The following chart shows the core tactical pants for men from each brand side by side. Compare the features of manufacturers' original tactical pants in a glance. To find specific style variations from each brand, use the menu above to help you navigate through our review.
|Blackhawk||EOTAC||Genuine Gear||Kitanica||LA Police Gear|
|Fabric Material||100% cotton canvas||100% cotton canvas||40%/60% poly-cotton ripstop||65%/35% poly-cotton ripstop||40%/60% poly-cotton ripstop|
|Fabric Weight||8.5 oz.||8.5 oz.||6.25 oz.||7 oz.||6 oz.|
|Pocket Technology||Velcro, Zipper||Velcro||Velcro||Snaps, Velcro, Zipper||Plastic buttons, Velcro|
|Crotch Construction||Gusset||Gusset||No gusset||No gusset||Gusset|
|Waist Style||Tunneled elastic||Internal elastic||Internal elastic||Cinch tab buckle||Cinch waist system with Velcro|
|Reinforced Areas||Double cuffs, knees, seat, pockets||Double knees, pockets||Double knees||Codura knees, reinforced seat||Double knees, seat|
|Front Pant Style||Pleated||No pleats||No pleats||No pleats||No pleats|
|Knee Pad Pockets||No||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Water/Stain Resistance||DWR (Durable Water Repellent)||DuPont™ Teflon®||None||None||None|
|Fly Type||French fly w/ Prym snap||Tack-button closure||Plastic button and zipper||Three-snap closure||Plastic button and zipper|
|Propper||Vertx||Woolrich Elite||24-7 Series||5.11 Tactical|
|Fabric Material||65%/35% poly-cotton canvas||98%/2% cotton/Lycra oxford canvas||100% cotton canvas||100% cotton canvas||100% cotton canvas|
|Fabric Weight||8.5 oz.||9 oz.||8.5 oz.||8.5 oz.||8.5 oz.|
|Crotch Construction||No gusset||Gusset||Reinforced crotch tape||No gusset||No gusset|
|Waist Style||Internal elastic||Internal elastic||Internal elastic||Tunneled elastic||Internal elastic|
|Reinforced Areas||Double knees, seat||None||Double knees||Double knees||Double knees, seat, pockets|
|Front Pant Style||Pleated||No pleats||Pleated||No pleats||Pleated|
|Knee Pad Pockets||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Water/Stain Resistance||DuPont™ Teflon®||None||DuPont™ Teflon®||None||DuPont™ Teflon®|
|Fly Type||French fly w/ Prym snap||Tack-button closure||French fly w/ tack-button closure||French fly w/ Prym snap||French fly w/ Prym snap|
100% cotton canvas
Highs: A high bar-tacks count and substantial pocket material make these pants the sturdiest. Slick features such as S.T.R.I.K.E.™ webbing and a stay-tuck liner add to its appeal.
Lows: Plenty of bells and whistles at a premium price. If that's not what you're looking for, move along.
Verdict: Not quite tough enough to survive an atomic bomb blast—but pretty darn close.
Blackhawk answered customer demands in 2008 with its Warrior Wear line of tactical pants. Seeking an alternative to what was already out there, the gun holster manufacturer created a pant specifically for military and law enforcement. The pants feature all the common elements—an expanding waistband, a stay-tuck liner, a gusseted crotch—with a few extra twists. Made in Indonesia, Blackhawk's Warrior Wear pants come in five distinct colors including black, khaki, navy, olive drab and clay and range in price from $49.99 to $89.99 (MSRP).
What sets Blackhawk apart is the sheer number of bar-tacks in every pant. Bar-tack is a specialized sewing stitch that guarantees extra reinforcement. While upping the number of bar-tacking lengthens the assembly process, Terry Naughton, Blackhawk's Vice President – Marketing, said it is essential in creating long-lasting pants with secure belt loops and Velcro areas.
"If you laid all the manufacturers pants down next to each other, and you counted the number of bar-tacks in them, Blackhawk would have the highest number," Naughton said.
Another unique aspect of Blackhawk's pants is its expanding waistband. Unlike other pants with an accordion-style band, the pants employ a tuxedo style with a tunneled waistband that expands and contracts as needed. This creates less bulk in the lower back and is less of a pressure point when worn with a duty belt.
Other special features include a stay-tuck liner, double cuffs and a gusseted crotch. Stay-tuck liners are a silicon grip inside the pants that keeps shirt tails neatly in place. The area where the pants hits the ground is most vulnerable to wear and tear. Blackhawk safeguards against this by doubling the fabric along the pant cuffs. Its gusseted crotch is in an elongated diamond pattern that allows more freedom of movement.
The pockets contain a flat cut on the bottom as a perfect spot to nestle a knife in its proper orientation—straight up and down. Pockets also boast a zippered area for keys and a wallet as well as dual magazine pouches on both the left- and the right-hand side.
* These pants have been discontinued.
Pockets: By using a pocket liner similar to the 8.5-ounce, 100 percent cotton canvas on the rest of the pant, the Warrior Wear Tactical pants pockets could certainly stand the test of time. With 11 pockets total, including one internal coin pocket, each pocket touts a flat cut at the bottom for a knife.
Fabric: By applying an 8.5-ounce, 100 percent cotton canvas to the pants with wrinkle and stain resistance treatment, this tactical pant is geared toward a long wear cycle. The cotton canvas pattern is weaved in both a horizontal and vertical direction.
Fit: Swift movements will seem effortless in this pleated pant with a gusseted crotch and a tunneled waistband. For a 34X30 pant, the front rise is 11.25 inches; the back rise is 15.5 inches with a leg opening width of 8.5 inches.
Crotch construction: It has a gusseted crotch with an elongated diamond pattern that allows more freedom of movement.
Waist style: With a tuxedo-style, tunneled waistband, there is the potential to expand the waist up to four inches. Six extra-wide, reinforced belt loops encircle the waist region and accommodate belts up to 1.75 inches wide. In addition, a silicon stay-tuck liner keeps the shirt tails tucked in.
Reinforcements: Double layering along the seat and knees as well as along the cuffs and pockets gives extra protection against wearing down.
Fly type: French fly with a Prym snap and an extra wide YKK zipper.
Colors: Black, khaki, navy, olive drab.
Price: $49.99 (MSRP)
This pant boasts many of the same features as the original Warrior Wear pants but also has a 550 cord loop, segmented pocket webbing, Teflon® DWR treatment and, of course, the 65 percent/35 percent poly-cotton ripstop fabric. Price: $59.99 (MSRP)
Made with a unique, non-tactical-looking fabric that is lightweight yet resistant to tears and abrasions, the TNT pants have plenty of similar features to the original Warrior Wear pants with the addition of a cell phone/magazine pocket, magnetic rear-pocket flap closures and reinforced leg backs. The phone pocket fits an iPhone, BlackBerry or Droid. Price: $59.99 (MSRP)
The TNT OPS pants also employ the same TNT material as the regular TNT pants. Additionally it has articulated knees and external zipper pockets. Price: $79.99 (MSRP)
100% cotton canvas
Highs: Ridiculously high quality standards keeps the pant fit identical year after year.
Lows: Expensive and just like any 100% cotton product, it can wrinkle easily.
Verdict: Feel at home on the range in pants made for shooters.
EOTAC was Fernando Coelho's response to a tactical pants market that, as he describes it, lacked variety and quality control. In 2008, Coelho, who spent almost a decade in the firearms industry, launched the tactical clothing company to outfit not just the everyday shooter but also firearm professionals in law enforcement and military. Part of the Freedom Group, EOTAC's sister companies include Remington and Bushmaster.
Since Coelho played a role in developing Woolrich's Elite Series Tactical, his pant is based on a fit block similar to Woolrich's tactical pants. However, EOTAC's version contains variations that allow it to stand on its own. Coelho recalled being frustrated with inconsistencies in the fit of other pant brands, which in turn made his company very stringent about keeping the fit consistent year in and year out.
"We fly to the factory to inspect the garment ourselves," Coelho said. "We actually drop our pants, put on one of the new pants and say 'you've got it spot on.' You're not going to see Tommy Hilfiger go to the factory himself and put on a pair of pants."
Constructed in China, EOTAC's pants come in four styles, and those styles are available in a variety of colors including ACU camo, black, brown, khaki, navy, olive drab green and A-TACS. Instead of adapting a pant for lean hikers, EOTAC's tactical pants are made for those with a more muscular build. The pants have a deep pocket pouch for full weapon concealment and ease of draw. Although the back wallet pocket was first seen on Woolrich pants, Coelho said he tweaked the design to make it more accessible. EOTAC pants are also prewashed and use premium fabrics to prevent residual shrinkage.
One thing Coelho emphasizes in his designs is complete discretion. He views discreet as the future of tactical wear simply due to the increase in laws that allow concealed carry. He also continuously works with well-known tactical and firearm professionals such as Larry Vickers and Ken Hackathorn for design insights.
"Everyone is getting on the bandwagon of tactical clothing but not totally understanding why," Coelho explained. "There's a big difference between just taking a pair of pants and slapping pockets on it and saying it's tactical. If I want that, I can walk into Kohl's or Macy's or, hell, even Wal-Mart. Your pant has to fit correctly. The pockets have to be in the right angles. They have to accommodate the right equipment. They have to have a certain level of durability. These are all critical things."
Pockets: Ten pockets make up EOTAC's tactical pants, four of which contain heavy-duty ripstop pouches. These ripstop pouches are unique to the pants and bolster the durability. Moreover, the inside pockets are lined with nylon and add even more strength. The symmetrical pockets all have Velcro tabs except for two front pockets. EOTAC designed their pockets extra deep for weapon concealment.
Fabric: 8.5-ounce, 100 percent cotton canvas that is ring spun, preshrunk, washed and has DuPont™ Teflon® coating.
Fit: Instead of adapting a pant for lean hikers, EOTAC's tactical pants, are made for those with a more muscular build. The pants are not pleated. Additionally, this manufacturer goes above and beyond to guarantee the fit remains the same whether it was produced today or six months from now. For a 34X34 pants, the front rise is 1 foot; the back rise is 16.5 inches with a leg opening width of 7.5 inches.
Crotch construction: The gusseted crotch relieves the pressure zone and prevents blowouts.
Waist style: EOTAC's waistband is nearly identical to the typical elastic band on the market. Seven reinforced belt loops can handle belts up to 1.75 inches wide.
Reinforcements: There's a double layer of fabric over the knees and an added liner in the utility pockets give bonus support.
Fly type: A metal tack-button closure along with a concealed YKK brass zipper.
Colors: Black, khaki, navy blue, OD green.
Price: $59.99 (MSRP) for sizes 28 to 44; $65.99 (MSRP) for sizes 46 to 48.
The main difference between this pant and EOTAC's tactical pants is the fabric. The fabric is a 7-ounce, 100 percent cotton ripstop. The only other manufacturer that offers an all-cotton ripstop is Woolrich. Price: $59.99 (MSRP) for sizes 28 to 44; $65.99 (MSRP) for sizes 46 to 48.
Also offered in the 7-ounce, 100 percent cotton ripstop, the Men's Operator Pants includes chem stick holders, bellows cargo pockets with internal magazine loops and will soon be available in the A-TACS camouflage pattern. Price: $69.99 (MSRP) for sizes 28 to 44; $74.99 (MSRP) for sizes 46 to 48.
In March 2010, EOTAC welcomed its first tactical pants for women. Ranging in sizes of 0 to 18, the pant was developed through a partnership with a women's clothing manufacturer. Along the development process, Coelho sought insight from women of all sizes, which prompted him to drop the back wallet as well as alter the drape, taper and overall fit of the pants. The wallet pocket can now be found on the front of the 7-ounce, 100% cotton ripstop pants. Price: $59.99 for sizes 0 to 18.
Propper International, a supplier to the U.S. Military, introduced a new tactical pant to its Genuine Gear discount sub-brand in July 2010. In addition to BDU trousers, coats and shorts, the brand now carries the 10-pocket trousers at an ultra-low price point of $24.99 (MSRP). With a price that low, that makes it the second most affordable tactical pants on the market today, next to LA Police Gear's Operator Tactical Pants.
Manufactured in China, the pants originate in the same factory where other Propper brand apparel is made. Compared to Propper's original tactical pants, the Genuine Gear pants have several design differences. Its biggest distinction is the double cargo pockets, a design that creates two pockets out of one. Featured on the lower thigh of each side, the cargo pocket contains one pleated large pocket with a hook and loop fastener along with an open-top stash pocket behind. The open-top pocket allows for storage of larger items like a notepad, wallet or even a flashlight.
"I find that being able to drop tools into the pocket is helpful," said Dan Bergeron, Propper's design director. "It is a great place to put things temporarily for easy access."
Bergeron added pocket flaps with a hook and loop closure to the back pockets after receiving feedback from police officers and SWAT team members. The officers complained that the back pocket was a good place to store credentials, but without a Velcro or button closure, it wasn't secure enough for storage.
"The open-top cargo pocket is pretty secure but probably not for credentials for an FBI agent or a Marshall," Bergeron said. "So, the intent of the back pocket flaps was to give them something that was very secure but easy to reach."
The new features on Genuine Gear trousers don't stop at pockets. Propper's previous tactical pant designs contained 35/65 percent poly-cotton blend, while the new pant boasts 60 percent cotton and 40 percent polyester. Additionally, the trousers have a mid-rise fit that is less baggy than typical tactical pants with no pleats in the front. It's comparable to a dress pant or a class B pant. Additionally, a smaller elastic waistband makes it easier to find the right size.
40%/60% poly-cotton ripstop
Highs: A smaller elastic waistband creates a near-perfect fit. Double-cargo pockets give twice the storage capability and display true ingenuity. And what a price!
Lows: Like any discount brand, the materials are cheaper and potentially less durable.
Verdict: Priced right for what you get.
Pockets: Arranged in an asymmetrical fashion, ten pockets are made out of a material that matches the color of the trousers.
Fabric: A 6.25 ounce, 60 percent cotton and 40 percent polyester ripstop blend.
Fit: The trousers have a mid-rise, straight fit that leaves out front pleats found on other Propper tactical pants. For a 34X32 pant, the front rise is 11.25 inches; the back rise is 15.75 inches. The leg opening has a width of 8.5 inches.
Crotch construction: Just like Propper's original tactical trouser, there is no crotch gusset.
Waist style: A 3-inch long internal elastic waistband on each side allows flexibility and is far less substantial than Propper's original pant band (7 inches long on each side). Six belt loops can accommodate belts up to 1.75 inches wide.
Reinforcements: Reinforced knee patch.
Fly type: A plastic button with a YKK zipper and a cloth zipper pull.
Colors: Black, khaki, LAPD navy, olive.
Price: $29.99 (MSRP)
65%/35% poly-cotton ripstop
Highs: Truly a work of art, these pants are made in the USA and have mind-blowing features and details.
Lows: The highest in price and far from discreet. The PNT X.A pant screams tactical warrior.
Verdict: The Cadillac of tactical pants, hands-down. If you just landed a six-figure signing bonus, these are the pants to own.
In 1995, Beej Cronin founded Kitanica in Brooklyn with his brother Chris. Now based in Oakland, Calif., the outerwear line features USA-made gear such as jackets, pants and shorts that have been spotted on geek superstars like Mythbuster's Adam Savage. When he was 14 years old, Cronin taught himself how to design and sew by creating jackets and other apparel. His first designs were constructed to endure the rigors of farming, which is where he spent his younger years. Since then, he's moved onto heavy-duty, high-quality menswear.
Kitanica's company name and logo are inspired by the word "chitin" or the structural component of insect exoskeletons. All manufacturing and materials are sourced domestically, which explains Kitanica's high price points. This is something few apparel companies can claim, according to Cronin. And when he designs, Cronin injects practicality and durability in every piece.
"Our look may be a little over the top, but I don't think that making something that isn't unique is really a thing worth making in this business," he said.
His latest addition to the Kitanica line is a 12-pocket tactical pant that packs a mighty punch. Released in March 2010, the PNT X.A features 500 Denier Cordura knees, expandable dump pockets and PALS webbing. Cronin believes this pant's aesthetic and durability factor are what makes it stand out. While the debut pants are certainly pricey at $160 (MSRP), it touts all-American materials, labor and an intricate design seen nowhere else.
The pants are made up of nearly 3 yards of fabric and about 100 separate pieces that need assembly. Cronin admitted he doesn't know exactly how many pieces there are because he doesn't "really want to know." Currently only available in black, Kitanica plans to offer the pants in both black and khaki in mid-June 2010.
Pockets: There are 12 pockets constructed from the same sturdy material and color of the pants. The pockets are not entirely symmetrical and favor the right side.
Fabric: 7-ounce, 65 percent/35 percent poly-cotton ripstop
Fit: Kitanica calls sizing more of an art than a science and offers its pants in three sizes—medium (30-32), large (34-36) and x-large (38-40). The sizing is also limited because Kitanica is such a small company. For a large pant, which is not pleated, the front rise is 1 foot; the back rise is 18.25 inches with a leg opening width of 9 inches.
Crotch construction: Even though the PNT X.A pants don't have a gusseted crotch now, Cronin says he'll consider adding one in the future. He feels that pants can have the same effect without adding an entire piece of fabric.
Waist style: A clear departure from the stereotypical elastic waistband, this tactical pant uses a traditional cinch tab buckle on the side that allows for adjustment on the waist as needed. Kitanica left off the elastic because it can wear out after time. The pants also feature a contoured waistband. Seven reinforced belt loops made out of PALS webbing can handle belts up to 1.75 inches wide.
Reinforcements: Double reinforced articulated knees with ripstop and 500 Denier Cordura, bar-tacked stress points and reinforced seat. All seams use a bonded-69 nylon thread.
Fly type: Mil-Spec 27 Line (brass with black finish) three-snap fly with a tack button closure.
Colors: Black and khaki.
Price: $160 (MSRP)
40%/60% poly-cotton ripstop
Highs: With cargo pockets boasting organizational slots and flap slits, it's one step ahead in the originality department. Dual front D-rings only add more intrigue, not to mention that jaw-dropping price.
Lows: The construction is questionable at best with sloppy stiching in multiple spots. Because of this, durability is also a concern.
Verdict: You get what you pay for. Great price, but it certainly isn't the No. 1 choice for everyday wear.
Launched in 2001, LA Police Gear is a well known online retailer in the police and military tactical gear space. What started out as a home business for Sean Frank, founder and former Los Angeles police officer, quickly developed into a multi-million dollar operation. In 2007, LA Police Gear was named one of the five fastest growing web-only retailers with annual sales at $19 million.
With a focus on apparel, LA Police Gear has transitioned to become more than just a retailer. The California-based company expanded to carry products touting its own label. Nowadays the LA Police Gear brand can be spotted on bags, pants, shorts, hoodies, folding knifes among other gear.
"The more products we add, the more orders we're getting, and we're following that form aggressively, keeping costs low and adding brands that I know people in this community need," Frank was quoted as saying by U.S. Business Review.
One item in particular made a splash in the tactical world in late 2008. The Operator Tactical Pant was LA Police Gear's answer to those looking for an affordable yet truly tactical pant. Exclusively sold only by LA Police Gear, the trousers were declared the company's bestselling pants of 2009.
The trousers inexpensive cost comes from cutting out "the expensive middleman" during the production process. In other words, this means their sourcing comes from China. However, some online reviews point to poor quality control as the reason—including reports of sloppy stitching, cheap materials and extra threads hanging from areas. Others have looked past construction issues and are merely thrilled to get so many features at such reasonable price.
Pockets: Ten symmetrical pockets are made from the same ripstop poly-cotton blend as the pants.
Fabric: A preshrunk 40 percent polyester and 60 percent cotton ripstop that weighs 6 ounces, which makes it one of the lightest tactical pants in the original lineup.
Fit: For a 34X34 non-pleated pant, the front rise is 13 inches; the back rise is 16 inches. The leg opening has a width of 8 inches and built in blousing strings.
Crotch construction: The crotch gusset has a diamond shape for enhanced flexibility in tactical situations and outdoor sports.
Waist style: A 7-inch cinch waist system with Velcro replaces the ever-popular elastic waistband. Seven belt loops can accommodate a belt up to 1.75 inches wide. Another unique feature of this pant is its dual front D-rings.
Reinforcements: Double knees and seat.
Fly type: A plastic button with plastic zipper system.
Colors: Black, coyote brown, dark navy, khaki, OD green, sierra.
Price: $19.99 (MSRP)
65%/35% poly-cotton canvas
Highs: A novel fabric blend and the best overall value.
Lows: Lack of angled rear pockets makes for less easy access.
Verdict: Perfect for the frugal shopper who likes military-grade gear at an all-time low price.
For those seeking true military-grade tactical pants, look no further than Propper International. As one of the largest contractors for the U.S. Military, Propper's level of quality control is bar none. After manufacturing BDUs for 25 years, it was a natural progression for the Missouri-based company to branch into the world of tactical trousers.
With a no-corner-cutting state of mind, Propper employs staffs who monitor and review fabric quality and production. And when something doesn't meet its high standards? It's rejected. Even if it means the product line will be late to market or orders will go unfilled.
"Quality is what we firmly believe in," said Jim Guntli, Propper's Vice President of Sales – Western Region. "That is our greatest selling point—quality. That it is the highest."
Propper's tactical pants come in four styles and are manufactured in China. The various styles range in price from $24.99 to $49.99 (MSRP) and can be found in up to seven colors (black, coyote, olive, dark navy, LAPD navy, gray and khaki). The manufacturer was one of the first to treat its pants with DuPont™ Teflon® coating. This coating prevents staining from blood to water to coffee.
When compared to other manufacturers, Propper's price points are the lowest. In addition to affordability, its lightweight tactical pants come with a matching belt—a feature offered by no other manufacturer—and will soon be added to all canvas pants, too. The pant fabric blend of 65 percent polyester/35 percent cotton, 8.5-ounce canvas keeps the fabric from fading, shirking and wrinkling. While cotton might be more breathable, Guntli said it begins to look crumpled and washed out overtime.
As far as pocket configuration, Propper's pants have the ubiquitous wallet pocket within a pocket. On its lightweight pants, there are two coin pockets, a cell phone pocket and nylon reinforcements to prevent knives or other objects from rubbing through the pants.
Pockets: The structure (somewhat symmetrical aside from one extra pocket on the left-hand side) features 10 pockets including a coin pocket located in the front right pocket.
Fabric: A blend of 65 percent polyester/35 percent cotton, 8.5-ounce canvas with a DuPont™ Teflon® treatment. The polyester blend keeps it from fading, shirking and wrinkling.
Fit: For a 34X34 pleated pant, the front rise is 12.5 inches; the back rise is 16.75 inches with a leg opening width of 8 inches.
Crotch construction: There is no crotch gusset, but the feature could be added in the future. Propper says it hasn't received a tremendous demand for that crotch type for its tactical pants.
Waist style: An elastic waistband expands and contracts with movement. Five belt loops around the pants can fit a belt up to 1.75 inches wide.
Reinforcements: Fabric is doubled at the seat and knees.
Fly type: A French fly with a Prym snap and a standard-size gold YKK zipper.
Colors: Black, khaki, dark navy, olive green.
Price: $49.99 (MSRP)
Its fabric, a 6.4-ounce, 65 percent polyester/35 percent cotton ripstop, is the first noticeable difference between it and Propper's flagship tactical pants. There are also two coin pockets, a cell phone pocket big enough for a PDA, reinforced front pocket openings, extra-large belt loops and a D-ring. The pants also come with a free belt. Price: $49.99 (MSRP)
This pant has identical features to Propper's original tactical pants except for its female fit. It's made with an 8.5-ounce, 65 percent polyester/35 percent cotton canvas blend. Price: $49.99 (MSRP)
65%/35% poly-cotton ripstop
Originally called Atlanta Army Navy Supply Company, Tru-Spec by Atlanco has evolved through the past six decades to produce an array of tactical and military equipment. Just two years ago, Tru-Spec by Atlanco launched the 24-7 Series brand. Its initial offering was a multi-purpose tactical pant "versatile enough for stakeout or desk duty, stylish enough for a night out on the town." The pants, which are highlighted in the 24-7 Series section of the Tactical Pants Guide, are now only one product of many including shirts, outerwear, jumpsuits, vests and accessories that make up the 24-7 Series line.
Looking beyond its newer line, Tru-Spec by Atlanco has remained somewhat true to its military surplus roots through the years. The company is still controlled by the family who founded it in 1950. While it supplies military gear throughout the world, Atlanco created the Tru-Spec brand in 1996 to heighten its presence in the public safety arena. Since then, a combination of the two brands has emerged as one of the leading suppliers of tactical apparel and equipment in the industry.
Headquartered in Marietta, Ga., Tru-Spec by Atlanco produces one style of tactical pants under the Tru-Spec brand. The 7-Pocket Tactical Trousers have half the number of pockets when compared to the 24-7 Series Men's Pants. The seven-pocket trouser only comes in a lightweight 65 percent/35 percent poly-cotton ripstop. Other features include nylon drawstring leg tags, a gripper waistband to keep a shirt tucked in and two adjustable waist tabs with four bar-tacks.
Pockets: Seven pockets with hook and loop closures means this trouser has the least number of pockets when compared to other tactical pants. Unfortunately we did not have a pair in our possession to measure exact pocket dimensions.
Fabric: A blend of 65 percent polyester/35 percent cotton ripstop makes this pant just lightweight enough.
Crotch construction: There is no crotch gusset on this pant.
Waist style: There are two adjustable waist tabs secured with four bar-tacks. There are seven reinforced belt loops that can accommodate a 2.5-inch wide belt. The pants also feature a gripper waistband to keep shirts tucked in.
Reinforcements: Reinforced seat and knees.
Fly type: Metal self-locking zipper fly.
Colors: Black, navy and tac tiger.
Price: $51.95 (MSRP)
98% cotton/2% Lycra
Highs: The pioneering fabric blend, discreet look, odd sizing and excellent fit set it apart. To top that, it's the only pant out of the originals that doesn't use Velcro closures.
Lows: This level of sleekness comes at a high price. There's also no lightweight version.
Verdict: Fashion-forward pants for the tactical trendsetter that easily transition from work to play.
The Vertx brand was created through a partnership between Fechheimer, a uniform manufacturer owned by Berkshire Hathaway, and Arc'teryx, an outdoor clothing and sporting goods manufacturer. In 2008, the innovative brand developed tactical pants for a federal agency to fight like a pair of BDUs yet uphold the discreet appeal of regular khakis.
Manufactured in Indonesia, Vertx tactical pants only have one men's and one women's style. That style is offered in six colors—law enforcement black, khaki, desert tan, olive drab green, navy and MultiCam. The pants feature unique sizing that includes odd waist increments on certain inseams as well as articulated knees and hips. The nine-pocket pant sets itself apart with a differentiated rise, a unique fabric blend as well as a specialized cut to accommodate firearms. To top that, Vertx is the only tactical pants manufacturer to offer the camouflage pattern of MultiCam.
"It's arguably the most comfortable pair of pants you can buy," said David Walsh, Director of Brand Management/Special Projects for Vertx. "The mobility of them is fantastic and the low visual profile. It is just cut better than the average pant."
Increased mobility can be attributed to Vertx's gusseted crotch, according to Walsh. It is cut in a specific way that reduces bulk and boosts freedom of movement. Its fabric mix also plays a significant role in the level of mobility. With a high-quality fabric that's 98 percent cotton and 2 percent Lycra, the blend gives a comfortable stretch but doesn't make the pant appear too synthetic, Walsh said. When compared to the original tactical pant, which some call the "just-shoot-me pants," the Vertx pants design is much more discreet in nature.
While the pant might only appear to have two pockets, it really has nine, which adds to the pants under-the-radar appeal. The no-Velcro pocketing gives it an extra layer of stealth. Furthermore, hidden pockets within other pockets increase ability for discreet carry and keep items from rolling out.
Pockets: Nine pockets are designed in a way to keep stuff from falling out without using Velcro or magnetic closures.
Fabric: A unique blend of 9-ounce, 98 percent cotton/2 percent Lycra gives Vertx pants a slight stretch feel yet doesn't make the pant appear too synthetic.
Fit: With lower rise when compared to other tactical pants, these non-pleated trousers are cut for mobility and comfort with an articulated knee and hip. For a 33X34 pant, the front rise is 1 foot; the back rise is 15.75 inches with a leg opening width of about 9 inches.
Crotch construction: A large gusseted crotch is cut in a specific way to reduce bulk in the seaming and boost freedom of movement.
Waist style: An internal stretch waistband creates less bunching on the waist sides and stretches about one inch on each side. The pants feature unique sizing that includes odd waist increments of 33 and 35 on a 32-inch inseam. There are 6 belt loops that can fit a 2-inch wide belt.
Fly type: Tack-button closure with an extra-wide bronze YKK zipper.
Colors: Black, desert tan, khaki, navy, OD green, MultiCam.
Price: $64.95 (MSRP) The pants cost $20 more in MultiCam because of fabric costs.
For its women's line, Vertx really focused on producing something perfect for female law enforcement officers. For this, the manufacturer started with an entirely new fit block—it didn't just take a men's pant and alter it. The pants have the same features and pocket structure as the men's.
"We built it from the ground up to make sure it fit the female form better because female pants are harder to pattern than men's," Walsh said. In addition to a flattering cut, Vertx offers a finished length and longer lengths for taller females. Price: $64.99 (MSRP)
100% cotton canvas
Highs: This pant features a unique crotch construction and has been extensively beta tested for a just-right fit.
Lows: Even though it's treated for fade resistance, the 100% cotton, as always, can fade, wrinkle and shrink.
Verdict: A sturdy contender though nothing really breakthrough here. Not convinced? Try Woolrich's more popular lightweight pant.
For generations Woolrich has supplied fabrics to the military and law enforcement going back to the Civil War. So it was only logical for the outdoor clothing company to jump right into the tactical pants market. Five years ago Woolrich launched the Elite Series Tactical making tactical products specifically for law enforcement (ESU/SWAT), executive protection, military operations and civilian concealed carry.
Woolrich carries five styles of tactical pants that come in four colors—black, khaki, OD green and navy—as well as two types of fabric (an 8.5-ounce, 100 percent cotton canvas and a 7-ounce, 100 percent cotton ripstop). Woolrich's innovative tactical pant was the first on the market to implement the back wallet pocket, a smaller pocket inside the larger pocket that comfortably fits a wallet or ID. Even though many other manufactures include this feature, Woolrich is proud to have been the first. The pocket prevents a wallet or ID from sliding down to the lower thigh, which can be uncomfortable while in a seated position.
Another feature touted in many tac trousers is a gusseted crotch. However, this feature isn't included in Woolrich pants. Why? According to Elite Series' Designer and Product Manager Brian Miller, it can give the pants two weak points. Instead, its pant has reinforced crotch tape—a piece of twill tape inside the pant stitched across the inseam as well as on the front and back rise. This tape ties all the seams together and gives it a greater reinforcement, Miller said.
Another major difference in Woolrich's pant is the use of plied yarn and combed cotton, a feature that is supposed to increase durability. Moreover, no fabric will be released without first undergoing stringent testing. The company said it does 95 percent of its durability tests in house to ensure the quality of its product in addition to outside specialty tests. Miller himself often examines products along with a cadre of beta testers from sectors of law enforcement, military and private security. Testing includes taking each color of fabric through 50 wash cycles to inspect the level of fading, abrasion and general look then comparing it to its original fabric.
"I can't attest or comment to what others are using," Miller said. "I can tell you the approach we took, and I can tell you that it has worked out very well for us because we get a lot of positive feedback about the durability of our products."
Pockets: Ten pockets are placed in a symmetrical structure with four flapped pockets, four oversized open pockets and two back wallet or ID pockets. On the traditional khaki color, the color of the inside pocket material is lighter and less substantial than that of the actual pant.
Fabric: The 8.5-ounce, 100 percent cotton canvas is vat dyed giving it color consistency. It is made up of plied yarn and combed cotton to step up the durability along with a DuPont™ Teflon® fabric protector.
Fit: Styled to be a uniform pant, Woolrich produces all of its Elite Series pants from a single sourcing partner in Asia. Because of this, the fit on each style of pants are consistent. The fit was designed in a way that gives ample room for mobility and durability. For a 34X34 pleated pant, the front rise is 1 foot; the back rise is 17 inches with a leg opening width of 8 inches.
Crotch construction: Reinforced crotch tape ties all the seams together for greater support. Woolrich sees this construction as superior to the gusseted crotch.
Waist style: Common in many tactical pants, the side elastic panels expand and contract for all-day comfort. There are seven reinforced belt loops that can accommodate a 2-inch belt.
Reinforcements: Pants have double knee reinforcements. There is double-needle stitching and bar-tacks at critical stress points.
Fly type: French fly with a YKK brass zipper paired with a metal tack-button closure.
Colors: Black, khaki, navy, OD green.
Price: $59.99 (MSRP) for sizes 28 to 44; $59.99 (MSRP) for sizes 46 and 48; $64.99 (MSRP) for sizes 50 to 54 with a 41-inch inseam only.
This is basically the same as the Elite Pant with the addition of two cargo pockets found on the lower leg. It also includes oversized open pockets. Price: $54.99 (MSRP) for sizes 28 to 44; $62.99 (MSRP) for sizes 46 to 48.
One of the few manufacturers to offer a 7-ounce, 100 percent cotton ripstop, Woolrich's Elite Lightweight pant is the best seller in the series. It has similar features of the Elite Pant and includes knee pads, hidden back pockets, lower magazine pockets and oversized bellow pockets with internal elastic webbing. Price: $54.99 (MSRP) for sizes 28 to 44; $64.99 (MSRP) for sizes 46 to 48.
This pant is a marriage between the Elite tactical pant and the current issue ACU (Army Combat Uniform) trouser. The major addition on this pant is the lower magazine pockets. The waistband is based on a tactical pant with an ACU-style pocket structure. Price: $54.99 (MSRP) for sizes 28 to 44; $64.99 (MSRP) for sizes 46 to 48.
Introduced at SHOT Show 2009, the female version of the Elite Lightweight pant gives it a "true women's fit." While some have complained about the pants high waistline, keep in mind that this pant was constructed for duty belt wear. Price: $54.99 (MSRP) and includes sizes 4 to 18.
100% cotton canvas
Highs: Pure pocket bliss with too many to even count. They're symmetrical and extra roomy.
Lows: Its extreme tactical look might tip off the bad guys.
Verdict: For those seeking functionality that's not exactly discreet.
Founded in 1950, Tru-Spec by Atlanco began as a surplus company that decades later transitioned into manufacturing BDUs. Still a family-owned business today, Tru-Spec entered the tactical pants game two years ago with its 24-7 Series line. This line filled the gap between hardcore tactical gear and an everyday cargo pant.
In order to differentiate the pants, 24-7 Series designers added pocket flaps with a slant. The slanted back pocket flap has less to do with functionality and is more of an immediate visual indicator of the pant's uniqueness. Because of this, Kevin Cain, Tru-Spec by Atlanco's Business Development Manager, said people can immediately tell the variation between a 24-7 Series pant when compared to others on the market.
Another feature that sets the trousers apart is its pocket construction. While some tactical pants utilize patch pockets (a pocket sewn on to the pant itself), 24-7 Series pants feature a thigh cargo pocket that physically expands to open further. The pants are also extremely symmetrical—if there is a pocket on the right side, that same pocket will be mirrored on the left. This means that it doesn't matter if a customer is right- or left-handed; they will have equal functionality. On both sides of the pants, there is a small knife pocket unique to the 24-7 Series.
Despite the emphasis on functionality, Cain sees positive reviews most often about the fit of the 24-7 Series tactical pants. The pants were made for men with a heavier build, meaning that it's roomier in all the right areas. "It's a fit that everyone loves," he said.
Made in Indonesia, its 24-7 Series line contains four styles in seven colors—black, olive drab, khaki, coyote, navy, sheriffs brown and stone. The line does include one style of women's pants in the lightweight 65 percent polyester/35 percent cotton ripstop fabric. Sizing on the pants include 28 to 54 inches for men and sizes 2 to 14 for women with an overall price range of $44.95 to $55.95 (MSRP).
Pockets: A symmetrical pocket construction with 14 pockets total including two internal pockets and two knife pockets. While the pocket material is sturdy, the color of the inside pockets on a khaki pair is two shades lighter.
Fabric: 8.5-ounce, 100 percent cotton canvas. Its basket weave construction is typically stronger than other weave types and has a natural breathability. Pants are pretreated to prevent shrinkage and color fading.
Fit: For men with a heavier build, this non-pleated pant is roomier in all the right places. On a 34X34 pant, the front rise is 13.75 inches; the back rise is 16.5 inches with a leg opening width of 8.5 inches.
Crotch construction: With no gusseted or diamond-shaped crotch, the pants use its elastic slider waistband to relieve the tension and prevent blowouts. By leaving out the crotch gusset, Tru-Spec was able to offer their pants at a lower price.
Waist style: The elastic slider waistband gives two inches of flexibility per side. Not only is this beneficial for movement, it helps with weight fluctuation. Five 2-inch belt loops can accommodate a belt up to 1.75 inches wide.
Reinforcements: Reinforced knee with built-in knee pad pockets.
Fly type: French fly with Prym snaps and a thicker brass-colored YKK zipper (two sizes larger than the average zipper).
Colors: Black, coyote, dark navy, khaki, olive drab, stone.
Price: $47.95 (MSRP) for waists 28 inches to 44 inches; $55.95 (MSRP) for waists 46 inches to 54 inches.
The only difference between these pants and its cotton counterpart is the fabric type. Every other element is consistant. The blend of 65 percent/35 percent poly-cotton ripstop gives the pants color longevity, color consistency and makes it more applicable to uniform wear. A DuPont™ Teflon® coating prevents it from absorbing liquid and stains. Price: $51.95 (MSRP) for waists 28 inches to 44 inches; $55.95 (MSRP) for waists 46 inches to 54 inches.
The fit was not so beloved on Tru-Spec's first attempt at a women's tactical pant. Released in 2008, the women's pants had a rise that came two inches above the belly button. Since then, Tru-Spec corrected this error. With a new rise, its current ladies pants are available in poly-cotton ripstop in sizes 2 to 14. Price: $51.95 (MSRP)
Looking forward, Tru-Spec is releasing new convertible tactical pants for spring 2010. The pants have the same design of its 24-7 Series tactical pants, except it will feature a zip-off portion where the legs of the pants can be removed to transform into shorts.
100% cotton canvas
Highs: 5.11 is the original tactical pant. Its patented rear slash pockets give easy and quick access.
Lows: With only seven pockets, it has the least in the bunch. Its buddy strap can snag on foreign objects at just the wrong moment. And again, 100% cotton is breathable but also notoriously fades, shrinks and wrinkles.
Verdict: While it might be the first, there's definitely a lack of innovation to further the pant's functionality and quality.
When people think tactical pants the first thing that comes to mind is 5.11. That's because 5.11 Tactical was built around the cargo trouser. While a female mountaineer named Liz Robbins designed the first tactical pant for Royal Robbins, Dan Costa purchased the outdoor gear company and later sold it to found 5.11 Tactical.
The start-up's flagship product was Royal Robbins' popular 5.11 Pant. Named for the most strenuous rock climbing difficulty, 5.11 turned out to be the perfect pant for a number of high-pressure situations requiring serious mobility. Costa identified and used this idea to market it to FBI agents across the nation. By outfitting high-ranking officers in 5.11, the rest followed suit, and Costa's vision turned 5.11 Tactical into the staple it is today.
In addition to federal law enforcement, technology enthusiasts have picked up on the seven-pocket pants to stash all sorts of electronics—from Kindles to video cameras. The pants, made out of 100 percent cotton canvas, boast roomy front pockets with inverted pleats that expand when in use. Its Velcro thigh pocket is large enough for a magazine, cell phone or knife, and its Velcro rear slash pockets are extra deep for extended mags, a baton and even a 15-inch flashlight.
As evidence of its rock climbing heritage, the back of 5.11 pants still feature a patented "buddy" or utility strap initially created to tote carabineers. While some see no use for the strap, others have found it an excellent place to store ear protection or even a flashlight. Another unique feature to 5.11 pants is a built-in blousing system at the pant's ankle, which can accommodate 500 cord.
The original tactical pant maker has no doubt expanded its brand through the years. There are now seven styles of tactical pants, which are made in Asia, available in a range of 10 colors (charcoal, black, TDU khaki, OD green, tundra, coyote, khaki, fire navy, TDU green and dark navy).
Even though 5.11 set the stage for tactical pants, some have come forward to criticize the original trousers. Online reviews show that there have been complaints about the 100 percent cotton pants fading too quickly and fitting incorrectly. Companies have even been founded to compete with 5.11 simply because of unsatisfied customers. Despite a few negative assessments, 5.11 remains the benchmark for tactical pants everywhere.
Pockets: With just seven pockets (symmetrical aside from the extra pocket on the left side) and no hidden ones, these pants have the least amount of pockets in the lineup. Its slash pockets in back and front with knife clip reinforcements also differentiates them.
Fabric: 8.5-ounce, 100 percent cotton canvas
Fit: While 5.11 calls its fit "legendary," some have said that the pleated pants are built for a lean hiker and not for a heavier-built shooter. For a 34X34 pant, the front rise is 12.5 inches; the back rise is 16.75 inches with a leg opening width of 8.5 inches.
Crotch construction: No gusset
Waist style: An elastic waistband can stretch about 1.25 inches on each side. Five belt loops accommodate a belt up to 1.75 inches wide.
Reinforcements: Trousers have 48 bar-tacks with knee and seat reinforcements as well as front and back slash pocket reinforcement for a folding knife or a tool clip.
Fly type: French fly with a Prym snap and a bronze YKK zipper.
Colors: Charcoal, black, grey, khaki, coyote brown, OD green, tundra, fire navy.
Price: $49.99 (MSRP)
When stacked up to the 5.11 pants, there are several differences in the pocket configurations. The covert cargo has larger cargo pockets, casual-looking deep pockets and two mag pockets. It also boasts Cordura nylon lining in certain areas. Price: $49.99 (MSRP)
The only difference between this pant and the original 5.11 pant is the preshrunk, 100 percent flannel lining. Price: $59.99 (MSRP)
Identical to the 5.11 original pant in every aspect except it has a women's fit. Price: $49.99 (MSRP)
In addition to the features on the original 5.11 pant, this trouser has a lightweight fabric of 65 percent polyester/35 percent poly-cotton ripstop. It is also treated with HT Teflon, features an external knife pocket, rear web strap and clip loop. Price: $49.99 (MSRP)
This pant has similar features to the women's cotton pant and offers a new cut to flatter a women's shape.
Price: $49.99 (MSRP)
Take the original 5.11s, give them a women's fit; switch the fabric to a lightweight 65 percent polyester/35 percent poly-cotton ripstop; an external knife pocket, HT Teflon treatment and a clip loop, and you have a pair of women's Taclite Pro pants. Price: $49.99 (MSRP)