[Update] This post was updated on
Outdoor wear certainly has come along leaps and bounds for the last generation of outdoor enthusiasts.
I remember growing up when the only real choice of a ‘tactical pant’ was some army surplus cargo pants. While these did the job in some ways (and with the grunge movement allowing me to wear them as a fashion statement), they are certainly not in the same league as today’s hi-tech multifunctional tactical pants.
Indeed, the crossover has been so complete that you will see articles in men’s fashion magazines every year reviewing these ‘must haves for any complete wardrobe.’ These are the type of pants that you won’t wear while working on your car, save that for your oldest jeans. More likely, when new they can be paired with a nice shirt and polished shoes and very few restaurants would even blink an eye.
Put simply, if you own a pair you will know what I am talking about. And if you don’t yet, you certainly won’t regret getting one of the most versatile pieces of clothing money can buy.
After reviewing all the best tactical pants available, we’ve selected our top 7 picks in the comparison table below. We’re confident you’ll find the perfect model for your needs.
Tactical Pants Comparison Table
Mobile Users: For optimal viewing, tilt your phone to landscape (wide-view) to see the entire table.
Why do I need a pair of tactical pants?
There are many answers to this question but one of the best analogies is with cars. You may not need a truck every day but they sure do come in handy when you have one. You may not need a fast car but it is safer when passing. And you may not need an SUV in the suburbs but if you spend time in the countryside there are many occasions that you will be glad you are in one.
The same thing can be said of tactical pants. They are strong due to the use of canvas, modern ripstop fabrics and specially treated cotton. Their construction is on a different level, ensuring years of use. Plus, their multiple pockets, zips and special features are extras that you didn’t know you needed until you had them.
They are a little more expensive than regular pants but these days you get what you pay for. Let’s take a look at a range of tactical pants you can wear any day of the week in a few different price ranges and styles.
Examples of tactical pants we love
Tru-Spec 24-7 Pant
Starting off with something that certainly won’t break the bank, the Tru-Spec 24-7 Pant will probably cost around half of what you spent on your last pair of jeans. They may lack some of the features of the others, but it balances out as they also look very similar to a pair of smart casual pants.
They certainly haven’t skipped on pockets though. There are two for phones, two for folding knives and even a couple for extra magazines. They also feature expanding side cargo pockets and are constructed from basket weave cotton canvas, which will put up with the extra wear and tear that a weekend hiking through dry brush can put on lesser pants.
If you are wary or have never had a pair of tactical pants before these are the ones that will change your mind, and you will be looking around for an upgrade pretty soon.
5.11 Covert Cargo Pant
Jumping up several notches in the price range, but still staying with the smart sports casual look, the 5.11 Covert Cargo Pant are the classic wolf in sheep’s clothing. Paired with a nice blazer you would be welcome at the yacht club, but these pants are just as at home on a desert military base.
An adjustable waistband means you can ditch the belt if it suits you. Brushed canvas material is smart yet tough. The front and seat pockets are double deep and additional concealed front pockets fit another side arm or additional magazines. These are designed to make you look like uncle Joe but you may well be his brother G.I. The flat front design means they look super professional, and for an everyday pant these are hard to beat. You will have these for years and years to come.
Triple Aught Design Recon AC
For those of us who live in places that see their fair share of wind and rain over the course of the year, the Triple Aught Design Recon AC is a great option. These fashionably cut pants are made from 100% amphibious ripstop nylon cloth that is as close as you can get to waterproof without starting to get breathability issues.
These are designed to be worn for days on end through any conditions, and the slimmer cut is not a fashion statement. It causes less noise when walking through brush and results in less rubbing when hiking in damp environments. Very quick drying, they pack up super small and are a hiker’s dream. After days (or weeks) on the trail, these are the type of pants that you will want to wash, dry off and wear when you get back to civilization. No one will know you’ve been away. They will be your go-to pants whether going to a cookout, looking sharp or just feeling comfortable around the house.
There are certainly more ‘hardore’ tactical pants out there than the list above. One of our favorites is the Propper Tactical Trousers, which will do just about anything you ask of them. They just look a little more obviously like tactical trousers. One person’s everyday is very different to someone else’s, but they are worth checking out.
If I had to choose though I would take the Triple Aught. For me, they look the best and do the most for the price. The 5.11’s are something else of course, but they are more than four times the price.
So have a look and if you didn’t already know about them you should check out the new generation of tactical pants. They aren’t just for rock concerts and paintballing anymore. These days you are just as likely to spot a pair at a wine estate harvest BBQ.
Image credit via Flickr Creative Commons: EightQuarterBit