It was my first live-fire drill with SEAL Team 3 GOLF platoon. My kit blew apart and I was fucked.

I was an M60 machine gunner and I had found a “deal” on a new M60 harness rig to hold my ammo and kit, second line gear as we call it. (First line is what you have on you. Second line would be your “h-rig.”)

Later in my career, I learned how to sew, and I would come to know the importance of double stitching over single, but it would be a hard lesson.

I had to special order a new 60 rig and have it overnighted. In the meantime, I cobbled together what I could to make it work but it was a miserable couple of days. Lesson learned? Quality gear over bargain gear. The extra money spent on a quality kit is usually worth it, especially when your life or your family’s safety depends on it.

Over seven years ago we started The Loadout Room as a gear review site after recognizing that most of the “Top Gear Guide for Dad” style of gear guides in magazines and online were purely paid advertising. And most were written by some young kid from Brooklyn who was still crapping college chow and maybe (if he was lucky) had one Mexico passport stamp in the book.

The guys and I wanted real gear reviews by real users and experts. The site did really well over the years, but after a while, we decided to finally consolidate its content under the SOFREP umbrella and the Loadout Room site was temporarily mothballed.

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When we started talking about a name for our SOFREP store and what we should sell, gear came up again because most men LOVE gear. Like women and shoes, we just can’t have enough of it. We thought that having a specialized tactical and survival store with gear curated from experts would give us an edge since there is an inundation of items to choose from on the net these days.

So, when we talked about relaunching the site as our store, we wanted to bring back the ethos behind the original Loadout Room gear site. We wanted to build a store with products and brands we would actually use ourselves. That’s largely where we’re at now but instead of practicing crawl, walk, run, we sprinted and fell on our ass.

Fall down seven times get up eight says the Japanese proverb. Well, we’re back up.

We made plenty of mistakes along the way, especially in February to May before bringing on board Army veteran, writer, and former Gear Patroller and an all-around good guy, Jacob Sotak, to take point and make sure that we largely focused on North American Brands which could make great gear and ship on time.

I’m looking forward to seeing the store grow and we would love to hear your feedback and suggestions below.