The Not So Tactical Pant Showdown

While I’ll be the first person to admit that I tend to go over the top with basically everything in life, there ‘s undoubtedly a time and place for everything. And a freshly printed two dollar bill says you know where I’m going with the previous statement.  I know I’m not alone in saying that full on eight pocket doo doo brown pants might not be the best choice for everyday life for most people. Sure tactical pants are great if you’re LEO and need to haul a ton of stuff on your person like a tourniquet, latex gloves, extra flex cuffs etc. but for those of us that aren’t 10-38’ing every day, they’re downright superfluous.


Different strokes for different folks and who needs a tactical pant anyway,  right? Wrong…. The overall idea of a tactical pant is extremely beneficial in a wide range of activities including the 9-5 grind. Who wouldn’t like extra pockets for your snacks, toothpicks, a Leatherman Skeletool, or more importantly a spare mag for your carry gun? Hell I can guarantee even anti-gunners  like the idea of handy dandy extra pockets. Maybe not. Anyway the point I’m getting at is while sure there’s no shortage of reasons extra storage on you person is great, any average Joe or Jane on the street can tell by looking at you all decked out in 5.11’s finest that something’s fishy. Now I don’t know about you but I like to fly under the radar when out’n about, especially when I’m carrying.


So how does one quench your inner tactical thirst and still put on that normal appearance day to day? Luckily the reigning culprits of all things tactical apparel, 5.11 Tactical, Vertx, and Propper, have caught on to this paradigm shift. Each one of the brands has their own dog in the fight against painting a giant bullseye on your back when you walk out of your house.  Between Vertx, 5.11, and Propper which one does it better and why?


5.11 Tactical Ridgeline Pant

5.11 tactical ridgeline image

Why You’ll Like This Pant:

-I’ll start out by saying I’ve taken these pants to hell and back. I’ve done everything from snowboard in them to jumping onto barracades  at a 3 gun match and they’ve held up without a snag or tear.

-65% Nylon / 35% Cotton Ripstop material = strong but lightweight

– Stretch waistband is great for concealed carry or stowing a mag during a reload with retention

-Nice pant cut. They fit tighter on the thighs for a more modern fit.

-High quality zipper and button closure

-no cargo pockets to put the tactical spotlight on you

-roomy pockets


What You Wont Like:

-Weird little knife pocket on top of the front pockets

-Price.  $70 is a tough sell if you’re on a budget



Vertx Phanton LT Pant

vertx phantom lt pant GE 1

Why You’ll Like This Pant:

-65% Polyester 35% Cotton Construction = tough but lightweight

– 6 available colors

-Because of the material the color just doesn’t fade even on the my personal favorite, the black colorway

-Stretchy Waistband. Whether you’re contemplating dessert or need to stow a mag during a reload with retention, you’ll love this feature.

-Good modern cut to the pant, basically forming to your leg in the right places.

-Flattened cargo pocket, gives you almost unnoticeable extra carrying capacity

-Pockets are awesome in general

-Gusseted crotch and articulated knees allow for comfort as well as a wide range of motion


What You Wont Like:

-I know its probably the least important thing on the pant but the main zipper fly was a little too chincy for me.

-The belt loops are tad too wide giving it a more tactical look if you were to bend over or be in a situation where your belt line can be seen.



Propper STL III Pant


Why You’ll Like This Pant:

-Best Fit. Out of the three pants, these fit like a glove.

-94% Nylon / 4% Spandex = More like a hiking/ rock climbing pant but still very strong

-Tons of pocket space

-Sneaky zippered thigh pocket

-Water repelling finish actually works well from my testing


What You Wont Like:

-The sizing. Although they fit the best, it took two returns to get them to fit the way I wanted. (word of advice- go one up with waist and one down with length)

-Not as tough as the 5.11 Ridgeline material



And The Winner Is…..

Regrettfully , you’re not going to be winning any runway fashion contests with any of these carefully crafted nylon and ripstop pantalones but when you get down to brass tax, they’re all excellent choices for your every day life. In the end while I’d like to crown one pant the end all best thing since sliced bread winner, I can’t. You’re going to have to take my con’s/ criticisms and see if that’s a true deal breaker for your you.


As always guys, shoot em straight and be safe!


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7 Responses to The Not So Tactical Pant Showdown

  1. Ed Lake says:

    Thank you, nice analysis.

  2. John says:

    What about the 5.11 Stryke pants? I wear them everyday as I go through my work routine. Nobody really notices anything until I pull my iPhone out of the front mag pocket they realize their pants doesn’t have. I travel a lot for work, awesome pants for the airport trekking gadget geek. Gadget cables, spare charging battery all in position so I can charge walking from gate-to-gate instead of hovering around one of the scarce wall outlets. And they pass for average khaki’s.

  3. Kaleb Hill says:

    Thumbs up on Vertx!!! I have a pair and won’t be buying a different brand ever.

  4. Arlo says:

    Could you tell me where I can find these tactical pants?youve got me sold on them!Thanks&stay safe~Arlo -Ohio

    • Steve says:

      I wear the 5.11 Stryke pants every day as well, but at $95 they are very expensive compared to those in the analysis. Otherwise they’re great. P.S., I like the 5.11 knife pocket since I usually have a knife in one and a tactical flashlight in the other.

  5. John says:

    I see it a little different.
    Being older, 68, I know the Thugs are already looking at me as a potential easy mark, ie sizing me up, I am not big.
    I want them to see my pants with knife in pocket, tack pen in pocket, and I wear a camo duty cap with molonlabe on the back and O-Pos, etc
    I want them to see me and think, hmmm, maybe not that guy, “He old” – But, hmmm?
    In addition to using the Color Code Awareness system, and walking and moving like “you don’t want any of me” –
    My backup is I am a certified pistol instructor, shoot competition Combat Pistol and 3Gun and study and have trained in hand to hand combat systems. I don’t want to have to shoot one of the ba*tards. ie 1st Defense – “Conflict Avoidance”.
    Oh yeah, I wear Tru-Spec, Olive Drab, 14 pockets – love um. Pants and shorts.
    2 bilfolds(1 throwaway in case), small med kit, tanto tac folder knife, 2 more small unility knives, pen light, tac pen, side zip black boots, etc

  6. Stu Chisholm says:

    I think you were going for “brass tacks,” not “tax,” although it IS on one’s brain at this time of year, isn’t it? I’ve never seen the tactical look as being a drawback, only because most folks don’t notice. This includes the untrained vermin we refer to as “bad guys.” In my experience, the only ones who notice are my fellow People of the Gun. (And even then, they tend to spot my Galco “buckle” on my gun belt, or the side zippers on my 5.11 boots.) Cargo pants are popular among hikers, campers, first responders, carpenters, photographers and frequent air travelers. Even Wrangler makes cargo pants. And it’s hard to beat those days when places like LA Police Gear, Sportsmen’s Guide or Chief Police Express has ripstop BDUs on sale for $19 on Free Shipping Friday!

    That said, another of my addiction to pockets results in wearing a vest. I’ve tried traveler’s vests, fisherman’s vests, photographer’s vests, and yes, police tactical vests. And, to no surprise, the police tactical vests are stronger, less expensive and offer far more pockets/options than all the others. The drawback: moreso than cargo pants, these DO stick out like a sore thumb! If people frequently approach you and say, “Excuse me, officer,” you’re NOT doing a good job of “blending in.” Thankfully, there is the option of the Scotti Vest! These brilliant designs have all of the storage utility of any of the aforementioned vests, yet all of the pockets are discreetly blended into the INSIDE of the vest, with only standard pockets showing on the exterior. Materials come in options other than tactical black, sand, grey or camo, and include cool features like an iPod pocket, with wire guides that let you run your earbuds up through the vest, again, discretion being the key idea. Now, if only we could see their version of cargo pants!

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