Is Buying Army Surplus Camping Gear Worth The Money?

Many of you may have wondered “is buying army surplus gear is worth the money”? Some may never even have thought of this option for camping gear.

Whether you are into wild camping, bivvying, micro-adventures or love the whole take everything with you glamping experience on well-manicured campgrounds. Army surplus sellers and stores can often offer good quality, pocket-friendly clothing and gear that will help enhance your camping and adventure experiences.

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Discovering Army Surplus Gear

I actually had never thought of looking at army surplus gear for camping until the other month. My wife and I had signed up to do an extreme winter campout with a local charity and we had also seen a Bivy Bag World Record Attempt on Facebook. We wanted to do both!

This led to us needing to find a new winter sleeping bag but we did not want to pay the high price tags of some on the market. After all, we were unsure if the sleeping bags would be used much after these events. If You would like to see our review of this bag you can read it on this blog –

I had looked around many of the usual outdoor sites we normally use for purchasing our gear with no luck. Some of the winter sleeping bags I had seen were still a few hundred pounds. So we turned to other people looking at doing the World Record Attempt to see what they were using.

One sleeping bag that kept coming up was the Army Arctic Sleeping Bags. The reason I hadn’t come across these in my search was that they were only available from army surplus stores. Many of these stores sell online including on eBay and Amazon. After some searching and looking at various listings, prices and availability I bought two.

army surplus gear

Why Army Surplus Gear?

As I was looking for the aforementioned sleeping bags I was coming across more and more items that I would consider using for our “normal” camping trips. By normal I mean our wild and site camping trips. As well as options for adding to our camping gear, there was also a few clothing items that kept cropping up that I know I would use when out.

But why would I choose some of this gear?

For me, it is a mixture of price and quality. Many of the army surplus items are often cheaper than similar items in outdoor stores. The quality is another reason. If it is used by the armed forces in any country then it will have been truly tried and tested.

Army surplus gear on sale in the UK is not only from the British armed forces but items can be found from armed forces across the globe. Many items are similar but they can also differ in materials used, colours and weights and this can give you options when it comes to purchasing any of the items available.

What Army Surplus Gear

Well apart from the sleeping bag that I mentioned earlier what are some of the items available from army surplus stores and sellers?

  • Bivy bags, hammocks, tarps
  • Tents (both small and family sized)
  • Sleeping bags (all seasons), sleeping bag liners
  • Cook ware, cups, cutlery
  • Water carriers, wash basins
  • Rucksacks
  • Clothing (trousers, jumpers, jackets, shirts etc)
  • Footwear (boots, shoes, socks, gaitors)
  • Sleeping boots/tent slippers
  • Kettles, stoves, open fire accessories
  • Head gear (buffs, hats, balaclava)
  • Lights/torches

As you can see this covers a lot of kit. If you are a lover of wild camping It would be advantageous to check out some of the gear available. Even if you are a regular, campsite kinda person or family there are still some items that would be great additions to your kit.

One item I am planning on buying for all my camps is the Dutch army sleeping socks. These are soft booties that can be worn to bed to keep your feet warm. The soft material will be ideal for using as sleepers in the tent as well as for sleeping in when out wild camping. At £6 a pair I feel they are a bargain.

Dutch Army Sleeping Socks
Dutch Army Sleeping Socks

The Downside

I have mentioned what items are available and the fact that the prices are good, often much cheaper than outdoor stores. So, are there any downsides or negative takeaways for purchasing this stuff?

Well, that really depends on you and how much effort you put into researching before you buy. Many items may have been used before, therefore they are second-hand goods. For me this is nothing a good wash before using wouldn’t fix. I am all for using items for their full lifespan, recycling, reusing and saving things going to landfills. I know some are not too eager to use items that have once belonged to others and prefer their items brand new.

Saying this you may be lucky to get an item that has been issued to someone then never used. Most items are graded before they are sold, especially clothing, bedding, tents and tarps. This lets you know about what condition the item is in before you purchase. As well as being graded there may also be a description stating whether it has a scuff or mark on it.

But if you do your own due diligence before purchase you will find that you are indeed getting a bargain in purchasing army surplus gear. It is a reliable kit and if you take care of it, it could last for many years to come, again saving you money by not having to replace your kit every few years.

Could Their Surplus Be Your Treasure?

So do you think army surplus gear is something you would be interested in?

I hope so and if you are there are many ways you can start to look at what is available and how to get your hands on it.

I have looked at the following places for army surplus gear, some are better than others. You may also prefer to do a quick internet search to see if there are any army surplus stores near you. That way you can go in and get a real feel for any gear you are interested in buying as well as gaining some knowledge from the staff in the store.

Amazon, there are many replica items on here and sometimes it can be hard to distinguish between the real deal and the replica stuff.

eBay, has many genuine listings for this type of gear (we bought our sleeping bags through a seller on eBay).

Army Surplus stores online such as are based in Lancashire, UK. A quick search online will show you ALL online and offline stores in your country.

Looking for other gear why not read some of our reviews – Gear Reviews

You can also read the review on the Army Arctic Sleeping Bag we purchased through eBay on this link –

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2 thoughts on “Is Buying Army Surplus Camping Gear Worth The Money?”

  1. I will never forget growing up and using my Grandfather’s Army camping gear he brought back from his tour of duty during World War II.  I still remember the smell and feel of these well built camping supplies.  They were durable and made to last.  I loved his Army issued cot!  I highly recommend finding one at an Army surplus store or online.  I don’t know if they still build them the same way, but back in the day they were rugged yet comfortable.  His Army issued canteen could have been runover by a Semi Truck and still been usable!  Your post about getting camp equipment at an Army surplus store has not only brought back great memories, but inspired me to start shopping for some gear!  

    • Hey Arizona, 

      Thanks for reading our post. Yes, the Army stuff is certainly built to last. It is great that we can also prolong the life of these wonderful products and know we have the best of products with us on our camping trips.


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