Tactical clothing tends to get a bad rap in the gun community, but like everything else, there are pros and cons. On the one hand, tacticool gear might be useful in many situations. On the other hand, it usually comes with a higher price tag.

Recently, I tried three pairs of tactical pants to see what they’re all about. I also enlisted my husband to try a few pairs and give his perspective. Are they worth the extra cash? Let’s take a look.
 

The Case Against Tacticool Clothing


As a concealed carrier, I don’t usually wear anything that screams, “Hey everybody, there’s a gun hiding in my pants!” For one, it seems counterintuitive to the point of concealed carry. I try to appear as unassuming as possible, which admittedly isn’t as difficult for women as it is for men. Plus, let’s be honest, tacticool clothing is not usually cute since it tends to be for men anyway, so it hasn’t been difficult to stay away from it.

Concealed Carry Pants
To test various concealed carry pants, my husband and I decided to try wearing several pairs ourselves. (Photo: Elizabeth Bienas/Guns.com)


Another reason I’ve steered clear of tactical clothing is that it’s usually not made specifically for women’s bodies. We’re built differently than men, obviously. If you’ve got thicc thighs like me, you know the struggle with finding literally any pants that fit. Men’s pants are usually straight-cut designs, which doesn’t work for me.

That said, I’ve always wanted to try tactical pants because there are some pros, like bigger pockets, ripstop material, additional pockets, reinforced stitching, and more. All of this sounds pretty useful for range sessions – especially the pockets. Small-pocket syndrome is an epidemic that’s affected women’s pants for too long.

Women’s Tactical Pants

 

5.11 Tactical Spire Pants
The 5.11 Spire pants are typical tactical pants that have been designed for women. (Photo: Elizabeth Bienas/Guns.com)


First up, I tried the Spire Pants by 5.11 Tactical. I’ve never owned utility pants before, and these arrived right in time for a cold Pacific Northwest outdoor range day up in the mountains. While I probably wouldn’t wear these as part of my regular wardrobe, I did like them at the range. They kept the wind off my legs, and the large pockets were a dream for holding magazines and such.

The Spire Pants are designed for women and have a straight fit with a stretch waistband and riding gusset for added comfort. Personally, I’d like these pants better if they had more stretch in the legs and a slightly higher rise. On my hourglass body shape, they felt somewhat constricted in the legs, and I needed a size larger than I usually wear. They were also too long, but at 5 feet tall with a 24-inch inseam, I’m used to that. 

Since these pants have belt loops, I could conceal my Glock 48 MOS easily, which was great while practicing my draw live. I didn’t find the concealment any better or worse than my everyday jeans or other pants with belt loops, though.

Wearing these made me want to try other pieces by 5.11 Tactical, which I didn’t expect. For this article, I picked a very tactical-looking pair of pants. But they also carry some that are less tactical-looking and still have the same utility features, like big pockets. 

Pros:

  • Eight pockets
  • Large pockets
  • Hidden cuff-key pocket

Cons:

  • No stretch in the legs
  • The regular length is very long
  • They look like duty pants
     

We the People Defender Premium Leggings

 

Defender Premium Leggings
The Defender leggings can work for training and everyday activities. (Photo: Elizabeth Bienas/Guns.com)


Next, I tried the Defender Premium Leggings by We the People. When I saw that they had belt loops, I was immediately interested. This is like the holy grail of leggings for women who carry concealed. I’ve come across “range leggings” before, and while I’m sure they are useful, they look too tactical for everyday wear. The Defenders look like regular leggings I’d wear on a Target run. 

The belt loops allowed me to wear my regular carry belt and Kydex holster, and I found them to be sturdy. It felt like I was wearing jeans, only more comfortable. I didn’t experience any sagging in the waistband from the weight of my Glock 48 MOS with 15-round magazines. I walk outside daily and have run the gamut of “beltless carry” options without finding the perfect solution. These are close!

I, like many women, am a self-professed leggings snob, so I have a few critiques. For the price, I expected the material to feel higher quality. It’s a matte material, which is great, but it picked up lint easily and didn’t feel as compressive in the legs as I like. In addition, I’d prefer an option to delete the flag and rifle patches as they feel too tacticool to me. 

Pros:

  • Belt loops
  • Deep pockets lined with ballistic nylon
  • Four-way stretch (squat-proof!)

Cons:

  • Logos/markings
  • Only one length
  • Material didn’t feel high-quality in relation to price
     

Alexo Athletica Carrywear Leggings

 

Alexo Athletica leggings
On short hikes, I like the wear my Alexo Athletica leggings to make carrying easier. (Photo: Elizabeth Bienas/Guns.com)


I’ve worn Alexo Athletica Carrywear leggings for a few years, and I have several pairs. I wear them to the range, while exercising, and as part of casual outfits. They don’t look tactical, which is why they’re my favorite. But they still have utility features that are great for the range, concealed carry, and everyday use.

Alexo leggings are made of high-quality material that makes you feel like you’re getting what you paid for. In my experience, they hold up to wearing and washing very well. I keep going back to these because they come in 7/8ths length, which is great for shorties like me. They have deep pockets that fit everyday things like your phone or wallet and range-day stuff like magazines.

The rigid, reinforced waistband allows you to carry in any position you prefer. There are holster pockets for left and right appendix and left and right kidney. I wear a Kydex holster that has DCC clips with mine because I’m not a fan of soft holsters. The waistband is more than sturdy enough to hold the weight of a subcompact, and I’ve never had an issue with my holster shifting around, even on long hikes.

Pros:

  • High-quality material
  • Rigid, sturdy waistband
  • High waisted
  • 7/8 or full-length options
  • Deep pockets

Cons:

  • Built-in holster is soft
  • Expensive
     

Men’s Tactical Pants

 

Delta Stretch 2.1 pants by Vertx
My husband wears these Vertx pants for work and play. (Photo: Elizabeth Bienas/Guns.com)


Since my husband is a gun guy, I asked him to give me feedback on two types of tactical pants he owns. The first was the Delta Stretch 2.1 pants by Vertx. He bought these for work as utility pants since he’s an engineer who spends most of his day on a factory floor. But they’re set up perfectly for the range as well.

The Delta Stretch Pants have 14 pockets, including some deep enough for your phone and even rifle magazines. The material feels high-quality and has enough stretch to be comfortable while moving around. My husband’s favorite feature is the hidden knee pleats that prevent them from riding up while sitting. For a guy that’s just over 6 feet tall, this is a welcomed feature. 

He likes that these look like regular pants and has worn them to work and the range and date night. He shares my thoughts about concealed carry and wants to be unassuming. They’ve become his go-to pants, and when asked about cons, he mentioned the high price tag but feels like they’re worth it. I also like the look of these pants, and we all know the wife’s opinion is important! 

Pros:

  • 14 pockets, including deep ones and knife notches
  • Athletic fit with stretch
  • Looks like regular pants
  • Gusseted crotch for full range of motion
  • Knee pleats allow movement and prevent cuff-creep

Cons:

  • Expensive
     

Men’s Carry Joggers

 

Carrier Joggers by Arrowhead Tactical
These Arrowhead Tactical joggers make it easy to carry without wearing jeans. (Photo: Elizabeth Bienas/Guns.com)


He also wears the Carrier Joggers by Arrowhead Tactical. These are more in line with carry leggings for women. They don’t look tactical, but they fill an EDC need for those who enjoy a casual Sunday. For years, my husband only wore jeans because he carries ,and he’s happy to have these as another option.

The Carrier Joggers have belt loops inside the waistband, so you can thread a belt through and carry IWB like usual. He carries much larger and heavier pistols than I do, and the inner belt holds them up without any sagging. I like the concept of inner belt loops and wish they made these in women’s sizes. 

The material is high quality, and they look like regular joggers with an unassuming logo. The only thing he doesn’t like is that the belt that comes with them has a metal clasp, making it hard to get in and out for washing. I’ve heard they fixed this with an improved belt, but he hasn’t tried it yet. These joggers are also expensive, but my husband feels they are worth the extra money. 

Pros:

  • High-quality material
  • Inner belt loops
  • Sturdy waistband

Cons:

  • Belt is hard to get in and out for washing
  • Expensive
     

Conclusion


So, do you need tactical pants when you carry and go to the range? No, but you might want a pair anyways. Everyone’s taste is different, so don’t be afraid to try several different brands and options. If you can find some that are comfortable and have features that make carrying and training easier, they’re worth the money.

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