Making Civilian Gear Tactical

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So lets say for the sake of argument that you’ve got some gear that serves you well day to day but you have either decided that it needs a more tactical flair. That’s  what my situation was. I have a great Lowe Alpine backpack that I’ve had since high school. It’s a good pack and is in good shape. The only problem is that it’s bright blue. That’s hardly a “tactical” color. That’s not to say that there is anything wrong with a blue backpack but for my purposes as a firearms instructor and tactical blog writer, it was less than desirable.

australis70-2There are lots of pieces of civilian gear that are well suited for military or tactical use. For some reason, people seem to have a need to buy tactical gear with Molle webbing all over it, that they never use.Have you ever carried a military issue ALICE pack over long distances? They can be very uncomfortable to carry unless you spend a bunch of money on upgrades from Tactical Tailor. Civilian packs on the other hand tend to be heavy on comfort, heavy on cargo space and light on weight. They are lacking on so called tactical features but as long as you’ve got somewhere to put your water, you’re good in my book. You will most likely be wearing some manner of load bearing equipment anyway.

photo 2(3)You may be asking me why I don’t just get an already camouflaged pack or why even bother with a blue one in the first place. Well very simply just because I want to. I could spend tons of cash on an Eberlestock pack and have a fantastic piece of gear and be very happy with it, or I could take a pack that I’m already comfortable with and customize it to my needs and the terrain in which I will be, and frankly an Eberlestock pack is nowhere near being in my budget. This practice has been used by special operations forces around the world for a long time with great success. I don’t agree with the notion that there is a “perfect” pattern, although there are a few on the market that are getting close. Usually it’s either too dark or too bright, or too green or too brown or too black.

photo 3(1)The goal of camouflage is to break up the outline and blend into your surroundings. For every problem there is always a solution. My solution? A few cans of plastic bonding spray paint (for painting nylon), some time and some different sizes of netting. All you need to do is to ensure the surface is clean and dry initially. After that you lay down a base coat in a color of your choosing. I chose tan as my base coat color. After the pack was all tan, I took the netting and placed it over the pack. Then lay down the two other colors (OD green and brown) in random fashion. Then more tan to highlight over the OD and brown. The more random the better. Dark to cover areas that would normally be bright and light colors on areas that would normally be dark.  I also dusted the whole pack with the OD green to tone down the tan some. I can’t tell you what colors to put where, North Carolina is going to be vastly different than Arizona, which will be vastly different than Oregon. What is particularly excellent about this method is that it is endlessly customizable. If you’re in the desert one week and the forest another, a couple passes with a different color will get you what you need. A couple things to keep in mind is that the color will flake and chip and wear off in some places and the paint will stiffen the fabric. That’s just the nature of the beast. Keep a couple cans of paint around and you’ll be fine and the fabric will loosen up with use. So how do you make your civilian gear suit your needs?


3 thoughts on “Making Civilian Gear Tactical

  1. Since I work in the jungle from time to time and solid green or coyote packs/ gear is the trend I use kyrlon camo paint on codura material. It looks good and lasts for years. I am just about to respray a pack I painted in 2009 and took on over 50 missions. Everyone says “cool camo where’d you get it? ” just say it came in a can labeled krylon.

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