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Five Signs of Worn-Out Tactical Gear

November 28, 2018
By Vel Tye


Having proper tactical gear as protection against the elements and life-threatening harm is imperative for military, law enforcement and first responders. Even the best equipment expires, but how do you know how long these products are going to hold up?

Here are five common signs that your tactical gear is due for a replacement.

1. Check Your Expiration Date

You'll start to see some physical wear on your gear eventually, so it’s important for you to check the expiration date.

All tactical gear comes with an expiration date, which is known as the manufacturer's declared warranty period. Use them as a guide to know when you'll need replacements.

Always look at the label of your tactical gear product to find the expiration date. All reputable manufacturers make these dates clear and easy to read.

Most warranty periods for tactical gear is five years from the date of manufacture. Your gear may start to show physical signs of wear & tear after five years of use, and in some cases the signs can be subtle enough that you might miss them until you’re in a perilous situation.

2. Deteriorated Materials

One of the most common signs of wear to your body armor is deterioration of the vest's inner materials. This type of deterioration is often easily overlooked and is one reason some military members, EMTs and police officers keep using body armor past the expiration dates.

Going beyond the recommended date of use is a huge risk to those in the line of duty. It's a good idea to thoroughly inspect of all your tactical gear to see if there are any signs of deterioration.

As the National Institute of Justice notes, improper storage and use of dry cleaning solvents or harsh chemicals could end up deteriorating your gear’s materials more quickly. Following manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning and storage can help your gear last longer.

3. Excessive Exposure to Moisture

Tactical gear can wear out quickly if exposed to excess water. While most top body armor brands are made to last through the worst conditions, continually submerging your armor in water will, over time, start breaking down the materials.


A high-humidity environment can also shorten your gear’s shelf life, especially soft armor. Soft body armor is made to trap the kinetic energy of a projectile which makes it imperative to maintain your armor’s integrity.

4. Exposure to UV Rays

Too much sun exposure over a five-year period can make your tactical gear wear out as well. The materials in your body armor will become brittle due to UV rays penetrating the surface. You might even start to see some physical signs of cracking in the material. Do some up-close inspections of the inner material before and after each use.

Before you buy a replacement, make sure your tactical gear provides UV protection to help shield your skin from sun exposure when you’re on duty outdoors.

5. Over-Extensive Use

It's easy to become complacent about tactical gear and continue to use what you currently have beyond the recommended life cycle, particularly when budget is a concern.

Nevertheless, continual daily use of your gear is going to wear it out, sometimes even before the recommended expiration date. Always track how many days you wear your gear and what it's already gone through during your years of service.

Take time to study the capabilities of your protective wear so you can decide when you need to buy new tactical gear products.

Contact us at Vel Tye to find quality tactical gear at affordable prices.