Anyone who’s deployed overseas knows that it’s easy to get sentimental about your hometown when you’ve been so far away for so long. Belleville, Illinois, where Army-issue Belleville boots are made, isn’t technically where I was born, but it’s close enough that during month 14 of an Iraq deployment I felt a very visceral connection to my home. It was as though the boots were binding me to my past, grounding me in it, and in a very real sense, providing me with strength and comfort.
The softshell jacket is the new face of military outerwear. If the classic M-65 Field Jacket was an icon of the Cold War, then softshells are the post 9/11-era symbol of tactical function. There are so many companies pumping out softshells these days, complicating the decision when it comes time to buy.