When you’re really getting after it, the last thing you want to think about is a pants wardrobe malfunction. But tactical pants need to not only not be a distraction, but they need to fit in well with your gear system as a whole. That’s exactly why before you seek out the best tactical pants for your needs, you need to think about what your needs actually are.
Here are some common things to consider as you look for tactical pant to fit your needs.
- Cargo Capacity
- Design and Layout
Top Tactical Pants
These are offered in heavy 8.5 ounce cotton canvas or a 65% polyester / 35% cotton ripstop fabric that is teflon coated. The poly blend is lighter and dries faster when wet, but the cotton doesn’t melt near campfires so choose whatever fits your environment. Materials and build quality are very good for the price. The Tru-Specs use YKK zippers and quality velcro. In addition to being durable, these are incredibly comfortable. The expandable waistband, featured in the video below, makes the fit great while still not having the elastic bunch against your skin. The large 2″ belt loops make sure the Tru-Specs can accommodate a utility belt with ease.
The Tru-Specs are offered in khaki, navy, black, coyote, olive drab, brown, charcoal, stone, ranger green, and multicam, which is more expensive than the other colors due to the licensing fees to Crye Precision.
Now, on to the pockets. The fastening on the back pocket is anchored in the corner and asymmetrical. This still allows easy The back pockets also close with velcro, which is a double edge sword. It works well and is quick. However, it is also noisy to open and could snag on gloves or other fabrics. The knife pockets on the pants fit most knives, but is slightly small for wide knives. As I mentioned, most knives fit well, but if you carry a chunky knife, check out and verify it will fit in the knife pocket when the pants arrive. There is a cell phone pocket on each side of the pants. The main cargo pocket on the leg has internal hook and loop closures to keep your magazines from bouncing around, which is really cool. Enforced knee has a pocket to accommodate kneepads if you like internal knee pads. While the reinforced areas that are prone to wear are great, the Tru-Specs do not have a gusseted crotch.
All in, these pants can take an amazing amount of abuse and provide a really high value tactical pant for the price.
The TacLite pant from 5.11 is a terrific tactical pant. While this isn’t an all out tactical pant, it is incredibly balanced and well thought out. It has enough utility to handle virtually anything, but you won’t look like you’re about to invade a country and you can wear them out in public and blend in.
One obvious reason we love this pant is the 65% polyester/35% cotton ripstop fabric is durable, comfortable, and generally just awesome. At 6.14 ounce the ripstop blend is the perfect weight and balanced for durability and comfort. Moreover, there is a Teflon coating to help keep the pants from absorbing water and stains. The fabric is doubled up around the knees and seat so that the areas that are prone to wear for added durability. And speaking of durability, the crotch is fully gusseted so you can roundhouse kick at a moments notice if the need arises. If that is still not enough protection, there is an internal pocket for soft kneepads to keep your knees in good shape if you anticipate getting banged around.
The comfort on these pants is fantastic. 5.11 calls the waistband an “Action Waistband”, which has elastic portions to allow for flexibility if the general size is correct, variations based on your changing size or load out are not a problem. This method, which Tru-Spec also uses, is really efficient and gives some comfort for fluctuations.
Next, these pants pack plenty of cargo space. If you carry a knife everyday (and why wouldn’t you?), you’ll love that 5.11 has a durable area for your knife clip reinforcement at the edge of your pockets. If that’s not enough, there is also a dedicated knife pocket. The brass D-ring on the hip also allows you to clip something like keys or an ID card to the pants if you wish. The larger cargo pocket even has small magazine slots for pistol magazines.
As a brand, 5.11 is respected in the industry and positioned as a premium label. These pants deliver on that reputation and have excellent materials. The zipper is YKK and the snaps are Prym. Further, the construction is great. The seems are stitched very well and the cut is solid. And people love the 5.11 TacLite Pros for it. These bad boys have one of the highest number of amazon reviews we’ve ever seen. If you’re looking for a pair of pants that can handle the functionality of a heavier duty tactical BDU, but want the low-profile to blend in and wear every day, these are your pants. They work in tactical situations all the way down to everyday wear and recreational use.
Proper is a company that has been making practical clothing for a long time. That is not to say that these are all out tactical pants though. What we’re fans of here are that as opposed to walking around in multicam BDU-type clothes, these pants are a great blend of tactical and practical, and depending on the coloration you choose, could work as casual pants in an urban environment without being weird. These are very much slimmer than the Tru-Specs or 5.11s. While the slimmer fits looks better tailored than the competitors, it is more constricting, so think about how you’ll be wearing the pants.
The design is similar to some of the other’s on this list, most notably the 5.11’s. This is true down to the waist line D-ring for keys. Like others on this list, the pants are constructed with high quality materials, stitched well, and are well thought out. The extra-large belt will work with larger duty belts. Also similar to others, the fabric is teflon coated 65%-35% polyester/cotton blend. This makes it shrink and wrinkle resistant, and the ripstop fabric makes sure the pants can hold up to most things. Like other trousers on this list, the seat and knee area are reinforced, and there are internal pockets for knee pads. With all these pants, this feature is still inferior to external dedicated knee pads, but it is nice to know your pants have the ability to have knee pads in a pinch.
The main cargo pockets feature loop and hook closures for magazines, and the back pockets also close with a hook and loop closure. The front slant pockets are reinforced at the opening for added durability with folding knives or multitools clipped to them. The Proper Lightweight Tactical pant is available in black, charcoal, coyote, earth, flag, grey, khaki, LAPD Navy, olive, ranger green, sheriff’s brown, and stone colors.
In summary, if you’re looking for a high value pant with a slimmer fit that can take a beating and still blend in as streetwear, these are your best bet.
The Blackhawk lightweight tactical pants are, like others on the list, available in 6.5 oz. 65% polyester/35% cotton ripstop fabric that has been treated with Teflon to help with water and stain resistance. However, despite being constructed from the same fabric, these feel heavier than others. That is subjective and may or may not be a good thing for you. Like the other pants featured here, the quality is very high, utilizing YKK zippers and Prym snaps. The hemming on the leg cuffs is also reinforced, which adds to the durability of the pant. The crotch is also gusseted, which is a bonus.
One thing to mention is these pants feel more forgiving if you have a larger build, as Blackhawk calls them “traditional fit” that gives you more wiggle room than the Propers. The 1.75″ belt loops will allow you to use virtually all tactical and rigger belts. There are two utility pockets that will comfortable fit a 20 round magazine while closed. Elastic webbing inside has good retention for capabilities to store whatever you are carrying.
The Blackhawks use a cord loop on the waist rather than a D ring. This makes attaching carabiners easier than a d-ring, but keys more difficult. One differentiator in this pant is the vertical zippered storage pocket outside each cargo pocket for easy access while seated. That feature is very useful if you access your pockets while seated at your desk, while driving, etc. Another favorable feature about the Blackhawks is the Silicone grip strip in waistband keeps shirt tucked by being extra grippy to grab on to your shirt.
These pants feel like they will hold up for years and are a great option. They come in OD green, navy, black, and khaki.
Vertx is the heavist pant on this list. It is the most durable and constructed of 9-oz. 98% Cotton/2% Lycra Advantage Stretch fabric. That means they are more durable and feel heavier, which some people prefer. However, buy them slightly longer since they seem to shrink about an inch or so and the color is not as steadfast as the poly cotton blends of the other options.
The elastic waistband is comfortable and does allow for flexibility. And while these pants do stretch, but not to the extent that the other brands do, so make sure to really check sizing before ordering. And speaking of flexibility, the gusseted crotch and articulated knees are great for freedom of movement. Locking zippers from YKK are nice, and the concealed zipper pocket is well hidden and could be a great feature if you plan to wear these on the street for everyday use. Also, since the main cargo pockets are lower profile than others, the pants don’t scream tactical and can be dressed with streetwear easily. To further that point, there is not the ability to add internal kneepads like there are on the other pure play tactical pants.
The Vertxs come in OD green, navy, black, desert tan, and khaki. If you want a heavy duty tactical pant that can flex into street use, it is absolutely worth taking a look at these pants.