Following the release of our new series of Military Notebooks we thought we’d share some kit tips for anyone entering basic training in the reserves or full army.
Starting basic army training can seem daunting and the kit list supplied is long. What kit do you really need, how much and why!?
This list is being written by a reservist who has done both the old style Alpha and Bravo, as well as the newer Foundation, Mod 1, Mod and Mod 3 battle camp. These are all British Army training courses.
Your unit will supply you with some basic kit and you’ll soon want to expand and make your life more comfortable. So lets start with the basic must haves.
Your kit list will ask for a waterproof notebook, for around £3 you can pick up these A6 small notebooks Take note, you’ll need a pencil if writing in the rain, or a different type of pen.
This is fine for out on the field when you are taking notes on camouflage (assuming it actually rains). But for the rest of the time in classrooms you’ll want something bigger to take notes in. Our Military Notebooks are corps branded and fit perfectly in your issued cargo trousers.
There is a lot to lean and you will need to take a lot of notes, so start as you mean to go on and use a good organisation system in your notebook. Remember, our Pro Log system can be written into any notebook.
When you get to Mod2 and out in the field you’ll need to waterproof all your kit and store it in easy to find bags that go inside your bergen. You can get away with heavy duty sealing PVC bags, but we recommend small canoe bags such as this set of 6 Canoe bags.
These bags let you compartmentalise your kit while keeping it dry in your army bergen. Crucially this set comes in Army green and MTP pattern as you don’t want bright colours out in the field or you might just get kicked off your basic training.
Your ration packs will come with matches usually but its always good to have a solid backup which is also useful for burning off loose threads and melting the ends of your belt. A basic disposable will do in a pinch, but there’s a risk that you’ll discharge the gas with it packed away in your kit for months on end, we prefer a jet flame waterproof lighter or an electric arc lighter. Both are available in camo and the lid on them will keep you from accidentally wasting the fuel while its in your army webbing or bergen.
Red light torch
You’ll need a torch with red light capability and ideally have it as a head torch. There is actually more to consider than you might think so get your notebook out and take note:
- Don’t get a USB rechargeable one. You’ll need one which you can swap the batteries out of because you can’t just charge out in the field!
- Make sure it is dark in colour or better still camouflage
- Ideally the red mode should be accessible without having to first activate the white mode. Nothing gives you way in the dark more than a bright flash of white light.
This basic ‘military’ red light torch will do the job but you can’t access red without going through white first, so you’ll have to cover it up when you turn it on.
The Petzl Tacktikka however remember the red mode and can be turned straight onto it.
If you are new to the military then you probably haven’t heard of sniper tape. However, once you’ve used it you won’t sop using it and all your friends are going to want some too! If you are the man with the sniper tape, everyone will be your friend.
That said, you need to get the good stuff. There are cheap versions of sniper tape which do not stay stuck on… tape that doesn’t stay stuck on kind of fails its one purpose in life.
What do you use sniper tape for? The primary use of sniper tape is to tape up any loose straps on your bergen and webbing. This stops you having pieces dangling everywhere like a christmas tree and flapping in the wind and as you run. A well taped up kit looks neater too. The sniper tape is also useful for labelling kit such as your water bottle.
So which sniper tape should you buy? Get the genuine Scapa military sniper tape. There’s loads on it so you could even go halfs with someone and share it. But believe us, if you cheap out and buy the £3 market tape you’ll soon find its all fallen off.
Paracord or Parachute Cord is a strong versatile cord. Its usually rated up to 550 pounds which makes it perfect for field craft applications. You’ll find it very useful on your shelter and even as a spare boot lace.
Most paracord will work fine such as this webtex paracord. Again just remember to buy it in military green, this isn’t a scout trip with high visibility guy lines.
The army like to find the best and most efficient ways of doing things and bungees are a genius application. We use bungees on the corner of our basha (shelter or poncho as its also called), they allow you to rapidly deploy the shelter and crucially rapidly pack away the shelter… all without any complicated knots or adjustments to tighten cord.
Bungees are also useful for strapping down your webbing pouches to reduce shaking and keep everything nice and tight when your are tabbing (loaded march).
There is a downside to the bungees and that is their weight. Paracord on a shelter weights next to nothing in comparison, but will cost you in time.
Here’s some military bungees
The bungees need to be dark in colour and ideally about 40cm pre-stretch… you’ll be wrapping these around trees of all shapes and sizes.
Extra Anti Static Army tee shirts
Extra tee shirts are essential – you will go through them faster than you can wash them so you should have at least 5 with you to be safe.
The best like for like we have found so far is this one: Anti-static olive tee.
The size at the time of writing is generous – i.e. a 6ft male with good athletic tone should wear a small!
Socks, socks and more socks
Wearing boots all day from 6am (or earlier) to late evening will leave even the best of us with stinking feet and damp socks. You can easily go through 2 pairs of socks in a day on some days. Good socks will also prevent blisters and generally make your life more comfortable. The Army is hot on foot care because they don’t want you going man-down because of foot hygiene issues.
Most people favour the 1000 mile walking sock . Find a sock you like and buy loads… generally you’ll want a thicker hiking sock for cushioning and as sweat wicking as possible. Merino wool socks are a good choice because of Merino wools natural anti-bacterial properties.
A good iron
A decent iron in the army makes all the difference. You might be able to borrow one from the stores but you’ll have problems if you do… firstly they won’t be great irons and secondly you might be in a queue for them.
You’ll have regular clothing changes while training and you’ll need your kit in perfect condition. All kit will need ironing and you might not have a lot of time to get it done. A good iron saves you a lot of time, it can literally half the time it takes to iron your army kit. What makes a good iron?
- Good weight to it – you need to press down hard to get those creases in and to get bad ones out. Some weight to the iron helps a lot, it is no coincidence that traditional old irons were a massive heavy lump of… you’ve guessed it, iron.
- Steam – a good steam function will really help you get those creases sorted, not all steam is made equally, a good iron will force it out with high pressure.
- Water spray – pre-wetting the creases helps massively so a spray function helps
- Non-stick surface – the better irons will glide over the clothes and make life a lot faster and easier. Old beaten up irons have a rough surface which makes it difficult to push down and move the iron at the same time
All things considered, we highly recommend investing in a good personal iron like this one.