapsible shovel we use to dig fighting holes, chopping through brush, makeshift hammer, and many other things.

It’s also loved by the more senior enlisted. Where we have our boots (new guys) go and do an E-Tool qualification. You know so they become familiar with it’s uses. You have the new guys get on their knees.. you blind fold them and who digs the deepest hole wins.

What they don’t know is that their cover “hat” was placed in front of them. So they end up destroying it… I know it sounds stupid, but it’s simple harmless fun..

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Canteen Cup

Canteen Cup

Canteens don’t need much explaining. Their purpose is pretty self-explanatory. They store water…. Just be careful! If you got issued used Canteens more than likely they were used to spit or piss in at one point or another.

Most modern war fighters these days use Camel Backs for their water source. Basically, it’s a water sack with a tube straw that inserts into your pack or can be attached to your gear via MOLLE webbing.

The Canteen Cup on the other hand is an invaluable piece of equipment to an infantryman. We primarily use it to brew coffee and heat/cook food. This provides us with a little creature comfort while in the field.

G.I. Type Stainless Steel Canteen Cup
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Modular Sleep System

Modular Sleeping System

The modular sleep system consists of a poncho, poncho liner, light & heavy sleeping bags, waterproof sleeping bag, and foam sleeping mat (ISO Mat).

Believe it or not some of an infantryman’s most fond moments are created with that sleeping system. Whether your sharing a tent or sleeping bags to stay extra toasty. Hey! it’s not gay our balls never touched.

What stands out the most is the poncho liner. To a grunt this is equivalent to a 2-year-olds “blankie”. I mean we take that thing everywhere. I still have mine… No way in hell I would ever my poncho liner back…

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Flashlight AKA Moonbeam

Flashlight

Look it’s a damn flashlight! I don’t care how many times my DI screamed in my face that it’s a Moonbeam. We do use flashlights a lot in the infantry. Whether we’re doing land navigation at night, night shoots, or trying to find gear that just disappeared…

Problem is though we could only use the Red Lens on our flashlight. Not the best for illumination, but I understand why. It’s much harder to detect than your typical flashlight. The last thing you want is to give your position away to the enemy.

I recommend getting a head lamp flashlight. This will allow you to free up your hands when needing that extra light.

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550 Cord

550 Cord

550 Cord is the stitching that keeps an infantryman together. its so simple, but used for so many things.  Here are just a few things we use 550 Cord for:

  • Tie tarp to trees
  • Lanyard to hold items (knife, keys etc)
  • Emergency para cord wrist band
  • Boot laces
  • Make-Shift Nets
  • Wrap knife handle
  • Belt for your trousers
  • Emergency sewing thread (from inner strands)
  • Improvise a sling
  • Perimeter trip wires (attach to tin cans or anything to make noise)
  • Watch strap
  • A pulley line

and many more uses….

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Compass & Map

Compass

Being in the infantry requires you to be proficient in navigation. Using your surroundings, compass, and a map to get to where you need to be. It doesn’t matter if it’s day or night. You have to get to where you need to be. Sometimes you are on the clock when doing a mission. No time to screw things up or get lost.

You can’t always rely on technology. You never know when it will stop working. You have to learn to use your surroundings. Having a compass and map with you at all times is always a good backup.

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Pen and Paper

Pen & Paper

Hey we grunts always gotta have a pad and ink stick on our bodies. Whether we have to take notes from hip pocket class in the field, making range cards, logging enemy activities, or just doodling dicks because we’re bored.

Pen and paper is definitely something every grunt has on them at almost all times. If you’re smart you’ll get an all-weather field book that’s water proof. This has saved my ass many times while in the field. It also comes with some great information in the back. Like How to call a CASIVAC, call in air support, unit measurements, range card template, etc.. etc..

It’s also nice to have something to just leave your thoughts or draw pictures. God knows how long you’ll be bored out of your mind in the middle of the desert.

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That’s Pretty Much It!

Infantry Marine

That’s about all I can think of right now. It’s not easy for a grunt to write this many words! My brain is dadgum freagin fried!

Look I know I probably missed something in this post. How about you do this old Sgt a solid and list your favorite gear in the comments section. It doesn’t have to be infantry related.

Just tell me why it’s your favorite!

Don’t forget to share this post… I see you trying to leave. Hit that damn share button… RAH!

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3 Comments
  1. Reply
    Jack Schuster June 4, 2015 at 10:45 PM

    Poncho liner

  2. Reply
    SGT P June 5, 2015 at 3:13 PM

    Jack, I included the Poncho Liner as part of the Modular Sleep System. In all honesty it deserves it’s own section.

    Thanks for your input!

  3. Reply
    Sgt B October 1, 2015 at 3:55 PM

    You always need fire. A all weather lighter is a must have. Fuel too. Saved my ass more than once.

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