For work in Afghanistan, the gear needs to be as good as the man. Which means the gear needs to be of a high enough quality to survive some of the most adverse conditions our security contractors are finding themselves in. Below is a list of some damn good gear that any body in Afghanistan would be happy to get in the mail.
By Will Grant
The LEAF (law enforcement and armed forces) line of clothing from Arc’Teryx is top-of-the-line outerwear. Go with the BERRY-compliant, Multicam Combat Jacket and the Sphinx Pant. Both are designed for hard use in hard environments. They’re not cheap, but they’re the best you can get. $599 for the jacket and $749 for the pant; leaf.arcteryx.com.
You buy an iPhone because it’s light and thin. So why would you want a cumbersome case for it that’s big and rubber? The Vapor Pro Black Ops iPhone Case from Element Case is made of aircraft-grade aluminum and weighs a scant 0.6 ounces. It also features a Mil-Spec non-glare satin finish to keep the visual signature low. $150; elementcase.com.
Touchscreens and gloved hands don’t really mix. But Outdoor Research released the Ambit Gloves this fall that will work on any touchscreen. They’re warm, waterproof and breathable, and, like all OR products, built with extreme conditions in mind. You’ll be glad you have them when the snow flies and the temps plummet. $99; outdoorresearch.com.
Good boots are essential to comfort and performance. They also have to look cool. That’s why we like the Alp Trainer Mid Gore-Tex from mountaineering company Salewa. They’re waterproof, super light, and Kevlar tough. The sticky Vibram sole clings to nearly any surface, and the cable rigging eliminated heavy, unnecessary hardware. $189; salewa.us.
Like most cleaning kits, the M-Pro 7 Tactical Cleaning Kit is designed to help you maintain optimum performance in your firearms. But unlike most kits, the cleaning solvents are non-flammable, meaning the kit can be shipped worldwide through the mail. And you can guess how easy it is to find quality bore solvent in Afghanistan. $45; mpro7.com.
Maintaining a respectable level of personal hygiene isn’t always easy in the third world. But with the 5-Person Sanitation, Hygiene Add-On Kit from The Ready Store, you’ll have more than just the bare essentials. And since it’s designed to service five people, it’s kit enough to last a man on extended duty. Along with the standard hand sanitizer and toothbrush, it includes a toilet seat, particle respirator, and a comb to keep you looking good. $87; thereadystore.com.
We featured a Panasonic Lumix Gf3 last week, which is a damn good camera. But when the going gets tough, you’ll probably want the waterproof, shock-proof, dust-proof, and freeze-proof Nikon Coolpix AW100. The glass lens is top of the line in point-and-shoot cameras, and it shoots HD 1080p video. It’s also equipped with a GPS sensor and electronic compass to pinpoint where you took your photos. $380; nikonusa.com.
We’ve been told more than once that a multi-tool is a must-have for overseas contracting work. Among the throngs of knife-and-pliers tool available, the Leatherman Wave is the best we’ve found. The edges of the handles are rounded to avoid hotspots on the hands, the serrated blade sings through cord like butter, and the tool even has screwdrivers small enough to tweak your shades.$79; leatherman.com.
Cold weather seriously compromises plastic, making it brittle, rigid, and likely to fail. Plastic water-purification pumps are no exception to this rule, and can leave you high and dry (and dehydrated) if you try to use them in frigid temps. Instead, use the Freedom from SteriPEN, which purifies water with ultraviolet rays and is rechargeable. Just immerse the light stick in water for less than a minute and drink safely. $120; steripen.com.
Small electronic devices are often an overseas contractor’s only link to normalcy back home. But sometimes the only source of power is your vehicle. For AC power on the move, go with Belkin’s AC Anywhere 300W Power Inverter that plugs into a cigarette lighter. It will charge laptops and phones with ease, and can even handle a small TV or printer. $68; belkin.com.