What to Look for in Tactical Pants
When undertaking a tactical mission, no matter the goal, you’re going to want to make sure you have practical, high-quality tactical pants. What may seem like ‘just an accessory’ to some, tactical pants can make your goal and mission so much easier. They need to withstand the abuse of wear, tear, and all of the elements. When looking for the right pair of tactical pants, you’ll want to make sure that they are durable, have the right amount of features, and enough carrying capacity to ensure you have your gear at an arm’s reach. Tactical pants aren’t ‘just pants’–think of them as a crucial and important part of your uniform.
Chances are, if you’re in the military, you’ll be issued the standard ACU pants when you’re deployed on missions. However, if you’re a contractor or in law enforcement, you’ll most likely be allowed–and sometimes required–to purchase all items of your uniform. So, how do you know which pants to choose and which ones will be the best pair for the task at hand? Let’s go over some important factors.
Fabric–Consider Your Climate
Not only is fabric an important consideration when purchasing tactical pants, but you’ll want to consider fabric weight, as well as blend. The fabric of your tactical pants will play a big role in both your comfort and safety. There isn’t one fabric or fabric blend that is good for everyone, so you’ll need to ask yourself a few questions and consider the main use of your pants.
If you plan on wearing your tactical pants in a climate that tends to be hot and humid, a heavy cotton blend is not going to be your best bet. The material is too heavy and you’ll be feeling absolutely miserable in no time. You’ll end up resorting back to your regular pair of pants which defeats the entire purpose of your purchase.
On the contrary, if your climate is cold or freezing, a lightweight fabric could leave you feeling chilly and uncomfortable. When the climate of your tactical mission fluctuates, then a lightweight fabric is a safe choice. Just make sure that they have a loose enough fit so you can wear thermals underneath. It’s much easier to wear thermals under lightweight pants than trying to get better ventilation in a heavier material. If a lightweight material is the best for you, understand that they’re less durable than a heavy material so be sure to look for a reinforced knee.
So, now that you know the fabric weight you’re looking for, which fabric material is going to be best for you? Much of it comes down to personal choice, but there are essentially two main options–poly cotton and natural cotton. Poly cotton tends to be a popular choice for many due to its comfort, however, others prefer the feeling of natural cotton. A very important factor to be aware of when considering a synthetic versus natural material is its ability to melt. Synthetic materials can be very flammable and could lead to horrific injuries if caught on fire. Natural cotton takes longer to dry but it will not melt.
Pattern and Colour
Tactical pants come in both camouflage and solid colours. You can stay discrete by wearing a neutral-toned colour such as black, olive, or tan. These colours do not attract attention and some are even discrete enough to wear in the workplace. Camouflage, of course, is an excellent choice if you want to avoid being seen in a wooded or rural area. The two most popular types of camouflage are UCP (Universal Camouflage Pattern) and Multi-Cam.
Law enforcement personnel will generally have their own uniform colour requirements and contractors might have a company policy that they will need to adhere to. If no requirements are in place, tan is generally the go-to colour.
The last important factor you need to consider is the cargo capacity. Often times, when people think of tactical pants, they envision a pair of pants with many pockets. Although you can certainly find tactical pants with more pockets than you can imagine, there are also some designs with minimal or flat pockets the won’t restrict movement. Depending on your mission, you’ll want to look for a pair of pants that balances both carrying capacity and freedom of movement. The last thing you want is a pair of tactical pants with bulky pockets that you’ll never use.
Cargo pockets can be useful for some people, but others find that they are a bit annoying and cumbersome. The pleated style of many cargo pockets often tends to attract more pocket debris which can feel uncomfortable around the thighs. So, if keeping your legs unrestricted is of importance, you’ll want to look for tactical pants with flat pockets.
Most people find that they don’t necessarily need many pockets and like to keep things basic. Just be sure that they have enough room to carry your standard gear such as knives, a flashlight, a multi-tool, ammo clips, and any other necessary accessories. However, if having lots of pockets is important to you, be sure to place your gear in the same pocket every single time you wear them. The last thing you need is to struggle finding something in a critical or dangerous moment.
Once again, there is no ‘one pair rules over all the others’ when it comes to tactical pants. Be sure to consider your tactical mission at hand and overall comfort to find the best pair for you.