Civilians, Can They Wear Tactical Gear? Let’s Find Out.

If there’s one trend in the lifestyle industry that’s flourishing, it’s tactical gear and apparel. Items used by the military and law enforcement agents have become the go-to choice for everyday use.

But that brings us to the question- can a civilian wear tactical gear?

Yes, they can. Civilians can use any tactical equipment or clothing that’s designed as per military standards for specific purposes. Some states have special laws against individuals posing as active-duty military personnel. But there are no restrictions against the legal use of tactical gear.

In reality, civilians have been using a variety of tactical gear for decades. They are used for activities like hunting, hiking, or any other form of outdoor work.

The world is changing at a fast rate and so are people’s outlook about tactical gear. More people are keen to adopt the “Always Be Ready” mindset than ever before.

Fact is, with the wide range of tactical gear available in the market, you need to choose wisely.

So how do you distinguish tactical gear from regular products? What are the best military-grade products available for civilians?

Let’s dig a little deeper and find out.

What is Tactical Gear?

The main aspect of tactical gear that separates it from other products is the purpose of use. Most tactical gears are designed for a specific purpose and harsh environments. Even though they are primarily for military and law enforcement officers, their ability to protect against dangerous situations has made them special.

As they come with special features, tactical gear can save lives in emergency situations. Apart from being reliable in terms of performance, they also offer a sense of security to the user. Moreover, they can be helpful when dealing with a violent or armed individual. In addition, they can also offer protection against chemical, biological, and radioactive hazards.

No wonder tactical gear has become immensely popular with time.

As per definition, tactical gear can be any item that’s related to “fighting battles, planning operations.” If we look back at history, tactical gear has always been linked with combat and the armed forces. Metal plate armors of the Roman army could be considered tactical gear from the ancient era.

The early 20th century saw the rapid evolution of tactical gear. With the development of special materials in the latter half of the last century military gear became lighter and practical enough for civilian use. 

As some of these items trickled down in the civilian market, they became popular for their robust design and versatility. They can be used for a wide variety of purposes like emergency survival, self-defense, and outdoor activities. Apart from professional use, the popularity of tactical gear has also risen in the field of recreational activities.

For example, hunters and enthusiastic shooters find tactical gear to be essential. Such gear not only improves the comfort levels while using a firearm but also improves the safety factor. In short, tactical gear helps to get the optimal performance from a firearm while using it in operational conditions.

The actual term “tactical gear” was coined by marketers. The target was to move any surplus military gear without terming it as military. However, the term was able to capture the fancy of the users.

That said, the definition of the word “tactical” can vary depending on the context. Military gear is specifically designed for the armed forces. However, tactical gear is also used by law enforcement teams, Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) units, and counter-terrorism units. 

So even though the military uses tactical gear, the scope of the word has expanded with time. In fact, as per the modern definition, any item that can be effective in tackling a dangerous or challenging situation can be termed tactical. 

Basically, tactical gear can be classified into four main categories.

  • Protective gear like bulletproof vests, helmets, ballistic eyewear, etc.
  • Load-bearing gear like backpacks, and load-carrying vests.
  • Tactical equipment like flashlights, binoculars, multitool, etc.
  • Tactical clothing like special shirts, pants, knee pads, gloves, and shoes.

Some of the most popular tactical gear in the current market are firearms, batons, handcuffs, pepper spray, and body armor plates. 

Still, you need not be a survivalist, explorer, or military veteran to use tactical gear. Anyone can take advantage of the robust quality and special features of such gear as per their requirements.

What Are the Special Features of Tactical Gear?

Genuine tactical gear is designed by brands for tactical applications. That means they come with military-grade quality, versatility, and durability.

Here are the features that you need to look out for while picking tactical gear.


One of the most important features of tactical gear is its ability to withstand stresses in tough conditions. From daily wear and tear to impact and weather resistance, they can keep working even under the most demanding conditions without failing.

In most cases, the gear is made from special materials that ensure extra durability. Such materials include ripstop fabric used in tactical clothing and thermoplastic rubber used in shoes and gloves. Plastics like PDCPD are used to manufacture extra-tough casings and coverings.

Range of Movement

Any tactical gear that’s designed for combat needs to be light and should allow a full range of mobility. When your life depends on reflexes, you can’t allow your gear to slow you down. In most cases, tactical gear, especially clothing, is designed for a greater range of movement than normal clothing.

Without the right design, a piece of tactical gear will not serve its purpose. That’s why tactical pants come with special stretch fabrics and hybrid cuts that help in mobility. Tactical backpacks come with additional reinforcements for load-bearing and better balance. In the case of gloves, special care is taken to ensure dexterity.


Comfort is another factor that’s equally important for tactical gear and clothing. Now, you may feel comfort is an important criterion for all clothing manufacturers. But when it comes to tactical gear, it gets more significant.

An uncomfortable clothing item or a tool with poor ergonomics will not allow you to focus on the critical task at hand. As a result, it will adversely affect performance and safety. Special attention is paid to making each item comfortable for the user from every angle.


In many scenarios where tactical gear is used, stealth is an important factor. This impacts the color of the gear and clothing. In most cases, tactical clothing comes in muted or dark colors. Camouflage patterns that are military-approved are also used. This allows the users to blend with the environment and be less visible to the enemy or the target.

Weapon Accommodation

When the tactical gear is used by law enforcement officers, they need to carry a weapon. In many scenarios, keeping the weapon concealed is important. The same concept is valid for tactical gear designed for civilian use.

For example, tactical pants can accommodate a gun holster on the outside and inside of the waistline. Tactical backpacks can come with CCW pouches for carrying a handgun.

Why is Tactical Gear so Popular?

As per experts, the high sales figures of tactical gear in 2020 can be attributed to various socio-political factors including the pandemic. Moreover, the demand for such gear is set to rise as more people learn about their functionality and versatility. Add to that the superb durability that surpasses all other products in the market.

In fact, tactical gear isn’t for any specific market based on demographics. Almost anyone can find it to be incredibly useful in daily life. From rugged flashlights to durable knives, these items can be useful in every household.

Since marketers are aware of these, they have consciously promoted a wide range of tactical gear for years. While military equipment evolves at a faster rate, not all of the cutting-edge tools are made available for commercial use. The usability of the gear for civilians is one important factor that decides the availability

Consider this- as per the latest reports, the market for tactical and outdoor gear is set to rise above $16 billion in annual revenue.

Note, there are some brands like Honeywell and BAE Systems, that sell tactical gear exclusively to the military and law enforcement agencies. 

Overall, the future of the tactical gear industry seems exciting as it evolves to meet new user requirements.

Can civilians wear tactical gear?

There are no restrictions on the use of military and tactical gear by civilians. In fact, the practice has been going on for centuries and there are privately owned businesses that sell all forms of surplus military gear.

What about military uniforms?

As per the Stolen Valor Act of 2013, it’s an offense to wear a military uniform for deceiving others or gaining undue advantages. Another purpose of the law was to stop unauthorized individuals from entering military bases. But unless it’s used for committing any deceitful act wearing a military uniform is allowed. However, civilians hardly wear formal dress uniforms.

What Essential Tactical Gear Do You Need?

Unless you are preparing for a combat scenario, it’s highly unlikely that you will ever need a full range of tactical gear. The items you will need will depend on your purpose of use or activity type. 

To make things easy for you, we have listed the main elements of a tactical outfit. Once you get to know the function of each item, making the right choice will be easier.

A Sturdy Backpack

No matter the type of adventure you are heading for, a good-quality backpack is a must. The design of tactical backpacks has advanced rapidly in recent years. Thanks to features like internal frames and the modular lightweight load-carrying equipment (MOLLE) system. 

Tactical backpacks are durable, weather-resistant, and have additional pouches. The steps and back are padded to prevent discomfort. At the same time, the weight is kept on the lower side when compared with normal backpacks. Additional features include concealed compartments, extra pouches, and hydration compartments.

In general, tactical backpacks with more than 45 liters of capacity are considered large. Units with less capacity are considered small.

When it comes to fabric, most backpacks use nylon ripstop fabric that prevents tearing. For greater strength and durability, materials with a higher Denier number are used.

Best Tactical Backpack

The MYSTERY RANCH 2 Day Assault Backpack is one of the best options in the current market. 

It comes with robust quality and an excellent design that ensures comfort. The material is a super-durable 500D CORDURA fabric along with top-grade YKK zippers. It has a special 3-ZIP design for easy access and multiple pockets including interior dump pockets.

The backpack also has compression straps and a MOLLE system on the exterior. There’s a removable web waist belt too. On the whole, it offers excellent functionality for non-military enthusiasts.

A Tactical Flashlight

A tactical flashlight is a versatile gear and can be used for various purposes like survival, hunting, and camping. It can also be used for self-defense. These flashlights come with long-lasting LED bulbs. They are more energy-efficient than ordinary flashlights. 

When it comes to power sources, there are two options-disposable batteries and rechargeable batteries. Most tactical flashlights follow the ANSI FL1 standard in terms of light intensity and beam distance. The standard also guides features like water resistance, and impact resistance. Tactical flashlights usually come with 700+ lumens of light intensity and adjustable brightness levels.

In addition, there are beam types like flood beams, spot beams, and adjustable beams. The flashlight can also have special modes, like SOS, strobe, or beacon. Some tactical flashlights also have attachments for weapon mounting.

The Best Tactical Flashlight

Anyone looking for a tactical flashlight will find the Streamlight ProTac Professional a solid choice. It’s made from aircraft-grade aluminum with an anodized surface for durability.  The model comes with an IPX7 waterproof rating

The high-quality LED delivers 750 lumens at peak intensity and lasts for 50000 hours. The flashlight is powered by two CR123A lithium batteries. In the high mode, it offers 270 meters of beam distance and a battery life of 1.25 hours.

In terms of ergonomics, this lightweight flashlight is one of the best. It also comes with a nylon holster and a removable pocket clip.

Tactical Folding Knife

A tactical folding knife will not only work for everyday cutting needs but is also great for hunting and camping trips. You can use them as weapons if needed. Tactical knives are made from high-quality metal alloys that offer excellent performance. An ergonomic, non-slip grip enhances the functionality.

Keep in mind, a bigger knife isn’t the best choice in all scenarios. Blade design and sharpness play important roles when it comes to knife performance. While there are a wide variety of tactical knife types, the most common blade shape is the drop-point.  It’s a great choice for cutting, slicing, and other utility purposes.

A tactical knife is a multipurpose tool. Moreover, they also come with a distinctive look with a military styling that sets them apart.

The Best Tactical Folding Knife

Our choice in this category is the CRKT M16-14SFG EDC folding pocket knife. This is a Special Forces G10 model with a 3.99-inch Tanto blade that’s razor-sharp. The stainless steel blade is black titanium nitride coated to prevent corrosion. It also has serrations that assist in cutting.

The special flipper mechanism makes blade deployment easy and there’s an automated Liner Safety mechanism for additional safety. The handle is specially designed with holes and offers excellent grip in all conditions. Besides, it has dual hilts that add to the overall safety.

 A Tactical Watch

When you’re frequently walking into situations where a normal wristwatch won’t hold up, a tactical watch is a must. These are sturdy watches that won’t fail you even in the roughest conditions. 

That means it needs to be superbly durable with drop and water resistance. The strap should be able to sustain rough handling too. Tactical watches also keep accurate time even in harsh conditions.

Other than that, these watches offer excellent battery life. They may have additional features like a compass, altimeter, and barometer. These functions depend on special sensors built into the watches.

The Best Tactical Watch

The CASIO G-Shock MUDMASTER is one of the top tactical watches that will survive any adventure. It comes with a shock and vibration-resistant structure and a Mud Resist construction. In addition, it has a waterproof rating of 200 meters. 

Quite simply, nothing gets into this watch.

Beyond that, it has triple sensors including a barometer, altimeter, thermometer, and a digital compass. Since it’s solar-powered you don’t need to worry about replacing batteries. The time calibration is done through radio signals that ensure high accuracy.

A Tactical Vest

If you’re carrying weapons or a wide range of gear, a high-grade tactical vest is necessary. A vest allows you to secure the equipment close to your body while allowing easy access. 

If you want extra protection, you can choose more expensive bulletproof vests. Otherwise, make sure that the vest offers sufficient durability. The design, comfort levels, and the number of pockets in the vest are also important factors.

Note, if you want to store your weapon in the vest, choose a cross-draw vest that comes with a gun holster. If your purpose is to carry gear and ammunition, a chest rig is the best choice. Then you need to use a separate gun belt for carrying the weapon.

The Best Tactical Vest

The OneTigris Multicam Tactical Vest is our top pick in this category. Made from 500D Cordura nylon, this vest offers excellent durability, as well as comfort. The material is also breathable to ensure comfort in humid conditions.

The overall ergonomics is top-notch. You get a cummerbund with a hook-and-loop system and an adjustable shoulder strap. Padded shoulders offer extra cushioning. It has built-in magazine pouches and MOLLE webbing for mounting extra pouches.


So, it all adds up to this…

Tactical gear isn’t just for the special forces and law enforcement teams but for civilians as well.

When you’re heading for an adventure, the right tactical gear can be a blessing for tackling the rough outdoors. 

However, just buying the best gear isn’t enough. You need to train with it and learn about handling each item. Only that way, you will be able to make the best use of them in a stressful scenario.

And isn’t that what you want?


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