Truth be told, I started airsoft with a pistol. I wore a hoody and cargo pants. Admittedly, I played indoors at TTAC, which is a smaller CQB venue in Toronto, but the point still stands. I never used any gear, ran around in sneakers. I didn't need much more than that, realistically, particularly because I wasn't running around in the woods.
Until it became obvious that I could do much better by having something to hold the extra magazines in, so they didn't keep falling out of my hoody pocket. So I bought a belt-mounted magazine carrier. Then I realized I'd probably like a holster, too, because it would allow for some better handling when I wasn't using my pistol. So I bought a holster.
Fast forward to today, where I have a lot of fun outdoors as well as indoors, and have bought a number of rifles and other pistols. I will buy the gear that I feel I need to continue to fight as effectively as I would like. I'll buy the gear that I think is most effective to achieve the ends that I would like to accomplish.
I'll still run out into the field, whether it's indoor or outdoor wearing nothing but jeans and a hawaiian shirt, stuff the magazines into my back pocket and still have as much fun as I do with all the gear, but that's a situational thing. I wouldn't want to do that for a longer event, or over night, for example. I've also lost things that I'd rather not have lost, due to not having sufficient gear to prevent such losses.
In some venues, it's better to have kneepads than to skip them. In some venues still, kneepads, a helmet and long sleeves is the right idea, just in case.
What it comes down to is that it's entirely up to you, what sort of games you'd like to play, what kind of expectations you have of the game, what environments you'd like to play in. If you're interested in milsim, but you don't want to buy all the gear to try it out, there are many options. A lot of milsim games will have an insurgent/terrorist/whatever team that doesn't require any sort of uniform, and in fact asks you NOT to dress like a soldier. Another option is to simply get out to a few games, make a few friends, and ask to try some of their stuff out, see if you like it.
If you're interested in something more like a skirmish, then you can probably just show up wearing whatever you like, so long as you adhere to the game host's specifications to make team assignment easier. Talk to the host beforehand, ask him what he/she if you can show up how you'd like.
In fact, I recommend that you do so before you make any purchase, get into contact with a game host whose game you'd like to try, and work from there!
Last edited by talon; April 13th, 2012 at 04:08..