A Roman legionary had to be a Roman citizen and over 17 years of age. And, of course, he had to be a stud – fit, strong, and brave. Anything less and he would be rejected.
Roman soldiers typically signed up for 25 years of service. If they survived the time, they were gifted a land they could farm. But surviving in the brutal battlefields was tough. It required skill and armor and gear you could trust.
A Roman legionary could carry between 66–100 lbs of gear and weapon, which included corn rations and a tent.
A helmet called a Galea protected the head, which featured special guards to protect cheeks and neck. The legionary could also attach a crest fashioned of horse hair on top of his helmet, though historians believe that was just for formal ceremonies.
Legionaries also carried a large shield called a Scutum. The shield had a curve to protect the soldier's body and featured an iron bulge in the middle which he effectively used for battering the enemies.
Body armor or Lorica Segmentata was crafted from overlapping iron plates which were bound by leather straps and brass clasps. The armor was heavy and cumbersome and so the soldier would wear a tunic for padding. The tunic was made of wool and red or white depending on the soldier’s status. While Romans typically did not wear pants or trousers, legionaries could wear a knee-length, skin tight leather trousers in cold weather.
Then there was the belt, Balteus or Cingulum Militare, which was narrow and usually decorated with bronze strips all the way around. It usually came with the sporran – a thong with several leather thongs to which were attached metal plates and weighted with bronze. The sporran was decorative but more importantly protected that sensitive part of the anatomy.
Roman army boots were called Caligae. They looked like sandals but were considerably stronger and made from leather with iron studs underneath.
For weapons, the legionary had the trusted gladius and pilum. The gladius was a small and light sword which was maneuverable and effective for close combat. The pilum was a spear made from wood with a sharp iron spike at the top which was designed to stick in enemy shields and make them redundant. Smart, we say!