It helps if you live in or near areas with military bases. I always tell people if they travel near bases to check yard sales, flea markets, and pawn shops if they have some free time. Lots of good deals available.
I never had a problem with them, obviously the newer gear is much more comfortable, but it’s a relative thing. I remember when we were first getting Interceptor Vests. The young guy next to me was commenting on how heavy they were and I was thinking how light they were compared to earlier plate armor.
I am ancient enough that my first helmet was the M1 steel pot.