U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Anthony Hyatt

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.

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Photo courtesy of Beyond Clothing

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.

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