Tactical gear and survival gear may sound like they are the same to the average hobbyist. Even some more experienced people frequently conflate the two as they often work in tandem, but they are two different classifications of equipment. You only need to look at the basic definitions of the words to understand their differences. Here, we’ll take a minute to go in-depth and break down the differences between the two.

The Difference Between Tactical and Survival

“Tactical” relates to actions that are carefully planned to gain a specific military goal or advantage, while “survival” is the state of continuing to live despite difficult circumstances. Both are tools designed to prepare to protect one’s life, but the former is meant to protect one from a human threat while the latter protects one from a natural threat.

What is Tactical Gear?

Tactical equipment is often regarded as military gear and intended for a wide array of first-responders, police officers, and civilians to use. Tactical apparel is designed to carry and support weapons and heavy equipment such as firearms, knives, or devices used in combat or military situation—some clothing is even made to be ballistic-proof and fireproof. There are also several levels of tactical body armor that offer protection from average handgun bullets up to armor-penetrating bullets.

Simply put, tactical gear is meant to help protect you from the dangers posed by other people.

Other pieces of tactical gear, such as boots, belts, and even watches, are made to be rugged and reliable in any situation. A great tactical boot is durable, lightweight, breathable, and waterproof. Tactical boots can protect you from extensive discomforts or injuries as you navigate rough terrain. Similarly, tactical gloves will assist you with keeping your hands warm and protect them from the elements while climbing, digging, or even in combat. Tactical belts and tactical backpacks or bags are often made from stronger or reinforced materials, meaning they are built to handle the weight of any tactical gear and tools that you choose to attach or pack inside. Tactical gear is built to protect you from the threats of the modern world and help keep you equipped and safe during difficult times.

What is Survival Gear?

When you venture out into the wilderness for a hike, or are about to face an unexpected natural disaster, survival gear is the ideal equipment to have on hand.

Survival gear is meant to protect you from the forces of nature.

You'll find a lot of cross-over between what makes effective tactical gear and good survival gear. Both are designed to keep you warm, dry, and protected in difficult terrain.

The best clothing options, especially for items like boots and gloves, are likely to be tactical apparel. Survival clothing, however, is not intended to protect you from more human-made hazards, like knives and gunfire. Clothing worn in survival situations will rarely be armored but may be better suited to a variety of elemental hazards and weather conditions. Survival gear frequently includes more general-purpose tools like flashlights, first aid kits, basic knives, and sanitary items. Where tactical gear is designed around using and surviving weapons, a survival kit is designed around essential needs and tools that you or your family could use in an emergency. Storage built into survival gear also tends to be more general-purpose and not specially designed to hold things like ammunition or TAC radios like tactical gear.

TD Blog Contributor