Review of Cotton Tactical Pants

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Cotton Tactical Pants

The pants I hate to love

In my opinion, the COTTON version of 5.11 tactical pants, is too costly, not colorfast, wears too quickly - but I love em!

I've worn cargo pants as daily wear for well in excess of a decade and a half. Friends like to tease me that I choose cargo pants because men are not allowed to carry purses. I always seem to have the pockets full of odd ball junk from pepper spray to CPR masks to knives, combs and a large assortment of keys on a locking carabiner. When I go into the field, it gets even worse.

I came across 5.11 tactical pants at a brick and mortar police supply store and decided after trying them on to switch from another well known brand. I was initially quite pleased. The pants are extremely comfortable and fit quite well. The pockets are located in just the right places and are easy to get access to without learning yoga first.

In addition, there are a lot of little extras that I find very helpful. As a professional photojournalist, I regularly find myself on the scene of fires and police actions where it would not only be inappropriate but potentially dangerous to carry a large camera bag. The 5.11 pants have extremely well designed pockets, particularly in the back which allow me to bring along all kinds of camera bag goodies such as flashes, an extra lens, batteries, memory cards and emergency lens cleaning equipment. I use the magazine pouch in front for my cell phone and the loop in back allows me to put a four cell maglight in the right rear pocket without having to fear dropping it if I'm working in an area at night. The front bottom leg pockets are roomy and secure nicely for light to medium weight objects via Velcro flaps.

As a side note here, I also very much appreciate the extra deep rear pockets because during regular, daily use, my wallet, which is thick with business cards and other junk, slips down low enough that I don't notice it when sitting.

As you can see, there is an awful lot I love about the utilitarian aspects of these pants. However...

The COTTON version of these pants very badly lets me down in the area of being color-fast. I always choose the black version of the 5.11 tactical pants and have found, much to my dismay, that after only a few washings, the black color, which is wonderfully rich in the beginning, fades to an unappealing charcoal color all too quickly. After a moderate number of washings, the pants just look bad because they have faded so much and in the right light have a slightly brown tinge to them. This problem doesn't seem to be extant in 5.11 #74273 Men's TacLite Pro Pant. I purchased a pair of those several months ago and so far I'm happy to report they haven't faded (see my other review).

Another reason that I'm less than 100% satisfied with the 5.11 tactical cotton pants is that they seem to wear far more quickly than I would expect. You would think that pants marketed as "tactical gear" would wear at least as well, if not far better than, rugged jeans. Instead, I've found the material becoming far too thin, far too fast.

My final criticism of the 5.11 cotton tactical pants is the price. For $50 I would expect pants to wear far better than they do, be far more rugged and certainly to be colorfast. Fifty dollars is a lot of money to pay for daily wear pants but if I spend this kind of money, I expect better performance than the cotton 5.11's deliver.

Having said that, despite their flaws, over the years I've purchased at least 6 or 8 pairs of the 5.11 tactical pants in cotton. I've tried other brands but somehow keep coming back to these because of their superb design, great pockets and general comfort. I am, however, quite unhappy with the length of time I can wear these before they become ugly or develop holes. The two stars given in this review applies ONLY to the COTTON version. The TacLite Pro Pants made by 5.11 receive 4 stars. See my other review.

Click to view the 5.11 #74251 Men's Cotton Tactical Pant on

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