In simplest terms, sign interpretation (“reading spoor”) is the process of identifying and interpreting marks and impressions left on the ground and changes to the natural state in order to recreate the actions that took place in a certain area. It is an essential skill for the mantracker.
We’re interested in gear like this for several reasons, mostly in the context of “combat tracking” operations (or tactical tracking, or whatever term you prefer). The best armor for a follow-up is a switched-on team and no armor most times, but that’s not always an option, especially in the military. It’s hard enough to get up and down mountains or through difficult terrain in all the armor Marines and Soldiers are required to wear, much less trying to do so while also cutting and reading sign.
The Sydney Living Museum recently released an excellent article on the equipment of the day: Troopers, Trackers, Bushrangers, and their weapons. While it’s focused on weapons rather than tracking, trailing, or track interpretation, it’s still an interesting read (and watch).