While I’m working up my write up on my personal gear I figured I would start off with a basic criteria for gear selection.
Uniformity is important in the military and law enforcement communities. Having a standard across the board makes a more professional-looking force and also helps identify members of said force at a glance. The Army is easily distinguished from the Marine Corps by their unique uniforms. Police are easily distinguished from EMTs by their uniforms. As an independent citizen setting up personal gear, there is no real uniform to hold to and no standard set out to follow as is present in these organizations unless you are part of a state militia that has a uniform standard. However, if you look at some of these recent protests and demonstrations and things where armed citizens have kitted up to come out and do whatever it is they are trying to do, some of them look fairly ridiculous beyond the fact that they are there doing what they are doing by doing it in a bunch of mismatched airsoft gear. It’s hard to take someone seriously that looks like they don’t know how to dress themselves or match basic colors.
We joked around a lot when I was in the army that there are only three rules to combat:
Rule #1: Look cool.
Rule#2: Know what you’re doing.
Rule #3: If Rule #2 does not apply, refer to Rule #1
Basically the old “fake it till you make it” mentality, but its hard to fake that you know what you’re doing if you look like you were pulled off the set of the lowest budget action movie ever made. That being said, the best place to start when assembling a kit is by choosing a color or camouflage pattern that you can carry throughout your kit.
With the Army adopting the Operational Camouflage Pattern (OCP) for their issued uniforms, Multicam found its place as a mainstream pattern that is widely available through a number of equipment manufacturers. Multicam is an excellent pattern developed by Crye Precision as a multi-terrain adaptable camouflage. It works and it works well. For a long time though, multicam came, and in many cases still does come, at a higher price. That is because Crye Precision owns rights to the pattern and royalties must be paid for its use. That is why the Army uses the OCP. It is not technically multicam so there is no need for royalties to be paid for all the uniforms issued to Army soldiers. Here’s the down side to choosing a camouflage pattern for your kit: should you decide that you want to use a different pattern things start to mismatch and you start to get that budget action film look. Kryptek, for example has their Highlander pattern which looks really cool and uses a lot of the same colors as the multicam/OCP, but it doesn’t match. When it comes to patterns you should always do some looking. See what you can find for attachments and accessories that will actually match in pattern. If the pattern you like limits your options, you may want to either reconsider, or see if all of your needs will be met by what is available in that pattern. If all you need is a few mag pouches and everything else can go in a pack and all of that is available in the pattern you want, go for it. I prefer to keep my kit setup the way I would have it in country, which means I wear as much as I can in a combat-effective location so I’m not unslinging a pack to dig out what I need in the middle of a firefight. Unto each his own, it’s just a consideration to make. If I were to advise someone assembling a kit that is insistent on using a camouflage pattern my advice would be this: Look at where you expect to be using the gear, look for a widely used pattern that suits the area you plan to operate. Once you have that figured out, start piecing together your kit BEFORE you buy anything. If you can’t find everything you need in a matching format, reassess.
Solid colors, I have found, offer a bit more versatility. If you want to wear solid colors, it looks better to have a solid-color kit. For example, going back to the protesters I mentioned earlier, if you’re wearing jeans and a 5.11 Tactical button up in green, a solid-color kit on top of it would look presentable as something resembling a professional appearance. However, if you decided to wear all black and then put a multicam kit on top of that, you will look far less professional and a bit like a tool. Classically, the solid color option for “tactical” gear would be black, as James Bond demonstrated in so many films. Black is still a viable option and law enforcement use a lot of black equipment so it is readily available. Its a good standard color. If you wanted to run regular clothing with black, it would look good. If you ran a darker color camouflage pattern black would also work. Patterns like woodland or the navy’s blue digital pattern for example. You could also go classic Solid Snake with a grey uniform under all black kit. Another advantage of solid colors is they are easy to match. You can go with black gear from any manufacturer and it will match up and create a kit that looks professional despite being compiled from multiple manufacturers. There can be things between companies that vary enough in design on camouflage pattern gear that it just makes them look out of place. Like molle webbing on multicam gear for example. Some manufacturers use nylon web, some use multicam material folded over itself to create strapping in the same dimension as nylon web. Seeing the two together looks…weird. This is less of a problem with solid color gear. Remember Rule #1 and plan accordingly.
Now that the basics have been discussed and there is a frame of reference in everyone’s mind, follow me through my path of logic on why I chose to go with the gear that I chose.
Originally my kit was multicam. The more I looked at it though, the more I realized a solid color kit makes more sense for my needs and the environment I would likely find myself utilizing the kit in. I chose to go with a Coyote Tan setup. There were a couple reasons for that decision. Coyote Tan is readily available through most gear manufacturers because it is the color used by the Marine Corps for their plate carrier system. It also matches well across both solid colors and most camouflage patterns. Any camouflage that uses a shade of brown in it will match with the Coyote Tan, making it incredibly versatile. This doesn’t limit me to only being able to use multicam and it still offers a clean, professional appearance with plain clothes (jeans and a t-shirt), solid-color tactical apparel, or a variety of camouflage uniforms. Since the Marine Corps uses it, it has been standardized so that there is no variation or very little variation in shade from manufacturer to manufacturer, unlike Flat Dark Earth. When you order gear in Coyote Tan, regardless of who you’re getting it from, it should all match when assembled.
Ultimately, it is up to each individual how they want their loadout to look. This is just the base starting point that I use when selecting my gear. I feel it is commonly overlooked though, so I wanted to bring it up. Don’t make yourself look like your gear was pieced together out of scraps from a props closet on a Hollywood back lot. Match your kit. Plan it out ahead of time. Make good decisions. Don’t strap a bunch of black pouches to a Kryptek Highlander plate carrier. It defeats the whole purpose of selecting an earth tone camouflage pattern in the first place.
Takeaway: Match colors and patterns. Whatever you choose, make sure you can match throughout your kit. From helmet to boots to gloves, make it flow together or risk becoming an example of a soup sandwich.
Until next time, be smart, stay safe, stay alert, stay alive.
Photo Credit and related article: HERE