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How to Choose a Tactical Polo

Tactical polos help you to maintain a clean, professional appearance while offering all the high-performance features you need for maximum comfort and mobility on the job. In this guide, we'll cover all the ins and outs of tactical polos to help you find the right one to wear during your shift. We'll go over the materials from which these shirts are made and to which environments they're best suited, important on-the-job features that will help you in the line of duty, and some additional features you should consider when making your purchase.

What Makes a Polo Tactical?

A tactical polo may look like a run-of-the-mill polo at first glance, but there's much more to the garment than something you'd wear at an office. Their materials are designed and chosen specifically to handle the demands of law enforcement and duty uniform wear. They're built to accommodate and offer easy access to the gear that police and security professionals use daily, and they're designed to offer added mobility and flexibility — qualities that always come in handy on the job.

Tactical Polo Materials

The most important thing to consider when purchasing a tactical polo is the fabric from which it's made. Different fabric combinations offer distinct benefits and drawbacks, and choosing the right style can make a big difference in how happy you are with your purchase.

100% Polyester

Tactical polos made entirely from polyester are great at wicking moisture and drying quickly, especially compared to styles made with cotton. This makes them a prime choice for duty assignments in hot climates. Polyester is a synthetic, man-made fiber, and as a result, it's very durable. This means polyester tactical polos tend to be snag-proof, and they hold their shape longer, even after continuous washings. Polyester is a great choice for those who are hard on their clothing and gear.

100% polyester tactical polos are not without their drawbacks, though. They tend to be heavier and less breathable compared to polyester/cotton blends, which could result in some discomfort. Polyester also tends to trap body odor, which can potentially become an issue depending on how you do laundry. Washing your polo in the hot/warm cycle of your washer should take care of any residual funk. Shop Polyester Tactical Polos

Poly/cotton Blends

Cotton is a natural fiber that is much lighter than polyester. Polyester tactical polos that incorporate cotton into the fabric are much more lightweight and breathable, an excellent quality for warm and hot environments. Cotton is very soft and comfortable, too, which can be invaluable during a long shift. In addition to these positive benefits from the cotton, poly/cotton blends still retain polyester's good qualities, like high durability.

On the downside, when cotton gets wet, it stays wet. If you're expecting to sweat while you work, a poly/cotton tactical polo may not dry as fast as you'd like. Polos made from this material also sacrifice some durability compared to 100% polyester styles, so they may not hold up quite as long. Shop Poly/cotton Tactical Polos

Poly/spandex Blends

Spandex is another man-made material. It's known for its incredible flexibility and its ability to return to and maintain its normal shape despite continuous stretching. Poly/spandex tactical polos capitalize on these qualities to offer a very professional-looking appearance that can bend and flex as needed on the job. If you're in the market for this kind of polo, look for styles with the words “performance” or “athletic” in the name.

Because the amount of spandex added to achieve the kind of flexibility you need is typically just 5% or less of the polo's total fabric makeup, shirts with these blends will experience the same kind of drawbacks as 100% polyester styles (namely body odor and a lack of breathability). Shop Poly/spandex Tactical Polos

On-the-job Features

Law enforcement and security officers face complex and dangerous situations all too often; that's simply a part of the job. As a result, every advantage helps, and tactical polos certainly have great advantages to offer.

Shoulder Mic Clips

In tactical and duty-related jobs, access to your radio is essential. Many duty polos incorporate a system of loops that lets you wear your radio just as you would on your regular uniform shirt. Also called mic loops and mic slots, these loops are sewn into the shoulder of the polo to help hold your duty radio in place for quick access and ease of use.

Placket Mic Loop

The shoulders aren't the only location that can accommodate a radio microphone. Some tactical polos feature a mic loop (also called a media passthrough loop or a comms loop) right beneath the shirt's button placket. This horizontal loop is a great place to hold your sunglasses as well. It can also be used to hold a body camera in place.

Pen Pockets

It's important to have a pen handy in case you need to jot down a quick note. Most tactical polos come with pen pockets just for that purpose. Also called pen channels, these pockets are usually located on the shirt's sleeve for convenient access.


Gussets are extra material sewn into a polo, usually on the sides or under the arms. They offer increased flexibility, mobility and maneuverability, which can be invaluable on the job. It's common for light or vented fabrics to be used in this location for added comfort in hot conditions.


To get the most professional appearance out of your tactical polo, button it up and add some custom embroidery with your organization's name. Everything from lettering to logos can be sewn into any garment we carry. To learn more about uniform customizations, please reach out to our strategic accounts team.

Additional Features

Tactical polos have a surprising amount of features available, depending on which style you buy. Some are benefits imparted by the fabric blends we've covered above. Others are more subtle and personalized to complement your specific needs.

Antimicrobial Fabric Treatments

Nobody likes to smell bad at work, but it can be tough to avoid, especially if you're wearing a polyester polo on a hot day. Tactical polos with antimicrobial fabric treatments are designed to fight odors, eliminating that dreaded stench. Shop Antimicrobial Tactical Polos

Moisture-wicking Fabrics

As we mentioned above, polyester tends to wick sweat very well, while cotton does so poorly. If you work out in the heat (or if you just tend to sweat a lot in general), be sure to pick up a polo with moisture-wicking polyester fabric to curtail the issue. Shop Moisture-wicking Tactical Polos

Wrinkle-resistant Fabrics

One of the biggest appeals of tactical polos is that they allow you still to look professional in a uniform shirt that's tailored for comfort. To ensure that professional look with minimal effort, choose a shirt made with wrinkle-resistant fabrics. Shop Wrinkle-resistant Tactical Polos

Mesh Vents

A little bit of added breathability can be a godsend in the stifling heat. Many tactical polos incorporate mesh vents on the side of the garment that will help promote airflow to keep you nice and cool when temperatures become unbearable. Shop Mesh Vent Tactical Polos

Long Sleeves

Conversely, when it's cool out, the last thing you need is added airflow or ventilation. Luckily, tactical polos are made with long sleeves to handle shoulder-season temperatures when it's too cool for short sleeves but still too warm for a jacket. Shop Long Sleeve Tactical Polos

Raglan Sleeves

A raglan sleeve extends down fully from the collar of a shirt in one piece, leaving a diagonal seam from the collarbone to the underarm. Raglan sleeves are all about mobility — they're less restrictive than typical sleeves and won't inhibit your movements. That added flexibility can be very important in the line of duty, where mobility is key.

Collar Stay Slots

The collar is one of the stand-out features of a tactical polo, and the last thing you want is for your collar to become flimsy and ragged. The solution? Collar stays (and the slots that accommodate them). Collar stays are rigid pieces of plastic that slide into a slot on the polo's collar. They keep the collar looking crisp and in-place, and keep you looking your professional best.

No-roll Collars

You've probably had a polo with a collar that, over time, loses its shape and rolls back on itself. It's not the best look. This is typically an issue caused by ribbed collars that are made from a different material than the rest of the polo. No-roll (or traditional) collars are made from the same material as the rest of the shirt, and they'll keep their shape throughout the life of the garment.

Tactical polos are great for duty and uniform wear, and you can get the most out of yours if you know what you're looking for. With the help of this guide, you'll be able to choose the materials and features best suited to your assignment and individual style.

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