Ye Olde Army/Navy Outdoors Shoppe: the Best Place for LARP Supplies
By Kathy Foust
LARP, or Live Action Role Play, is quickly gaining in popularity for all age groups. I attended my first LARP at the age of 41, thinking I was introducing my 14 year old son to a whole new adventure. Before I knew it, I was in the front lines, battling ice demons and wondering what I had at home that could enhance my own costume. Oh yeah, and my son seemed to like it as well.
So, maybe that didn’t go exactly as planned and I ended up loving LARP just as much as my son does. At the same time, everything I looked at took on a whole new perspective. Pool noodles became staffs and the plumbing supplies I bought for the new bathroom became cores for swords. I needed more than that though, for two reasons. My character is a utilitarian-styled elf and since she engages in a lot of battles, she needs to make just about every costume piece double as something else that isn’t cumbersome. Remind you of anything? It’s the entire basis for every item the military designs.
Shopping for LARP
Though there are many stores that sell things made just for LARP, there is an unwritten challenge to take items not specifically designed for LARPing and make them integral pieces of a character or mod. It’s a sort of friendly competition among LARPers. Army Navy/Outdoors stores just happen to fit the bill to a “T.”
LARPing is done over the weekend and some go on even longer than that. That means you need to be prepared for camping in any kind of weather. No character worthy of his or her XP points is going to opt out over something as trivial as rain. Are you kidding? That just adds another challenge to the battle field. On the other hand, without the right equipment, it can also make for a miserable night’s sleep.
Yes, you can hit the nearest super store and find a tent that might work for a weekend, but there’s a good chance that it isn’t going to last for the season and even if it does, it isn’t going to fit the time period for the LARP. Military products using muted tones blend well in any LARP, from medieval times to post-apocalyptic zombie wars. Since the military isn’t all about frills or replacing items in the middle of a war zone, you can also bet that the materials you get from Army Navy/Outdoor stores are built to last.
Tents aren’t the only thing to think about either. There is mosquito netting, cooking supplies, and if you want to get really authentic in the middle of a post-apocalyptic battle, there is nothing like ripping open an MRE for a quick bit of sustenance.
Even if your costume doesn’t call for utilitarian dress as mine does, items that are made for military use almost always double as something else. At the very least, you can keep your character sheet, lighting, coins, and any other pertinent items in a standard utility belt that looks as good on a zombie basher as it does on a battle-hardened mage.
LARP costumes are created with a specific character in mind, so they need to be able to convey a race and subclass. They also need to be useful and able to hold up for long periods of time, which is pretty much a military specialty.
Let’s not forget about the survival tools. You aren’t going LARPing at the Hilton and there are going to be issues that come up which don’t come up out in the real world. One example is night LARPing. You always want to keep a fire going, but it’s pretty hard to start one in the middle of, or after a downpour. Army Navy/Outdoors stores have matches made especially for that. From cords that can go from a belt to a tent tie-down, to the very canvas you sleep under year after year, there really isn’t a better source for LARPing supplies than Army Navy/Outdoors stores.