Gear in The Division is what is used to protect the player from damage. Gear has an item level and a required player level to equip, and will provide varying amounts of armor, as well as Major and Minor attributes from a pre-determined pool. Gear comes in 6 different types, Masks, Body Armor, Backpacks, Gloves, Holsters and Knee Pads. They also come in different qualities Worn, Standard, Specialized, Superior and High-End and as you progress towards endgame you will encounter rare and more powerful gear. See the Loot Drop Rates page for more information on this.
A player's gear is what determine most of their most important Stats in the game, including the 3 primary stats, Firearms, Stamina, andElectronics. Rather than gaining power as you level up, leveling up allows you to equip better gear, which in turn improves your stats.
Gear also improves a player's Attributes, and the rarer the gear, the better the quality and amount of attributes it confers. When hunting for gear be sure to pay attention to attributes that contribute to your present build, it may not always be the case where rarer is better if a rarer piece of gear gives boosts to attributes that you do not need. High-End Gear also carry passive attributes known as Gear Talents, which allow for special boosts. For more information, see the Gear Talents page.