I read a lot of comments.  Whenever one of my articles goes up, I do my best to hop in and read each comment beneath it, and although it’s probably bad for my health, I even sometimes read the comments on Facebook.  The content we write here begs for strong opinions, and you can often find them voiced passionately by Facebookers who support or oppose the thesis of an article in the comments sections below SOFREP’s posts on the platform – but one comment I’ve noticed a few times that I have trouble wrapping my head around always pertains to the gear I see reviewed here and elsewhere in the tactical community: “why should we care what these Special Operations guys think?”

To be honest, it’s because I trust these guys, and nowhere is that reasoning more prevalent than in the Crate Club. Full disclosure, I’ve been a paying subscriber to the Crate Club since before working here, and that’s not because I’ve got a shortage of tactical gear lying around my house.  A combination of my life experiences and a bit of that unique brand of veteran paranoia so many of us become familiar with has left my house fairly well stocked with the sorts of gear I’d need to fend off a zombie apocalypse or Red Dawn-style invasion. So why pay other veterans to mail me more each month? Because it’s not about having more gear; it’s about having the right gear.

We see lots of gear marketed as “military-grade” or “up to military standards” everywhere from pricey sporting goods stores to their cheap, big box competitors – but “military grade” isn’t the point.  I’ve got lots of “military grade” stuff that was so cheaply manufactured Uncle Sam didn’t even see fit to ask for it back when I got out. “Military grade” means something can accomplish what it was designed to do without costing much money – not that the piece of equipment achieved some level of practical super-toughness.

Every service member spends their first trip to the field learning just how crappy “military grade” can be, as their waterproof gear proves to be barely water-resistant, their pack turns out to be as user-friendly as Ikea instructions in another language, and, as was my case on more than one occasion, their super-tough military grade phone case turns into an expensive casket for yet another iPhone lost to the War on Terror.  “Military grade,” in and of itself, often means nothing more than “we’re using the term ‘military’ because research shows it will motivate you to purchase our goods,” and nothing more.