First off, I want to say that it’s awesome to see that grunts are now getting some solid kit. Back in my days, they really had some crap. Here are a few examples of what Recon guys were using back in the 90’s that has made it into the mainstream kit issue.

I realize that the Marine Corps has historically been a bit behind with kit issue, so I’m sure some of the other services got these upgrades first. And, I’m not implying that Recon Marines pioneered these upgrades, just highlighting the evolution.

  • Riggers Belt – we all own way too many but keep going back to our old favorite. My first riggers belt was an original Blackhawk back in the old days that I bought from their tiny ass storefront in VA Beach. Today’s belts may not be true riggers belts, but are definitely an off shoot. Thank god we’ve gone away from the metal buckle web belts.
  • Camelbaks – we were using the original Camelbak that came in a black neoprene sleeve and didn’t have any tubing covers. They got shoved into our rucks and we covered the tubes with good old tubular nylon. I’m glad to see that these are standard issue now, makes staying hydrated on patrol much easier.
  • Bush Cover (Boonie Hat for you non-Marine types) – before anyone brings it up, I realize that bush covers were very common during the Vietnam era, but they were pretty much gone during the 80’s and 90’s with the exception of Recon and Snipers. We all know the benefits of a solid bush cover, so I won’t reiterate.
  • Pockets on the Sleeve – My entire platoon (and the SEAL platoon on ship with us) had moved the bottom large BDU pockets to the chest area and the small upper pockets onto the sleeves. Whether you’re wearing armor or not, arm pockets are very useful.
  • Glint Tape – we all had the square of glint tape on the inside top of our bush covers. If we were calling in any type of air, we could flip our covers inside out and had our tape showing. Now, IR reflective tape is everywhere and it’s black now.
  • Fastech Buckles – everything on gear used to be the old feed through style buckles. We all had those replaced with fastech’s on our ass packs and rucks. Now, everything made was nice easy buckles.

Like I said at the top, it’s about time that Grunts are getting better gear, much of it on par with SOF issued kit.

Semper Fi

(featured image courtesy of

This article was originally published on the Loadout Room and was written by guest author Bill Janson. He is a former Recon Marine and is the founder of Eleven 10, a tactical gear manufacturer.