My name is Anthony Costanzo, and I am a Marine. Having honorably completed my enlistment, I am now studying Political Science and East Asian Studies at Columbia University, and I serve as the president of the largest student-veteran population in the Ivy League. During my five year tour, my primary occupational speciality was providing armed internal security for various diplomatic facilities in Italy, China, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. As a Marine Embassy Guard, I was posted on the front lines of American diplomacy in environments with high counterintelligence threats, extreme crime, civil unrest, and political violence. Due to the specialized nature of this line of work and my athletic interests, I needed a brand that reflected my ethos-centric lifestyle and duties as a Marine Embassy Guard. Once I found Virtus Outdoor Group (VOG), I wholeheartedly bought into their values, community, and mission.
I swear by VOG for several reasons. First and foremost, VOG’s emphasis on its values reflects the type of individual who utilizes their gear in fitness, extreme endurance, and lifestyle activities. Second, I’ve put their gear through multiple torture tests, and it has performed beyond my expectations in multiple lifestyle, endurance, and fitness activities. Third, VOG isn’t a brand—it’s a lifestyle. This is reflected in the lives of the special forces operators, active duty military personnel, professional riflemen, archers, outdoorsmen, professional athletes and emergency responders who utilize VOG gear on a daily basis. Last but not least, VOG is a veteran-owned and operated company, and creates gear with the intimate understanding of the fact that it will be used in multiple environments, to include combat and life-or-death scenarios.
I became acquainted with VOG through several friends in the special forces community, who touted the gear as indestructible, versatile, and low-key. Most importantly, I noticed that the community of VOG athletes and enthusiasts enthusiastically bought into the lifestyle and ethos of the brand itself. They are the best of the best, and operate with the understanding that great accomplishments are earned, never given. Furthermore, the CEO of VOG—David Johnson Wood, a former Sergeant, rifleman, and Marine—leads by example, engaging in brutal workouts on the regular, leading extreme endurance events, and embodying the Virtus ethos of Warrior Values. This community is defined by its sweat equity; they uphold VOG values through their lifestyles, and become a family through bonds forged in blood, sweat, and tears. As a Marine, my life has been defined by the core values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment—I demand nothing less from the brands I choose to represent. I truly believe that clothes for the masses would not serve the specialized requirements of the elite communities who utilize VOG.
While I was posted in China in 2017, I picked up the martial sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ). Ironically, the Brazilian nickname for BJJ is el arte suave, or the “gentle art”. From my experience, it is anything but gentle. From broken bones to black eyes, I have put my body through the same torture tests I’ve put VOG gear through. There are several pieces of VOG gear I’d like to highlight, as they’ve served me well throughout the four years I’ve trained BJJ: the Scott Longsleeve Shirt, the Charlie One Shorts, and the Mitchell Men’s Leggings. All three have unique qualities which standard MMA brands fail to capture. First and foremost, they keep you cool—when you’re sweating buckets and burning hundreds of calories, most fitness brands begin to feel like they’re smothering you. However, VOG gear remains cool, breathable, and functional despite the thrashing you put yourself through. VOG’s patented moisture management technology ensures that the gear doesn’t become sweat-logged, unlike other brands I’ve experimented with in the gym. I’d also like to note that the Scott Longsleeve Shirt can be worn in either Gi or No Gi jiu jitsu, which corroborates the fact that VOG gear is extremely versatile. Practicing BJJ led me to dabbling in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) at gyms in China and the United States. Again, VOG proved its versatility and extreme durability. From Muay Thai to wrestling, the Charlie One Shorts and Mitchell Men’s leggings have become non-negotiable parts of my kit. Lastly, the clothes don’t smell at all—no matter how many workouts you’ve put them through. Other brands eventually (and irreparably) begin to smell like socks from repeated workouts, while VOG stays fresh. Trust me… your training partners will thank you for choosing VOG.
Whilst operating in foreign environments such as China and Haiti, I needed tactical gear that would serve a wide array of functional purposes. From personal security details to manning firing positions during bouts of political and communal violence, there are vital requirements I had for the gear I chose to trust in extreme environments. For example, while I was in Port au Prince, Haiti, the country experienced some of its worst political violence in decades. In a Marine Detachment of less than a dozen personnel, it was up to us to guard the US embassy from the gang violence and looting that ruled the streets of a failed state. When the duck and cover alarm hit the loudspeakers and it was time to man my firing position, the first set of clothes I’d grab was the Phantom Pants and Renegade Woven Shirt. Both are breathable and abrasion-resistant in any temperature range, and allowed me to move comfortably and naturally while I was weighed down with a full combat kit, multiple firearms, and a go-bag filled with extra ammunition and riot-control equipment. Additionally, alternating from open-air firing positions to indoor observation positions requires gear that will adjust accordingly to changes in temperature and humidity, as well as resist the wear and tear of running about in full battle rattle. VOG gear has truly served me well in stressful situations, thus earning my trust in its quality and longevity.
Over the pandemic, I worked for Spartan Race as a Krypteia (an extreme endurance coach). While running a 12 hour Hurricane Heat race in the mountains of Encamp, Andorra, I was able to further torture-test VOG gear. The course we ran our students through was truly hellacious; from skull-dragging with VOG Dynami Sandbags in tow to rucking up mountains, I felt honored to watch my pupils form bonds forged in shared suffering. That being said, I had to partake in some of the “fun” myself. A key element of being a coach or leader is showing that you are fully capable and willing to undertake the tasks you’ve assigned to your team. Fully decked out in the Phantom Pants, the Scott Longsleeve Shirt, the Shemagh Scarf, and the Assault Rūk, I ran the course alongside my students. Again, VOG gear surpassed my expectations. Andorra’s cold mountain air would have chilled me to the bone, but VOG’s patented fabric kept me warm and operational throughout the course. The Scott Longsleeve Shirt and Phantom Pants moderated my temperature, wicking away sweat that would have otherwise saturated other endurance apparel brands. The Shemagh Scarf was useful in retaining body-heat that would have escaped otherwise, which was essential throughout the evolution (which ran from 1930 to 0730). Additionally, the Assault Rūk’s frame and hip support ensured that its cargo was evenly and comfortably distributed across my torso. This was essential, as I packed about 40 kilograms of extra gear, water, food, and first aid gear. Marines know the pain of an ill-fitted ruck during a long-distance movement, and I was overjoyed at the meticulous design of the VOG Assault Rūk. Having used a wide variety of backpacks in the field during my time in the Marines, I’ve become quite the stickler about the quality of the gear I use. Now that I’m out of the Marines and I have the freedom to choose my own tactical/endurace gear, there’s no doubt that I’ll be rocking with VOG at every extreme endurance event I run in the future.
Lastly, VOG has its own homegrown culture epitomized by the slogan “earn it daily.” On a daily basis, VOG social media depicts the stories and experiences of the athletes, military, and first responders that choose to partake in the warrior ethos, community, and lifestyle of VOG. As a Marine, I’m constantly searching for the tribe that shares my values and interest in relentless self-improvement. I’ve found that in the VOG family, which is a worldwide community of like-minded individuals who attack physical challenges head-on. From Europe to the United States, I’ve had the incredible and humbling fortune of meeting those who push themselves to the limit in the name of “earning it daily.” As iron sharpens iron, the individuals within the VOG community sharpen one another. For example, on any given day the CEO of VOG—David Wood—can be found on his rooftop in the early morning hours of Marbella, Spain, beginning his day with a brutal fitness routine. Having worked out with him on multiple occasions, I can personally attest to the fact that his routines are brutal, and are carefully designed to enhance functional fitness. As I mentioned earlier, true leaders relish the opportunity to lead the way, and never shirk from inspiring others through their own personal example. I’ve found my tribe—although the VOG community comes from a diverse range of backgrounds, we share the same defining characteristics exemplified by VOG’s Warrior Virtues.
In the last 7 years, I’ve had the opportunity to extensively test and evaluate a plethora of different fitness brands. Virtus Outdoor Group truly stands out because of its values, durability, versatility, and community. I’m a simple kind of man—once I find what I’ve been looking for, I’m committed to it for life. VOG covers every base I’ve ever needed—from military service to extreme endurance, its gear has proven time and time again that it is worth the price. Furthermore, it is sustainably sourced and manufactured, which gives me peace of mind knowing that I am purchasing eco-friendly materials. On top of that, it is also made in the USA, which means that VOG is actively investing in America’s domestic work force and market. Again, VOG sets the example. This requires sacrifice and commitment on their part, but being a warrior and a leader never comes easy—you have to earn it daily.