If you like to camp and hike, you’ve probably learned pretty quickly that the gear necessary to enjoy your hobby can add up to a lot of money. If you’re finding sporting goods stores are charging more than you can afford for camping and hiking equipment, why not try military surplus? Here are eight types of items you can easily find at military surplus stores or from suppliers online.


Real wool blankets are quite expensive, and while they aren’t as high-tech as some of today’s blankets, they can be just as desirable. Old military wool blankets have survived numerous washes, so you know they’re sturdy.

They can be cool to collect too, as suppliers often carry blankets from armies around the world. Popular blankets include those from Switzerland with the recognizable white cross on a red background and the Czech army’s two blue stripes.

Army blankets can be super affordable, so grab extras for your pets, your car, or your summer house.


Individual army tents meant to thwart mosquitoes are perfect for hike-in campers. They’re ultra lightweight and pack up in their own sacks. They’re easy to assemble, and you can use them with a sleeping bag or with a cot if you’re car camping.


Tarps are another common military surplus item. They make perfect rain flies for tents, but you can also use them as picnic blankets or for covering gear tied to your roof or an open trailer.

Emergency Kits

Emergency kits are a military surplus mainstay. You can find them already filled with sewing or medical supplies, or you can create your own. Add bandages, scissors, wound care, and the like, plus whatever emergency medications you might need, and you’ll be thanking yourself if you run into trouble far from civilization.

Mess Kits

Bringing cooking and eating supplies from home is bulky and risky if you lose something in the bush. Instead, use a military mess kit that nests all the pieces inside each other. You can find plates, cups, cutlery and cooking gear without too much trouble.

Storage Containers

If you’ve ever had your camping trip ruined by insects, critters or a bad storm, you know how valuable good storage is. Try a military fiberglass storage container to banish ants, raccoons, and rain. These are perfect for car or trailer camping trips.


Military backpacks are meant to take a lot of abuse and come with a host of hooks, loops, flaps, and pockets for all your gear and accessories. More modern packs are relatively ergonomic in their design, so they are more comfortable for long periods of use. If you buy a military backpack, you’ll likely have it for years to come.


Military surplus suppliers offer a wealth of clothing and accessories:

  • cargo pants
  • vests
  • sweaters
  • jackets
  • watch caps
  • gaiters
  • boots
  • gloves
  • capes
  • watches

Try some of these items on your next trip to keep warm and protected from the elements, which was their original intention.