Best Tactical Pants Reviewed and Tested
Tactical pants are handy to have in a wardrobe that needs tough pants with a lot of space. They are more durable than a regular pair of pants, and as a bonus, they usually have built in resistance to stains. Despite their ruggedness, they are usually comfortable, and in some cases even more comfortable than khakis. When they were first introduced to the market, color and size variations were limited. In the modern market that is no longer true, and they now have much better fitting guidelines. With the current styles ranging from casual to outdoors, there has never been a better time to purchase tactical pants.
Our Top 3 Picks
There are a lot of notable brands to choose from like 5.11 and Tru-Spec. All of the brands focus on space and durability first, so the traditional traits of tactical pants are kept in check. Bigger brands that are known for their other types of clothes have made some good impressions on the market, but it isn’t always a hit. Rather than shopping by brand it is a better idea to look at how well the company fares when it comes to their fitting policies. Getting a brand that gets sizes right on the consistent basis is much more important than their appeal as a company.
Maintenance and Cleaning Tips
An important lesson to be learnt with any clothing is how vital the care instructions are. Every pair of tactical pants on the list will have their own set of care instructions, so throwing them in the washer and picking a cycle is asking for trouble. Even drying could pose a challenge if you don’t adhere to the instructions provided. Usually nothing too exotic needs to be done concerning the care and maintenance of tactical pants. And even if the material gets a little banged up over the years, a steady hand can sew them back into fighting shape.
10 Best Tactical Pants
Great Mixture Of Materials
A mixture of polyester and cotton ripstop fabric makes up the bulk of their product. It’s strong, lightweight and feels good against the skin.
Large cargo pockets
This ranks as one of the expensive tactical pants on the list, for all sizes. The value is still great if you
look at the top materials they used to create the product.
When you just want a pair of tactical pants to include necessary features without the extras, then Blackhawk! will have you covered. Even at a high price it is an incredible buy if you’re in the market for high tier tactical pants.
Double layered knee and seat areas
Strong Against Stains
The DuPoint Teflon fabric protector keeps both stains and liquids off of the pants. So no matter where you wear them they’ll stay in great shape.
Resistant to fading, shrinking and wrinkles
Matching belt included
You can purchase these at the average price based on size, with all versions included the belt and D-ring. Buyers should be aware this is one of the better values on the list even without the extras.
There are a lot of things to make a pair of tactical pants attractive to a customer, with the top one being a fair price. Propper put their best product in the lineup and they scored huge with the customers.
D-ring comes with pants
Tough against wear and tear
Only available in Dark Gray
Made from their own in-house blend of polyester and rip stop cotton fabric, this is the best combination of materials on the list. It will last for years even when used in tough environments.
Fully gusseted crotch
Even at a high price point, you can’t beat the overall value of the best tactical pants on the list. They are made for punishment yet remain the most comfortable pants on the list.
Spending a little time with these pants will help consumers see how great a choice they are. The price is fair, and with it you’re getting the best tactical pants in the industry.
Lightweight and durable
Self-adjusting tunnel waistband
Runs small in some sizes
Good Size Choices
The vast amount of size choices also includes unhemmed options, so all flavors are included. You won’t have any trouble finding the perfect fit if you use their compatible sizing chart.
Teflon coated polyester
The price starts at the midrange price point and then goes up based on size. With everything that’s included, these tactical pants pay for themselves within the first year.
Tru-Spec never disappoints when it comes to their sizes, even with tactical pants. The brand remains
strong for their great materials and attention to detail.
Expandable back pockets
Some colors fit different even though they’re the same size
5. 5.11 Apex
Reinforced Knife Clip Area
The inclusion of this feature isn’t rare, but is hard to find on a lot of the mainstream tactical pants in the industry. It’s available on all seven of the style choices that 5.11 offers with this model.
Bartacked stress locations
Twin back yoke pockets
Ranking as a high priced model in the top three, the available colors and sizes make it worth the extra cost. Buyers will probably be interested in all of the extras space, pockets and low weight.
This is not a good pair of tactical pants, these are great in every way imaginable. You won’t have any problems finding a use for 5.11’s best pair of pants.
Only weighs 7.2 ounces
Strong against stains
Made of 93% Nylon and 7% spandex, this is an ideal build for buyers that want pants made for comfort. It fits the body just right and feels good against the skin when the right size is chosen.
DuPont Teflon Coating
4 way elastic fabric
These are one of the higher priced pants on the list, so may turn away customers that just want the bare essentials. With the nylon material and various colors, it holds good value when you want a top range pair of pants.
Barely missing out on the top three, these tactical pants will make a lot of customers happy. Even with a high price tag they are a tremendous value for all types of customers.
Lightweight and comfortable
Low profile design
Gets hot during the summertime
7. Woolrich Elite
Tactical pants shouldn’t feel like a pair of jeans when you put them on, even with all the extra pockets. The Elite keeps the weight low without making durability a concern for the product.
Weighs 7 ounces
These pants can be purchased around the mid-price range, and is well worth the value even with the low amount of pockets. There are other pants on the list with a low amount of pockets, so this Woolrich product isn’t alone.
For a known brand they continue to deliver as expected, providing tactical pants at an affordable price. This won’t be the last Woolrich product to make a top ten, so consumers can expect more from them in the future.
2 front pockets and 2 utility pockets
Elastic side panels
Less pockets than other pants
8. Condor 608
Having color choices is one of the main things that attracts consumers to buying clothes. Condor doesn’t disappoint, and provides seven total for their tactical pants.
Zipper fly with button
Price is based on size, and is average across the board. Buyers that need a lot of choices in how their pants are customized will get a lot of value out of these.
This is a nice buy when you want tactical pants that look like a regular pair of clothes. It has all of the benefits of tactical pants with a variety of customization.
Lots of sizes
Most sizes run large
There is nothing more pleasing that picking out your size and getting it right the first time. The sizing chart for True-Spec is accurate, and more times than not you will get exactly what you need when picking.
Slanted cargo pockets
All sizes are sold at the mid-price point, so nothing too outrageous for the normal shopper. These pants will hold their value due to high durability.
Rip stop material and great sizing aren’t the only pros that make these tactical pants attractive. Buyers looking for tactical pants will get everything they need from these.
Lots of pockets
Khaki and Multicam colors look plain
10. Atlanco 1299044
The multi-cam look is perfect for everyday use, and especially useful for outdoor camouflage. There are other pants on the list with similar tactical styles, yet they don’t pull it off so cleanly.
10 pocket design
The price isn’t high, and is more in line with the medium-high price range. When you want a lot of pockets, this turns into a good value.
Even at #10 on the list, Atlantco offers a superior option compared to its competitors. Great camo styling paired with a hidden pocket are the main selling points of these tactical pants.
5x5 hidden pocket
Tough drawstring with cord lock
Slightly higher than other pants on the list
Criteria For Evaluation
The abundance of information collected from tactical pants around the industry helped to fully shape the list. Price, comfort, style and many other things were used as criteria for evaluation. Since there were so many choices to begin with, we had to narrow it down by using as many variables as possible.
Price was the first thing we looked at with all of the tactical pants we reviewed. The prices were usually midrange or high, as we found the bulk of the low priced pants to lack essential features. There were a few that stood out and made a mark, but the majority of the list is made from upper tier products that meet industry standards. Things that hindered lower priced tactical pants were comfort, size options and of course style choices. With a limited amount of customization throughout, the low priced choices were hard to include with the rest. Style was the next thing we looked at, which had to do with the color options available for each product. This one was a little tricky since we had to factor in availability of colors for each size. So even when tactical pants would feature seven available colors for their product, it would be limited based on the sizes they had available. When customers decide they want a camo pair of tactical pants and go to choose it in their current size, it’s disappointing to find out it’s not available. And it is absolutely infuriating when that same color is available in every other size but the one you need. Durability was an important criteria for us, but for the most part didn’t shape the list. Even the lower tier tactical pants had incredible durability, showing a resistance to stains, dirty and even tears. Longevity helped to get rid of a lot of the lower tier products which were prone to start falling apart within a year. So durability not only looked at short term performance, it was an overall look at how the pants held up in multiple environments when they were used several times a week.
Doing a durability check led us to head directly into how brands handled warranty claims. No one company really stood out and took charge in this area, and everything was pretty basic in its language. So customers that were hoping for a company to step up and deliver a lifetime warranty will be disappointed. But the good news is that the basic warranties provided for all tactical pants on the list are solid, and will cover the needs of most customers. Factory defects and the like are covered by every company in the top ten, so there are no worries about getting a bad batch of pants.
Pockets is a criteria we looked at that covered amount and room offered. Having a lot of pockets didn’t necessarily offer a better score for a specific pair of tactical pants. We rewarded variety more than quantity, with more points given out if there were some deep pockets included. Looks played a minor role in our rating, and the pockets couldn’t droop past a certain point when holding a lot of weight. There are key differences in how a well-made pocket handles weight, so any pants that had bad (low hanging) pockets were not included on the list. Accessories was a mixed bag for us as a criteria, with only one or two pants on the list delivering in this area. Propper and their lightweight tactical pants was one, and definitely the best in this regard. Including a belt and other accessories isn’t mandatory, so it would be unfair to the other pants on the list to hold them up to that standard. We rewarded brands like proper for including accessories, but didn’t subtract any points from the other pants on the list that sold their products as pants only.
Resistance was a criteria that we separate from durability for an important reason; it fades over time for some brands. This isn’t a con, and is more of just the natural resistance of any fabric deteriorates over time. We had an easy time scoring the pants on the list based on a resistance tier. We didn’t look at their individual resistance to stains vs. tears, and instead bunched it all together into one criteria. If the product held a high resistance over a long period of time, then it automatically made the list. This is a hard stat for any type of clothing to keep up with, so the tactical pants that made the list were impressive. Comfort was our next stop, and it really came down to materials used.
The bulk of the materials used are a mixture of polyester and cotton, with a few different types thrown in based on the brands. Since most of the pants are lightweight, their comfort levels are almost the same across the board. Only a few pants that didn’t make the list would qualify as uncomfortable, but it was based on them being heavy rather than their actual material. For reference, nylon could be considered the most comfortable material if you’re on the fence about the winner in that area. It is the most elastic, with the only downside being the weaker pockets compared to the polyester/cotton mixes. The last thing we looked at was sizing, which was strictly based on how accurate a company’s sizing chart was along with the availability of sizes. More sizes meant a higher rating, which is great for customers that have a hard time finding the correct size for their body. Brands that didn’t have a lot of sizes or had a bad sizing chart percentage were left off of the list. They were considered an unnecessary liability even if the warranty covered returns.
Are 5.11’s The Best In The Industry?
No, but they are as close to a dominant brand as you’ll get for tactical pants. They are pretty much the Levi’s or Calvin Klein’s of tactical pants, with a strong eye for detail. They don’t make a lot of mistakes with their design or waste space with needless features. They are listed multiple times on the top ten, and it is a trend that will only get better as they refine their style. Support for the company has been strong, so buyers that need good customer support will be well taken care of. If you tend to be tough on a pair of pants, then this is the company that will set things right.
Can Tactical Pants Be Effective For Professionals?
There are a range of professions that make use of tactical pants. From construction, security, military, and even some mechanics. Durable pants with a lot of space are not hard to come by when you’re looking in the tactical pants category. A lot of employers may have a list of favored providers that sell tactical pants. But if your employer allows you to pick your own pants, then it opens up a lot of choices. If a job doesn’t have a rule against wearing tactical pants, then they can also be useful in IT professions where you’re expected to carry a lot of tools. Take the time to see if tactical pants are useful for an intended profession, and you’ll be surprised at how effective they are.
How Well Do They Mix With Plain Clothing?
Not all tactical pants will have the same style. There are some that handle their looks in a much more discrete way than regular tactical pants, a look that is useful if you need it to go with a specific outfit. With varying degrees of success you’ll be able to make a lot of great outfits that use tactical pants as the main part. But even with the amount of colors and styles available, they are still limited if you compare them to regular pants and their choices. Some pants and shirt combos just won’t work even when the colors are matched up, and that has more to do with the design.
Are Styles Worth Making A Fuss Over?
Yes, especially if you plan on using it in a casual or work setting. While some of the rules in the workplace are relaxed when they let you choose your own tactical pants, there still may be color or uniform guidelines to adhere to. Following those rules will be harder if you aren’t aware of all the styles available from multiple companies. And in casual settings, even when things are more transparent, you always want to look your best. With a little bit of knowledge about the tactical pants industry you’ll know all of the styles that will work for you, whether casual or in a work setting.
How Many Pockets Should Be The Minimum?
This can get confusing if you don’t factor in the quality of the pockets. Having several small pockets isn’t better than having a variety of big and small pockets. It even goes beyond that by offering pockets with extra features, special placements, and even organizers. The number of pockets doesn’t matter much unless it is a lower than four. So if it isn’t that low, then variety becomes the important feature to look for with pockets. Buyers should pay attention to the type of materials used for the pants since they can indirectly affect how well the pockets perform when carrying extra weight.
What’s So Important About Deep Pockets?
Why Is Being Lightweight Important?
Brands mention their pants are lightweight to attract buyers that want a comfortable product. By default, the lighter the clothing, the more comfortable it is on your body. With pants this makes a lot of sense, especially tactical pants that are expected to bear extra weight with whatever is in the pockets. Having heavy pants and then weighing them down with what’s in your pockets isn’t a pleasant experience. The materials in tactical pants are made to lightweight without a loss to their durability or carrying weight limit. Customers that plan on carrying heavy items with tactical pants will benefit the most from lightweight materials.
Are Sizing Charts Correct?
No sizing chart is going to be 100% accurate, so it comes down to looking at the brand itself. The easiest way to find companies that have the best fit is to look for the ones offering the most sizes. Brands with limited sizing will cause the most problems when you need a good fit. This is also true since regular washing and care of tactical pants may have them shrink up to a full size after purchase. When the pair of tactical pants that you want the most only has limited sizing, then it comes down to the reputation of the company and their sizing charts. If they tend to run big/small in certain sizes, make a note of it and pay attention to their return policies.
How Well Do Tactical Pants Work In Humid Places?
Hot and humid makes for a very uncomfortable experience when you’re in clothes with bad materials. Breathability is an important feature in clothes, just as much as it is in shoes. Tactical pants don’t need to be loose, but they should offer a lot of room for movement. Other than nylon and some of the higher tier polyester blends, tactical pants won’t have the same great cooling effect of sweats or sports based clothes. In humid places where you’re sweating like crazy, the material in tactical pants won’t work against you, but they also won’t help. What you pair with tactical pants will help the overall balance out, and possibly curb the effects of hot and humid places.
Are Slimmer Profiles Better?
Depending on your body shape, tactical pants may come off as naturally baggy when wearing. There are average profiles and ‘slimmer’ profiles, with the latter reducing the baggy look. Tactical pants aren’t really meant to conform to your body like a pair of tight jeans, and will naturally have a baggy look regardless of the profile. And the more items you put in the pockets, the more noticeable it becomes. The slim profiles are more about putting pockets in places where the bulk isn’t as noticeable, and without sacrificing pocket space. It’s genius when done right and can help coordinate the pairing of other clothes in your closet.
Do All Tactical Pants Have Built In Organizers?
A cool feature of some tactical pants are organizers built inside some of the pockets. These small organizers extends the functionality of a larger pocket and breaks it down into sections. Customers that carry a lot of accessories will find this useful. Pockets with organizers will also reduce clutter for users that carry the same type of one accessory. The bad news is that this option isn’t available in all tactical pants, so choose wisely. If pocket organizers is something you can’t live without, be aware that it is a limited feature that not all brands provide, even in some of their top tier pants.
How Much Can You Carry At A Time?
Tactical pants are heavily resilient and able to carry pounds of accessories at a time. The limit of their carrying potential is based on the materials used, brand and size. The best way to test the limit is by loading up the pockets with your most used items and walking around. You should have full range of motion with the ability to walk, run, bend and sometimes even do a small hop. If any of these actions are limited then you may need to look at relocating an item from one pocket to another. Safety comes first, so don’t neglect the trial runs that are necessary to guarantee comfort.
Is Cleaning Easy?
Cleaning is always easy, but only if you follow directions. Going away from what the tag says will result in very bad things happening to a pair of valuable pants. Tactical pants can withstand stains, rips and tears, but will always be susceptible to human error with cleaning. Using harsh chemicals to spot clean is not recommended, and will do more harm than good. Part of the cleaning process is drying, so follow tag instructions for that. It’s highly unlikely that any of the top tactical pants will have trouble in the dryer, but it is always a good idea to check beforehand.
Do The Pants Have High Resistance?
Select tactical pants are strong against spills, tears, rips and even dirty. A good pair of pants can handle a lot of outdoor work in areas where they are expected to get dirty. When a good year of ownership has passed, they are also expected to have good elasticity in areas that were used the most, like pockets. So there should be no worries about wearing down the pants in their most used areas, even when you place something with considerable weight in the pockets. The most important thing is still the rip and tear protection, a vital feature that prevents surprise drops of any valuable items.
Are They Comfortable?
They are just as comfortable as any other type of pants on the market. Comfort level is going to be rated by the materials used, which is usually a blend of polyester and cotton. Brands will mix and match materials, and even go so far as to make their own blend. Some aim for comfort levels so that it is soft against the skin and lightweight. Other companies put a focus on toughness so that it lasts for years, even in tough environments. There are plenty of materials that are used for tactical pants, and from the lowest to the highest tier they all remain comfortable.
How To Make The Best Decision
There are many reasons to choose tactical pants over regular pants, and the decision making process will be complicated if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Prices go from low to high, with everything being offered on the lower end just like it is on the high end. The variety is endless, and is one of the attractive points to buying tactical pants. So the first thing you want to look at is sizing, or rather how well a company’s reputation lines up with your current size. If a company is known for running big (or small) in your preferred size, then take note. It may be more beneficial to just go with another brand that gets their fittings right in your current size. Always prepare for tactical pants to shrink one size over the course of washing them a couple of times.
One other thing to consider is the quality of the pockets. Having the most pockets doesn’t automatically mean the pants are a better buy. If you plan on concealing something in your pockets, a low quality tactical pants model will show the outline of it. That completely defeats the purpose of concealment, and would be a waste of money if that was the main selling point for a specific model. Look for deep pockets, good material and nice support for carrying a multitude of accessories. These are all great starting points for picking out a pair of tactical pants.