Good Stuff To Bring To Iraq (so I'm told)
Date Published: 25 June 2004
I've talked to a lot of people who have returned from a tour in Iraq and one of the questions I like to ask them is “What is the one thing you weren't issued that you wouldn't want to live without over there?”. Here are a couple of things I've heard (and since picked up for myself):
1. A good leg holster (if you're carrying a pistol). Having the pistol in a belt holster is uncomfortable, takes up space on the LBV, is harder to draw, and encourages dropping the pistol any time the LBV is grounded. Having a leg holster attached to your pants belt fixes all of the above issues. I ended up picking up a hip extender for the issued holster, which allows the issued holster to be worn on the leg rather than the belt.
2. Mosquito net - sand flies and mosquitoes are bad, especially when you're trying to sleep, and having a good net can make it much easier to get a good night's sleep, I hear.
3. A camelback hydration system. A desert camo one is what I would recommend. I have a black hydrastorm I bought a couple of years ago, but I'm probably going to buy a desert camo pack which has a slot for a camelback and I'll drop my black one into it.
One thing to note if you're coming to CRC at Ft. Bliss is that you can only take 3 duffel bags on the flight, and you're going to be issued 2 duffel bags (packed well - more if packed poorly) worth of gear. So any extra stuff you're bringing needs to all fit in a single duffel. You can also bring a carry-on and a laptop bag.
Another item I picked up, which goes with the leg holster, is a decent pants belt. Some folks have rigger belts, which are good; I have a 'better bdu belt' which is similar and has no moving parts.
Some must-have sundries include sunblock, insect repellent, and resealable wet wipes. The former two will be issued to you (government versions) - the latter you should bring a decent supply of and you should be able to buy more in theater.
Lastly, at CRC, you'll be allowed to ship stuff home (Thursday normally) via FedEx, at government expense. So if you do bring too much gear (most folks do), or if you want to be able to send your green BDUs home, you'll be able to at that time.
Update 28 Jun 2004 There are some threads on good things to bring/send to Iraq at the Military Spouse Headquarters site's forums. One that was mentioned was dryer sheets, which are supposed to repel fleas. Cool packs are another big hit. And for myself, I'm finding that Under Armour HeatGear is, although expensive, much more comfortable than traditional cotton for wear under the uniform.
Steve is an experienced software architect and trainer, focusing on code quality and Domain-Driven Design with .NET.