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Recent Posts

  1. "I Am Grey Group" Spotted #6
    Thursday, January 16, 2014
    Thursday, January 09, 2014
    Tuesday, December 17, 2013
  4. "How Pimp Is My Helmet" #28
    Monday, December 09, 2013
    Monday, November 25, 2013
    Tuesday, November 12, 2013
    Monday, November 04, 2013
  8. Nothing Is As Pimp As A War Dog #25
    Tuesday, October 01, 2013
  9. "Trunks Full of Drama and Trauma" #11
    Monday, September 09, 2013
  10. "I Am Grey Group" Spotted #5
    Tuesday, September 03, 2013


April 2014
The Grey Group Training Community

"I Am Grey Group" Spotted #6

“ I am Grey Group” spotted doing some advisory work somewhere on the Afrikan continent." (Anonymous)

There are four things that really sum up the GGT.  Ball hats, flip flops, sunglasses, and Glocks.  We have spotted the "I AM GREY GROUP" shirts both CONUS, and OCONUS being rocked with pride.  Then came the newborn shemagh version...

Here is your challenge, we introduced the "I AM GREY GROUP" Nalgene, now we want to see where you have taken it.  Show us your adventures, sunsets, trips, range days, work, or wherever you find yourself with the bottle, and we will hook you up with a brand new one, on us.  The only requirements are the photo needs to include the bottle, and be at least 650 pixels wide.  Please send images and any questions/concerns/sterilization instructions to the Grey Group Community with your images, or for more details on how to submit your media.



For the final push in my quest to see if the Oboz Yellowstone IIs were everything I was looking for, I opted for a 20K (12 ish' miles) ruck, in armor, with 70 pounds secured between the armor and an Arc'Teryx Tango.  Weather was mild, starting in the 60s and dropping into the high 40s.  Conditions were approximately 30% hardball, with the rest being a mix of whatever could get me far enough from the hardball to keep from being hit by the great drivers of Fayetteville.  Pace was consistent with EIB and was a combination of ruck marching and the wounded elk ruck run style.  Hydration was carried out with 3 Nalgene bottles loaded with Skratch Labs Pineapple (thanks Abbey for mixing, we don't know what Matt was doing).

I have to give another shout out to Abbey who was nice enough to drive by to check my progress and call my better half to let her know my pace and location.  I am relatively sure both of them thought I was dead in a ditch somewhere...or taking a nap in the wood line.

Originally I had intended to establish a consistent ruck march pace, but that did not last past the first 10 steps out of the Grey Group offices.  The Oboz are just too easy to move with at a ruck run pace.  It is something about the way that the boot transitions in a stride, that just makes it flow better than other boots I have become accustomed to.  Clearly my pace was not to blame on my broken brain wanting to go faster, so it must have all been the fault of the Yellowstones

Much of the credit for keeping me moving on the ruck has to go to Skratch Labs.  Their Pinapple Hydration Mix kept me feeling great.  I had hydrated through the day with it, and also drank it down throughout the ruck.  I experienced zero cramping, and for those of you who know what "bonking" is, I didn't "bonk".  There was no wall I came up against where my energy levels were low, and it wasn't overly sweet or tasted like sea water.  Two thumbs up for Skratch Labs.  If you haven't tried out the mix, you really should.  I was a doubter and I am now a believer. 

As the sun began to dip down I started preparing for two things: 1) staying away from traffic and 2) getting ready to twist and turn my ankles.  The combination of the weight, with the uneven mud/grass/holes/rocks, and the low light made for a perfect storm to have a big "ouchie" from a turned in ankle.  This became especially apparent when it went from twilight to dark, with oncoming headlights.  Over the last half of the ruck I turned my ankles  no less than 30 times from stepping in, over, or through the hazards of the shoulder.  What I was pleasantly greeted with, was the stiff construction of the Yellowstone.  Please do not let me tell you that my ankles weren't sore, because they were.  What I can tell you is that they were not injured.

Getting into the half way point of the ruck I opted not to change out my socks, but took a hot minute to break into my kit for more goodness from Skratch Labs.  Refills tucked into my armor carrier, and Pandora station changed for something loud with that attitude of  "gosh I need extra motivation because I am tired like a little panda cub", I set out again.  Pace was good, and consistent to make the total distance in EIB standard.  My socks were getting some pretty significant moisture in them, but it was nothing that couldn't be handled.  I was trying to divide up the 20K (12 miles) into blocks.  The first 10K with a refit, the next 5K with a refit, and the final gut check where I would hear the voices of my dead friends pushing me on.

So at halfway how did the Oboz measure at this point?  The stability was great, especially for the feeling that you would take off for a run in them.  My feet were pretty sore, but there were zero blisters yet letting me know that I was just a silly mortal trying to remember what it was to have a real job.  The socks were damp but not wetted out yet.  If the temperature was lower I still would have had the same problem, as I was literally sweating my ass off from pushing.  Something I would have killed for would have been the same boot in a non water proof model. 

Now for a quick observation on the two relics that were carrying all my weight.  The armor carrier was a Paraclete RAV in size small with medium E-SAPI plates.  For the ruck I was humping the Arc'Teryx Tango pack (sadly discontinued).  The Tango was the go to for being able to carry the weight and give me much needed support.  For those of you who know how terrible an idea ruck marching is to start with, just add in the extra discomfort of wearing armor and plates under the ruck.  Yes, there is probably something wrong in my head to want to make the whole experience suck just that much more, but I have responsibilities to those who are not still here to push it, and an internal drive to test my mortality. 

At the nine mile mark, I was starting to blister on my right foot at the beginning of the arch.  I could feel some other hot spots, but that was the only definite blister that was coming on.  I was honestly surprised that I hadn't picked up more.  My socks at this point were completely soaked through and beyond their ability to transport moisture out.  Saying that I could feel the stiffness in the soles of the Oboz would be overly critical of me, since my socks were toast, and my feet were starting to show the wear.  I set off with another fresh Naglene bottle full of Skratch Labs out of the Tango, happily secured in by carrier.  If you were picking up your Christmas tree at Gillis Hill Farms on a Friday night and saw a six foot tall white guy looking like he was dying change his socks in the parking lot, then I am happy to meet you.

Continuing to push on through the final 3 miles, I was really feeling the stiffness in the soles of the Oboz.  The alternative of course would have been much worse, as softer footwear would have torn my feet apart much earlier.  Also, at this point my feet (and body) were getting more torn up and only a pair of bunny slippers would have been more comfy.  The dampness in the boots had been solved with the sock change, and my feet greatly appreciated the relief of fresh new socks. 

As per usual I was watching the clock.  With the last stop I was afraid that would be off pace and kicked up into the slow run.  For some reason it is always at the last leg of a ruck that everything gets fuzzy.  My brain goes a bit sideways, words of encouragement from lost friends bubble to the surface, I begin making deals with myself and God as to what will happen if I can maintain my pace, and what a glorious existence I will find coming through the other side of this endeavor.  I actually have had waking dreams about french toast on the last leg of a ruck, and I don't even like french toast. 

I hate to say it but in the last mile I could have been wearing card board on my feet, because there was no pain left, only the objective to finish.  I rounded the last corner, nothing left, at whatever would substitute for a sprint...to finish...with Old Glory blowing in the night wind above me, in the EIB standard. 

I have to say thank you to say thank you to Tom Hammond for hooking me up with the Oboz to test, to the Grey Group Staff for putting up with my strange practices and watching out for me, and to my family for all the hours they have spent talking to me on my headset motivating me when I am on a ruck.     

   (Yes that is a Tinkerbell headlamp)
In summary:
  • This was the most weight coupled with the highest pace I had put on the Oboz.
  • Total rucking mileage on this pair is in the 200K range, most uses were in the 12K range with the longest rucks being in the 20K range.
  • They were also used to drywall and paint a house.
  • The whole package (soles, ankles, etc) are very stiff, if you are looking for a mid running shoe this is not it.  If you are looking for a fast packer, this is your horse.
  • The sizing is very generous, and will really come into play if your feet swell from doing something like a ruck.  If you have wider feet, you will love the fit.  If you have feet like a 2x4, you probably need something out of Europe.
  • I was initially worried about the heel shape, but didn't get a single blister back there on this ruck.  They retain the heel very, very well.
  • The shape of the boot helps them to really move fast, and still be stable.  I have no idea how that works, since I am not a shoes scientist.
  • The are waterproof, which would be great in the winter, on a wet range, or splashing in puddles.  For those of us who are sweating buckets in them, it is an issue.  Plan on having some extra socks to keep your feet comfy if you are really moving out in them.
  • The price... These are hands down the best boots for rucking I have ever worn.  I almost wish they weren't $150.00, because I have had plenty of boots that wouldn't measure up, that were three times as expensive.  They will not break the bank, and they will compete with much pricier footwear.

"How Pimp Is My Helmet" #28

This morning we bring you a pic from CE, who is clearly living the dream today.  He has been nice enough to spread our "SHUT UP HIPPY" message on the back of his Ops-Core FAST, priceless...  Preach on Brother, preach on.

The ACH...we cover them with war paint, strobes, IFF, mounts,and gizmos.  I even worked with a gentleman that ran an eagle feather on his.  The helmet has become a utilitarian canvas to express yourself. We have been sharing pics of Gun Trucks, now we are going after the modern head dress.  Feel free to show how pimp your head gear is, from the ACH, the Ops-Core FAST, or even Protech, we want to know how pimp your helmet can be.  Do you have a pic that you want to share with the Grey Group Community? Please send us an email for more details on how to submit your media.


You asked, and we did it.  For all those guys that miss out on our sales, because of things like...Afghanistan we have expanded the Grey Wednesday to run from November 25 to November 29.  This will give you extra time to grab up the kit you need. 

Deals this week include:
If you have any issues, or would just like to talk to a human being about your order always feel free to give us a ring @: 910-323-4739 or email Abbey


First few rucks are done, one 20K, and two 12Ks.  All executed with armor and pack, in that middle ground that lives between a proper running pace, and a half dying terminally wound antelope.  Terrain has been typical with the area: lots of hardball, sad, mud, loose rock, and more sand.  So what have I learned about the Oboz Yellowstones?  We will start front to back with construction and move on from there.

Oboz builds a significantly capped composite toe into these boots, which would normally concern me.  This time I was pleasantly surprised to have a roomy enough toe box to not have the capped toe rub my feet, and still offer the protection that I need on the trails and fire breaks of FT Bragg and surrounding areas.  It was after the first stumble over roots and rocks that I was praising the extra added protection.  Would these boots qualify for use in an industrial area, probably not.  Would they give ample protection from sharp rocks, roots, and the occasional mouthful of teeth...yes.  In the begining the cap worried me, but it was pulled off very well, and I was thankful for it.

With the vast majority of the good footwear manufactures using Vibram for their outer soles, it is great to see a company like Oboz running their own.  Vibram makes great soles, but by using them a company is tied to making the boot around the sole, and not the other way around.  So if you are a company like Oboz and you want to pull off an evolution in footwear, you may need to look internally to develop the whole package. What do you get from Oboz and their homegrown rubber?  You get an outersole that is tailored to the particular nature of the boot.  The soles are off center, with a slight cant to the them, and through whatever magic Oboz uses..they work.  They were also nice to enough to give us little diamond shapes, so if you have to leave a loving boot print on someone, you could be sure it would show up nicely.  I have used the tread on everything from wet pavement, to sand and mud, and they have given as good of grip as I could ask for.  Someday, there will be a wonder outersole that keeps me from falling on my ass in loose rock on downhills...but not yet. 

I have to put this out first, I am not partial to most aftermarket insoles.  They just never seem to fit as perfectly as the stock sets.  So, this is why I was pleasantly surprised to find a decent set of insoles in the Yellowstones.  Usually you will find that a boot company will cut this corner, but Oboz has gone above and beyond.

Now, the heel.  I have a hard time finding boots that will completely retain my heal when I push off hard.  If you look at a cross section of most of the boots of there, you will find that the heels are squared off to the sole.  The problem as I see it is that our feet are not shaped that way, heels are round creatures.  The Yellowstone has a very contoured and rounded heel cup similar to what you would find in something like a 5.10.  What does this do?  It gives great heel retention.  This did take a bit to get used to, as pretty much every other boot on the planet doesn't contact the heel in this way.  At the end of the day, a very positive thing, but you might want to give yourself some time in them to get used to it to prevent blisters.

The ankle on the Yellowstones are very, very stiff, but since they are mid cut it doesn't feel restrictive.  I don't know that I would like the feel of the stiffness if they were any higher as with some of the other Oboz line.  With a good tight lacing I was able to minimize the joys of the inevitable twisted ankles, through the surprising amount of support they gave.

What do you find is the biggest double edged sword in footwear?  Yes, you guessed it, Gore-Tex or waterproof linings.  For those of us that use boots more like a running shoe, in deep water, or in very hot climates, waterproofing can be a real issue.  It is also very difficult to find a non Gore or waterproof boot on the market.  Oboz has used a proprietary waterproof liner in the Yellowstone, that does work very well as keeping water out, as long as you don't submerge them.  So, obviously I had to pull off a knee high water crossing in the middle of a 12K.  The Yellowstones had a sealed tongue, with a tight fitting ankle so they were able to resist much of the water that was desperately trying to turn them into buckets, but eventually the water will always get in.  Would a change of socks have helped?  Yes, of course they would have, but I am stubborn and smart like a tractor.  The waterproof liner made it difficult to clear the water from the interior of the boot, and even after a day of drying at home, they were still a bit damp.  It is hard to put this in the negative column as most boots/hikers out there now have some kind of waterproof liner in them, but I really wish that Oboz had made it an option to have a non-lined version of this boot.  Be prepared, if you submerge them, they will stay wet.

This leads us to the upper.  What I found again was the tongue which is hard sewn to the rest of the upper, does a great job keeping the sand of the FT Bragg firebreaks out.  What I did not find were any rubs or hot spots on the tongue or anywhere in the upper.  The feeling I got from a tight lacing was more like a running shoe than a boot.  They gave a feeling that my feet were more wrapped in the boot.  How Oboz pulled this off is probably why they are footwear manufactures and I am a lowly guy that uses their product is ways that it was never originally unintended for.  The whole package of the upper, laces and all, feels exceptional.  One piece to watch out for is the top eyelet.  If you are falling out of airplanes for a living, and need 100% closed eyelet footwear, you may not be able to run the Yellowstones.  The top eyelet is mostly enclosed, but still is not completely enclosed.  Again, since most of the population is not worried about having a horse shoe malfunction because a line wrapped up on an eyelet, this is just something to me mindful off.  So, the upper is full of win with a footnote to be careful of them in free fall.

Overall the Oboz Yellowstones have met or exceeded my expectations in every department.  I do wish that there was a non-waterproof version for those of us who get more than ankle deep in the wet stuff.  What haven't I learned yet?  One of the biggest measures of these boots is going to be mileage and time.  Will this high concept reasonable priced boot hold up to hard use of ruck running in mixed terrain?  Only time is going to tell. 

What is between the lines?  These are a great boot for ruck running in.  They give a stable feeling of a good boot, with the ability to roll over the miles like a running shoe, but with the support needed from the extra weight of a pack and armor.

In summary:
  • Toes: Cap is great, doesn't rub, gives ample protection from teeth.
  • Outersole: Not your average Vibram outer, good grip.
  • Insole: Not quite a high dollar insole, but far exceeds most factory insoles.
  • Heels: Very different feel with a high degree of heel retention, may take some getting used to.
  • Ankles: Lots of support, could be uncomfortable if they were much higher from how stiff they were.
  • Liners: Proprietary waterproof liner does a good job of keeping water out until the boot is submerged, then hurts in the clearing and dry time.
  • Upper: Helps to make the boot wrap the entire foot in goodness and keeps out sand etc, but does have an open eyelet which can be bad for free fall.
If you need to find a pair of the Oboz Yellowstone 2s, we are stocking them here at GGT, and yes the hose under the plates does help.


First off, I need to warn you.  I am pretty sure from experience that running in kit with a ruck is hard on the body, and will permanently make you feel like the slowest thing on the road, trail, or whatever little piece of heaven you like to put one foot in front of the other at.  Now...

Quality costs, but does it have to cost so much?  When it comes to footwear, I could wear almost anything on the market.  Reps are more than happy to get their boots, shoes, sandals, etc...into our Pro Shop.  So, do I go for the high of the high end when it came to finding a new hiking boot capable of putting up with 20K ruck runs?  The answer is yes, and no.

Now, let me introduce you to a small footwear company out of Montana.  Oboz is a relative newcomer to the outdoor world.  They have focused on making low-mid hiking boots/shoes with roomy fits, capable of taking both a beating, and giving a ton of support for those who are walking with some serious weight.

It just so happened that I was in the market for a new boot that would let me put on the miles like a running shoe, but handle weight and abuse.  There are a few really great choices on the market when it comes to a "running boot" that I was looking for, and almost all of them are very pricey.  This is what drew me into the Oboz line, I could literally pick up two pairs for what it would cost for a single mid hiker from some other usual suspects on the market.  So, was Oboz too good to be true?  I decided to find out, enter the Yellowstone 2.

I am very used to how European footwear companies build their boots.  Most seem to feel that a 2x4 is a great model for a foot shape.  The Oboz fit was very different.  I was prepared for a narrow boot in the Yellowstone 2, and was surprised to find the opposite.  The fit is generous, to the point that I went from where I thought I needed to be with an 11.5, down to a great fit with the Oboz at a 10.5.  The interior of the boot is roomy, especially in the toe box.  The heel of the boot retains my foot extremely well, which is uncommon.  All in all...the fit of the Yellowstone was impressive, gone was the overly narrow fit I have grown accustomed to.

They fit in the Pro Shop, but would they do what I needed?  Would they be able to function as a quasi running shoe, take the abuse that I would subject them to, and still offer enough support to keep my feet and ankles from turning into dust? 

We are going to find out together.  Here goes the first 20k with armor, ruck, weight, and water...  I intend to beat the hell out of these boots, and I hope that you will go along the journey with me.  Maybe good boots don't have to cost what a used Glock does...

Nothing Is As Pimp As A War Dog #25

"On my flight tonight, I sat two seats away from an Air Force K-9 bomb dog. The dog had its own seat and everything."

Thanks for the submission, that is one cute pup, and we bet they didn't take up much arm rest.

There isn't anything as pimp in theater as a Military Working Dog.  They evoke emotional response from us as our friends, camaraderie as our Brothers in battle, and fear and respect from the enemy.  You can draw down on a bad guy with a M4 and they will shrug it off, but threaten to let the dog loose, and see what regret looks like.  We will be featuring War Dogs, plain and simple.  If you have a pic that you want to share with the Grey Group Community please send us an email with your picture attached (at least 650x650) and any instructions as to anything that has to be sterilized on the photo.

"Trunks Full of Drama and Trauma" #11

This morning we bring you a submission from John "Shrek" Mcphee the S.O.B. himself.  When a customer in the parking lot asked what was going on, he simply replied, "going hunting"...priceless.

Just how much "Drama and Trauma" can be fit into a trunk.  Everyday we find ourselves topping the previous record.  We as a Community roll with trunks full of drama and trauma.  It is our right as Barrel Chested Defenders of Freedom, for some it is work, it is part of us, and well, it is fun.  We are going to be showing you some of the best "Trunks Full of Drama and Trauma" (yes SUV cargo areas work too) that the Community can find.  This should prove an interesting exercise on how many toys you really have.  If you have a "Trunk Full of Drama and Trauma"  that you want to share with the Grey Group Community please send us an email with your picture attached (at least 650x650) and any instructions as to anything that has to be sterilized on the photo.  Thanks, and enjoy.

"I Am Grey Group" Spotted #5

From one of our friends who is enjoying his OCONUS Duty Station...

 "I am Grey Group in Split, Croatia!" (AU)

There are four things that really sum up the GGT.  Ball hats, flip flops, sunglasses, and Glocks.  We have spotted the "I AM GREY GROUP" shirts both CONUS, and OCONUS being rocked with pride.  Then came the newborn shemagh version...

Here is your challenge, we introduced the "I AM GREY GROUP" Nalgene, now we want to see where you have taken it.  Show us your adventures, sunsets, trips, range days, work, or wherever you find yourself with the bottle, and we will hook you up with a brand new one, on us.  The only requirements are the photo needs to include the bottle, and be at least 650 pixels wide.  Please send images and any questions/concerns/sterilization instructions to the Grey Group Community with your images, or for more details on how to submit your media.