What Makes a Shirt “Tactical”?

These days, it seems that there is a “tactical” version of pretty much anything you can think of. So, it just makes sense that there would be tactical shirts too.

However, before you write off the tactical shirt as a way to sell more clothes, consider that military advancements in technology have resulted in huge leaps forward in many civilian areas of life. Among them are tech advancements like the internet, GPS, and duct tape, to name just a few.

It is only natural that the military operates on a whole different level from civilian life. When unwavering performance can mean the difference between life and death, you can count on the military to figure out the absolute best way to achieve it. This applies to clothing tech advancements as well, as most have come from the military.

Whether you hike, hunt, fish, rock climb, or just work hard, you are likely to benefit from the characteristics that make a shirt tactical. If you are looking for a shirt that will work and play as hard as you do, and help you look good while doing it, then a tactical shirt needs to be on your shopping list.

But what exactly makes a shirt tactical? Let’s talk about what differentiates a tactical shirt from the rest and what you need to look for when you are ready to buy a first-class tactical shirt.

The Right Materials

ripstop fabric close up

The term “ripstop fabric” is pretty self-explanatory. It is a fabric that is designed to stop rips. However, the cool part is how this is achieved.

Ripstop fabric refers specifically to a woven fabric that is often made with nylon to add strength and stretch. When the fabric is being constructed, the nylon reinforcement threads are woven into the fabric in a crosshatch pattern at regular intervals. This unique weaving process involves a special reinforcing technique that stops the fabric from ripping and thus gives it its name. Think of it like a plywood wall with studs every 16 inches. The plywood wall would work alright without the studs. However, with the studs, the wall is a lot stronger and more durable.

You can find tactical shirts made from all different kinds of fabric. Synthetic fabrics will often provide more versatility when going from one climate to another, or when alternating between working hard and relaxing. These fabrics usually provide more stretch and mobility when you are on the move as well.

The Right Pockets

tactical shirt pockets us patriot

Contrary to the opinion of some, there is such a thing as too many pockets. A good tactical shirt is going to have all the pockets you need to get the job done, without overdoing it.

As mentioned before, a tactical shirt is designed to provide servicemen and -women, and people with other active careers or hobbies, the function that they need to perform well. A good tactical shirt will reflect this mission in the number, size, and placement of its pockets.

Ready to Take a Beating

Whether you are climbing a mountain or executing a covert mission, you need clothing that will put up with anything without compromise. Beyond just the materials used, in order for a shirt to be tactical, it needs to be built to take a beating.

Tactical shirts are often reinforced in the elbows and other places that are bound to see more than their fair share of wear and tear. The stitching too should be more heavy duty than on your normal shirt.

Useful Ventilation

collared tactical shirt ventilation close up

There are a number of ways that shirts can be designed to keep your body at the right temperature when you are active. While there are tactical shirts that do not have temperature control features, they can definitely come in handy.

One option is the use of a heat cape. This is usually a flap that goes across the back of the shoulders to about halfway down the back. Underneath this flap (or cape) is a mesh fabric that is designed to increase airflow and assist you in regulating your temperature.

The other option is mesh vents. Based on the same idea as the heat cape, mesh vents often start right under the arm and descend down the shirt in a widening, “upside-down-V” shape. This helps you stay cool while adding a bit of extra stretch and flex to the shirt.

Tactical Color

This one may seem pretty obvious, but a tactical shirt is unlikely to be neon orange. You probably don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb while you work and play hard. So, a tactical shirt’s color will help you blend in with your surroundings.

An “Active” Fit

As mentioned before, the most important characteristic of a good tactical shirt is the fit. Skin-tight is simply not going to work. However, neither is super baggy. A good tactical shirt is going to provide you with the room you need to move while keeping close enough to your body to not snag or get in the way at a critical moment.

Buying a Tactical Shirt

Regardless of what you plan on doing with your tactical clothing, having the right gear can make all the difference in the world. If you are looking for a tactical shirt, knowing exactly what it is that makes a shirt “tactical” ensures that you get a functional, effective piece of clothing, instead of a knock-off that only looks cool.

Check which materials are used (ripstop fabric is a must), look for smart pockets that provide the storage you need, insist on durable construction to put up with whatever you put the shirt through, look for ventilation to ensure comfort, pick a good tactical color, and select a fit that lets you be active without getting in the way. You can shop for them here at US Patriot.

Now that you know everything you need to know about tactical shirts, learn about tactical pants.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Brady Smith

Brady Smith is a professional writer, author, and speaker specializing in creative message development for business, politics, non-profit, & more.

An avid archer, political junkie, and aspiring musician, Brady makes his home on the edge of society, just close enough to get good WiFi, but far enough to not be bothered.

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