5.11 is running a big contest, their Ultimate Tactical Experience. Anyone can enter, but your chances for winning go up if you buy $35 worth of gear. That gets you a challenge coin, and five additional contest entries. So it is a great time to shop 5.11.
And you won’t regret doing so. This past weekend, I hauled some guns out to a range a friend of mine is building in eastern Virgina. The wet spring has left the ground sodden and muddy and the rain didn’t let up. But we had guns that we needed to review, so we went anyhow, and it turned out to be a good time to test out guns, gear, and clothes.
I wore a pair of 5.11’s Stryke pants, and a Covert Shirt. While the shirt is solid (more on that below), I can’t stop talking about the pants. I got them wet and muddy. I wore them until they dried. I stuffed the pockets full of magazines and ammo and abused the hell out of the pants and they still look shiny and new.
The 5.11 Stryke Pants
I’m a bluejeans and t-shirt man. My go to tactical pants are made by Carhartt. But there are times when everyone needs something lighter, and more versatile. Something you can move in.
The Stryke Pants are the most comfortable pants I’ve worn. This isn’t an exaggeration. The Flex-Tac fabric (available in a muted rainbow of tactical colors) flexes. The fit is exacting and precise in the waist. Yet the pants are baggy, but not like balloons. Every detail of the pants exists so they will move with you, down to the gusset sewn between the legs. This additional piece allows for a snug fit in the crotch, yet the pants are still flexible enough that you can run, squat, kick, even do a split without splitting your pants.
My favorite extra on these dudes are the two deceptively small pockets on the fronts. Though they look shallow, the pockets are large enough to hold 30 round AR-15 magazines. You may not want to carry them there, but it is handy.
The Stryke Pants are loaded with pockets. In addition to the typical waist pockets, there are two full sized cargo pockets. Inside each are two narrower pockets. Again, I’ll reference an AR-15 magazine. The inside pockets are perfectly fitted for a 30 round magazine, two in each pocket, and the flaps will still close.
And the front pockets have a reinforced tab to withstand the in-and-out of a pocket knife clip. I wish all of my pants had this. My go-to tool for self defense (and opening boxes, peeling apples, whatever) is a knife. I always have one with me (unless I’m on a plane). And the Stryke pocket will stand up to the abuse.
And the 5.11’s pockets have Velcro closures. That makes them much easier to get into than button pockets. And the knees are reinforced, and also have hidden pockets for the addition of knee pads.
The Stryke pants sell for $74.99. I don’t know what you pay for pants, but it seemed expensive to me at first. Not now. Having worn them, I can say that they are worth it. This is my first pair of 5.11 pants, but it won’t be my last.
The TDU Belt
The belt here is a simple nylon web strap with a plastic buckle. But the 1.75-inch TDU belt ($16.99) fits perfectly in the belt loops. The two loops closest to the middle have badge holders, so identification can be secured to the pants themselves.
The TDU belt is ideal for wearing a holster. It is wide and very easy to adjust, which makes securing a holster very easy. The plastic buckle is robust. It even has a slight tab to make loosening up easier. It is this sort of attention to detail that makes 5.11 gear worth a second look.
The Classic Covert Shirt
5.11’s Covert Shirt is a great example of the casual look that hides tactical potential. To the uninitiated, the Classic Covert Shirt is just a button up, short sleeved shirt. The solid colors are 100 percent cotton. The plaids are a mix of polyester and rayon. The Classic sells for $54.99.
5.11’s use of plaids is designed to help obscure what’s underneath. Take this one. It is the Frost pattern. While it isn’t exactly my favorite pattern, the extreme geometric pattering of the cloth breaks up the visual plane, making it extremely difficult to see what’s underneath.
And the sides have two Velcro slats that can be opened around a belt holster, or simply opened to allow access to what’s underneath. The print on this shirt is so disruptive that even a full sized handgun worn high on a belt is hard to spot beneath it. This makes it ideal for serious concealed carry. (The photos below were taken are a full day in the rain. The shirt looks much better off the hanger.)
If you’d rather carry inside the waistband, or in a shoulder holster, the Covert Shirts have an action packed feature. The buttons sewn onto the outside of the shirt are just for show. Beneath them are snaps that are designed to be popped open, fast. This allows you to get to a gun in your waist band, or under your arm.
Inside the Covert Shirts are two hidden pockets. They’re deep. If you put a pistol or wallet in the pocket, it rides below your arm pit, right at the bottom of your ribs. This position is ideal for purposes of obfuscation, though a gun rides a bit deep for my taste, and there’s enough room that it can turn over.
Yet it is a great place to hide money, or a passport. Secure, easy to access, and completely unseen.
Yay or — just Yay
In all 5.11’s clothing has left me very impressed. The extra large shirt is too big for me. I typically wear a large/tall, but without that option, I tend to go for an extra large. There’s nothing wrong with a relaxed fit, or a lengthy shirt tail when trying to cover a gun.
But the Stryke pants fit great. They are perfect.
5.11 makes great gear. While most of what they make has a distinct tactical flair, some of their line is much more subdued. And that’s the point. Their covert line is designed to look a bit more casual. But don’t let the relaxed look fool you. Even their covert clothing is packed with hidden gems.