Infantry: Lightweight Warm and Dry


July 7, 2012: Professional soldiers love to get gear that is lighter and more effective than what they already have. So it should be no surprise that some soldiers who spend a lot of time performing long range, multi-day foot patrols are rushing to buy a new one-man tent that weighs less than a kilo (two pounds) and not only keeps you dry but in warm weather has netting to keep the bugs out as well. The Raider tent was meant for civilian hikers but the manufacturers know that the professional military hikers (light infantry) are also avid customers for this stuff. The Raider tent is low profile and has an internal length of 2.23 meters (88 inches). The double wall tent comes with plastic stakes and lightweight aluminum frame. It all folds into a package you can hold in your hand. The tent costs about $250.

Even more important to the infantry is light weight sleeping bags. Iraq was unique in that, while it was very hot during the daytime, it got real cold at night, especially out in the desert. So items like the Snugpak Merlin Softie 3 were very popular in Iraq. This is a lightweight 771 grams (1.7 pounds) and folds up into a shape smaller than a soccer ball. It is rated for use down to freezing. While it does get colder than that some nights during Winter, the bag also has a reinforced bottom so that you can sleep in it wearing your boots and most of your field uniform. This makes it possible to use the Snugpak in all but the coldest Afghan weather. The Snugpak was a favorite with combat troops who were out for days and nights at a time. In those situations you often want to sleep with your boots on. The big advantage of the Snugpak is that it was half the weight and takes up less than half the space of the U.S. Army's standard intermediate weather sleeping bag. You could get SnugPaks for as low as $150, and many troops considered it a worthwhile investment. Many troops also found hammocks useful, especially in urban fighting, where you can find places to hang it up. These are cheap, about ten bucks, and work well with a Snugpak.


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