The Evolution of Tactical Gear: From Military to Everyday Use

A man wearing military morale patches and military gear. Modern tactical gear shares many similarities with military gear⁠—and in some cases, they are one and the same!

Tactical gear refers to tough, durable products, is that right? You may be wondering whether “tactical” is simply a marketing term, a buzzword that gets tactical folks to buy a certain type of gear. Let’s talk about that.

You may find some stores that simply label their goods as “tactical gear” without offering something worthy of the name. That’s why you’ve got to get your stuff from dependable tactical stores that have established a reputation for selling the real deal. 14er Tactical is one of these trustworthy stores, and we’ve got stellar product reviews to back this up!

The next question might be, what can one expect out of tactical gear? To put it simply, these products are designed to capture the strength and functionality of military gear. 

Tactical Gear History: A Tale of Military Gear Evolution

Modern tactical gear emerged out of the need to sell off surplus military equipment. Which means that military gear and tactical gear were basically identical at one point in time. The military would receive new stocks of outdoor tactical equipment while old stocks still remained unused. These old stocks would be purchased by enterprising businesses and then resold as “tactical gear.” Given that they were no longer going into the hands of military units, the term “military gear” was not usable, even if the equipment came from the military. “Tactical gear” carried the same connotations without directly referencing military applications.

But this created a demand for tactical gear that surplus equipment suppliers could not satisfy on their own. A number of businesses sensed an opportunity, and began to design and manufacture their own tactical gear to meet the demand. This commercial tactical gear had no direct connection to the military. However, the best of the tactical gear makers followed military design principles in manufacturing their products. These makers worked to produce equipment that had the toughness and functionality of military gear.


Military gear provided the foundations for the manufacture of modern tactical gear. But nowadays, tactical gear has been known to influence the design of military equipment!

When the Military Adopts Commercial Tactical Gear!

What’s interesting about tactical gear history is that it originated as surplus military gear, then became a commercial product. But then the military would find a commercial product that they like so much, they then begin to use it (or a similar version) in the military! It’s a never ending cycle that feeds upon itself!

One great example of this involves a company called 5.11 that made outdoor tactical equipment. In 1992, the FBI set up a meeting with the company’s founders to discuss a tactical pants manufacturing contract. The 5.11 company had been making commercial cargo pants that many FBI trainees and instructors enjoyed using. This led them to contract 5.11 to manufacture an exclusive line of tactical pants for the FBI based on the design of the popular cargo pants!

Cargo pants have also been identified as the basis for the design of modern combat pants used by service members. 

Tactical Gear Trends: Advancements in Technology and Design

The growth of the commercial tactical gear market has come to influence the development of military equipment. Military gear evolution now follows in the wake of tactical gear trends. As commercial product makers come up with advancements in tactical gear design, the military will often follow suit. And not just the military⁠—law enforcement also keep up with tactical gear trends these days!

One good example of this is the use of ballistic nylon in outdoor tactical equipment and clothing. This protective material was invented at DuPont during wartime. The company used ballistic nylon as a key material in the flak jackets of World War II aviators.

Since that time, DuPont has made many advancements in ballistic nylon technology, creating a number of variants. This allowed the company to craft more versatile tactical gear products to meet the needs of varied customers. Ballistic nylon products have since come to include luggage, backpacks, outdoor adventuring gear, sports equipment, climbing equipment, helmets and tactical clothing.

Of course, these advancements in tactical gear then get carried over into actual military gear.

This is the 14er Tactical Backpack. Its versatile design makes it a good option for outdoor use (camping, hiking) or for everyday carry. It includes a CCW pocket!

More Tactical Gear History: Its Effect on Outdoor Recreation

One of the biggest industries affected by tactical gear is the outdoor sports and adventuring industry. Outdoor enthusiasts tend to be savvy consumers who look for high quality and durability in the equipment they buy. That means outdoor adventure products from reputable makers tend to offer high-grade toughness and functionality⁠—just as tactical products do!

You can see what this means: there’s considerable overlap between outdoor and tactical gear designs and features. You can easily get a tactical backpack and tactical clothing to use on your next camping and hiking trip. And they will function just as well as the products made by an outdoor sports company.

One thing you can find in tactical gear but not in outdoor gear is adaptation for concealed carry. That’s something that can prove very useful for any tactical lifestyle follower. The 14er Tactical Backpack offers a convenient CCW pocket, for example. But the backpack also makes a great outdoor bag for hiking! That’s two use-cases in one product⁠—a great example of how versatile tactical gear can be.

Tactical Gear in Everyday Life

We’re now seeing more and more people embrace the idea of using tactical backpacks for everyday carry. Tactical gear is becoming a part of everyday life for many people outside the military and law enforcement. It offers great convenience and functionality while also answering the specific needs of one’s tactical lifestyle.

Again we’re talking about how tactical backpacks can be used for concealed carry. Who wouldn’t want a CCW pocket to be a standard-issue feature of their everyday carry bag? This is also where tactical gear can be more appropriate than a normal backpack. The appearance of tactical gear signals that you are a person of readiness⁠—someone who can handle threats or emergencies. People are likely to take note of your tactical gear and understand that they don’t want to mess with you.

Are you looking for versatile tactical gear products? We’ve got you covered! Check out our shop for authentic, high-quality tactical outdoor equipment, range bags and morale patches.

Military gear evolution has led the advanced design of tactical gear to be embraced by service members, law enforcers and civilians alike!

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