The Gear Tier System
Tier 1 – Clothes (1/4)

Our first line of defense against the elements and the environment is the clothes on our back – they keep us warm or cool (depending on the weather), and protect us from wind, rain, snow, and extreme conditions. They also give us some physical protection.


In the following series we will focus on the 5 Gear Tiers:

  • Tier 1 – our clothes.
  • Tier 2 – our Core Gear that we always carry on our person.
  • Tier 3 – our EDC Backpack (12, 18 or 24 hour backpack), also known as the “get back home” bag.
  • Tier 4 – our BOB or 72 hour backpack, used in survival situations.
  • Tier 5 – our Tactical Gear, used for defense in extreme situations.
    In this post we’ll explore our Tier 1 clothes, and what to wear in different climates.


DISCLAIMER: The following gear was chosen after months of rigorous testing in the field. I do not have any affiliation with any of the companies that make this equipment, namely: 5.11 Tactical, Helikon, Bollé or Forclaz.

Click the image below to watch the Gear Tier System – Tier 1 – Clothes video (Part 1/4)








Base Layer – Fast Drying T-Shirt or Polo

The base layer should be breathable and fast drying, to keep your skin dry and fresh. The logo should be minimal, and you can even darken it or have it removed. It needs to feel comfortable and can be a simple t-shirt or polo, depending on the situation and your personal preference. I like using the 5.11 Polo Shirt for its slick professional look while being fast drying and comfortable.

All Weather Pants

Your pants are very important as they need to be able to hold all your Core Gear, which we’ll cover in the next post (Tier 2). They need to be a cross between functional (tactical) and aesthetic, so you keep a professional look, while being able to act if needed. They should be water resistant, fast drying, and very strong. I use the 5.11 Apex Pants which are perfect for all of that.

Heavy Duty Belt

Your belt should be able to carry your secondary weapon and spare 2 mags, and hold your pants in place with your Core Gear. I use the Cobra D-Ring Belt, which is an extremely heavy duty belt, and has an integrated D-Ring carabiner that can lift up to about 2000 lbs or 1000 kg and can be used as a harness.

All Weather Boots

Your shoes should be very strong and comfortable, while keeping a professional look. I love the 5.11 XPRT 2.0 8” Boots, which is a unique cross between military and tracking boot. They are extremely comfortable and provide toe-protection with their hard front. They have a soft 8” body for great support, are completely waterproof to keep your feet dry and fresh, and have a strong no-slip outsole.

Half-Finger Tactical Gloves

Allow you to use any weapons and equipment with finesse, while providing a great grip and protecting your hands. I use the Helikon Half-Finger Tactical Gloves which are comfortable and strong.

Combat Sunglasses

Your sunglasses should be light and sturdy and protect your eyes from glare, dust and wind. There is an option to get polarized lenses, but I don’t recommend it, since it might make your eyes less sensitive to details. I recommend the Bollé SWAT Tactical Sunglasses, which are great for what we need.

Sunny Weather – Cap

Your cap should be breathable to keep your head cool and protect your eyes from sun glare. I use the 5.11 Flex Cap. I also use it on rainy, relatively warm, days to keep my head dry.

Cooler Weather – Top Layer – Softshell Jacket

The softshell jacket should be light and durable, while protecting you from wind and rain. The 5.11 Sierra Softshell Jacket is by far my favorite, as it looks great while being extremely functional. It is breathable and surprisingly warm (recommended down to about 50F or 10C degrees). It also has an inner zipper so you can easily reach your concealed weapon.

Cold Weather – Watch Cap

Since we lose a lot of heat through our head, it’s recommended to use a watch cap below 60F or 15C. I use the 5.11 Watch Cap which is made of light fleece and is wind and water repellent.

Cold Weather – Mid Layer – Fleece Shirt

When the temperature drops below 50F or 10C, it’s great to add a fleece shirt under the softshell jacket. This shirt is made of thermal material and helps the body maintain its heat. I love the 5.11 Recon Half-zip Fleece, which is made of light micro-fleece, is very elegant and extremely warm. You can use this layer without the softshell in warmer conditions, but remember that it’s not wind and water resistant.

Cold Weather – Mid Layer –  Thermal Shirt

It’s recommended to use this shirt for temperatures of 32F or 0C and lower, in addition to the fleece and softshell or heavier jacket (see next). This shirt goes under the fleece and provides even greater warmth when it gets very cold. I use the 5.11 Sub-Z Thermal Shirt which is very light, flexible and extremely warm.

Cold Weather – Neck Warmer

When it starts getting really cold, around 32F or 0C and lower, add a neck warmer to keep your neck, face and ears warm. I use the 4F Micro-Fleece Neck Warmer, which is water and wind resistant and has a breathing hole.

Cold Weather – Waterproof Half-finger and Mitt Hybrid Gloves


For temperatures around 32F or 0C and lower, use warm, waterproof gloves to protect your fingers and keep them warm. I like the Forclaz Half-finger and Mitt Hybrid Gloves, which are thermal and light-weight, but are excellent for cold conditions. These gloves have the ability to switch between half-finger and mitt, which allow you to perform refined motions with your fingers when you need to.

Extreme Cold Weather – Top Layer – Jacket

It’s recommended to use a jacket instead of the softshell, if you’re not using any mid-layers and the temperature drops under 60F or 15C degrees. A jacket will also come in handy in extreme weather conditions, like strong winds, rain, snow and so on, as it’s more heavy duty. I use the 5.11 Saber 2.0 Jacket, since it’s light and tough, and has a multitude of internal and external pockets, and a fast-access side and front zip for quick weapon reach.


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What’s Next:

In the next post we’ll talk about our Core Gear (Tier 2) – the gear we must carry on our person at all times, and must never leave home without, even when going on a quick grocery run.

I can’t wait to share all of this with you.

So, until then – Stay Safe!

Your friend always,

Roy Shepard

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1 Comment on "The Gear Tier System – Tier 1 – Clothes"

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James Rioux
James Rioux

I thought I knew tactical gear but this video blew me away. Definitely worth watching.