It comes down to how *you* want to play, and where you'd like to play at.
For a casual skirmish, you can get by perfectly with a set of civvie hiking boots (you need these for ankle stability - don't sneaker it!) and scruffy darker-colored jeans and a long sleeved hoodie/shirt/jacket. The lighter in coloring the gear or the more it stands out against a background, the more of a BB magnet you are going to be, target wise. This is a given.
If you are attending more serious/focused events, the more casual that you appear, the more you are going to stand out from the crowd. Milsim type events, you are going to be seriously handicapped. Your ability to play 'competitively' is going to be limited, if you don't have the organization of mag pouches, dump pouches, etc. Some sort of tactical vest or chest-rig allows you to mount those things, as well as carry a suitable and convenient camelback type hydration bladder. etc.. etc.
Airsoft, at it's core, is basically a team focused type activity. You do want to try to at least fit in somewhat, if you are going to take it outside of your immediate circle of friends running amuck in a patch of woods in casual dress. Some events require you to assume a camouflage pattern uniform of some sort, to identify you as belonging to one team or the other (ie Woodlands vs Tan camo pattern BDU). Unless you are going hardcore milsim, You DON'T need to go all authentic in assuming a visible role that mimics any particular branch of any country's military. For every thing else up to milsim type events that call for appropriate BDU/gear requirements, you can PMC it (private military contractor) or 3rd world militia it (mix of civvie and military clothing gear) .. the point is, you can pick and choose the military based gear to wear, that will make the game more immersive, enjoyable, and your role in it more effective and competitive.
I do prefer to 'gear it up' .. but i do not follow any particular branch of the military or paramilitary - I've simply got a setup that works for me, based upon available military and LEO gear. The gear that i have, works for casual skirmishes, right up to 24 hr milsims. I bought new, and have about $1k into battledress/gear. You can certainly spend less and still have a half-decent setup to make games more immersive, effective, and enjoyable.
Originally Posted by Fizzmix
I am extremely new to airsoft - I have yet to play a game. Here is my problem.
I enjoy the thought of myself and others shooting at each other to see who's aim/positioning/etc. is best. I enjoy competition.
What I DONT want to do is dress up in army fatigues, vests, etc. Nothing against people who like to dress up in all that gear, but it just isn't for me. I fully support safety gear, but just can't bring myself to purchase "army" gear to go airsofting.
Here's where I need your opinion. Is it reasonable to have a game with others if I have no intention to wear the "gear" associated with it? Is all the "gear" necessary to attempt to have serious games with others?
Please let me know what you think. Thanks.