Dutch Military Surplus for Bug-Out Gear

by Ric Hubbard • December 25, 2022

Over the last few months, I have been building a new bug-out set-up. For the load bearing portion, I decided on military surplus equipment from the Netherlands sourced from Varusteleka Oy in Helsinki, Finland. My reasoning for ordering from them has a lot to do with price and wide availability of the equipment from one source compared to US sources.

There are some things that one should know when buying any military surplus. One, the essential element of military surplus is the generally lower prices for quality gear. Second, unless you are lucky enough to find new, as issued surplus, you are getting used gear. This means that there is a chance that there will be some defects. Generally, you will find a grading system to give you an idea of what to expect when you get the product. Varusteleka does not supply a grade, but they are honest about what to expect in that they inform you that quality may vary.

The front of the Sting Bergen has rows of MOLLE to extend the capacity of the pack.

The first thing that caught my eye was the Lowe Alpine style “Sting” rucksack. It has a few qualities that made it an excellent choice for me. It is constructed of a strong Cordura equivalent, Infrared Reflective nylon in a Disruptive Pattern Material (DPM) camouflage pattern very much like the old British DPM and like the old American Woodland pattern.

The lid to the pack has a large pocket to store items that you need to get to quickly. Here was the one defect in my pack, the zipper was not closing properly. A quick search on YouTube and a pair of pliers and it was functional again. The front of the pack has rows of PALLS/MOLLE to add pouches for extra gear.

The side pouches can become a patrol pack.

The main compartment has a sleeve for a hydration pouch but is otherwise just a 60-liter tub that you load from the top. There is an additional twenty liters in the side “rocket” pouches on the sides of the pack and they were the asset that most sold me on the pack. They are removable by zipper and once removed, they zip together and become a day pack with the included backpack straps.

The pack itself has an adjustable suspension system, comfortable shoulder straps, and a good hip belt to help make the bag comfortable to carry. There are variations in the packs and mine has daisy chain straps under the rocket pouches and on the top of the flap pocket that allow for more attachment options.

Being that I live in Texas I feel like the 80-liter pack is big enough for my needs and helps me avoid over packing. If you want to carry more for what ever reason, there is also the “Saracen” rucksack which is just a 120-liter version of the Sting.

Note the excellent suspension system that makes the pack comfortable to carry.

The rucksack is where I will be carrying most of my bug-out gear, but there are tools that I may need to access while on the move. Trauma kits, various tools, compasses, and the like should be kept easily reachable, and a Load Bearing Equipment (LBE) vest will make that easier. It made sense to me to stay with the Dutch family of equipment for a Bug-Out Vest.

This series of Dutch surplus includes a modular vest that I find superior to most surplus LBE on the market. Like most modern gear, it is a PALLS/MOLLE style vest that give the user a lot of choice. It has a lot of adjustability to fit a wide variety people. On the left and right front of the vest there are zippered pockets for maps and other flat items. Inside the right-side pocket is a holster for a small pistol. The MOLLE webbing covers the entire vest, front and back, to which you can add pouches for gear. They can be found in green, black and DPM.

Varusteleka carries a wide selection of matching pouches in assorted sizes and for different uses. I bought two three magazine pouches, a small general-purpose pouch and a first aid/admin pouch from the gear selection. I also bought an admin pouch, a trauma kit pouch and tool pouch in OD green from Condor. All these pouches fit on the front of the vest. It leaves the possibility to add more pouches to the back of the vest, but in my case, I will be using the rocket pouches for short trips away from camp.

The Dutch gear is proving to be of excellent quality and functions as expected. Despite the reputation, I have been using Condor gear for years and I find the quality to fit my needs just fine. In the next issue I will start discussing what is going or will be going into the system as well as a first line belt kit. Your milage may vary, but I am happy with where this set up is headed. The Dutch equipment is popular in Great Britain, and you can find some excellent reviews if you look on YouTube if you look, so doing a little further research will be easy.


Varusteleka Oy
Hankasuontie 11 A
00390 Helsinki

This article also appears in “American Survivor”, the official newsletter of Live Free USA.