When I took my first CCW class I was introduced to serious "professional gun men" who wore serious looking boots, cargo pants, and these weird nylon belts I'd never seen before. They wore plastic holsters and clothes by a company I recognized from my college days as a rock climber. In that first minute, I knew what I wanted to look like and dress like from there on out.
I didn't realize I was falling into that classic new-CCW'er trap - instructor idol-worship through buying every piece of clothing in the 5.11 catalog. Yup, I "been there, dun that," BIGTIME.
One thing I came to realize after diving into the looking-glass world of "tactical" clothing, equipment, and accessories, is that there's a LOT to love about it but there's a fine line - a balance between "real-world" practical vs the fashion of looking "tacti-cool."
I found most of the outdoors companies I relied on in my 20s as a climbing bum and mountain guy make a line of products for cops, soldiers, and hunters which are overbuilt for hard use, and usually in the US, Canada, or first-world nations where most off-the-rack gear at REI is mass-produced mediocrity from Vietnam and Taiwan. Score!
I was a teenager when parachute pants gave way to pegged cuffs and neon EVERYTHING. I'm amazed this fashion trend came back, and I absolutely refuse to participate - this is the next awesome thing about tactical gear in moderation... I don't have to look like a neon peacock to enjoy quality boots, jackets, and backpacks. I have been praying I won't have to go for a hike dressed like a futuristic Sun Chips bag in Oakleys, and the natural, normal look of tans, greens, and grays doesn't look out of place in the woods.
Finally, while there's a TON of "fashion" tacticool crap on the market, if you shop wisely you'll find packs and jackets that will last a lifetime, boots that won't break down after a year, and daily-use equipment that looks at home in the brewery as it does on the battlefield.
Just don't overdo it and walk around like a model from the 5.11 catalog. Cops smell cop-clothes a mile away, wearing 8" combat boots with shorts is just silly, and the point of "concealed carry" is just that.
However, since I became a "professional gun guy" you can bet your butt I dress the part when I'm teaching or competing :-)
Cheers, and keep it pointed downrange!
- Posted from somewhere on this big blue marble.