Unlikely survivalist straddles two worlds

“He is Columbia-educated, petite, soft-spoken, borderline giggly. He’s ‘a hipster’ who ‘looked quite humorous in a class with a bunch of Blackwater types wearing combat boots and 511 tactical pants,’ says Kevin Reeve, who taught Strauss how to hijack a car and escape from handcuffs, among other things, in a class called Urban Escape and Evasion.”

A quote from a Los Angeles Times article written by Susan Carpenter and postedlos on 5/17/2009.

When Lightweight Tactical Pants Aint Light Enough

5.11 Taclite Pro Shorts

5.11 Taclite Pro Shorts

Sometimes the lightest weight fabric in the world isn’t light enough to keep you cool on a scorching hot summer day. Enter tactical shorts. All the same features of tactical pants, only shorter. Tons of pockets, tactical style, plenty of colors and multiple fabric options are all on the menu. Check out tactical shorts from Propper or 5.11 and beat the heat without losing your gear.

The Perfect Tactical Pants Accessories

Many brands of tactical pants offer an extra layer of Cordura Nylon on the corner of the front pockets at the exact place where you would clip on a pocket knife. As you draw your knife out and put it back in place this reinforcement absorbs the brunt of the punishment. This design element caters to the typical user of tactical pants. Such individuals know what it means to be fully prepared and are known to carry a small arsenal of gear on their person.

The best examples of tactical knives are compact, durable and effective. Blackhawk offers two great knives that posses all three of these traits which qualify either one of them as the perfect tactical pant accessory.

Blackhawk Hornet II Knife

Blackhawk Hornet II Tactical Knife

The Blackhawk Hornet II Knife is built on a framework of CNC-machined textured G-10 handles. It has nested 420J stainless steel liners and a heavy-duty liner-lock locking mechanism. The Hornet II’s blade is precision ground from AUS8A stainless steel and features a black Teflon® coating for a low profile look and superior corrosion resistance. Its ambidextrous thumb stud and new four-position clothing clip also support lightning-fast deployment from all carry positions, making it one of the most potent tactical folding knives available.

Blackhawk Be-Wharned Knife

Blackhawk Be-Wharned Knife

The Blackhawk Be-Wharned Knife featuring the wharncliffe blade design is one of the most functional utility patterns ever developed. Thanks to the efforts of edged-weapon designer and trainer Michael Janich, it has also earned a reputation as an incredibly potent personal defense design. Janich’s new Be-Wharned features an aggressive, satin-finished AUS8A stainless steel blade that provides extreme cutting performance for its size. It is mated to a handle constructed of hardened 420J stainless steel liners nested into textured black G-10 scales. A sturdy liner-lock mechanism, exceptional ergonomics, and a four-position clothing clip complete the package. This knife is not only compact and lightweight, but it has one of the most intimidating blades money can buy.

Andy Ihnatko’s Pants

Andy Ihnatko explains the origins of the term “internet pants” and gives a demonstration of exactly how much he can stuff into the pockets.

Don’t Call it a Comeback

If you pay any attention to the tactical gear market, you’ve noticed a recent resurgence in tactical pants popularity. What’s the innovation driving this new found popularity? Chalk it up to new, lightweight fabrics.


The knock on early revisions of tactical pants was their heft. Constructed out of a heavy weight canvas, comfort was sacrificed in the name of durability. Once the garment was established as a bona fide success, 5.11 smartly developed a lightweight version of the pant, which they dubbed the Tac Lite Pro. This new version was made with a very lightweight, ripstop fabric, keeping the operator cool while retaining the tactical functionality and style.


The Tac Lite Pro was an overnight success, and was the impetus for numerous spin off products including shorts and removable-leg versions. To this day the Tac Lite Pro is a popular pant with an MSRP of $49.99. Not to be outdone, Propper quickly developed and released their own version of a lightweight tactical pant, complete with a free belt at $39.99.


As warm weather approaches, you now have the option of looking cool and staying cool with tactical style, thanks to this new twist on an old favorite.

Tactical Pant Players

5.11 Tactical – The original tactical pant creator. 511 tactical pants posses a distinctive “buddy strap” on the back of the garment. They offer a large variety of styles and colors.  A little on the pricey side for a product that is now reaching maturity. MSRP $49.99

Propper – Being the largest supplier of uniforms to the US Army means that all Propper apparel is backed with a wealth of battle tested experience. Propper tactical pants probably offer the best combination of price and quality. MSRP $39.99

Blackhawk – The most distinguishing feature of Warrior Wear tactical pants is the integrated MOLLE webbing. MSRP $49.99

Woolrich Elite – At the higher end of the price spectrum, Woolrich Elite pants do NOT represent incredible value. MSRP $54.99

24-7 Series – The newest player in the tactical arena. 24-7 pants are meant to be a little less tactical and a little more casual. They feature larger than normal cargo pockets. MSRP $39.99

Darwin Wore Internet Pants

Merlin Mann is an interesting dude. About a year ago, he posted a video blog with a humorous review of his 511 tactical pants. Since it’s initial posting, “Tactical Internet Pants” has been viewed over 13,000 times, and Google reports 3,600 web pages that mention the exact phrase “internet pants.”

Merlin’s audience is composed of mostly technology enthusiasts, and overnight the term “Internet Pants” became synonymous with Tactical Pants. It’s not hard to imagine why technophiles would be drawn to such a product – pockets galore for stashing gadgets, easy maintenance, and a technical look that passes for business casual. Still, it’s interesting how a single viral video can introduce a product to an entirely new market.

Climbing pants became tactical pants became internet pants. What kind of pants will they be next?

Who Wears Tactical Pants?

BlackwaterAnybody can appreciate a great pair of cargo pants with an emphasis on durability and functionality. However, tactical pants are most often seen in the law enforcement community. Cops will wear their “tac pants” both on and off duty with regularity. ATF, ICE, SWAT Teams, FBI, Border Patrol are all orginizations that issue this techinical apparel directly to their personnel. You also find tactical pants being worn by private security contractors like Blackwater, special forces divisions of the military and outdoor enthusiasts alike. The question isn’t whether or not you are going to wear tactical pants, but rather, what brand do you prefer?

Where does the name “5.11 Tactical” come from?

ClimbingThe “5.11” in 5.11 Tactical is a reference to a class of climbing difficulty. More specifically, 5.11 is a specific ranking in the Yosemite Decimal System. YDS is a set of numeric ratings descrbing the the degree of difficulty in a rock climb. The “5” in 5.11 refers to a class 5 climb, which is the most difficult possible. It is further divded into subclasses with “.11” indicating a particularly challenging class 5 climb. At the time that the name 5.11 Tactical was coined a 5.11 climb was at the top end of the scale. Today, however, class 5 climbing contains 13 official subdivisions with 5.13 being the most advanced.

History of Tactical Pants

Sieger Tactical Pants

Black Tactical Pants

Tactical pants were originally developed by Royal Robbins as a mountain climbing trouser. This heritage is still evident today by the signature “buddy strap” over the rear pocket of all 5.11 iterations of this product. When 5.11 Tactical split from  Royal Robbins in 2003 the tactical pant was their flagship item and spawned a whole line of performance tactical apparel.

Tactical pants were discovered by the law enforcement community when some native Colorado FBI agents, who were also passionate climbers, stumbled across the original Royal Robbins version. It was the immediate consensus that these ultra-durable pants were not only great for play, but might also prove useful at work. Eventually, the trousers made it all the way to the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. Once top officers from around the globe began wearing the pants they got from the FBI, everyone in law enforcement wanted their own pair.

Tactical pants are essentially an expensive cargo pant with some technical modifications. Over the years tactical pants have evolved to offer many new features. Today, a host of brands offer countless flavors of tactical pants in different styles, fabrics and colors.