Before you nab a tactical jacket that looks good, ensure you have the proper intel to help guarantee that it is precisely what you want. As a professional or tactical expert, there are specific tools of the trade that are must-haves, whether they are part of your official uniform, needed for OPS, or personal preference for everyday outer layers. Adding a jacket on the surface seems a pretty simple choice—find one, like it, buy it—but if you don't do a bit of research before purchase, you could end up not only wasting hard-earned cash but having to toss that jacket to the back of the closet.

  1. Check the Guidelines
    As an LEO or military member, you should first check the guidelines of what is allowed for uniform standards according to your department. Make sure you know what is permitted in the AR 670-1, 1501 – Navy Uniform Standards, Police Uniform Regulations, and so on.

    What you buy and wear has to fall within those regulations. Otherwise, you'll waste money on a jacket you can't wear as part of your uniform.

  2. Mobility Needs
    Some heavier tactical jackets that protect the wearer in extreme weather come with multiple pockets and storage options—but remember that heavy jackets with many extras can hamper your agility and mobility.

    Additionally, a weightier jacket is a weight you must carry that can drain your stamina. Consider the terrain you will most likely encounter while wearing the jacket before purchasing. Will you be carrying out missions, deployed, or spending your time mainly in heavily wooded areas? A dense, heavy parka would soon become a hindrance, snagging on branches in tight-fitting regions and making it difficult to move.

    Thanks to advanced technologies, plenty of thinner, lightweight tactical jackets will provide the same heavy-duty weather protections without the restricted range of movements. If you need optimal mobility, you need to be light and thin.

  3. Climate
    Similar to the saying 'don't bring a knife to a gunfight,' wearing a plate-carrying jacket probably won't be the best idea if you're caught in extreme cold weather conditions with snow storms. Depending on the climate where the jacket will be worn most, you'll want to find features that suit that climate best.

Best Features for Hot and Humid or Hot and Dry Climates
• Quick-drying
• Lightweight
• Breathability
• Ventilation zippers
• Moisture-wicking materials

Best Features for Cold Climates
• Adjustable and elasticized cuffs
• Nylon outer shell
• Bartacking at stress points
• Removable softshell liners
• Water resistance
• Weather-resistant zippers

  1. Color or Camo
    If you're in service or on duty, your jacket is the outermost piece of clothing, and the color is the first thing seen. Depending on your uniform regulations, it will probably have to match your uniform or fall within regulation guidelines. Wearing a bright yellow jacket on a mission that requires stealth tactics, for example, is not the most outstanding choice.

  2. Storage Needs
    What will you need to store in your jacket? Will you require multiple compartments for your gear? How important is the ease of access? Are you looking for a jacket that will have features for concealed carry? For guns, ammo, and gear, you'll want to seek out a jacket that provides sturdy storage options for your pockets to protect your equipment while having them offer you ease of access at a moment's notice.

Other features you may or may not want to look for before buying:

  • Detachable hood.
  • Non-reflective matte for military ops or covert ops
  • Zipper pockets
  • Wire-pass through Port pockets for electronics

Knowing precisely what you want out of your tactical jacket, coat, parka, or pullover will help you find the perfect outer layer for you. When you have the right jacket, you'll save time and effort in the long run with a dependable, rugged, long-lasting piece of gear that can face any task. Browse our full selection of tactical jackets today to find the best one for you!