A Gear Guide: Part 1 – Understanding the Common Gear Types

A Framework for Thinking About Gear

Tactical gear is diverse, complicated, and in some cases…predatory (meaning some companies rely on consumer ignorance to peddle overseas or cheaply manufactured gear). Some of the most basic questions when it comes to getting started, is understanding where exactly to start. In this, the first in a two part series, we will explore the most fundamental types of gear, and how that can help build your understanding when deciding how to best invest your hard-earned schmeckles. This will help avoid unnecessarily purchasing of gear in an unstructured manner, while still giving you the flexibility to begin training with said gear. In this module we will cover:

  • Overt Gear
  • Covert Gear
  • Dedicated Gear
  • Modular Gear
  • Gear Color

At the start, tactical gear can be summarized as that between Overt Gear, or Covert Gear. The choice of which is best determined by your individual goal or purpose. When conducting training in a controlled setting, or expecting a threat whereby the setting is “anything goes” then we are less concerned at maintaining a low profile. But for those working undercover, or working to the “grey man” appearance, less tactical or overt clothing and gear is a necessity.

1. A: Overt Gear

Generally speaking, overt gear is often an item(s) designed around a clear purpose (i.e. to enhance your fighting/combat capability) and without need for concealability, a low-profile, or concern of identification. Overt gear aligns to a specific tactical purpose (i.e. carrying body armor, holding magazines, ballistic protection for the head), and observed in most training situations and in some dire or emergency events.

With the popularity of the M-16 starting 1964, and later growth of the civilian AR market since then, the standard “combat load” for overt gear has always revolved around seven rifle magazines (or 210 rounds). This was because the Load-Bearing Equipment (LBE) worn by soldiers during Vietnam had a three-count magazine pouch configuration on either side of the belt (for a total of six magazines), and one magazine in the weapon (for the seventh). Over time, as LBE designs and materials evolved, the standard combat load did not until the early 2000’s – when soldiers began utilizing modern plate carriers and belts that enabled for individual customization of required pouches. Today, while the carry requirements for gear varies per unit or organizations, the standard combat load with overt gear remains seven magazines (with three extra magazines for training purposes).

Examples of Overt Gear:

1. B: Covert Gear

Covert (a.k.a. concealed) gear is something we all have the ability to carry within our governing State, job, or every-day life. The point to covert gear is to remain innocuous and not draw attention to yourself by appearing out of place. Often consideration on the sizing of such clothing should be “around the gun” and consider the added bulk of holster, pistol, magazines, or otherwise it could result in visible printing. Dress size/appearance, and gear selection should be around the “grey man” concept whereby the outward appearance is similar to that of the every-day citizen and those within the given society.

Example of Covert Gear

Within that framework of two gear types; each also has a design intended address either Dedicated Gear, or Modular Gear.

1. C: Dedicated Gear

Dedicated gear is exactly as it sounds, a loadout designed around the purpose of one goal. If you are a riflemen, then that dedicated design is to support that style of mission, weapon platform, and caliber. The design/pouches in dedicated gear cannot be modified or changed out over time, and cannot be used in other roles (or has a large degree of limitation). If you need a different loadout (such as converting from plate carrier to chest rig) or change weapon platforms/calibers, then you ditch the entire setup and don a completely new one. The advantages in speed to change out and getting back on mission are offset by the exponential cost to have multiple setups.

Examples of Dedicated Gear includes:

1. D: Modular Gear

By intent, modular gear is a base platform by which it enables the end-user to maximize customization to the fullest degree. Pouches can be rearranged, repositioned, swapped out, or removed for a “slick” approach. Placards have become popular and allow end-users to swap out between plate carrier and chest rig. The downside to these designs is that while cost effective, there is a delay in reconfiguring from one loadout to another.

Examples of Modular Gear includes:

1. E: Color Selection

The color of clothing helps the individual blend into the surrounding environment. Color choice is as much about regional vegetation, as it is seasonal. But, the wrong color choice of your gear, or mix-matched color schemes can draw the eye’s attention rather than blend in. Netting, vegetation, or other elements can be attached via the exterior fabrics to further break up the individual’s profile. And while Multicam Black is great for IG Thirst Traps – it serves virually zero prtatical purpose.

“A Gear Guide” is intended as an informative series and a continuation on other useful articles that include explanations to body armor, plate carriers, and common hardware to tactical gear. This series is not intended by High Ground Media to sway or convince the reader that one specific brand of gear is superior to all the others. In the end, this series is intended to provide the reader with a condensed and focused resource—nothing more.

All images and photos not taken by High Ground Media are taken using Google’s image search tool via specific keyword text, and under the “Fair Use” policy. Where applicable, image source citation will be provided. High Ground Media does not own the rights to any image or photo it does not take on its own.

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