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Tactical Talk: Andy Ihnatko and His Tactical Internet Pants
When Andy Ihnatko held a contest on his blog in 2008 searching for the perfect pants to purchase online, he had no idea he’d create such a following for “Tactical Internet Pants.”
Two years later, people are still asking the Chicago Sun-Times technology columnist, CBS personality and Macworld contributor about what fits in his 5.11’s (his choice brand). Most recently, his fans took to Twitter to inquire if Apple’s new iPad was too big for the back cargo pocket. While he never directly answered the question, he does today.
You’ve called 5.11 Tactical Pants your “favorite pants in the world.” Have you ever tried any other brand or styles of tactical pants?
I tried a few others early in my tac pants career, usually swayed by a lower price or a clearance special, but now I’m a 5.11 loyalist. Whenever one of those little experiments come up in my laundry rotation, and I wear them, it’s pretty clear that a pair of pants with big pockets doth not a 5.11 make.
You discovered the pants in 2008 when you were looking for the best Internet pants. What other pants were the 5.11’s up against? Why did they win?
I was introduced to the 5.11 tac pant through a pretty silly means. I commented on Twitter about how easily most men can handle the most complex and challenging tasks, but the simple business of clothes shopping often just reduces us to whimpering jelly. Yes, I was about to go out for pants. The topic of “shopping for pants on the Internet” proved to be a credible way to avoid doing any actual paying work that morning, and by the time the conversations ended, I had challenged my readers to nominate pants that (a) were suitable for daily bachelor wear and (b) could be ordered online.
I think the final nominees I chose were the 5.11, a pair from L.L. Bean and a pair from Columbia Sportswear. They were both nice, but I knew the 5.11’s were the winner the moment I unpacked ‘em. They’re built extremely well, the pockets are large, plentiful and handy without making the pants look ridiculous, and they’re roomy and comfortable. The silver and bronze-medal winners are still in my closet, but I only wear them when I’m way behind on my laundry. All day long I’ll be slapping at my left thigh, expecting my iPhone to be in a pocket that doesn’t exist.
If 5.11 asked you to become a spokesmodel for their pants, what would you say?
I would say, “This is what happens when you make drunken sports bets with competing clothing companies.” Sure, it’s all in good fun, but after the Colts lose the Super Bowl, you’re honor-bound to publish a photo of a lumpy nerd wearing your signature product. I can just picture the spread of photos on the 5.11 site. A soldier in a combat area, defending our nation. A cop, enforcing the law. A firefighter, rescuing the helpless. And then there’s me, on the sofa, with a game controller in my hands.
Were you surprised when your Twitter followers asked if the iPad would fit in your pants pocket?
Oh, not at all. In fact, that’s something I wanted to know, too.
You already carry a Kindle in the back pocket from time to time, do you think there is actually room for an iPad anyway?
I’ve tested it out, and it doesn’t fit. But it’s _so_ close! It’s not as though I’d actually carry it in my back pocket as an ongoing thing, but there are times when you just need to get your hands free for a few minutes, like when you’re trying to get all of your electronics organized for TSA screening. Those big back pockets save me from having to squeeze my Kindle between my knees while I simultaneously try to wrestle a $1,500 laptop out of its case and into a plastic tub.
Believe me, as soon as “5.11 Tac Pants – The iPad Edition” hits the website, I’ll be first in line with an order.
If you could rename the iPad, what would you call it? Why?
I have no problems with the name. But if I were to rename it, I’d probably go with “Severe Eye Injury” or maybe “Adorable Baby Ducks In Horrible Imminent Danger.” It would be Apple’s ultimate statement of confidence: “Our new tablet computer is so handy and useful that you won’t give a damn _what_ it’s called.”
Watch Andy weigh in on the iPad at the Macworld Expo, which took place last week.