Monday, June 24, 2013
Review: 5.11 Tactical - Stryke pants
When I visited the SSAA SHOT Expo, I paid a visit to the 5-11 Tactical stand, and met with their Australian and American reps, including the very knowledgeable founding father, Bil, who took me through the pants they were kind enough to gift to me, the 5.11 Stryke Pants.
Here in the OD green, with one of the 5-11 TDU belts I am fond of as well, I strike a pose with the ultimate urban test ... does the cargo pocket fit my iPad? Yes, yes it does.
From the get go, let me tell you that the material used in the Styke pants is really, really comfortable.
The secret to this, as well as the purpose developed propriety blend of poly/cotton ripstop, is that it incorporates mechanically stretchy yarns, meaning the stretch and recovery of the fabric is achieved without the use of spandex, but rather by the way the threads are woven.
It is a lighweight, breathable, and even with the ripstop checkering, extremely comfortable to wear. Soft and yet no hint of flimsiness. Treated with a silicone based water and stain guard, they help up pretty well from my work, parenting and prepping splatter for their first week of wear.
The cut of the pants was very generous, especially important if like me, you "go Commando" and find that tighter cuts pinch at the most inopportune times. These were a lot more comfortable than the 511Tactical Taclite Pro pants I have reviewed in past, great improvements! Even the waist band is well designed, but I'll get to that in more detail soon.
On to the all important pockets!
You can see the main hands pocket, with their reinforced hockey-stick design (Bill tells me that was a specific request from Firefighters, to have somewhere to clip their radios. AN accessory pocket on the top of the thigh, the ubiquitous side-of-thigh cargo pocket, and just peaking from the side, the rear seat pockets.
What can you fit in them all? here, let me show you ...
I like my gear, and i like having it on-hand. However, being able to FIND it can be a real pain, unless some thought goes into pocket design, which in this case, it really has.
Similar to the Platatac Urban Dax, the cargo pockets sport internal compartment which are wide and deep enough to fit my bulky Snow Lizard SLXtreme iphone case as well as a Lazerbrite with little trouble. I can only suggest that the compartments would fit a 5.56 NATO magazine.
The hook-and-loop patches give a nice closure to the pocket, without being too invasive, and the styling of the pocket itself, with two baffles for expansion, we still quite discrete, an important aspect when wanting to blend in whilst still loading up.
Lets have a closer look at the front pockets.
As well as the twin, deep accessory pockets on the fronts of the thighs (seen here with the large HexBright FLEX filling it) but beside this, the main pockets have some interesting aspects that it worth covering in more depth. As well as being nicely deep, and lined, but the best features are the hockey-stick shaped low profile pockets.
This near-horizontal edge is perfect for clipping pens, folding knives (like the CRKT K.I.S.S. seen here) or as Bill told me, the pocket radio's that the firefighters who commissioned the pant design in the first place asked for.
The belt clip of the knife (or pen, or radio) sits on a reinforced patch of material, still in the pocket, out of the way but easily accessible. For items with longer clips, the people at 5.11 had the forethought to put an opening in the top of the cargo pocket, but you could also feed cables up through it I suspect.
Two other interesting (and very thoughtful) features can be seen here as well. On the left-side belt loop, an opening can be seen, which is the space the self-adjusting tunnel waistband feed into. Similar to that seen in the Taclite-Pro pants, this allows the pants to stretch when you bend at the hips, without biting, or sagging, once you are upright again.
The second, innovative addition, is on the right belt loop, which features a vertical loop in addition to the regular horizontal one. Perfect for clipping ID or a badge, and in my case, a spot to clip my multi-tool retention lanyard.
Then there are the knees.
As well as pretty standard double-cover knees, to help with wear and tear, and we all know what that is like, 5.11 have kept this in mind when putting in the seams for these. Low-profile and discreet as well as discrete, the addition of a second layer adds little bulk, but the real trick to these in on the inside!
On the inside edge of the knee seam a small pocket opens up to allow the insertion of a kneepad. I put my Blackhawk! kneepad up here to show you what it looks like. The pocket is certainly big enough, but takes some delicate handling to fit the bigger pads in.
All together these are some really excellent pants, I was thrilled to receive them, and their comfort was a really impressive collection of features.
My only disappointment was the back pockets, being a standard hook-and-loop straight topped pocket, unlike the signature 5.11 slash and retention strapped back pockets of the TacLite Pro's.
That said, there was even an extra unlisted feature that Bill pointed out to me (always great to have the people behind the product there to show them off) In the bottom hem, eyelets have been sewn in place in case the wearer wanted to blouse them! Little things that show they go the extra distance with design.
I also love the way 5.11 got their name ...
“5.11” is a rock climbing difficulty level as listed in the Yosemite Decimal System. With skill levels ranging from 5.0 (easy) to 5.10 (difficult), 5.11 is even more grueling. 5.11 is officially defined as, “After thorough inspection, you conclude this move is obviously impossible; however, occasionally someone actually accomplishes it.”