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Updated on December 17, 2013
Eric Graves is no stranger to tactical and military gear. He’s been writing about it every day since he founded Soldier Systems Daily in 2008. SSD is one of the most popular blogs for military equipment and apparel industry members.
That’s why Graves is the perfect candidate to hit up when you’re creating this year’s holiday shopping list. He knows all about the most compelling, exciting and functional items that are new to market. He also has earmarked tried-and-true gear that either he, his family or his friends have owned. We sat down with Graves to chat via telephone for a more in-depth look at the Soldier Systems Daily Wishlist
I looked at TacticalGear.com’s entire product line, and I tried to select things from different categories. I tried to pick products from different vendors. I didn’t pick products from more than one vendor, but I could have easily done that. You have several brands that are just great across the board, but I wanted to mix it up a little bit.
I wanted to give people a taste of things that I think are both new and innovative and things that I know are perennial, solid performers. That was kind of my thinking.
Oakley has always been a great eyewear brand. I saw the Cerakote version at SHOT Show and immediately was interested in the product. I think they’re fantastic.
A lot of people have taken their own eye pro and sent them out to get them cerakoted. Normally you see cerakoting on guns. It’s a very durable, protective coating. It protects the weapon and product, and it will also change color. It works well with plastic as well so you can use it on a Glock just as much as you could on an AR-15.
What Oakley said was, “Hey, let’s take an entire run of glasses and cerakote them.” Nobody has done that at the manufacturer level. They were available right from the manufacturer with a cerakote finish. To me that’s really cool. It’s really innovative.
This is another product that stuck out to me at SHOT Show. I thought they were pretty cool, definitely a different look. They’re a really lightweight trainer boot, so you can offer a little more ankle support. The boots are super lightweight.
They definitely have a unique look. In fact, they kind of evoke this old-school feeling of the Adidas GSG-9 boot, which we used in the military all through the ‘80s and ‘90s. It was a leather high-top Adidas boot that had a running sole on it that was used as assault boots in military for years and years. Adidas doesn’t make that boot anymore; they’ve changed it to a newer boot. The styling reminds me to a certain degree of that old assault boot we saw back in the ‘80s and ‘90s. It has a bit of a retro look, but it’s definitely all new materials. It doesn’t have a typical military look to it.
I remember when Vertx was developing this product. I own one. I love it. It has a great layout. It has a fantastic fabric. It’s a great fit. I love that thing.
I am a big fan of smocks; I’ve written about them quite a bit. I bought my first smock back in the late ‘80s, and I traded a British soldier for one of his smocks. I have owned a lot of them over the years, and I really like it. It’s a great jacket.
To be honest with you, if that ops trainer would have been available in tan, I would have went for tan. I just don’t really like black boots—I’m not a cop. And this Vertx smock, it’s available in a coyote color, and I like that a lot. I defaulted to MultiCam if there wasn’t a tan available. I am a fan of MultiCam—do not get me wrong—but I try when possible to go to a neutral tan or grey color.
It’s a combat shirt that has been approved by NAVAIR, which is the approval authority in the Navy for wear by aircrews. So any aircrew can wear that product. It’s a newer product of theirs that just received certification from NAVAIR not that long ago. It’s a really cool garment. And I love the fabric story on it. The fabrics are not only FR but also anti-microbial and moisture wicking.
They have a pair of pants I really like that corresponds with the shirt, but I didn’t want to go and pick a bunch of products from the same company. I like the Vertx pant a lot as well, but I had already picked the smock. And I’m a huge fan of smocks. You don’t see a pair of pants on here because I just didn’t end up picking a pair. You guys have a lot of great pairs in your lineup.
Once again, I saw this at SHOT Show. It’s really cool. It’s a low profile product, so you can carry a carbine in this bag, and it looks like a racquet bag. There are multiple colors: There’s black and grey, red and grey, and blue and grey. I just chose the blue and grey. It doesn’t look like you are carrying a carbine in a bag. It’s not like there’s a pack where there’s a carbine in it.
A lot of people own guns, and they live in neighborhoods where people might get a little nervous about people who own guns. It’s a great way to just carry it out to the car. Nobody has to know what you’re up to.
Fantastic watch. I bought it for one of my kids when they graduated from high school. It’s just a great watch. He ended up wearing it for ROTC, and it was a really good watch for him. In fact, he told me that a couple of the drill sergeants tried to talk him out of it.
These are great lights designed to go on a helmet or a weapon. You put the light exactly where you want it. You can move the light head where it needs to go. So if you put the light on your helmet, you can put the light down in your workspace and get illumination where you want it instead of where your head is pointing. I chose tan. A lot of guys are wearing MultiCam down range. I really like the feature of the bendable arm. This specific light also uses AA batteries, so it has more power longer.
Crimson Trace makes a great laser that mounts right to the grip of your pistol. I happen to have a Glock 19, so that’s the one I would use on my pistol. G19 is a very popular, very common pistol. It’s a good way to integrate a laser right on your pistol, and it doesn’t get in the way if you want to mount a light as well.
The thing about the SureFire V2 Vampire is that technology has been out for a couple of years now. What they’ve done is integrated both white light and infrared light into the same head on the light. Basically, you twist the head of the light, and you can convert from regular white light to infrared light. The ability to have both of those in the same light is just really handy. I really like it a lot.
Survival Systems has been around forever. I mean, going back to the ‘80s. They’re local to you guys, and they make good quality [gear.] Most guys own more than one pistol, so it’s just a good way to store your pistols.