7 Things Every Soldier will Need in the Field


I can remember once, being out in the field for a few days – getting to that point where it wasn’t cute anymore. You know that feeling. The lack of a shower is starting to kick in. Everyone is getting on each other’s nerves already. This particular day found me hungry around the noon hour, and for some reason I didn’t get breakfast. I grabbed the last MRE in the box by the truck (oh goody…breakfast omelette…my favorite) and got into position to eat. Of course, because I was starving, the thing wouldn’t open. I pulled and tugged and tried to rip the stupid thing open – no luck. Worse yet, when I reached for my knife, it wasn’t there. I realized immediately it was in yesterday’s pants still, which were now in a landry bag. Perfect.

“Anyone got a knife?” I asked. The silence was confusing. Wait a minute…nobody? Seriously? “I’m standing next to five soldiers, and none of you have a blade of any kind?” I inquired. It seemed like such a bizarre situation. Never in a million years did I think in basic training that one day I’d be in the field, with a cell phone and a charger, but nobody would have a knife. Weird.

I heard something yesterday that made me think of this, and I immediately emailed myself a reminder to make a list of some things everyone should always take  to the field. Here are my 7 things I cannot live without.

1.) Knife/Leatherman/Gerber

Call it what you want, but I don’t ever remember being in the field and not using this at some point. Ever.

2.) 550 Cord

It’s been my experience that supply never has this when it’s actually needed. You can buy this at the PX most of the time, and it’s such a problem solver on so many levels, I think it’s foolish to ever be caught without it. Odds are, at some point you’ve used tape or some shotty method because 550 cord wasn’t accessible. Fix that, and get some.

3.) 100mph Tape

They make this in every color, including camo pattern. If 550 cord couldn’t fix it, 100mph tape probably will. Other tape is inferior and not as weather-proof.

4.) Gorilla Box

I always take an empty gorilla box to the field with me and use it as my weather-proof dresser. It can stay outside my tent, which gives me a little extra room to try to sleep. Nothing is more waterproof than these rubbermaid totes. The army issues nothing to my knowledge in the form of a bag that is completely 100% waterproof. They sell these in all sizes – I highly highly recommend using one if your unit allows it.

5.) A mirror

A hand-held mirror is such a great thing to have in the field. I’ve tried to shave countless times looking into a mirror on a vehicle, covered in morning dew, and dirty – keeping a small mirror for shaving ensures you don’t miss any spots and look like a dirtbag.

6.) A handful of old grocery bags

Field sanitation and cleanliness can be hard to maintain when there’s not a nearby can or bag for your trash. Having these smaller bags with you allows you to throw away all your small trash, and keep it with you so it’s not touching other stuff in your bag…then when you do get a chance to throw it away, it’s all in one bag, not spread out all over the place. Also, these bags can be a very good way to help further waterproof something. A few extra ziplock bags never hurt either. I have a small pocket on my assault pack that probably has 25 old walmart bags and a few extra ziplock bags. I use them every single time I go to the field.

7.) Baby wipes

Easier than carrying toilet paper, and better than toilet paper anyway. These serve so many extra purposes…and one pack typically last for weeks if you use them responsibly. When a shower isn’t an option, these are life-savers.

What things make your “must have” list? I’m not talking snacks/drinks…I’m looking for something you take to the field and use religiously. Let me know! Please share with your buddies, and don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss out on future helpful posts.

Published by


Husband, dad, soldier, veteran, transportation manager, musician, and now a blogger and podcast host...sharing stories, experiences, and debates.

Leave a Reply