The sale of military surplus clothing has been an American tradition spanning all the way back to the end of the U.S. Civil War. At various times, the government has had to stock up on literally tons of clothing to outfit the military. When major wars ended, such as the conclusion of World War II, it gave rise to the golden age of army surplus. By selling excess clothing and supplies the government would try to recoup some of its costs by selling items to the public.
Not only does military gear have a great look, but it's often more durable than what can be found on the civilian market. There is, however, a small artform to buying surplus items. Keep these tips in mind the next time you go hunting for clothes.
Check the Labels
In recent decades, the military has streamlined its requisition processes. This means that finding authentic army surplus is getting harder to do. In addition, many companies have popped up to produce knock-offs.
Labels tend to be dead giveaways that items are not authentic. In a lot of cases, producers of knock-offs simply print standard clothing labels of items the same way they would when selling a T-shirt at Walmart. This means you can check the label and see something like "Made in China" or "Hecho en Mexico," letting you know right away it's not authentic.
Legit military surplus fabric items have silk-screened labels stitched into them. These labels include a National Stock Number or NSN. They also include a description of the product and the name of the manufacturer. If you don't see all three of these, it's probably not authentic.
The U.S. military does not put soldiers into the field wearing ratty clothes. When you feel authentic military surplus clothing, the fabric will be heavier than normal clothing and the stitches will be tighter and stronger. Give the seams a good tug. If it's authentic, you'll feel like you're fighting with a bear trying to pull the seams apart.
M-65 jackets are instantly recognizable as surplus items, and they can look stylish with many ensembles. They have loads of pockets and are comfortable in a wide range of conditions. Combat and military desert boots also provide a good look, and they include tread and material that'll hold up extremely well even during the sloppiest days during the depths of a snowy winter.