What is some of the worst gear you’ve ever been issued in the military?

Whether it’s something like canteens or those leather glove shells, U.S. service members are no strangers to gear that is a hassle to use, a hassle to store, and a hassle to turn in when you’re done with it. 

Everyone’s opinions on this may differ. Maybe your shoulders are still a little sore from wearing one of those old load bearing vests. Maybe your ears are still ringing despite your usage of 3M earplugs. Maybe you’re even a contrarian and just don’t like your woobie

Last week, we asked Task & Purpose readers what their least favorite, most useless piece of issued equipment was. 

A common response, perhaps not unsurprisingly, was elbow and knee pads. “Literally still sitting in the package after years and years,” wrote Mark A. Williamson on Facebook. Or, as one reader responded on Twitter:

Another popular suggestion? Various iterations of military-issued undergarments. Perhaps this should be one area in which the military just trusts service members to handle things themselves. 

“The issued, nasty, used, hole filled, stained cotton long johns (90’s era Marine Corps supply),” replied one reader on Facebook. 

“Desert tan briefs,” said Joe Fish.

This is something that would normally go outside your trousers, but Alex Plitsas suggested the groin protector. (Fortunately, groin protection does seem to be a field in which the military is making some technological advances.)

Pointlessly issued gear was another common response. 

“Cold weather gear. I’m talking like, mukluks. I was stationed in Japan. In Tokyo,” wrote reader Jonathan Mihovk on Facebook. 

“Those big heavy and warm Black Fleece sweaters, got issued one a year after we weren’t allowed to wear them with the ACU’s. CIF still asked for it years later when I got out,” Andrew MacKellar replied. 

Sometimes the classics just continue to endure through decades of uselessness. 

Reader Nicholas Tela suggested, “The periscope flashlight that didn’t fit anywhere, broke if you looked at it, and made of cheap brittle olive green plastic,” also adding “The OD green rubber rain gear, a.k.a. ‘puke gear’ because it reeked as such, no matter what soap was used.

“Thick wool glove liners for baggy leather gloves in Brunswick ME in the early 70s in my P-3 squadron. It was like, ‘can’t you afford real gloves?’” responded Dale Smith on Twitter. 

And, finally, plenty of jokesters submitted various iterations of junior officers. Well, this former junior officer will give to you, but just this once. 

The latest on Task & Purpose

Want to write for Task & Purpose? Click here. Or check out the latest stories on our homepage.