I wish to address some issues with the recent “Combat Gear Primer” post. Surplus stores are a great place to buy surplus gear. It is one stop shopping. I am an old school prepper. I believe in a web belt with gear upon it and an ALICE pack for patrol situations. The web belt is compatible with the old school ALICE and the new MOLLE pouches. In my opinion, a vest keeps you up off the ground with all the stuff on your chest. I want to become part of the ground when the SHTF. If I am bugging out, the CFP-90 pack gives me plenty of room and is adjustable to any body frame.
As far as camo clothing, in his novel “Patriots”, Mr. Rawles points out the ability of being able to identify your fellow group members. This can be accomplished with just [everyone wearing] a boonie hat of the same color. A ten dollar purchase is a lot less than requiring everyone to purchase expensive camo patterns. As far as the Chinese made copies, as much as I hate to say it, there are some darn good ones out there, at or above the US made and at $26-to-$32 dollars, new. I hate buying foreign, but quality is quality.
Boots are the most important gear purchase of all! With no fuel and if this becomes multi-generational, footwear will be of the utmost importance. I personally, at present, have 15 pair. Good used boots are available from $20 up at a surplus store.
On the subject of body armor: Yes, it is available. Yes it works. .But, there is something known as blunt force trauma. Put on your body armor and stand. Let me take my baseball bat and hit you as hard as I can with the bat. That is basically the same blunt force trauma you will have with a ballistic vest. It will save you, however, you will still be incapacitated for a period of time. Being a former Firefighter/EMT I can tell you lots about blunt force trauma. 3,100 Ft. pound of energy (average) is spread across the vest. My point is to bring people to reality: Body armor can save your life. But, you will probably be incapacitated and out of the fight. Body armor is not magical.
In closing, we are all on a budget, and most of us making Water and food are our top priorities. Think outside the box when it comes to gear. A “Man Purse” thrown over the shoulder with magazines and first aid kit, is better, in my opinion than a tactical vest. What is “cool” is not always that is best! – G.I. Jim