I was inspired to write on this subject due to recent comments I have seen floating around the web, labels attached to products, and some general dogmatic views on all products labeled tactical. So, what is tactical? When it comes to products, “tactical” has absolutely nothing to do with their appearance, but their functionality in helping accomplish a task.

If I wear a pair of Levis blue jeans into combat and accomplish the tasks that I was assigned, are my blue jeans tactical? What about wearing a pair of desert cammies to the grocery store to pick up a gallon of milk? Are either of these situations tactical because of the clothing? Yes and No. If I am wearing a pair of blue jeans and I am performing small scale actions to serve a greater purpose–the dictionary definition–then yes, my blue jeans could be part of the tactical whole. What if these blue jeans help me blend into the indigenous population on a low-visibility operation?

(Image Courtesy: nbc.com)

I am honestly bothered by the way ‘tactical’ has become a buzzword for companies to sell products- it works, though, so more power to them. Throw a camo pattern onto a coffee cup and call it tactical. Take a pair of regular tan canvas pants, throw on some cargo pockets with velcro, an inside the waist pocket, and call them tactical. Neither of these items are tactical if they are not being used in a tactical operation (tactical operation is not synonymous with military operation). It is how the product is used, not its appearance. Although, many of the best products are also the most aesthetically pleasing.

Gear reviews test and review the functionality of a product. We are here to advise you in the purchase of a product. My advice, and take it for what it’s worth, is to stop choosing your products on if they look tactical enough. Choose products by their quality, ease and comfort of use, or integrity of the manufacturer–not solely on their aesthetics.

We recently published an article on the Vans Syndicate Defcon Shoes. Over the past week I have read numerous comments from “those look great” to “those look like the dumbest shoes I have ever seen.” The shoes’ design has a military inspiration, yet the rim of the sole still has the traditional Vans white rubber.

Does the white rubber and a flat sole really make or break these shoes? Some may say yes, I say no. In Ranger Battalion, if someone would have told me that I could trade in my issued boots for a pair of these, I would have jumped at the opportunity. When walking through muddy farm fields during offset infills, tread nor color make a difference. Everyone, within the span of a kilometer had mud colored stilts for feet. Also consider, if you speak with a majority of individuals operating in an urban environment, they actually prefer a flat soled shoe or low top boot.

(Image Courtesy: lowaboot.com) These can be just as tactical in the right application.

If I were to wear a pair of boots labeled as tactical on a foot patrol in the mountains of Afghanistan in January and lose half of my toes due to frostbite, hey, at-least I looked tactical doing it. I mangle my feet, can’t walk, require medical aid, my buddies have to carry me and all my gear back to base, and I just harmed the greater purpose. Flip it around and now I am wearing boots that are designed to protect in high altitude winter conditions, yet they are the color red. I didn’t lose my toes and somehow in a very small manner my red boots helped me and my element to perform a small scale action serving a greater purpose. If you are that concerned about the color or uniformity, there is literally nothing a can of spray paint won’t fix.

Wait a minute, what am I saying? Forget what you just read and follow rule #1:

Always look good!

By the way, if anyone is interested in purchasing me a Christmas present, the mug featured above would do. Who doesn’t want to feel like they’re improperly carrying their rifle, be able to acquire flies on the ceiling, illuminate their feet, and smash a skull, all without spilling a drop of that black delicious goodness?

(Featured Image Courtesy: guns411.com)