LAST UPDATED: December 19, 2019
Best Tactical Pants: Be Comfortable When You’re on Duty
Your duties are demanding and you need tactical pants that can keep up
The Review Team
How We Decided
The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.
PUBLISHED ON December 19, 2019
Your job demands a lot of you, and you need a pair of pants that can keep up. Tactical pants offer you pockets for everything so that all of your gear and equipment is within reach. The tough material is durable enough to withstand any activity you’re tasked with doing. Try a pair of the top tactical pants in our buying guide.
These tactical pants are made from a premium blend of polyester and cotton ripstop fabric. They have a fitted waistband, double-stitched seams, and a fully gusseted crotch. They feature eight-inch, high-capacity pockets and two additional hidden pockets.
The Teflon finish on these pants makes them resistant to stains, dirt, and moisture. They also have YKK zippers for reliable and durable performance.
There is inconsistency in the sizing, length, and cut of these pants. Some of the decorative stitching may start to come loose with wear.
The zippers and snaps on these pants tend to break after wearing them several times. You may also find the material feels coarse or rough against your skin.
Why Trust Us
All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of Tactical Pants
- Carrying capacity. Good quality cargo pants normally have extra pockets to accommodate a range of different items. Some have extra-strong pockets designed to carry knives or spare magazines. Others have hidden pockets to store smaller items like handcuff keys discreetly.
- Durability. Cargo pants are designed for serious use and are meant to be durable and hard-wearing. They often come with extra stitching around the knee and crotch area to prevent tearing. Some are even treated with materials like Teflon to help repel water and dirt.
- Variety. There are a number of different colors, styles, weights, and materials to choose from to make tactical pants versatile. They can be used in most weather conditions and for a number of different tasks.
Types of Tactical Pants
Overt tactical pants have the classic military look. They are designed to be functional and have a huge carrying capacity with oversized pockets. They often have reinforced areas for added strength and durability.
Covert tactical pants are associated with law enforcement agents who want the versatility of tactical pants while still being discreet. Most of the time, they are made from the same materials but have hidden pockets or smaller pockets that don’t attract attention.
EMS and EMT Pants
These are designed for ambulance crews and other first responders. They are made of similar material to conventional cargo pants but have specialized pockets and compartments to carry a wide range of medical tools and gear.
5.11 Tactical is based in Irvine, Calif, and it designed its first cargo pants in 1968. The founder was a mountain climber who was unhappy with the durability of the trousers at the time, so he decided to make his own. Since then, the brand has grown considerably, especially because of its popularity with law enforcement agents. Check out their 5.11 Tactical Men’s Ridgeline Covert Pants.
Mars Gear is an online retailer that specializes in tactical clothes and gear. They stock many renowned brands like Magpul, Kershaw, and Gryffon, as well as their own line of apparel and accessories. They are a one-stop-shop to get a wide range of high-quality equipment. One popular product is the Mars Gear Vulcan TAC Outdoor Tactical Pants.
Propper was founded in 1967 and is one of the largest suppliers to the U.S. military. They offer a wide range of tactical and duty gear, including tactical pants, boots, bags, body armor, and more. Generations of military and law enforcement officers have trusted Propper to provide tough and functional equipment for any situation. A best-selling product is the Propper Men's Canvas Tactical Pant.
Tactical Pants Pricing
- $10 to $30: At this price point, the pants will still have the required pockets, but the stitching and overall strength won’t be the best. It will also be made of basic cotton fabric.
- $30 to $60: These tactical pants will probably be more durable and feature double-stitching and reinforced areas. The material may vary between cotton, ripstop, or twill.
- $60 and up: Tactical pants in this range will be high-quality with a gusseted crotch and double-stitched areas. They will normally be treated with Teflon and have a comfortable fit.
The reason for the popularity of tactical pants is their carrying capacity. Pockets can range from eight upwards and many have smaller compartments to carry gadgets, magazines, torches, and a multitude of other stuff. Ideally, the pockets should be easily accessible and have easy to use opening and closing types. Buttons are generally out of favor, while zippers and Velcro are the more popular options.
There are a few things to consider when choosing the right material for your tactical pants. Heavier fabrics are ideal for colder temperatures, while newer, lightweight fabrics are ideal for warmer weather. Ripstop and twill are two popular fabrics due to their strength and durability. Some materials are a combination of different fabrics, which allow the pants to stretch and still maintain their shape. Treated fabrics have water-repellent abilities and are ideal for the outdoors.
As with any other pants, having the correct fit is important. Many tactical pants sit higher on the waist than normal pants in order to accommodate heavy equipment and duty belts without sagging. Having the correct fit means they will be comfortable to run or climb in without restricting your movements.
- Reinforcements. For serious use or tactical situations, it’s possible to get tactical pants with reinforced knees or knee pad pockets. Some have reinforced crotch areas. There are also tactical pants available with reinforced stitching and belt loops to accommodate tools or other items. The pockets should also be double-stitched, and the zippers, snaps, and Velcro should all be heavy-duty.
Best Tactical Pants Reviews & Recommendations 2020
These pants are perfect for people who want strength and durability without a “tactical look.” Despite looking casual, they still have enough covert pockets stitched into the seams to carry a reasonable amount of stuff.
Thanks to the fabric, they can easily stretch enough to allow physical activities and exercises without restricting movements or getting out of shape. The Teflon coating repels water and dirt and makes it ideal for the outdoors. These pants are known for being tough and comfortable.
However, there have been complaints that they are a bit small and have a poor fit. Also, the pockets are on the small side.
These pants have 12 double-stitched pockets in different sizes. The strategically placed pockets are designed to carry knives, gadgets, and magazines securely in convenient and easy-to-reach locations.
They are made from a mixture of poly and cotton ripstop, which is durable and flexible to allow freedom of movement. The fabric is soft and lightweight to make it very comfortable. These pants are ideal for both tactical and everyday use.
There have been complaints that they are too high-waisted and that the fit is a bit too big. Also, the buttons fall off easily, and the pants aren’t Teflon coated.
These tactical pants are ideal for people who want sturdy and comfortable pants without breaking the bank. They come with nine strategically placed pockets, including two hidden coin pockets and a mag pocket with hook and loop closure. There are also extra-large belt loops designed for duty belts and a D-ring to hang keys or tools.
The fabric is Teflon-coated and made from a mix of cotton and polyester. It is fade, wrinkle, and shrink resistant with internal knee pad pockets.
However, users have complained of the zippers failing and the buttons coming off. Also, the length may be too long for those with shorter legs.
This pair of tactical pants are made from a material that is 65 percent polyester and 35 percent cotton. The fabric is ripstop and durable. There’s a button and zipper front closure. The knees are articulated to make kneeling, bending, and crouching easier. The crotch is gusseted for easier movement, while the waistband is made of elastic. The pants come in nine colors: khaki, coyote, sierra, gray, OD green, charcoal, navy, black, and boulder. They also come in a wide range of sizes.
You’ll appreciate the small touches, such as the large slanted pockets for easier access. The durability of the pants is increased by having double layer fabric on the knees and seat. You’ll have plenty of storage with two front pockets, two back pockets, two side pockets, and two cargo pockets.
One drawback of these pants is the sizing. Take note that the sizing is done by measuring the pants when the waistband elastic is fully stretched out. Keep this in mind when ordering your size, as you’ll want to size up for comfort. Also, the belt loops are also poorly placed, and there aren’t enough of them.
These tactical pants are made from cotton twill and polyester fabric. The material is moisture wicking to increase their comfort. The waistband sits just below the waist, and the legs have a slimmer fit that tapers through the leg. They come in a wide range of sizes and seven colors. Choose from black, dark navy, desert sand, gravel gray, moss, mushroom, and hunter green camo.
There are plenty of pockets to stow your belongings on the front, back, and sides of the pants. The belt loops are also nice and wide and well-placed to give you a secure fit. Plus, you can’t go wrong with the trusted brand of Dickies, which is known for making high-quality work clothing.
Unfortunately, the button and zipper are both awkwardly placed, which makes it necessary to undo your belt and button to be able to use the restroom. The sizing is also unique, so pay attention to the size measurement directions and size chart.
These tactical pants from CQR come in khaki, black, stone, charcoal, coyote, green, tundra, navy, and utility camo. There are also several sizes and pocket configuration options. The design of the pants is military- and law enforcement-inspired. You’ll find numerous pockets, an elastic waistband, ripstop fabric, and waterproofing. The material is 65 percent polyester and 35 percent cotton.
What makes these pants stand out is the large pockets that can be accessed while wearing work gloves. These pants also have reinforced high density metal for the snap and zipper. The material will actively repel liquids, dirt, and other contaminants.
One downside of these pants is that they run small, so you’ll need to size up when ordering. The stitching is also not as strong as the material, so it can come unraveled.
These functional tactical pants are lightweight with a material that is 65 percent polyester and 35 percent cotton. They have an adjustable slider waistband that eliminates the need for gathered elastic. The belt loops measure two inches. They are compatible with paddle or inside-of-the-pant holsters. There are two deep front pockets, two expandable back pockets, and two cargo pockets. Choose from several available sizes and colors that include black, brown, charcoal grey, coyote, earth, khaki, multicam, navy, stone, spruce, ranger green, olive drab, and light grey.
What makes these pants stand out is their durability and functionality. You’ll find that they have plenty of space in the pockets for holding everything you need. They also convert well from wearing to work to your off time. The cut and style of the pant has a man’s shape in mind.
Unfortunately, the stitching isn’t as durable as the material, and it can blow out at the stress points. You may even see loose threads on new pants. The snaps on them can also pop off.
These 100 percent cotton tactical pants sit right at the waist. They have a relaxed fit through the seat and thigh. The crotch is gusseted to give you increased comfort and moveability. They come in five colors—moss, black, dark coffee, desert, and gravel. There are also several size options to choose from.
You’ll appreciate the pocket design on these pants. There are several pockets throughout, with some having snap closures to keep your belongings secure. The top of the pants is more of a jeans style than a military or law enforcement type.
Unfortunately, the material of these pants isn’t as durable as other pants on this list. The sizing is also small, so be sure to go up a size when ordering. You may also find the cut to be slim through the crotch, which can make things uncomfortable in private areas.
These tactical pants come in four colors, black, dark camo, army green, and khaki. The sizing is limited to waistbands from 28 to 36 inches. The material is 97 percent cotton and 3 percent spandex. The material is lightweight and ripstop. The front is a button fly and zipper closure.
What makes these pants stand out are the 10 tactical pockets throughout. The back pockets are also zippered for greater security. You’ll find these pants comfortable, as the material is breathable.
One major downside of these pants is the limited sizing. Other pants on this list have a broad range of both waist and leg length sizes. These pants are limited for the waist and don’t list any leg lengths. This can result in pants that are too short. These pants are also slimmer down by the bottom of the pants, which can be a problem if you plan to wear them over work boots.
These military-inspired tactical pants have a stretch waistband and 16 different sizes of pockets throughout. Choose from several colors, including AU camo, FG camo, grey, iron black, mandrake camo, multicam black camo, multicam camo, nomad camo, ranger green, tan, and a typhon pattern. You can adjust the fit of the pants with the elastic stretch waistband, width-adjustable pant legs, and elastic straps on the bottom cuffs.
These pants stand out because they come with a knee protection system. The material is reinforced, and you can slide protective shells into interior pockets. There’s also a built-in ventilation system. When you get hot, open the mesh-lined panels at the knees and groin to increase airflow.
The downside of these pants is that the sizing is pretty generic—small through XX-large—which can make it challenging to get a perfect fit. This is made more challenging by an overall design that isn’t meant for fitting the standard American man’s body style. The biggest problem is that these pants are short in the crotch and loose in the waist.
- When shopping for tactical pants, look for a pair that have enough pockets for your needs. Then balance that with the freedom of movement that you need. Also, pay attention to the belt loop size for your utility belt.
- Since these pants are meant for wear during highly physical activities, they need to have reinforcement at the stress points. Look for double-layer material on the knees and seat. They should also have reinforced stitching.
- Pay attention to the material used, as you want it to be the right blend for both comfort and durability. Most high-quality pants are a blend of polyester and ripstop cotton.
Q: Why are the belt loops of different sizes?
A: The manufacturers of tactical pants understand that you’ll wear these pants while on duty. This means you need belt loops that are large enough and sturdy enough to hold a duty belt. Most belt loops on tactical pants are between 1.75 and 2.5 inches.
Q: How heavy is the fabric on tactical pants?
A: The weight of the fabric used for tactical pants can vary from 6.25 to nine ounces. You’ll see them categorized into lightweight and original weight. Lightweight pants typically range from six to 6.6 ounces. Original weight pants typically range from seven to nine ounces.
Q: How do I know what size I need for tactical pants?
A: The easiest way to figure out what size you should order is to measure your current pants. Lay your pants flat on a table and measure across the waistband and from the crotch to the hem. Use these measurements to buy your new pants.
The 5.11 Tactical Men’s Ridgeline Covert Pants are high-quality and durable enough to perform while you’re on duty. The Mars Gear Vulcan TAC Outdoor Tactical Pants are a smart and affordable option for those looking for a balance between price and performance.