Vanity Sizing: How Do Tactical Pants Measure Up?

Since 1960, the average adult American has grown one inch taller and a whole lot wider.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just four decades later we are 25 pounds heavier. Instead of making us feel guilty for fast-food stops and lethargic behavior, some pants manufacturers are feeding into this behavior.


Esquire recently uncovered a handful of brands from Dockers to The Gap who are increasing pants sizes without actually telling anyone.

Welcome to the world of vanity sizing.

Since North America doesn’t enforce U.S. standard clothing sizes, those who produce clothes can easily fluctuate sizes as they see fit. This made us wonder: Have tactical pants manufacturers followed this very trend?

We took a cloth measuring tape, slung it around our neck like a tailor and made our way out to the warehouse. Our findings weren’t as revealing as Esquire’s but surprising nonetheless.

Men’s Tactical Pants (based on a 36-inch waist)

  • 24-7 Series – 37.5 inches
  • 5.11 Tactical – 36 inches
  • Blackhawk! – 35 inches
  • EOTAC – 37 inches
  • Genuine Gear – 36 inches
  • LA Police Gear – 40 inches uncinched
  • Propper – 35.5 inches
  • Vertx – 36.5 inches
  • Woolrich – 34.5 inches

Women’s Tactical Pants (based on a size 6 pant)

  • 24-7 Series – 33 inches
  • EOTAC – 31.5 inches
  • Propper – 30 inches
  • Vertx – 31 inches
  • Woolrich – 29 inches

Aside from LA Police Gear’s operator pants, we found most waist sizes appeared to be fair. Moreover both 5.11 Tactical and Genuine Gear sizes were dead-on. The only sizing we found incredibly interesting was Woolrich’s, which turned out to be 1.5 inches smaller. We attribute this to its mostly elastic waistband that proved difficult to measure. Plus the pants stretch significantly when worn.

The only pants that truly appear to suffer from vanity sizing are 24-7 Series men’s and women’s pants. Both were bigger than average. Perhaps this is why their women’s pants are so popular?

Either way, tactical pants haven’t fallen prey to inflated sizing. At least not yet. When compared to various brands out there, they might be the most honest pants around.

(Image via quinnanya)

What do you think of vanity sizes? Have you experienced a sizing issue like this?

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