There are many reasons to understand tactics, wear camo, learn bushwhacking skills, and all the things that come to mind when you hear the word survival. There has been a growing trend in the urban environment lately, and it has taken the name of tacticool.
Tacticool is a blend word of you guessed it – tactic and cool. Tacticool is used as a badge of honor by some, and a tongue-in-cheek joke about someone’s appearance.
Both people you can see in every major city – I like to equate the two extremes to a professional UFC fighter and the fan that always wears the Affliction shirts and thinks he can fight professionally because he watches every UFC match.
Obviously, there is a huge gap between proficiency in MMA between the two. But this article isn’t about them; it’s about the practicality of being tacticool in an urban environment, the potential benefits and downfalls of adopting this lifestyle.
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Be tactical, don’t look tactical.
Undoubtedly, from a prepper’s standpoint, you wouldn’t want to look tacticool in an urban environment. EVER.(I will be using the term ghost a lot, and that is exactly what you want to be as a prepper.)
Looking tacticool paints a target on you, and people will see you as the individual who has the guns, ammo, supplies, or anything needed in a SHTF situation.
The only reason to look tactical would be in dire situations; like having to hide, engaging an enemy with a thought-out plan, or guarding your personal belongings and family.
We have many options available to us now with the internet to buy just about anything our heart’s desire. It truly is a remarkable time we live in when you think about it. This also means that anyone can buy anything now.
That is also a scary thought when you think about it. The point made is that we have a lot of people who are preparing and learning, and a lot of people that just want to look cool or stay with the modern trends.
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That includes the desire to look tactical in an urban environment, to the point where I saw a man use a MOLLE pouch on his pants as his wallet. (I thought that one was pretty cool.)
There are so many places to buy the survival gear you need, and this also means that a lot of people that want to look tacticool can now.
No longer do they have to go to the Army Surplus and buy worn out BDUs and broken rucksacks. Now you can buy a fully loaded, customized to your standard MOLLE tactical vest without even leaving the house!
Are there benefits to looking tactical?
Now, this isn’t all bad, especially in situations that need your expertise – if you have any. You would be easily identifiable as someone who can help in a dire situation.
Someone dressed in this way usually means they are military, ex-military, or they have some training that can assist in a situation that needs a warrior.
You dress like a warrior, and people are going to see you as a warrior. So keep this in mind if you are thinking about looking tactical when you are getting ready in the morning.
Another con and pro is being intimidating. Undoubtedly, looking tacticool is a sure way to look intimidating to people.
Now, this doesn’t mean you are impervious to people, as most people will probably look at it as just the tacticool fad and chalk you up in a category close to the Affliction shirt wearing MMA fans.
Others will see you as the ex-military/military type, and that comes with a certain degree of respect and intimidation. So you can easily be intimidating or a joke to anyone you come across.
Downsides to looking tactical
Intimidating people is an asset because you can defuse a situation just by your presence, but that is also a catch 22. What if you are capable of helping someone and they are too intimidated to ask?
What if they see you as a joke, and it’s a SHTF situation? That situation directly relates to people being able to spot you easily as well.
Some will see you as a Godsend; others will see you as Leper and wouldn’t touch you with a 10-foot pole, and others will see you as an easy target to get supplies from.
Consider what your appearance says to the people around you. Though it is true you might be intimidating to some folks, skylining yourself as a tactical person might entail the opposite of a good outcome.
If you are flagged as a person that likely carries a gun, or just a person who quite possibly might be of a law enforcement or government persuasion, you could promote yourself to the top of a kill list either in the short or the long term.
Generally speaking, is always better to keep your business your business, but blending in is always a function of carefully assessing the environment that you are living in or moving through.
If you live in a place with many large law enforcement or government agencies, the office tactical look of a branded Polo and at 5.11 pants might make you just another face in the crowd.
On the other hand, wearing the same thing in the middle of a small rural town will get you marked as a glowie, a likely fed.
It is worth mentioning that the way you dress has almost nothing to do with your capabilities at the instant your skills are needed.
Of course you can always set yourself up for failure through poor clothing or footwear selection, and clothing will help or hinder your efforts to carry and conceal gear, but the person who is out in slacks with an office appropriate button-down t-shirt is no less deadly or capable, assuming they are trained and practiced, then a person who has festooned themselves with tactical brand clothing and other accessories.
Think it through, and choose carefully.
So as you can see, there are many pros and cons to the taticool look, but from a prepper’s position, you literally want to be a ghost. ALWAYS.
So you still want to be tacticool?
If you are still interested in the tacticool look, we have many tips to making your transition into the lifestyle easier, or just to improve your tacticool way of life. Remember! This is NEVER ideal from a prepper’s perspective.
First and foremost, the tacticool lifestyle screams one thing, “I am a modern warrior.” With that statement comes a lot of responsibility. Many factors constitute what a modern warrior is. Firearm training, an understanding of military and guerrilla tactics, survival skills, and land navigation are all skills that come to mind when you think about the term modern warrior.
Just because you dress and think tactical doesn’t mean you are tactical. You have to be tactical, and being tactical means Skilling up. There is no substitute for skill, not with the most expensive military clothes or a mountain of EDC gear.
Tactical Skills for the Tacticool Modern Warrior
If there is one thing that we all admire about the heroes we idolize it is their skill, their capability, the willingness and prowess to face any challenge, tackle any problem and endure any situation. All of that and still coming out on top, or at least mitigating the damage.
You might know someone in your life that fits this description, maybe a soldier or a marine, a cop, a search and rescue team member or something similar.
It might be a fictional character, James Bond, Jason Bourne, Jack Ryan, or someone else. Whatever the case, there is no doubt that they are supremely confident and capable men, real or fictional.
These are men that can fight, lead, heal, escape, intuit, improvise, drive and endure. They are not captives of circumstance, and not at the mercy of the vicious or the powerful. That is because they have the skills to pay the bills.
You don’t have to do what they do for a living to benefit from those skills. You never know what you’ll run into out in the world and most of us will have cause at some point to put our emergency skills to use.
Obviously, you’ll only be able to make use of them if you have developed them through Long training and practice. Best to get started now.
If you really want to be tactical, here’s what you’ll need to know:
One of the most important tools in a modern warrior’s arsenal is his or her body. In particular, I am referring to hand-to-hand combat. If you are going for the tacticool look, it’s a good idea to know at least some basics in hand-to-hand combat.
The best place to start learning hand-to-hand combat is in a gym with a reputable trainer in the style that you wish to pursue.
Many people believe they can learn on their own, and that’s true to an extent, but learning with a professional that lives and breathes that fighting style is going to give you a wealth of knowledge on practical situations.
It’s also imperative because injuries are very common, and without an instructor, your technique is going to suffer, and the learning curve to correct that without a proper instructor is steep, and you will hurt yourself.
Many martial art styles out there are worth practicing, and all of them are worth it for the self-discipline they instill regardless of practicality. But, obviously, there are some that stand out more so than others.
One growing trend are of course the MMA gyms. They incorporate a little from all the martial arts to form a style that is very formidable and proven time and time again to be superior to most styles.
Another one gaining momentum is Krav Maga. This particular martial art is a relatively new one, developed for and by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in the 1940s, as a form of closing the distance and eliminating your opponent immediately or as quickly as possible. Like MMA it’s a hybrid version that uses a lot of elements from other martial arts.
Now that you can defend yourself, understanding firearms and how to use them if you don’t already know safely is an important skillset. People will assume that you know these things and it’s always a good idea to know where the safety is and how to aim.
Carrying a firearm is a major component of the lifestyle change and is not easy. Learning how to operate a gun safely is one thing, learning how to carry it concealed, around the clock, and then handle yourself in a fight with it while under pressure is another.
Using a firearm is a highly frangible skill, and if you don’t get good training and then practice regularly, your skills will corrode to the point of near uselessness.
Remember, your firearm can only help you save yourself or someone else if you have it near at hand when you need it. If you need it, and have left it in the car, back at home, or parked in the gun safe it might as well be on the moon for all the good it will do you.
Another thing to keep in mind is firearms selection. Your firearm should fit your lifestyle, and though many pseudo-famous Instagram influencers will pressure you into choosing a large and tricked out service size handgun that might not be the best option for you.
If all you can carry, or what you need to carry, is an ultra compact pocket handgun so you don’t run the risk of discovery, then that is what you need to carry. You’ll then need to train and practice with it appropriately in order to maximize its capabilities while minimizing it shortcomings.
Usually, a one-day familiarization class that a lot of gun ranges have now is all you need to gain the confidence to fire a firearm safely. With this simple knowledge, you will know what to do if you are put in a situation where you need to have or use a firearm.
More than any other skill set on this list you will, at some point in your life, have cause to use medical skills to save your life or someone else’s. There are countless ways to get hurt, wounded or fall sick in life and in a crisis it is usually a healer who will save the day.
There is no reason you need to rely on paramedics, nurses or doctors for life-saving crisis procedures even though you will likely never be as thoroughly trained or experienced as they are.
You should learn the basics like simple first aid, along with more advanced skills like CPR and trauma response for treating things like broken bones, penetrating and lacerating injuries.
Learning how to treat the symptoms of common illnesses along with conditions like hypothermia, heat stroke, seizure, heart attack and more will make you a well-rounded practitioner.
Of course the skills will only take you so far without the appropriate tools. You will need to obtain components for and assemble your very own portable medkit.
This could take the form of a briefcase sized EMT bag or an ultra compact carry kit that you stash in a pocket or even wear in a rig around your ankle so you always have it with you. You can make a great case for both!
Most tactical personalities place a disproportionate emphasis on combative skills like fighting, shooting and so on but if you want to be the person that is on the spot and able to help when the chips are really down, you need to prioritize learning and developing medical skills.
Defensive and Performance Driving Skills
Driving is an everyday occurrence for most of us, and more than almost anything else, you’ll do will provide the grounds for a severe accident, or if it does not happen to us, then happening upon a severe accident.
Performance and defensive driving skills are a must for the tactical individual. Defensive driving skills will help you avoid or prevent an accident by mitigating the circumstances that usually produce them, be they caused by roadway hazards or other, oblivious or impaired drivers.
If an accident is unavoidable, defensive driving skills will help to reduce the severity of the impact or provide passengers and the driver, that’s you, the best chance for survival.
Performance driving skills on the other hand help you get where you need to go with the greatest rapidity while keeping all four tires on the ground and the greasy side of the car face down like it belongs.
You might need to temporarily suspend your religious adherence to the rules of the road in order to get away from trouble as quickly as possible in an emergency or put as much distance between you and potential harm as possible.
Knowing how your vehicle handles at performance extremes is critical knowledge and is yet another skill set that can only be refined through much practice.
Making Tacticool Environment-Specific Clothing Selections
The tacticool look is characterized by wearing military equipment, primarily camo. Camo is a vital survival tool, and it doesn’t only extend to what you wear. For the sake of brevity, we will only focus on the camo you wear.
Camo has been one of the key factors (or failures) for troops on the battlefield. Being able to see targets effectively, and subsequently hiding from the enemy on the battlefield is a very advanced science that is always looking for an edge in the race to develop the ‘invisible soldiers.’
Although surely complete invisibility is in the near future, at this moment all we have at our disposal are the traditional camo patterns we have seen soldiers wear.
Not all camos perform the same, though, and the best camo differs from person to person. One thing that is certain, the more modern 6-tone approach conceals more so than the tradition 3 or 4-tone BDU pattern that everyone is familiar with.
The U.S. Marines MARPAT is an excellent example of quality camouflage. Not only that, it’s very easy to acquire, and there are many versions of this style you can find on the internet. You can also find Camo Maps on the web that show you what camo pattern and colors work best for your geographical location.
There are amazing military grade khaki pants used by Special Forces that will last forever, give you plenty of pocket space, and will compliment a camo top without seeming out of place and making you more obvious like wearing blue jeans in the woods. When it comes to camo there are countless options now, what is important is that your camo is practical.
Now the accessories are completely up to personal preference, and essentially like camo, the options are nearly limitless.
Some common items are carried by most ex-military, military, tacticool, modern warrior, or whatever you want to call yourself. These “go-to” accessories have proven time and time again to be invaluable and essential for this particular lifestyle.
First and foremost, a pocket knife. Something so simple and overlooked but can save your life in certain situations. Not to mention, they are perfect for those pesky threads that always seem to separate from camos.
The next essential item on the list is a multi-tool like a Leatherman or Gerber. Couple this with a Swiss Army knife and you have almost every tool you need for survival, but it won’t be easy. Those are the two things that should always be on your belt or in a pocket before you leave your house for the day.
Other items to consider – and these are completely opinionated at this point – are military grade combat boots, a waterproof watch, MOLLE pouches for your belt, a 550 cord bracelet for an emergency supply of string and rope, and a quality pocket lighter is never a bad idea.
All of these accessories have many options to choose from, and most are personal preference, but do NOT overlook what is considered essentials in the accessory department. You could end up regretting not carrying a multi-tool or pocket knife.
Whether they’re military, or just fascinated by the style, many people are gravitating to the tacticool trend.
There are many reasons, good and bad to adopt this look or lifestyle, but it is also a trend that has nothing to do with prepping and can more than likely give you more trouble than you bargained for.
Hopefully, some of these tips on what it means to be a modern warrior will give you the skills to be prepared, but still be that gray man in society and not a guy who stands out with his BDU top and MOLLE wallet.
Heath is a homesteader, permaculturist, farmer and ex-level 1 combatives instructor in the U.S. Army, with a lifelong passion for martial arts.
9 thoughts on “How to be Tacticool, and an Assessment of the Modern Warrior”
I think this article was written personally for me! Thanks for that, sir. Everything I carry is maxpedition and I do wear an M2 waist pouch on my belt. Plus a jack pyke English oak hunting jacket…… yet I work in an office. LOL
You’re very welcome!
I live in a mountain area and get a laugh out of all the old, fat, out of shape folks I see wandering around in camo’s . most look like they would be huffing and puffing just from bending over to tie their boots. There is one reason to be wearing camouflage clothing. You are out in the woods,brush ect and need to be camouflaged
Agreed about the fact that many are out of shape, they won’t stand a chance in front of a flash flood or anything that requires speed, agility and flexibility.
I really liked Poorman’s response. We see folks daily that wear the tactical pants and boots because a book or movie showed them, people buy equipment plop it on a vest and it sits on a hanger, the list goes on and on with firearms, knives and to something so vital as a water filter. It just sits. I have become an advocate for the “Run and Gun” events where you can wear your gear and see how your setup is holding out. There is nothing like running through the city and finding out you lost your high dollar GPS because you tied a half hitch knot instead of a more secure knot or forgot to take it out the dang box
As far as camo clothing..heck I work in the Rocky Mtns., I live on Colorado’s Front Range and my bug out is SE Nebraska. I have several sets of cammies for each area and many cross over. I liked your idea of using the camo maps. That alone is invaluable information.
My only thoughts are use your gear, use that Leatherman, Gerber or Swiss Army knife because when you need the Torx #10 to tighten the light mount on your AR, having something bad coming your way is not the time to discover that you have to press 2 buttons and allow the pliers to slide before you can get inside the tool.
Where I live, city folk stick out like a sore thumb, as do tacticool dudes who come into our area for recreation. Both types are a joke and they look just about authentic as the pajama boy.
I live at the beach so shorts and tie die tee shirts is camouflage, looking like a hippie is the uniform of the day.
Old red VW sure gets strange looks at the range. But homies at 7-11 got a healthy respect after they thought
they would relieve me of some spare change! Oh the surprise looks on their faces!
Things are never what they seem!! Observe Adapt Overcome! Heads up,eyes open, trust your gut.
Camouflage is fine for concealment while hiding or sitting still. But when you start to move or moving at a rapid pace the pattern on you moves with you. If you move past an object that clashes with the pattern you are easily seen. My experience over 24 years in the army (64-84) and who wears camo, has shown me that the old OD Khakis still offer the best overall protection in the woods. They are a neutral color that allows the surrounding textures, shadows, and light patterns to change as you move. When I am treking through the woods Ii wear OD. When I am hunting from cover, I wear cammo.
Great insight, Jim, thanks!