The story of Combat Flip Flops is an interesting one. The roots of the story can be found in two friends who served in the 75th Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan, Lee and Griff. After serving multiple deployments and returning home, both men were actively involved in supporting the troops through other avenues. In 2010, Griff returned to Afghanistan to work with Remote Medical International. On his trip back, he toured a boot factory where we saw a worker make a makeshift flip-flop out of a combat boot sole. At that moment an idea was born. Griff returned to the United States and teamed up with Lee and their friend Andy to hatch a plan to manufacturer flip-flops in Afghanistan to support development of the local economy.
As US operations in Afghanistan started the process of winding down, the Combat Flip Flops team was faced with a challenge. Consistent production in Afghanistan was going to be problematic and they had already procured the raw materials to make 3400 pairs of flip-flops. They knew they had to bring production back to the United States. In late 2012, they set up production in Issaquah, Washington and started manufacturing in January of this year. As their business has steadily grown, they have added new products to their lineup. They recently launched the Cover and Concealment sarong, which is handmade in Kabul, and the US made Claymore Bag. The Claymore already sold out their first production run and the second is scheduled to start shipping to customers mid November.
The Claymore Bag is modern-day messenger bag that is made in the US completely from US sourced materials. The exterior of the bag is made of nylon ripstop material and the Claymore can be ordered in Black, Urban Grey, Coyote Brown, and Can’t Miss Me Silver. The 2-point weapons sling strap allows you to easily carry the load, but still maintain quick access to all of the pockets. The bag is generously sized to carry all of your essentials likes a tablet, smart phone, and sunglasses, as well as anything else needed in your daily adventures out into the field.
The interior of the Claymore Bag features one large main pocket and two smaller pockets. The main pocket can carry up to a 13″ Macbook and is outfitted with added MOLLE to hold smaller devices like an iPad, Surface, or Kindle in place securely without tossing about. The front pockets feature a versatile hook attachment system so you can easily store your gear like sunglass and cell phone, but still remove or adjust their configuration effortlessly when need be.
The bag comes standard with removable cell phone and sunglass holders. It should be noted that the cell phone holder fits a 5.56 mag nicely and the sunglass holder will keep a bottle of your favorite brew nice and secure until you get to your rendezvous point. Elastic daisy-chain has also been added to the front pockets to hold items like pocket knives, pens, and other small pieces of kit that you want to access quickly.
The Claymore Bag retails for $89 and is currently available for pre-order on the Combat Flip Flops website. The bags should ship mid November. You can also order an optional iPad Mini holder for an additional $12. Given the price, it’s nice to see a sub $100 bag entirely sourced and made in the United States.
Combat Flip Flops recently launched a capital campaign last Friday through the crowd funding website Indiegogo to raise money for their Expeditionary Production Facility. The Expeditionary Production Facility, or EPF for short, is a complete flip-flop factory that fits in a 40′ container and can be shipped anywhere in the world. With the goal of moving part of their production back to Afghanistan and completing their mission of supporting and developing the local economy, the EPF will allow them to achieve just that. Combat Flip Flops is looking to raise a total of $500,000 in their crowd funding campaign.
On their Indiegogo page, they provide a detailed explanation of how the funds will be used. The money raised will cover the costs of building and purchasing the manufacturing equipment, shipping the EPF container to Afghanistan, labor, raw materials, and additional operating expenses to keep the micro-factory running for one year. It’s also important to note that funding of the EPF will also employ 25 Afghans locally to manage and run the EPF, generate 60,000 pairs of flip-flops, and allow Combat Flip Flops to become the #1 footwear and textile exporter in Afghanistan. If the crowd funding campaign is successful and Combat Flip Flops reaches their goal of $500,000, the Afghan Business Aid Development Enterprise will contribute an additional $250,000 for facility improvements.
While we’ve seen many Indiegogo and Kickstarter campaigns launched that focus on the release of a single product or fund a concept, the EPF is an interesting one as it could lead to much greater things. If successful, Combat Flip Flops could generate a sustainable revenue stream to create additional EPFs that can be shipped to the post-conflict areas all over the world. As we have seen throughout history, war-torn areas without infrastructure and trade have little chance at economic redevelopment. Using micro-factories such as the EPF could create a win/win scenario for all parties involved.
For more information on Combat Flip Flops, you can visit their website. To learn more about their Expeditionary Production Facility capital campaign, check out the project on Indiegogo. You can also visit their Facebook page for more announcements and updated news on Combat Flip Flops.