Tactical pants come in various designs, textiles, and colors. These were originally designed for outdoors-loving people who prefer resilient and durable pants with well-positioned pockets to keep tools, gadgets and food handy during hunts, treks and other outdoor activities. The first-ever tactical pants were designed by mountaineer Liz Robbins her outdoor-gear company, the Royal Robbins.
Today, the best tactical pants are operational wear for both men and women worldwide; from workday uniforms to patrolling the streets or carrying out rescue missions in times of calamities and disasters or for recreational hunting and shooting targets at the range. Most textiles used are treated with protective coating to prevent absorption of liquids and stains, and reinforced with bar tacks and gussets in the seams.
At the rate that tactical pants have saturated the market, the race is on for the brand and design that can provide customers with greater satisfaction.
Undoubtedly, these pants have come a long way from the typical cargo pants, not only to become the everyday protective clothing used by people from all walks of life, but a fashion statement, as well.
The market for tactical pants is dominated by the following brands.
1. TRU-SPEC Men’s 24-7 Tactical Pant
24-7 Series Tactical Pants is a product of Tru-Spec by Atlanco – a family-owned surplus company established in 1950, which subsequently evolved into manufacturing battle dress uniforms (BDUs). When the company ventured into the tactical pants line of business and introduced its 24-7 Series about five years ago, the consumer market saw the emergence of a clothesline that was mid-way between the hard-core tactical outfit and the more relaxed cargo trouser.
The 24-7 pants are designed symmetrically and provide 14 pockets in all, including two small knife pockets and two internal pockets: each side has similar pockets on them where it’s greatly advantageous whether you are a right or left-handed person.
The front pockets are a foot deep each with a seven-inch wide opening. Rear pockets seven-inch long and 5.5-inch wide have slanted flaps with Velcro – a design unique to 24-7 Series, not so much for functionality but for instantaneous visual distinction from other brands in the market – and bellowed side gussets for easy expansion or contraction. Extra rooms are provided by inside-magazine compartments, each five inches long and three inches wide.
While other manufacturers use patched thigh pockets directly sewn onto the pants, 24-7 provides cargo-type thigh pockets with Velcro and bellowed side gussets that expands for greater room. It also supports two knee pad pockets measuring 10 inches by ten inches with a 5.5-inch opening. For those who prefer the added protection of knee pads, the company makes available such pads made of neoprene and measuring 8 inches by 5 inches but sold separately.
Another distinctive feature that sets 24-7 apart are the small knife pockets measuring 5-inch long and 2-inch wide on both the left and right sides. Outside the thigh cargo pockets are sewn two mobile phone/magazine pockets – 4.75 inches long and 3.5 inches wide – that can fit a Blackberry, iPhone, or Droid.
The fabric weighs 8.5 ounce, made of 100% cotton canvas, treated with a DuPont Teflon coating to deflect stains and other liquids, and pre-treated to prevent shrinkage and color fading. The pants come in a variety of colors: black, dark navy, coyote brown, khaki, olive drab, and stone. It features an elastic slider waistband that allows two-inch flexibility on each side and five 2-inch belt loops that can fit belts of up to 1.75 inches wide. It sports a French fly with Prym snaps and has a sturdy YKK brass zipper.
2. 5.11 Men’s Tactical 74273 TacLite Pro Pant
This 5.11 Tactical Pants got its name from the most difficult rock climbing level. It was one of the original concepts of Liz Robbins, the person who designed the first tactical pants for the Royal Robbins. The company’s subsequent owners have since marketed the product to FBI agents, federal law enforcement, and technology buffs for everyday carry tools and devices.
With just seven symmetrical pockets (apart from the single narrow thigh pocket on the left side measuring 5.5 inches long and 2.25 inches wide), the 5.11 may seem spartanly-designed compared to other brands. Yet, it offers deep and spacious front pockets one foot long and 7.5 inches wide with inverted pleats, while its patented Velcro rear-slash pockets for quick and easy access (a foot long and seven inches wide) are particularly deep for toting a 15-inch torch or extended magazines. It also provides two thigh cargo pockets 6.75 inches long and 7 inches wide, and two 9.5-inch long and 10-inch wide knee-pad pockets with an opening of 4.75 inches for 6-mm neoprene knee pads.
The fabric is made of 100% cotton canvas and weighs 8.5 ounces. The pants are fastened with 48 bar-tacks with knee, seat, as well as front and rear slash pocket reinforcements. It sports an elastic waistband with five belt loops to fit a belt up to 1.75 inches wide. The pants come in a wide range of colors: black, coyote brown, grey, OD green, tundra, khaki, and fire navy. It has a French fly with Prym snaps and a bronze YKK zipper.
Blackhawk Lightweight Tactical Pants
No other tactical pants brand can outnumber Blackhawk in terms of the number of bar-tacks used in the assembly of tactical pants. The company emphasizes construction durability and design functionality, and these qualities are achieved by employing a specialized stitch called bar-tuck, and providing additional reinforcement by layering on major stress points. Added comfort is provided by a gusseted crotch and flexible waistband. Stay-tuck liners inside the pants keep shirttails in place.
Like the 24-7, Blackhawk has 14 pockets in all. Velcro flaps and belt loops secure everything in. The front pockets have a coin pocket on one side; the cargo pockets have elastic webbing inside adding to its ability to keep contents in place; extra zippered pockets with mesh lining are attached to the cargo pockets; phones are held secure by smaller front pockets. On the rear are several patch pockets, a zippered wallet pocket, and a hidden pocket. There are knee pad pockets measuring 8.75 inches by 9 inches, with a 5-inch opening. The fabric used weighs 6.5 ounce, made of 65% polyester and 35% cotton, and offered in black, dark brown, khaki, navy and olive colors.
Many other bestselling brands are available in the market, such as Propper, Genuine Gear, and Under Armour.
Propper is known for its military-standard tactical pants. There are four styles available at prices below $50. The tactical pants feature 10 pockets, and come with a belt. The 65%/35% fabric used is coated with Teflon for added proofing.
Genuine Gear is designed with 10 pockets and offered at the below-$40 price range. It is a sub-brand of the slightly more expensive Propper brand and manufactured by the same factory. Aside from its low price, a unique feature is its double-cargo pockets on both sides. While previous editions were produced using 65%/35% poly-cotton, the current design is made of 60%/40% material that allows more breathability.
Under Armour is constructed of lightweight polycotton material coated with DWR which makes the tactical duty pants resistant to moisture. These trousers look flat and sleek at the front, achieving a more modern look. It gets the job done with its 7 basic pockets, normally-constructed crotch, and no reinforcements or added layers.
No Velcros for the Vertx tactical pants. It has nine well-designed and well-concealed pockets, instead. It looks like the regular pants, but much more comfortable with gusseted crotch, 98% cotton fabric and Lycra blend, and a unique waist sizing system. The Vertx is the fashionable tactical pants – definitely functional and good-looking, but definitely high-priced, too.