Cleaning tactical gear should be a part of your daily habit, whether you’re training or working. The saying “take of your gear and it will take care of you” is very real and very true. Nylon gear, by its very design and construction, is engineered to be extremely abrasion resistant as well as having a limited ability to repel water, dirt and mud. However it’s like anything and has its limits and should be taken care of. Most people are just lazy and after use, throw it on the ground, in the back of the car/SUV and never think about it until they use it the next time. Gear stinks, why because your sweat is trapped in the fabric and stays there to rot like it would in an unwashed arm pit. Inspection of your gear is critical, you should know your personal kit like you know yourself, other than your mind and weapon it holds the key to your survival in combat, carries all of your mission critical gear and should be treated with the respect it deserves.

Saltwater exposure: Empty your entire loadout from your kit. If you are constantly working in salt or fresh water, your gear needs to be rinsed in fresh water (yes, even after fresh water exposure) and left to hang and dry. All of the equipment in your gear needs to be taken out and cleaned individually and wiped down. Anything with batteries should have the batteries removed and wiped down inside and out and left to air dry as well. Saltwater destroys everything, nothing is safe. There is no such thing other than gold, titanium or carbon fiber that is safe. The Navy has tens of thousands of sailors whose sole job is ships preservation, basically 80% of what they do is keep the rust from destroying the ship. There is also nothing from my experience that is 100% waterproof at all times. Eventually “O” rings and seals fail, get pinched or rot and loose waterproof integrity. After your nylon kit is dry hit it with a nylon bristle brush to get the dry salt off of it.

TAG RIHV for Combat Missions. Image Courtesy of Straight 8 Custom Photography

Muddy Gear: Empty your entire loadout from your kit. Again fresh water rinse, you have to try to your best ability to wash off the environment you were just in. Hang dry and use a nylon stiff bristle brush to get off the heavier caked on mud, this can also be done during the rinsing process.

You are doing all of this to help preserve your gear from the abrasion happening from the inside of the pouches and pockets. The thin “shiny” side of your nylon that you see in your pouches is polyurethane. That is what gives nylon its ability to repel water, as well as add to its abrasion resistance. If that gets destroyed and starts to crack and break apart, it’s the start of the pouch being destroyed, from the inside out. You will never get rid of the “gear smell” you can only minimize it and protect your gear to last for years of use. Bottom line, be a professional and take care of your S@!T. There is order to everything: 1) Team gear 2) Personal weapon 3) Personal gear 4) Self…your comfort, hunger, family, wife, girlfriend and mistress are always last. The people you are spending time with instead of taking care of your gear will not be with you when you’re getting shot at.