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The Best Authentic Military Gear for Civilians

Best Military Gear For Civilians 0 Hero

When you’re looking for tough, ruggedized gear to take on virtually any task, there are few genres that can stand toe to toe with mil-spec. The issue, however, is that military-approved, standard-issue gear is often difficult for the average consumer to acquire, making it a distant pipe-dream for those who don’t have a branch-specific ID, veteran status, or any other notable signifier.

Luckily, there are a handful of companies out there who create gear for both the military and civilian sectors, meaning that you’ll find close to the same build quality, construction, and innovations that you would have been privy to, had you been a member of the armed forces. Below, you’ll find a handful of offerings that can act in parallel with a number of the military’s standard-issue offerings, boasting the same — and at times, heightened — build quality, standardization, and functionality that you’ve come to expect by the tactical gear used by operators; albeit, with a more civilian appeal.

The Best Authentic Military Gear For Civilians

Mil-Spec Must-Haves

What Factors Should I Consider When Buying Civilian-Obtainable Military Gear?

If you don’t personally possess a history of service, it can admittedly be a bit tricky knowing exactly what it is that one should look for when shopping for pieces of military gear that are available to the general public. Well aware of this reality, we’ve pieced together this mini guide on the most pivotal areas to consider when shopping. 

Materials: The single biggest area that determines any piece of military gear’s overall quality, performance, and durability is the materials used to make it. So, whether you’re shopping for a fixed-blade or a pair of combat boots, you’ll always want to consider the exact constructions being utilized. 

Construction Technique: It’s not only the materials used to make a product that determine its overall level of durability, but also the manner in which those materials were pieced together. As such, you’ll want to pay close attention to the construction techniques or techniques that were used to manufacturer any piece of kit. 

Durability & Resistances: As items that need to stand up to the extreme rigors of modern warfare and combat, pieces of military gear need to be ridiculously durable and hardwearing, with the ability to survive extreme weather conditions, bumps and impacts, abrasions, and dust, dirt, and debris. Consequently, it’s imperative to review a piece of gear’s durability and resistances, no matter what class or genre of gear. 

Climate: The region and season where you’re serving will massively impact the type of garments and gear that you’ll be using, with warmer, tropical and desert locales calling for more lightweight, breathable equipment while colder regions and months will demand weatherproof, insulated pieces of kit

Color Or Finish: Engineered for military and combat use, pieces of civilian-obtainable mil-spec gear unsurprisingly tend to come in earth tones or camo finishes. This area will boil down to the region in which you’re deployed or serving, and/or your branch or company’s particular standard colors or camos. 

Price & Value: Considering the fact that soldiers need to be able to trust pieces of gear with their lives, these items must boast immense strength and durability. Unfortunately, these traits very seldom come cheap. And, while generally speaking, you do tend to get what you pay for, some items in this space offer much better bang for your buck than others — making this another important area to review when shopping, especially if you’re on a PFC’s budget. 

Compliance: This guide is focused on military gear that regular civilians can get there hands-on, however, if you are interested in actually using any of this mil-spec kit you’ll no doubt want to confirm that it’s approved for use in your particular branch or company — making compliance another area worth reviewing when shopping.  

Magpul Patrol Glove 2.0

Magpul Patrol Glove 2
Photo: Magpul Industries
Why It Made The Cut
  • Protective tactical gloves that don’t compromise tactile feel or weapons handling abilities. 

Best Tactical Gloves: Though the company is no doubt best-known for its battle-tested sights, stocks, and magazines, Magpul Industries also happens to make some of the best tactical gloves that money can buy. Case in point; Magpul’s Patrol Glove 2.0. Equipped with touchscreen-friendly finger tips, the gloves feature a corded nylon shell with goatskin palm and closed-cell foam knuckle protection. Stretch panels, a wrap-up finger pattern, and articulated palms have all been added to the mix to bolster the gloves’ conduciveness to operating firearms. In fact, that’s what these tactical gloves were specifically designed to do.  As such, these second-gen tactical mitts offer stellar protection without overly compromising tactile feel. Considering their accessible price point, these gloves offer remarkable bang for your buck, as the materials, design, and build quality of Magpul’s Patrol Glove 2.0 would have lead us to believe that they’re markedly more expensive than they actually are, had we not seen their MSRP. 

Construction: Corded Nylon & Goatskin
Knuckle Armor: Closed-Cell Foam

TRU-SPEC T.R.U. 1/4 Zip Combat Shirt

TRU SPEC TRU Quarter Zip Combat Shirt
Why It Made The Cut
  • A premium yet affordable take on a standard military BDU. 

Best Tactical Shirt: Tru-Spec’s Quarter-Zip Tactical shirt was made with rapid response in mind, calling upon an adjustable hook and loop cuff, reinforced shoulder pockets, and zig-zag stitching to keep it in-line with the genre’s most durable offerings. This quarter-zip is crafted with a hearty mixture of cotton and nylon to keep it kicking after long-winded use in the field, pairing with an easy-to-don persona that makes getting in, and out of the shirt a breeze. Better yet, it’s priced at a portion of the cost of other comparable models, meaning that you’ll get all of the positives of more expensive models, without sacrificing your ability to invest in other pieces of gear.

Construction: CORDURA
GSA/TAA Compliant: Yes

Bates GX-8 Desert Composite Toe

Bates GX8 Desert Composite To
Photo: Bates
Why It Made The Cut
  • A warm-weather-specific tactical boot built to withstand combat & day-to-day use.

Best Combat Boots: If there’s a trusted company that many military and civilian contractors turn to on a regular basis, it’s Bates. While the company has a number of models that are widely accepted and used for various purposes, the GX-8 Composite toe is one that’s undeniably astute, pairing a scotch guard-protected Wolverine Warrior leather upper that’s resistant to kerosene, oil, dirt, and other hazardous materials to keep it capable over the life of wear, with a handful of other performance-oriented traits. The unique textiles and fabrics used on this pair of tactical boots allow it to be far more durable than traditional cowhide leather, while also promoting easy cleaning and enhanced breathability — especially when coupled with an internal mesh lining, YKK nylon side zipper, and a cushioned, removable insert for easy aeration. Better yet, each example is outfitted with a non-metallic, ASTM F2413-05-rated composite safety toe, slip-resistant rubber outsole, and athletic cement construction to give it unparalleled responsiveness.

Uppers: Suede Leather & Performance Nylon
Liner: Wicking Mesh
Outsole: Rubber

Oakley Flak Jacket XLJ

Photo: Oakley
Why It Made The Cut
  • An iconic pair of tried-&-true tactical glasses built to withstand the rigors of combat. 

Best Tactical Eyewear: Oakley’s Flak Jacket XLJ sunglasses are a must-have piece of eyewear for any athlete or outdoorsman. Thanks to the company’s respected history in the world of outdoor and hiking use, these unique variants have been gifted with cutting-edge construction materials to keep them at the top of their game, including Unobtainium nose pads, a removed lower rim to enhance your expanded field of vision, and Plutonite lens technology to keep harmful UV rays at bay while you’re trying to achieve your tasks. For those who care more about comfort than capability, you’ll be glad to hear that the Flak Jacket’s three-point fit is here to ensure optimal alignment throughout the day, meaning that you’ll spend less time readjusting and reapplying, and more time focused on the mission.

Frame Material: Lightweight O Matter
Lens System: Interchangeable
Nosepads: Unobtainium

Leatherman MUT Multi-Tool

Leatherman MUT Multi Tool
Photo: Leatherman
Why It Made The Cut
  • A tactical multi-tool specifically engineered for maintaining weapons & mission gear. 

Best Tactical Multi-Tool: Engineered from the ground up to maintain military gear, the Leatherman MUT is a tactical butterfly-opening multi-tool that comes loaded with 16 functions in a compact and hardwearing 11.2oz, 5.0” package (when closed). As such, it features a front-sight adjustment accessory, a bronze carbon scraper, a disassembly punch, a cleaning rod, and a bolt override tool. Also included are regular and needle nose pliers, wire cutters, a 420HC combo knife, a hammer, a bit driver, a bottle opener, and integrated carabiner. And, while it’s sold with an included MOLLE-compatible nylon sheath, there are also aftermarket Kydex sheaths available for this tactical 16-function multi-tool. 

Number Of Tools/Functions: 16
Closed Length: 5.0”
Blade Steel: 420HC

SureFire E2D Defender Ultra

SureFire E2D Defender Ultra
Photo: SureFire
Why It Made The Cut
  • A rugged, American-made  1,000-lumen torch with an IPX7 rating & a patented striking bezel design. 

Best Tactical Flashlight: Made by a veteran-owned and operated brand that primarily deals in silencers and weapon lights, the Surefire E2D Defender Ultra is an ultra-rugged USA-made tactile light that’s built to take a beating. Constructed around a Mil-Spec hard-anodized aerospace-grade aluminum alloy body, this flashlight feature a scalloped tail-cap, a TIR optic lens, and Surefire’s patented Crenellated Strike Bezel. At the heart of this tactically-minded torch is an LED emitter that puts out 1,000 lumens and affords a throw of 656′. IPX7-rated, the E2D Defender Ultra can also operate on its maximum brightness setting for 2.75 hours on a single charge — or 63 hours on its low mode. 

Length: 5.60”
Body: Aluminum
Max Lumens: 1,000

Toor Knives Serpent

Toor Knives Serpent
Photo: Toor Knives
Why It Made The Cut
  • A USA-made, 3V-steeled, karambit-hole-equipped tanto fixed blade that you can trust with your life. 

Best Combat Knife: Designed to be used with or without tactical gloves, the Toor Knives Serpent is a tactical fixed-blade that’s equipped with a 0.125” Karambit ring that allows for ultra-easy drawing whether barehanded or wearing tactical gloves. Spanning 8.25” in total, the knife is part of Toor’s SOF Series, which are engineered from the ground up for elite operators. Boasting a full-tang construction, the Serpent is crafted from top-shelf CPM 3V steel, fitted with sculpted G-10 scales, and culminates in a 3.75” Tanto edge. And, with a beefy 0.1875-inch thickness, this is a blade that you can truly trust with your life, knowing it won’t ever snap or fail in the midst of a CQC scenario. In addition to being offered in a trio of finishes, this knife is also sold with a hard sheath with a plethora of different available mounting options, from clips to MOLLE attachments. Toor also makes a rounded convex-edge-profile version of this SOF Series model known as the Anaconda. 

Blade Steel: CPM 3V
Handle Material: G-10
Blade Thickness: 0.1875”
Blade Length: 3.75”
Overall Length: 8.25”

Crye Precision G3 Combat Pant

Crye Precision G3 Combat Pant
Photo: Crye Precision
Why It Made The Cut
  • A rugged pair of tactical pants w/ a mil-spec shell & integrated knee armor. 

Best Tactical Pants: Crye Precision’s G3 Combat pant is the most tactical legwear offering on our list, and for good reason. Each mil-spec compliant pair calls upon a 50/50 NYCO (nylon/cotton blend) to keep things aerated and breathable while providing adequate resistance against scrapes, abrasions, and cuts as a result of rapid movement. To achieve this in the best way possible, these top-shelf tactical pants have also been imbued with four-way stretch fabrics in high-wear areas, allowing mobility and range of motion to become an afterthought. These characteristics are complemented by the pant’s low-profile, adjustable waist, stretch panels, and built-in knee pads, making them an attractive proposition for operators who would rather focus on the mission, instead of clothing management.

Primary Construction: Mil-Spec 50/50 NYCO Ripstop
Water Resistance: Semi
Armored: Yes
Pockets: 10

RE Factor Tactical x Ferro Concepts Advanced Slickster Plate Carrier

Ferro Concepts Advanced Slickster Plate Carrier
Photo: RE Factor Tactical
Why It Made The Cut
  • A low-profile plate carrier custom-designed to accommodate body armor & mission gear. 

Best Plate Carrier: Born out of a collaboration between RE Factor Tactical and Ferro Concepts, the Advanced Slickster Plate Carrier is a result of the duo setting out to design the ultimate plate carrier, paying little attention to the costs and simply aiming to provide the very best product possible. Designed to meet the needs of modern operators, this robust vest is covered in straps, loops, MOLLE rows, and other attachments that enable it to accommodate a huge variety of mission equipment including multiple com and PTT systems, several mags, or other mission essential equipment.  This has been achieved partially through the use of an updated cummerbund that’s been redesigned to more securely carry a wide variety of kit. This plate carrier also benefits form extensive field testing and feedback gained from military personnel. 

Base: Slickster
MOLLE Compatible: Yes

Eberlestock Battleship V90

Eberlestock Battleship V90
Photo: Eberlestock
Why It Made The Cut
  • A massive 100-liter rucksack cut from ballistic-grade CORDURA. 

Best Rucksack: Eberlestock’s Battleship Pack Ruck V90 is a monstrous bag that can prolong your outings and rucks for more than a day or two. Boasting a durable 1,000-denier CORDURA Nylon construction and various PALS and MOLLE attachments throughout, this quintessential pack was built to withstand the wear and tear you’ll put it through while in the backcountry, allowing you to keep essential items safe, organized, and protected from inclement weather. This massive, well-crafted rucksack even features a removable top compartment that’s waterproof, adaptable, and versatile enough to be used as a fanny pack, making it even more attractive for those who are looking for a pack that can evolve based on the needs of the mission/outing. If that’s not good enough, the Battleship also comes with a waterproof rain cover to keep the entire bag safe from that impending downpour.

Shell Construction: 1,000D CORDURA
Volume: 99.96L
Weight: 8.75LBs
Dimensions: 36”H x 14”W x 11.5”D

Massif Elements Jacket Navair

Massif Elements Jacket Navair
Photo: Massif
Why It Made The Cut
  • A spare-no-expse tactical jacket that’s as rugged as it is warm. 

Best Tactical Jacket: The Massif Elements NAVAIR Jacket is a high-neck example that looks tactical, but well-informed. It doesn’t skimp on technical traits and materials, either, calling upon a suite of fabrics that exceed flame and heat resistance requirements under NFPA 1977-2005, feature a breathable waterproof membrane that improves moisture management while under strain, and boast a four-way stretch for improved mobility and range of motion. An array of flaps and pockets allow for various peripherals to be used alongside the tactical jacket, including IR markers, name, rank, flag, and unit patches, and alternative gear that you’ll need access to on a whim. The NAVAIR also provides wearers with enhanced protection against water and wind thanks to its softshell construction, making it a great choice for over, or under-armor use.

Shell Construction: Flame-Resistant Proprietary Massif Stretch Fabric
Liner: Windproof, Waterproof, & Breathable Membrane

Crye Precision Airframe Helmet

Crye Precision Airframe Helmet
Photo: Crye Precision
Why It Made The Cut
  • A state-of-the-art, vented combat helmet w/ an enormous slew of equipment mounting options. 

Best Combat Helmet: Providing ample coverage and world-class protection while weighing as little as 3.2lbs, the Crye Precision Airframe Helmet is a cutting-edge combat lid that’s made in America from USA-sourced material. Able to be optioned with available modular ear and face protection, this hardwearing helmet features a vented design that comes standard with an Ops-Core H-Nape Head-Loc retention system. Outfitted with  3/4” pads, the helmet is also available with pre-drilled three and four-hole setups to accommodate Ops-Core and Wilcox mounts, plus boasts an available modular ARC rail system available. While it admittedly doesn’t come cheap, this truly is one of the finest combat hemet that money can currently buy. 

Weight: 2.3LBs to 2.75LBs
Mounting: Optional ARC Rail System

Garmin tactix 7 Pro Ballistics Edition

Garmin tactix 7 Pro Ballistics Edition
Photo: Garmin
Why It Made The Cut
  • A rugged polymer-cased tactical smartwatch w/ a built-in ballistics computer.

Best Tactical Watch: The Garmin tactix 7 Pro Ballistics Edition is a tough tactical watch with some cutting-edge tricks up its sleeve. Built to MIL-STD-810 standards, this ultra-tactical smartwatch is constructed around a 51mm fiber-reinforced polymer case with a titanium bezel and case-back that collectively offer 100 meters of water resistant — along with ample impact and scratch protection. Essentially acting as a state-of-the-art ballistics computer and calculator that you can wear on your wrist, the tactix 7 Pro Ballistics Edition comes loaded with Applied Ballistics Elite software that lets users to calculate long-range shooting solutions while in the field, as well as an Applied Ballistics Bullet Library containing more than 1,200 custom measured bullets. It doesn’t end there, as the watch also boasts a kill switch, a stealth mode, night vision compatibility, a jump master mode, dual-position formatting, projected waypoints, a built-in multi-LED flashlight, a pulse OX sensor, and a battery offering up to 37 days of life. 

Case Size: 51mm
Case Material: Fiber-Reinforced Polymer & Titanium
Movement: Smartwatch
Water Resistance: 100m

The Best Tactical EDC Gear

Best Tactical EDC Gear 0 Hero

Interested in giving your EDC loadout a more tactical edge? Then be sure to head over to our guide to the best tactical everyday carry gear for a curated list of mission-ready EDC.