Monday, January 13, 2014

surplus Swedish army winter gear

So now it is winter for real here and I thought it might be nice to do a gearpost in direct relation to the season; Swedish military surplus winter gear!
It has been quite obvious to me that much of the Swedish army surplus things are much sought after in the (online) traditional outdoor/bushcraftcommunity. Sometimes I wonder if it is more because of the "cultstatus" these items seem to bestow on the owner or if these items really are that good.
The m39 backpack I have shown before and talked about and many of us know the messkitset too.
I'd like to address some of the winterclothes I have or have had, just to gove you a bit more information, should you want to purchase some of it. Mind you I am by no means an expert on this subject. I can only state what I experienced.

They are the M39 or M39-58 wooluniform (vadmaluniform), the M59 long coat and matching wintercap, the M1913 sheepskincoat and matching hat, the rubberised ankle boots, the wool footwraps and the standard wool scarf.

I'll start off with the vadmal (wool) uniform;
The basic design and material of both the m39 and the m39-58 are the same as is the cut and fit. There are some differences in pocketplacement and other minor details. The main difference between the first and the latter are the missing chestpockets, the addition of backpockets on the coat, no split in the lowerback. Some m39 uniforms were retrofitted with these modifications.
The pants received upperlegpockets, had attached "gaiters"

In my case that means I own an altered pair of m39 and a pair of m39-58 pants and jacket.
One set is left in its original colour and the other I dyed with onions peels.

The fit of these pants is good, but keep in mind that the waist is really high; up to the ribcage! This does mean that the lower back stays covered, even when sitting or hunching down, but a belt, or preferably suspenders, are indeed needed. Otherwise the pants will slide down and you end up with very baggy pants and a low crotch. These pants are comfortably warm in temperatures below zero. I've worn them down to -20 without longjohns and was not cold. The scratchy feeling that comes with woll clothes do not bother me, far from actually.
The matching jacket has quite a tight fit. I could manage with a t-shirt and a standard Dutch army woolsweater, but anything thicker might become uncomfortably tight. Not that that was necessary, though. The jacket was more than adequate in keeping me warm. One I kept in its original state, the other one I de-militarised by removing the backpockets and buttons and dyeing it a rich yellowish brown, a little darker than the pants actually. Mooseantler will provide new buttons.
Downside, for some people, of these uniforms, especially the jackets, is that they look very WW2 German

The m1913 wintercoat; long, heavy, warm and old! If I understood correctly this one was issued in the early  1940's. It has a thick cotton outershell and real sheepskin liner.  think it is quite stylish, but not practical in daily use. Nice if you have to stand or sit still for a long time at -20, not so nice if you are moving around. Just way to cumbersome for my liking. The hat is equally warm, but proved to be a bit too small for my noggin. I also did not like the earlobes peaking out from under it, especially if there is windchill to take into account!
Luckily the coat and hat have found a new good home with someone who appearantly appreciates them! And I hope he'll keep them in their original state, just for nostalgia sake.

The m59 vindrock and m59 vintermössa; it is the more modern equivalent of the sheepskincoat, but lighter and a little shorter. It is also made out of synthetics. I quickly overheat in it and start to sweat heavily. The same goes for the hat and it becomes itchy too, so you can guess how I feel about them.... I also think the coat is too long and the pockets ridiculously large. You can actually loose small gear in them! I spent a good couple of minutes looking for my pocketknife and carkeys in them! 
As far as wearingcomfort is concerned, it is a good coat for lowlevel activity, such as a casual walk or minor tasks around camp. In the latter case the length of the coat can become a hindrance.
It gets used as a workcoat now basically, but I never wear it long enough for it to get actually dirty or used. It is bound to become a winter carkit item, if I ever get a car that is big enough and actually works...

And then there is my winteranorak; the snödräkt or snöblus. I can not find a designation, but it predates the m/62.
I really like this piece of clothing, but regular readers might have already guessed that.

The next item on the list are the boots. If I understand correctly they too are m39. They are leather with the footpart covered in rubber. Comes in quite handy during weathershifts.... which do tend to happen around here. One day it is freezing 15 degrees and the next can be on the positive side of the Celsiusscale with all the soggy and wet conditions that come with that. So no excessive luxury to have.
They do tend to feel a bit... well, quite a bit, clumsy when walking in them for the first few times. Bit like walking with ducks feet, due to the very roomy fit and large size. Wearing 2 pairs of thick socks and a felt insole is not a problem with these and I have not yet had cold feet. How they perform with skis I do not know...yet.
Then there are the footwraps. These are made out of wool or a blend containing a lot of wool and are, as can be guessed, wrapped around the feet. I must admit that I am surprised at their performance, both in wearingcomfort and in keeping my feet warm. It is a bit of a fuss to get them wrapped properly, but I guess it is just a matter of experience. In less severe frostweather they did very well, wearing only them and a pair of thin leather boots. How they will hold out in real cold, like -10 or lower, I hope to find out soon.
They appearantly come in 2 sizes; 30x30 and 40x50. I went for 2 pair of the latter size. When using them they come halfway up the calf. Since the fit is loose, a lot of air gets trapped, so insulation is high. When walking they adjust to the shape of the foot and boot and I do not feel them once they are set.
I can recommend them.
The last item is the wool scarf or halsduk m/60. Not really much to say about that. It is a wool knitted scarf in grey, size about 150x20cm. The neat thing about these is that they are doublelayered... which gave me the idea of cutting them in half and using them as a turtleneck or emergency hat/earwarmer. The kids use them as turtlenecks or buffs all the time. Much more comfortable than a scarf, that gets in the way or loosens up, letting cold air get down your neck. The good part; cheap as dirt!

So there you have it;
a small rundown of often easily available and affordable military surplus gear for winteruse.


  1. The pants are quite a want-have.... ;-).

  2. Hello
    I am french and i am falling in love to swedish coat m-1909....this long coat is amazing...
    Where i could find it...
    Thanks so much

    1. Occassionally one comes across one on some salessite here in Sweden. but the price is often around €200 and shipping it to mainland Europe is insanely expensive.

  3. I am very intrigued by "foot wraps". Much more useful than a sock for possibly can be used for more than foot wrap?

    1. I have learned how to put on Russian and German foot wraps. The Russian ones work best with pull on boots and the German with ankle lace boots, but I have used both with both kind of boots. I have the all cotton and cotton flannel russian foot wraps, but like the flannel better, even in summer. The German ones are brown and look to be cotton flannel on one side and a straigh weave on the other. The Russian foot wraps are both white. One can put the German ones over socks for extra warmth. It's all good stuff.

  4. I really need to hear about your dying technique with onion peels..great idea.
    I have swede 40s era pants (grey)and would like them brown or tan..if you would include instructions here or email me at directly i will dance at your next wedding..Thank you

  5. Hi. Nice text. You modded the anorak also, right?

    1. I mean, you added a patch, a Swedish theme. How is it called?

    2. No idea. I found this leftover ribbon in a secondhand store.

  6. Interesting how you dyed the wool. I was wondering about the excat method you used. (I want't to get some swedish tunics and dye them to khaki and your method is my the desired shade)