Women’s Tactical Pants: Finding the Right Fit

Tru-Spec by Atlanco's Women's Lightweight Tactical Pant

What would Liz Robbins say if she knew how long women have been ignored in the tactical space? As the designer of the original 5.11 pant, Liz was as passionate about great fitting clothing as she was about mountain climbing.

But that’s all starting to change. Manufacturers are starting to listen to women’s needs by adding or readjusting the woman’s pant they offer. Six out of seven tactical pant suppliers now sell pants specifically for females. 5.11 Tactical has the best selection with a cotton pant, a “new fit” pant as well as a lightweight pant. Tru-Spec by Atlanco, EOTAC and Woolrich have only a lightweight pant while Propper and Vertx sell a ladies original weight trouser.

Several weeks ago, Karen Bartuch, a Chicago law enforcement officer and founder of the Women’s Tactical Association, shared with us her favorites: 5.11’s EMT pant and the Tru-Spec 24-7 Series pant. She says many pants for women are too high waisted, whereas her two picks sit lower on the hips. Pants with a high waist can be uncomfortable and impede holster draws.

After the Bartuch interview was published, we heard from Sandra Glendinning, a police officer with the Vancouver Police Department and blogger at Behind the Blue Line. She calls uniform pants her “nemesis” and said she had been stuck wearing men’s BDU (battle dress uniform) pants for years.

“The men’s BDU pants did not fit properly (too short in the rise … very uncomfortable),” she wrote in an e-mail. “The good thing was the department told me to research suitable pants for women in the section. I’m the only one in a section of about 50 fifty men, but hopefully there are more to come.”

Glendinning was thrilled when 5.11 released its women’s BDU last year, but then she tried them on. With a duty belt. She said the duty belt is key because it causes the pants to rise up even more.

“To my dismay, the women’s cut had the same rise as the men’s cut, and the only difference was more room in the seat and legs. Arg.,” Glendinning wrote. “The men’s seat and leg openings were fine!! Some solution, eh? Just make the [rear] bigger…”

So, what’s her brand of choice? She says the 5.11 EMTs “fit like a dream” without a duty belt because it’s slung low and has a flattering leg cut. She opts to wear the men’s EMT pant instead. Why? Because it has a longer rise to accommodate a duty belt. “They do gap in the back a little, but oh well,” she added.

She also adores Propper’s men’s pant. The ripstop material is made out of 6.4-ounce, 65 percent polyester/35 percent cotton. She said they are the most comfortable and look the best.

Her one complaint: “They only come in one inseam (32″) so they are too short for my 5’10” frame. The tall version, with a 34″ inseam, is longer throughout the entire pant, so the rise comes up to my bra!! AHHH!”

Learn more about the fit and feel of these trousers on the Tactical Pants for Women page.

3 Comments on “Women’s Tactical Pants: Finding the Right Fit

  1. I struggle with finding women’s tactical pants. Even my boss was asking why my pants were ‘sagging’ but they just fit that way because they are designed for men. I am 5’5” and 150 lbs but I have a small frame and have way too much room everywhere. After having a baby I had to buy 1 size larger than the smallest they carry in my area and now that I am returning to normal even the smallest size doesn’t fit!! Our local store my team goes through doesn’t carry any women’s so I am on my own now.

  2. This article is ridiculous… Low rise “tactical” pants are the stupided thing ever manufactured. For those of us who have to wear a duty belt, we need to actually be able to move in them. In order to wear the duty belt up where it is suppose to be, the crotch ends up digging in and restricting movement. Low rise “tactical” pants are just for idiot girls who wear them to look good at the range.

  3. I feel the pain of every woman who tries to fit into men’s BDU sizes. I currently wear men’s propper, size small. On my 5’4″, 100 pound frame, you could fit two of me in them. Thankfully, I was able to get them hemmed, but as for the spacious seat and legs, which have the reinforced seams, nothing can be done. Although I must admit, they are quite comfortable.

    Well done to those who have come out with women’s sizing. Now if only I didn’t have to match the rest of my team…

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