Fight or Flight: The 8 Best Tactical Pants

There’s a few pieces of clothing that should be in every man’s closet: A pair of beater jeans for working on your car or motorcycle, a dark suit for job interviews and formal events, aviator sunglasses, a set of driving gloves, comfortable sneakers, and a pair of tactical pants. From moving through the outdoors to working on a job to carrying everything you need for survival in the urban jungle without needing a man purse, a pair of these bad boys is a wardrobe requirement. Hardy, flexible, durable, and boasting a surplus of storage, you’ll never regret getting a pair.

These pants are slightly different than your average cargo pants, though they look aesthetically similar. Tactical pants are tougher, usually made of canvas or ripstop material. They have hidden pockets for added gear and clandestine blades, and some are coated with Teflon for silent movement and added protection from the elements. Beginning their lives as mountain climbing pants, these pants have a history of both military service and acting as hiking pants when circumstances required it. When you’re ready to suit up for combat or real work, you’re ready for the 8 best tactical pants.

TRU-SPEC 24-7 Pant 1

TRU-SPEC 24-7 Pant

Pro: Roomy makeup for heavier wearers
Con: Crotch is not gusseted

Budget Savvy: The lower the price, the less you are generally getting. There’s a lot of cheap pretenders out there, but Tru-Spec isn’t one of them. 14 total pockets means they’ve doubled up on just about everything. 2 pockets for folding knives, two pockets for cell phones, they even have dual rear internal pockets for your extra magazines. The gusseted sides of the cargo pockets on the thighs make expanding storage a snap. Made entirely of cotton canvas, they’re constructed in a basket weave style, which is sturdier than standard weaves and shrug off tons of abuse. [Purchase: $20+]

511 STRYKE 1

5.11 STRYKE

Pro: Extremely comfortable for work and lounging alike
Con: Colors fade quickly

Civilian BDU: Tactical pants tend to look like just that, meaning you’re tipping off the criminal element that you’re loaded for bear and ready for action. It also means they don’t really fit in at your office unless you work in a bunker. The Stryke pants look much more smooth and modern, but sacrifice little in function. Made with Flex-TacJ fabric which is a blend of stretching polyester and cotton, these can fit snugly but still not restrict movement. The knees are articulated and the crotch gusseted so that your bits and joints won’t bind up while walking a beat, climbing a hill, or taking a ride on your cruiser bike. Teflon treated for moisture resistance, you have hip, cargo, rear, and knee pockets, along with badge clips on either side to show off who’s boss. [Purchase: $29+]

Propper Tactical Trousers 1

Propper Tactical Trousers

Pro: Double fabric at the seat and knees
Con: Rear pockets are difficult to access quickly

Standard Issue: If there is such a thing as a true baseline for this category of active wear, these would be it. The action stretch waistband fits tightly and bends during extreme activity should you use these for outdoor sporting. Nine pockets give you all the standards you would expect along with a few hidden parts for stashing your emergency burner phone or rapid-release self-defense knife. 65% polyester with a 35% cotton blend breathes well during the hot months and strenuous activity. Double stitching prevents rents, tears, and fraying at the most used points. Pleats add a slim, professional fit. [Purchase: $35+]

Blackhawk Lightweight 1

Blackhawk Lightweight

Pro: Angled, velcro sealed rear patch pockets
Con: Stay-tuck band can chafe

Maximum Storage: Pound for pound, you’ll be able to carry the most in the lightweight offering from Blackhawk than in any other pair of pants on this list. It’s more than a cargo hound as each pocket has a flat bottom style specifically for carrying a knife. All major stress points are reinforced with bar tacks to enhance durability. Magazine storage is handled smoothly, allowing ammo to be reached on the fly from a shooting position without interfering with standard pocket usage. A stay-tuck liner keeps your shirt in place, even during high-impact shootouts or tough days on any job site. Made with a 65/35 polyester/cotton blend for flex that works with the gusseted groin for more mobility. [Purchase: $39+]

UnderArmour Tactical Medic Pants 1

Under Armour Tactical Medic Pants

Pro: Reinforced crotch
Con: Minimal flexibility

Weather Warrior: Ripstop cotton and polyester combine to make an ultra durable pair of pants that are treated with the UA Storm DWR finish. They repel water easily to keep you drier when wet conditions threaten your mission. Built with medics in mind, the pockets include separations for shears, a penlight, suture tools, and pens. A concealed document pocket is handy for travelers who need to tuck away their passport and travelers checks. 30+ UPF protects your skin from the sun for long days on the wilderness trail and an ankle pocket gives you access to a tool, tactical flashlight, or backup weapon even when crouched. [Purchase: $75]

Survival Tactical Gear Battle Strike Uniform TROUSERS

Survival Tactical Gear Battle Strike Uniform TROUSERS

Pro: Kneepad adjustment inside front pockets
Con: Look like tactical pants from every angle

Paintballer: As a civilian, odds are that you won’t have much use for knee pads, but a set of removable ones come standard with these pants anyhow. This is very helpful for the hard-core paintballer or hunter who plans on spending an inordinate amount of time hunched down, staring down his gun or crossbow sight to line up a shot. You get an unusual pocket layout with two smaller cargo pouches on the front, and two more on the back of the thighs below the standard rear pockets. Velcro adjustments sit at the knees, waist, and the ankles for a tight fit right at your primary pressure points that can be altered on the go. Just don’t try to wear them for anything but camping, tracking, or a firefight. [Purchase: $85]

Triple Aught Design Recon AC 1

Triple Aught Design Recon AC

Pro: Back-yoke improves fit
Con: No built-in adjustment features

Wet Protection: A cotton/poly blend is as common as dirt among tactical pants, but these aren’t common. Using 100% amphibious ripstop nylon cloth the intent of the Recon AC is to cross rivers, stand up to monsoons, and keep anything stashed away in the nine pockets dry as a bone. Triple stitched at both seams and bolstered by bar-tacks at key stress points, these are meant to be worn hard for days on end. The gusseted crotch and hugging fit are intended for stealth and quiet movement across rough terrain and intended to be compact for easy storage in a pack. All of the pockets are also inset to keep a low profile and keep you under the radar during covert ops. [Purchase: $99]

Vertx FR SHIELD

Vertx FR SHIELD

Pro: Side stretch panels automatically adjust fit
Con: Expensive

Into the Fire: Fabricated with an eye to danger, the 88/12 cotton and ripstop nylon body is made of Miliken Amplitude fabric that retards flame and helps keep sparks from welders or campfires from setting you alight. Despite this tough exterior, the cloth still breathes well so you won’t feel like you’re wrapped in a fire suit while you work or play. The cargo pockets are triple-bellowed so feel free to cram a few days worth of energy bars into them before you head into the wild blue yonder. Each knee is double-reinforced while the crotch is gusseted to give you more protection and range of motion. They’re even soft to the touch, so go ahead and cop a feel. [Purchase: $130]

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