This Navy SEAL/SOF Combat Gear List has several items civilians can use

By Navy SEAL Veteran Brad McLeod
As soon as the Bin-Laden raid went down, we were getting questions on “what Navy SEALs carry into combat missions” or “what kinds of Navy SEAL gear do SEALs use in day-to-day operations?”.

Check out the gear that Team Six carried on the infamous raid on Bin-Laden and other operations around the world.

The gear the elite Special Forces groups like DEVGRU (a.k.a. SEAL Team Six) have used have been tested and abused to make sure they work in all situations.

If these guys can use them, then they will work for you, too.

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A pair of well-fitting boots is your first line of defense. You can have world-class shooting ability – but if you can’t get to the target then you will become a liability to your team.

Boots are your first line of gear.

If your boots don’t fit well and you’re getting blisters…

…then you’re not going to go very far on the mission. Special Forces units have sometimes been described as a team wearing all different uniforms.

You may have one operator wearing well-draining tactical boots on a ship-boarding direct action mission while the next guy is wearing dive booties and thick socks.

It is all up to preference and your ability to make your gear work for you.

So what works for one guy may or may not work for you.

Many SEALs go with the Salomon Quest 4D GTX Boot in mountain terrain like Afghanistan. Others pick the BlackHawk, Danner, or Bates. It all depends on your preference and what works for your task at hand and needs.

During the infamous Bin-Laden raid, Team Six DEVGRU wore Vasque Juxt Multisport Shoe with a mid calf high gaiter to keep out debris and sand.

These shoes are lightweight and are great for climbing walls and running quickly in bad terrain but provide enough support to protect your foot.

Daily discipline can be achieved with working out each day to improve your physical and mental condition.


All members of the team will carry some form of tactical assault backpack.

This is where you will carry your food (MRE’s), extra ammo, water and vital equipment – or anything else you may need for a successful mission.

When I was on the teams, I was trained to be the radio man.

That meant a lot of space in my pack was taken up by communication gear—which meant I had less room for other mission-required items.

My pack was heavy with extra batteries and radios but not as heavy as the M60 gunner who carried more weight in ammo.

I have personally used the 3V Gear for several years in many situations helping on the front line during COVID.


The last thing you want on a mission is to get lost.

You want to be able to navigate at night in bad conditions. Getting to your target is key. Operators use a navigation piece like the Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof GPS.

These are also used by Army Rangers and most recently on the DEVGRU raid in Somalia.

There are many hand-carried GPS units out on the market so you need to pick one that you can understand and make work during the worst of conditions.

Get a device like this – know how to use it well and bring extra charging batteries.

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Body armor is said to be able to stop a round from an Ak-47. I would not want to find out.

The Rangers who rescued the SEALs on Roberts Ridge took out the rear backplates to lighten up their load when hiking up the mountain.

Not every team guy wears a tactical vest on every mission.

In case you didn’t know…

Distance, terrain, and heat are factors.

Other brands of body armor and tactical vest you will see private contractors wear are Rothco and BlackHawk.

Question: What is a good book that tells about the Bin-Laden raid?

Answer: The book Zero Dark Thirty gives a pretty good description of what happened during the raid and a general idea of the gear used. The movie was pretty good too and showed good scenes taking down Bin Laden.


Your head is a very fragile piece of soft tissue and bone. It only takes one hard bump and you have a concussion.

night vision goggles bin laden

During the raid on Bin-Laden, the DEVGRU guys wore helmets. These brain buckets have been known to stop shrapnel and even sniper rounds.

You can pick up a civilian version tactical helmet starting at $100 up to $1000 plus depending on the model and accessories.

One of the Rangers on Roberts Ridge took a direct hit to his helmet by enemy fire and survived.

Question: How do Operators use chem lights as I would think it would ruin their night vision?

Answer: Guys will tape up most of the chem light and leave the far end open so that they can use it as a penlight. If it is needed for a helicopter extraction then they will pull the tape off or break a new one without tape.


Imagine being able to see at night? That would be a superpower.

With modern technology, you can do just that.

Yes, I mean to be able to see the enemy in battle during complete darkness.

Night vision goggles can range in price from about $1,000 all the way up to $70k.

A good entry-level civilian night vision goggle is the Armasight Gen 2 which you can find for about $1400.

You can see out to 200 to 300 yards in clear weather but of course, they have a good resolution up close.

If you’re going to operate at night as the Spec Ops guys do…

…then you will have to carry night vision goggles aka NVG’s for short. NVGs are a key component of all Special Forces night assault tactics.

You will not have the luxury of using the same NVGs, but you can pick up civilian versions out on the streets.

Question: How do Navy SEALs use night vision goggles on missions?

Answer: They train with the Night Vision Goggles on night ops many times in the year so when it is time to go then it is second nature.

You don’t want to use a flashlight or stare into a beam of light when using NVG’s as it shows up as a big burst of light and can destroy your vision.

#4 M-4 Rifle

A well-tuned weapon in the hands of a skilled professional can wreak havoc on the enemy.

The Tier 1 Operators run with the baddest and most tricked out customized M-4 rifles known to man.

Heckler and Koch (HK) is the go-to manufacturer for DEVGRU as they are the Maserati of assault rifles.

Be prepared to lay down $4,000 for starters and another $3,000 for a customization kit.

Many SEALs will carry an AR-15 with a flash suppressor with an optic site.

Weapons are slung in a variety of positions depending on the needs of the mission and the choice of the operator.


All operators will carry some type of side arm as a backup weapon.

Tier 1 groups use the .45 caliber handgun has a ton of stopping power. Heckler and Koch creates some of the very finest weapons known.

The 45 Caliber Compact (M45C) weighs less than 2 lbs. with the magazine, which carries 10 rounds of 45 ACP ammunition. Small, light, and reliable.

Question: What is a good book to learn more about how Navy SEALs shoot?

Answer: Check out the book How to Shoot Like a Navy SEAL: Combat Marksmanship Fundamentals as this gives a good break down and how Navy SEALs are taught to shoot. Read through it and then take some time to go out and shoot at the range and put your skills to the test.

Team Six DevGru Somalia Rescue

The .45 handgun has a lot of stopping power and a Tier 1 operator is only a double-tap away from dropping an enemy standing in his way.

SEALs have been carrying the M79 Grenade Launcher for decades.

This weapon is multi-faceted and can be used to knock down steel doors or lob grenades in a long arch over a wall.


Depending on the mission, most guys will use some type of tactical glove.

It is important to protect your hands during missions as you never know what you’re going to face that can shred them up.

Question: What do frogmen carry in their backpacks?

Answer: It all depends on the mission but usually they will carry a hydration bladder, extra batteries for communication and lights, a survival escape and evasion kit.

a multi-tool, a digital camera (for intelligence gathering) and sometimes duck tape and zip ties for prisoner handling.


Every Frogman carries a knife. Always.

Most of them carry your standard KAbar issue knife. After decades of use, it is hard to improve on this basic but trustworthy design.

The Navy also issues MK4 dive knives that see a lot of use.

Team Six DEVGRU guys toss the general issue and grab Daniel Winkler’s fixed-blade weapons as it is cream of the crop.

Question: What tactical packs do Navy SEALs use?

Answer: SEALs use a variety of tactical packs depending on the mission.

They may use something as simple as an ALICE pack or hi-tech like a Kelty Map 3500 3 Day Assault Pack. It all depends on the mission.

Question: Do SEALs wear plate carriers on all missions?

Answer: No; they wear plate carriers/body armor depending on the mission.



These can get operators into places like nothing else can. In the book No Easy Day, the DEVGRU guys carried bolt cutters to be ready for any situation.

You will want something compact and not too big so the Uline 36″ bolt cutter variety does the trick. These fit easily into a 3 day assault pack.


Special Operations Units gather intelligence at battle scenes – so having a good waterproof digital camera with optical zoom is a key piece of gear.

You know what’s cool?

These cameras are built to get banged around and are also moisture repellant and can take many hi-res photos quickly.

Question: What M4 scope do SEALs use in combat?

Answer: They use a variety of ACOG, EOTECH, and even iron sights, depending on the mission.


Chem lights and IR Chemlights are essential for marking territory.

When needed, they will break one of these when they need to illuminate themselves to show they are part of a team during an extract.

Infrared signal panels are now being used on Coalition forces.

Friendly forces can then see these panels with Night Vision Goggles even in the black of night.

Question: What kind of tactical pants do navy seals wear?

Answer: It depends on the mission but more days than not operators wear Rip Stop BDU Pants.

Question: What is a Navy SEAL combat kit?

Answer: That is the gear that the SEALs take into the field for an operation.


All-purpose multi-tools like a Gerber multi-tools save lives in the battle zone.

These often do the trick when you need to work on your weapon or fix an antenna for the communications gear.

Many multi-tools have several blades for cutting and sawing. This is one piece of gear that is worth its weight and comes in handy in many situations.

Question: What are the New Balance hiking shoes the navy seals use?

Answer: Some Navy SEALs use the New Balance Tactical Bushmaster boot.

Question: Why do Navy SEALs wear different helmets?

Answer: SEALs wear different helmets on different missions. You may also have an op where they were different just because that is what they like to wear.


Water is obviously important to a SEAL as you will have to stay hydrated on a mission.

There are horror stories of SEALs out on missions in the desert and running out of water and having to use an IV to get fluids back in their body.

Take this:

It is better to carry a little too much and pour it out than go light and not have it.

Most all SEALs carry a hydration bladder pack, which is a bladder-like water carrier often seen strapped to soldiers’ backs.

Lately though, troops have been carrying hard plastic water bottles, because the rigors of combat have been damaging the soft-skinned camelbacks.

With a hard bottle, you will need to make sure it is secure in your backpack.

SEALs also use Source Outdoor Tactical Gear WXP Hydration System because you can drink from the hose without having to take off your pack or have your buddy hand you a water bottle.


…water bottles can get thrown out of your pack if turned upside down. This will not happen with a water bladder like the Camelback.

Question: In Special Forces, what is a “dead hooker bag”?

Answer:  A dead hooker bag is the same as a load-out bag for deployment. This nickname came from the Guys’ black humor in that a loadout Bag that is big enough to stuff a dead hooker in it.

Question: What tactical light is used by the Navy SEALs on the M4?

Answer: SEALs use a variety of lights depending on the situation.

Escape and Evasion (E&E) kit

All SEALs carry an E&E kit.

This will include a passport, local currency, and other items. This is similar to the Urban Survival Bug Out Bags used to get out of dodge as fast as you can and have the gear you need.

Question: Where do the SEALS go for training for mountain desert warfare?

Answer: The SEALs train in many locations but mostly at Niland and Camp Billy Machen in California.

Question: How many lbs of gear do a Navy SEAL wear?

Answer: It all depends on the mission but an average load for a short mission maybe be as little as 20 lbs and up to 40 lbs or more if more equipment is needed for surveillance.


All Navy SEALs will carry some type of small flashlight for map reading (with a red lens) and signal in a boat or helicopter if needed.

The flashlight must be lightweight, waterproof, and dependable.

The SureFire flashlight often gets loaded up on their body armor or in their pocket with a lanyard back to their belt.

Question: Where can I find a Navy seal desert top?

Answer: Check here: Military BDU, Desert Digital Camo Top.

Question: How many lbs does a navy seal m4 weigh?

Answer: A Navy SEAL AR15 platform weighs several pounds but really depends on what he adds to the weapon.

Usually, they will add an ACOG scope which is a few ounces.

The stock will be retractable so that will save weight. If you add a grenade launcher, then the weight goes up substantially.

Medical Kit

This gear can literally mean the difference between life and death.

It should, at the very least, carry items for cleaning and covering wounds, but should ideally also have tourniquets, face masks, manual asperator/suction unit, eyewash, and antiseptics.

Question: Which model Juxt was used by SEAL team 6?

Answer: The guys used the Vasque Juxt Multisport shoe during the Bin-Laden raid.

Question: Do Navy SEALs really wear Mechanix Wear Gloves?

Answer: Yes, several SEALs do wear Mechanix gloves. They either use the Mechanix covert gloves or blackout the white lettering. We know of several contractors that use these gloves while onboard ship security.


Brad McLeod is a Navy SEAL veteran, family man and outdoor athlete. He likes to test gear and break gear in the field and see what works.

Today, he helps Veterans and athletes around the world reach their goals and living a healthy lifestyle.

What is your next big adventure? Let me know how I can help you reach your goals.

Today, he helps Veterans and athletes around the world reach their goals. Check out SEALgrinderPT Coaching to help you step up and take hold of your dreams and realize your goals.


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