What is Military Surplus and How to Buy it?

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Are you on the lookout for affordable, high-quality items that can withstand the apocalypse or even you? Something that looks cool, tells a historical story, and with the added bonus of promoting sustainability. If these statements resonate with you, then you, my friend, are looking for military surplus products.

Military surplus refers to military-grade items that have become available for civilians. Tough, durable, and endlessly versatile, these items offer an avenue for anyone looking for clothes and equipment for various situations.

In this article, we'll explain what military surplus is, its different uses, purposes, and benefits, and provide you with some basic tips on how and where to buy it. After reading the article, you'll realize that one's surplus is truly another's treasure!

What is Military Surplus?

Military surplus refers to military products that have become available to the general public when they are replaced or overproduced. This includes a range of items, from basic clothing such as uniforms and combat boots to more advanced military gear like plate carriers, combat vests, packs, and even vehicles and weaponry.

There is a wide range of military surplus goods found in our army surplus store - Varusteleka. Quality clothing like field jackets, cargo pants, and combat boots, and various types of gear such as backpacks and tents can be purchased in just a few clicks. The key difference between the military surplus and standard civilian products lies in their durability and affordability. Military-grade goods often meet higher standards as they need to perform reliably under tough conditions, last for a long time, and are available at a fraction of the cost of new items.

So why does this stuff end up on the market? Often it's due to technological upgrades or changes in military needs that make certain supplies redundant. Instead of letting them go to waste, governments sell them off at reduced prices.

What is the History of Military Surplus

Origins of Military Surplus

In the 1870s, Francis Bannerman started the first military surplus store by purchasing vast amounts of new and used military surplus items from the U.S. government. In the following century, the nations were subjected to various wars, such as World Wars I and II, the Vietnam War, the Korean War, and the Cold War. After ending the wars and establishing peace, nations realized they needed to manage their extra military inventory efficiently.

Hence, governments started selling this stuff to civilians. This practice not only helped clear out storage but also provided affordable goods for public use.

Modern Day Situation

During the 2010s, military surplus retail evolved significantly. Traditional walk-in stores continued to thrive, providing a palpable shopping experience where customers could inspect and try on various products, ensuring quality and fit. These stores often became local hubs for military enthusiasts and collectors.

Simultaneously, e-commerce was on the rise, revolutionizing the digital marketplace for military surplus. More online platforms introduced themselves and offered a broader range of products to the global audience, making it easier to find specific items and compare prices.

Fast-forward to today, and the preference to use e-commerce stores to buy military surplus commodities is at an all-time high due to the convenience and worldwide product selection. There's been a shift in public perception, too— people from all walks of life are interested in military surplus due to its budget-friendly prices, high quality, and longevity.

Where to Buy Military Surplus?

From Online Stores like Varusteleka

Online stores offer a convenient way to buy military surplus for the general public. Specialized antique stores can provide a wider range of singular collectible items but they usually can't compete with the price and range. From a reliable player like us, you can find clothing, equipment, and ammo cans more easily and usually much cheaper with just a few clicks.

When shopping with Varusteleka, you can be assured that the products are what we tell them to be. We will tell you if the item is in great, not-so-great, or downright crappy condition and point out the faults that it might have. That is also reflected in the price. We also offer an extremely fair and easy return and refund policy to further assure our customers of their buying decisions. We are located in Finland but ship all over the world.

Military Auctions

Military auctions are another great source for finding army surplus items. These auctions often feature large quantities of gear and larger items, such as vehicles that we don't sell at competitive prices.

Here's how they work:

  1. Items are listed on auction websites or government platforms.

  2. Interested buyers place bids within a specified timeframe.

  3. The highest bidder wins the item once the auction closes.

Commonly found at these auctions are clothing, tools, vehicles, and more unique pieces like curio relic firearms or warehouse space materials used by the military itself.

Participating in an auction involves registering on the platform hosting it—whether that's through an official government site or a private company. Next is placing your bids accordingly during live events held virtually via web browser interfaces provided directly by departments handling such sales.

Flea Markets

Flea markets offer an interesting venue for purchasing military surplus. You can sometimes find excellent stuff at regular flea markets, too, but your best bet is the ones that specialize in military equipment. These markets feature everything from vintage uniforms and historical artifacts to modern tactical gear and survival equipment. They attract a wide range of visitors, including collectors, veterans, reenactors, and outdoor enthusiasts.

Varusteleka also organizes an extensive War Flea Market twice a year in Konala, Southern Finland. Participants can buy a table and showcase their products to the general public for sale. Keep an eye on our facebook page to be the first to know about the upcoming war flea markets and events alike.

Who Buys Military Surplus?

Campers and Hunters

Military surplus is ideal for outdoor activities. Specific items that stand out among campers and hunters include:

These products are built with high-quality materials and can withstand harsh conditions, making them perfect for the outdoors.

Budget-conscious Buyers

Budget-conscious buyers often seek out military surplus for its cost-effectiveness and reliability. The following products are often in high demand:

This makes military surplus an ideal choice for those looking to stretch their bucks without compromising on quality.

Military Enthusiasts and Collectors

Military enthusiasts and collectors love military surplus items for their historical and practical significance.

Military enthusiasts often seek out surplus items for their authenticity, as these pieces provide a tangible connection to military heritage and service. These items are also of high quality and usually cheaper than their commercial counterparts, making them perfect for collectors.

Survivalists and Preppers

Survivalists and preppers often look for good gear for long-term use. They tend to prefer military surplus because it is well-made, which means it is strong and reliable. Preferred items may include:

LARPers (Live Action Role Players)

LARPers often turn to military surplus for authentic and durable gear that enhances their role-playing experiences. They often look for:

Military surplus items provide the realism and functionality that LARPers seek for their characters and scenarios.

Top Benefits of Buying Military Surplus

Durable and Cost-effective

One of the main reasons people buy military surplus is its durability. Military-grade items are built to last under tough conditions, which means they often outlast their civilian counterparts. For example, military cargo pants last a lot longer than their civilian counterpart found in fast-fashion stores and equipped with a self-destruct mechanism.

Another benefit is cost savings. You get high-quality goods at a fraction of the original retail price. Items like boots, outdoor jackets, and tools are often over-engineered for maximum performance and longevity. Investing in these durable items can lead to long-term savings.

Historically Unique

Military surplus also holds great significance as historical memorabilia. Many items have unique stories behind them, connecting you to different eras and events in history. For instance, owning a piece of equipment used during World War II gives you a tangible link to that period.

These historically unique items are not just functional but also collectible. They offer more than what reproduction products provide because they carry real history with them.

Versatile and Functional

Versatility is another strength for military surplus goods and materials. These items serve various applications beyond their original purpose. A simple army blanket, for example, can be used as a sleeping bag substitute in warm weather, a ground cover while camping out, a temporary windbreak, an additional bedding layer, or raw material for making blanket shirts.

The functionality extends into everyday life, too. From clothing that's perfect for outdoor activities to kitchenware that's sound enough for daily use, these versatile items adapt well across different needs.

Environmentally Responsible

Buying military surplus promotes the reuse and recycling of durable military goods that would otherwise go to waste. By repurposing high-quality products like clothing, gear, and equipment, the demand for new products decreases, thereby saving the resources and energy required for manufacturing.

This practice also helps reduce the environmental impact related to the production, transportation, and disposal of goods. Furthermore, military surplus items are built to endure harsh conditions, resulting in minimal waste.

Over to you

Ultimately, military surplus offers a range of durable, affordable, historically unique, and versatile items. Whether you're a collector or just looking for high-quality goods at reasonable prices, there's something for everyone. Start your search today and discover the value that military surplus can bring to your life. For beginners, it's helpful to read guides on buying military surplus and reports on the best military surplus items to own, before making any purchases. Happy hunting!

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