If you are in the field, whether you’re hiking the Appalachian Trail or bunkering in your survival shelter you need gear. You can’t be going out into the wild bare-ass-naked – what you need pants.
Not all pants are created equal.
We’ve compiled a list of the 12 pairs of tough pants for tough guys.
Best Tactical Pants
The CQR Tactical EDC Assault Cargo Pants bring a lot to the table and they let you bring what you need wherever you want. They offer kneepad insert slots (kneepads not included), as well as an adjustable waist (elastic) so that you have plenty of range of motion. In addition to the two cargo pockets, there are also slash pockets, a knife pocket, and other storage solutions built right in.
These tactical pants offer Velcro flap back pockets, as well as a D-ring and non-flap pocket for magazines. The Teflon coating offers additional durability and ease of cleaning, while the ripstop fabric helps ensure they hold up to whatever you might face.
Note that these tactical pants are designed to perform best when worn with other CQR products, including shirts, belts, socks, combat boots, and more.
These 5.11 tactical pants offer durability and ease of wear. They’re ideal for military and law enforcement needs, but also for civilian use. The 65/35 poly-cotton blend is designed to help stop rips and tears while providing a lightweight solution that delivers breathability and utility.
The pants are coated with HT Teflon for ease of cleaning and stain prevention, and there is an external knife pocket provided, along with two cargo pockets and a clip loop. A hip-mounted D-ring delivers additional utility, while the gusseted pocket construction allows them to expand to carry a significant volume.
All major seams and stress points feature triple stitched reinforcement for some of the best durability on the market. These tactical pants are also kneepad ready, but do not come with kneepads. Note that they also do not come with a belt, but the belt loops are over-large to accommodate more types/styles of belt.
The 5.11 Stryke Tactical Cargo Pant delivers a lot of features and benefits. The Teflon coating helps prevent staining and soiling, while the Flex-Tac fabric helps prevent tears and other damage. The tunneling waist band is self-adjusting for better comfort and wear-ability.
The cargo pockets provide the ability to carry additional items with you, while the front utility pocket is large enough to hold many different smartphones and other cellular devices. In total, these tactical pants actually offer 12 different pockets, all of which are reinforced with additional stitching to ensure better durability.
They are also kneepad ready, although they do not come with kneepads. For law enforcement, the front belt loops can act as badge holders, as well. Finally, there are 12 different colors available to ensure you get the perfect solution to your needs.
Featuring a nylon/spandex blend for durability and comfort, the Helikon-Tex OTP Outdoor Tactical Pants deliver performance and features like few other options on our list. These pants are made with four-way elastic fabric, meaning that no matter how you move, they will stretch to accommodate without binding or tearing.
They are also Teflon coated for stain prevention and easier cleaning. The stretchable waist is designed for comfort, but will also stretch up to two additional inches, and the low-profile design is more in-line with civilian attire and design trends than some of the high-waisted pants on our list.
Note that these tactical pants do not come with a belt, but the wide belt loops work with many different types of belt. The internal pockets can accommodate kneepads (not included). Finally, the two front Velcro-closed pockets can hold smartphones or additional magazines depending on your needs.
These tactical pants offer durability, style, and functionality all rolled into one. They are made with a 65/35 poly-cotton blend to help stop rips and tears, and then coated with Teflon for easy cleaning.
The design also incorporates what the company calls their Stretch Tech System, which is a series of stretch panels that helps ensure that you have the widest range of movement possible in all situations. The cargo pockets feature zippers and interior organization options, while the external pockets can hold knives, magazines, and electronic devices.
These tactical pants also come with internal knee pockets designed for kneepads, although kneepads are sold separately. The pants are also heavily reinforced at the knees, in the heels, and around the knife clip to provide improved durability.
The only pair of women’s tactical pants to make our list, the Under Armour Tactical Patrol Pant features durable construction and two cargo pockets for additional carrying capacity.
Note that these pants have a fixed waist, rather than an elastic one. Also note that these pants tend to run small and most customers found the best fit by ordering a size larger than their usual pants. The material used offers a stretch fit, so they adjust with your body as you move, whether you’re working, hiking, on duty, or engaged in some other activity.
The cargo pockets also feature an elastic band sewn into them so they can expand and contract easily to fit any contents you might need to carry.
Looking for a pair of tactical pants that will help you triumph on the paintball field, but that will also serve in real-world scenarios? If so, this might be the pair you’re seeking. These pants offer a number of advantages designed for those who need to carry their gear with them at all times and ensure that they’re prepared for anything that might come their way.
They also include several innovative features not found with other entries on our list, such as the built-in air circulation system. Notably, these pants also come with kneepads. The stretch waistband ensures a comfortable fit at all times, and there are 16 different gear pockets of varying sizes to carry anything you might need, including ankle magazine pockets.
The ripstop fabric is designed to provide better durability in hard use situations, while the double belt loops offer additional benefits. The lower legs can also be expanded or contracted to adjust the fit.
The Under Armour Men’s Storm Covert Tactical Pants deliver a slim design with the durability and performance you expect from the brand. The proprietary fabric blend offers excellent breathability, so these are excellent pants for use in the field or during off-duty hours.
The fabric features ripstop technology for better durability, as well as anti-microbial treatments to help eliminate odors.
They are also completely both water and wind resistant. The offset belt loops are designed to allow a holster to be worn, and the waistband can stretch to offer better mobility and comfort. Note that these pants only offer a single, low-profile cargo pocket on the left leg.
Very similar to the other LA Police Gear tactical pants on our list, this pair offers a few key differences that might make them better suited to your needs. These pants offer the same 65/35 poly-cotton blend, as well as ripstop capabilities.
The knees and seat are reinforced for better durability, and the hardware is designed to be both heavy-duty and airport friendly, so you don’t need to worry about false alarms going through security. They feature a wide range of pocket sizes, including cargo pockets large enough to accommodate an iPad Mini comfortably.
You will find them available in six different colors, as well, to suit uniform requirements or personal preferences. The belt loops are 1.75 inches rather than the 2 inches for the Atlas and other styles.
The Dickies Regular Straight Stretch Twill Cargo Pants are ideal for professional situations, for use by law enforcement, and for civilian use. They feature a unique twill made from a cotton-polyester blend, and are moisture wicking to help keep you dry even during periods of high humidity or activity.
The slim profile makes them a great choice for work situations where durability and protection are needed, but appearance also matters. The tunnel waist is self-adjusting, and in addition to two generously sized cargo pockets, there is also a cell phone pocket available.
Tru-Spec is one of the original players in the tactical pants industry, and they continue to design outstanding clothing for those with demanding usage needs. The Ascent features a higher waist than other styles out there, as well as a few additional benefits.
The cotton-poly blend features ripstop technology for durability, and is also Teflon coated for easier cleaning and stain protection. The waistband features a slider for adjustability, and there are two very generously sized cargo pockets available.
The knees are heavily reinforced, too. Combine those features with the fact that these tactical pants also include a badge holder on the front belt loop, 2-inch wide belt loops, a handy utility pocket, and knee pockets for pads (pads not included) and you can see why these pants made our list.
The second pair of tactical pants from Tru-Spec to make our list, the Tactical style features Teflon coated protection and a 65/35 cotton-poly blend to stop rips while providing excellent breathability and comfort.
The back pockets are expandable and feature hook and loop closures, while there are also two knife and accessory pockets with stiff fusing inner liners. The cargo pockets feature side gussets for expandability, and close with hook and loop closures. The side pockets also feature two internal magazine compartments.
Note that the knees are reinforced and designed to hold kneepads, although the pads are not included.
As you can see, each pair of tactical pants on our list brings something to the table that makes it one of the best options for your money. Of course, if you’ve never owned a pair of tactical pants before, it may still be difficult to make an informed purchase. Our buying guide will put you on the right path.
Buying Tactical Pants – A Buyers Guide
Buying a pair of tactical pants is not like shopping for a new pair of jeans. These pants serve important purposes, and can be used as casual wear, or may be part of a formal uniform.
Making the right purchase decision hinges on a number of factors, but most particularly on your understanding of the various features and benefits available with this style of pants. Our buying guide will help walk you through what you need to know.
What Are Tactical Pants?
The term “tactical” here may be something of a misnomer. It brings to mind Army BDUs, or pants designed for battle situations. While these pants do share many characteristics found with military uniform components, they differ in some key ways, as well.
Tactical pants are, when it is all said and done, pants designed to help professionals carry gear while remaining comfortable and protected at all times. They can be worn in the field, but they can also pull double duty as casual wear during your down time.
However, don’t mistake tactical pants for cargo pants. Again, there are similarities, but there are more differences. For instance, cargo pants offer the ability to carry additional gear, but they often lack the features that set tactical pants apart, including the use of advanced construction methods and material, larger belt loops, magazine pockets, and more.
Who Needs Tactical Pants?
It’s tempting to think that the only people who might need tactical pants are law enforcement and military personnel, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Many professionals find benefits with these pants, including EMTs, oil field workers, mountain climbers, security personnel, survivalists, shooters, paintball enthusiasts, and numerous others. Because of advances in materials and construction, you may even find a use for these pants if you’re an angler, or just someone who likes to spend time outdoors and doesn’t want to be caught unprepared should an emergency occur.
Essential Features and Considerations
Now that we have established what tactical pants are and who might benefit from wearing them, we can move on to the considerations that should be at the top of your mind when comparing the various products available to you.
The material should be lightweight but durable, and it should be able to withstand damage, stains, and more. Most of the tactical pants on the market today use a cotton-polyester blend with ripstop technology, but you will find other materials on offer, including nylon/spandex, and even full cotton. Note that you need to balance your decision not just on wear-ability and durability, but on comfort.
Different environmental conditions and other factors, such as higher or lower temperatures, humidity levels, and anticipated level of physical activity, will also play a role here. Many materials are also coated with Teflon or a similar material to help them withstand staining. Many materials are also designed to be water and wind resistant, which are beneficial for those wearing them in the field.
You’ll find a number of different styles of pants out there on the market, and they do not all perform in the same ways. For instance, you will find tactical pants with higher waists – these are more traditional. However, there are also low-rise styles on the market that more closely resemble pants you might wear during your downtime. These are often more comfort-oriented, without sacrificing capabilities or durability.
Style affects fit and comfort – some styles are bulky and may not fit as comfortably as slimmer styles. That also affects your ability to pack them if you’re heading out into the field for work, the woods for hunting, or the mountains for some climbing action.
You will also want to consider color options offered, particularly if you are trying to make tactical pants part of your daily wear uniform. Most of the brands we included in our list offered at least a handful of color choices, but some provided six or more choices to ensure you can find the right solution for your needs.
If you want your tactical pants to be more personalized and aesthetically pleasing. You can decorate your pants with custom PVC patches. Patches can make your pants more stylish. If you have design ideas for your clothing you can create unique and personalized clothing with custom embroidered patches.
Tactical pants share several similarities with cargo pants, but the presence of cargo pockets is probably the strongest such similarity. The pockets included in the pants design are actually critical – these offer you the ability to carry and store your gear on your person, ensuring that you’re able to bring more than the bare essentials with you into the field.
However, the number of pockets and even the type of pockets included can vary significantly. We’ve included pants with a single cargo pocket, those with two, and pants with over a dozen additional pockets as well.
The general rule when it comes to pockets is to ensure that the pants you choose offer the carrying capacity you need now and that you anticipate in the future. For instance, if you need to carry bulky items, then two cargo pockets will probably be necessary. However, do you need to access a utility knife regularly?
If so, an exterior knife pocket will be needed. Will you need to wear kneepads? If so, built-in kneepad pockets are worth considering. Will you need to carry additional magazines? You’ll find tactical pants with magazine pockets available, too.
Durability is perhaps one of the single most important considerations when buying a pair of tactical pants. Chances are good that you anticipate putting those pants through their paces, and exposing them to some significant wear and tear.
Rocks and dirt, concrete, brick, tree bark and sand – none of these should pose a significant risk to your pants. Look for tactical pants that are made with durability in mind, including triple stitching and reinforced high-wear areas. The seat and knees are the most wear-prone areas, but you will find some pants on the market with additional reinforcement in other areas, as well, such as the knife pocket.
Belt, Badge, and Holster Compatibility
Finally, we need to consider the belt capabilities, the ability to wear and display a badge, and whether or not the pants are compatible with a holster. Depending on your usage needs, these may not be deal breakers. You will find belt loops range from 1.75 inches to 2 inches and even wider.
The wider the belt loop, the heavier the load you can carry attached to your belt and the better suited the pants are for use with utility belts. Belt loops also play a role in badge carrying and display, and if you need to carry a sidearm, look for a pair of tactical pants with offset belt loops so that the holster can be carried properly (on your preferred side).
In the end, tactical pants offer significant capabilities and benefits. Whether you’re in the military or law enforcement, a first responder, an oil field worker, an outdoor enthusiast, or just someone who likes to be prepared for whatever might come your way, tactical pants are a must-have. However, not all of the options on the market are worth your time and money.
Between our head-to-head comparison, individual reviews, and our convenient tactical pants buying guide, you should now have the information needed to make an informed buying decision, as well as choose from some of the best tactical pants on the market.