Fashion Week for the gear guy

  • Article by: MARK BRUNSWICK , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 16, 2011 - 6:06 PM

I knew that Fashion Week had moved from New York's Bryant Park, but I had no idea it was now outside the Minneapolis Convention Center.

During President Obama's recent trip to Minneapolis to speak to the American Legion, I was stopped by federal agents for the routine search of my bag. "Oh, where did you get that?" one asked me enviously. "Brigade Quartermasters," I said. The two agents nodded approvingly.

For a gear guy, it was the ultimate compliment and got me thinking of the best gear websites for people covering the military and law enforcement. The item that struck the agents' fancy was "a computer messenger bag with a mission: to carry your ops-essential gear conveniently, securely, and with style." It was from Brigade Quartermasters, my go-to online store for gear, and part of a recent purchase that also included a new shemagh, a scarf-like cloth that serves as an all-purpose headdress in the desert. I have shemaghs from Iraq and Afghanistan but their colors often raised questions about tribal affiliations that were too hard to answer. This new one was olive drab and black. Nonpolitical, but fun, flirty, and fashion-forward. Brigade Quartermasters also provided my essential footwear for boots-on-ground assignments. At $178 retail, they may not be Jimmy Choo, but my Belleville Air Force Hot Weather Maintainers are often the envy of an Army chow hall.

When Brigade Quartermasters proves too expensive, my second favorite vendor is Opsgear, a more edgy site that often offers better deals. They have an Infidel brand of apparel that may be too in-your-face for some consumers or the workplace, though.

My third go-to site is one of the best named vendors on the Internet: Cheaper Than Dirt (and they often are). They have the best survival and first aid stuff at a decent price.

A word of caution: If your name ends up on a list after buying from these places, don't be surprised if you suddenly find it more difficult to get through security at the airport.

Mark Brunswick • 612-673-4434

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