Hand-Picked Daily GUN DEALS, and Exclusive Coupons Codes >>>

Best Tactical Pants: Never Go To The Mall Without Them

Need pants? Need them to be tactical? We've got our favorite picks for operators, security, LEO, weekend range warriors, and mom's basement dwellers.

What the hell are tactical pants?  

It might sound silly, and I think the “tactical” designation is probably a little much, but these products are actually more useful and practical than you might think.

These are pants that are literally designed to do it all.  

They’re flexible and breathable enough for hiking and mountain climbing (which is where the design started life), yet made of tough, durable ripstop materials that can handle being abused without wearing out.

Mens Shorts
These shorts are NOT suitable for hiking, mountain climbing, or a shooting range.

They come with all manner of pockets, from the traditional cargo pants-style pockets to hidden stash pockets for keeping your money safe and away from prying fingers (or for stashing a “get off me” knife, or Urban SERE kit).  

Don’t need any of that?  That’s fine too.

They’re also really good at just being pants.  

If you’ve ever done anything strenuous in a pair of khakis, or worse in a pair of blue jeans, you know how quickly that confining design and the material itself can be a problem.

Then again, jeans worked for Keanu...
Then again, jeans worked for Keanu…

Table of Contents


Who Are They For?

This is especially true if you’re in some kind of law enforcement or agency work.  If you’re private security and get to choose your own pants, these are the ones you want.

They’re also good for shooters, especially those who don’t mind, or even enjoy getting down and dirty at the range, whether to get ready for a 3Gun shoot or just to pretend to be John Wick for a few minutes.

Good tactical-style pants will stand up to the abuse of running and gunning, whether you’re a civilian or not, and keep looking good enough that your spouse won’t demand you change before going out to dinner.  

Well, probably.

Seriously, What are Tactical Pants?

At the core, tactical pants are just duty pants.  They’re specifically designed to be rugged while not constricting movement like denim or other similar materials would.

They generally come with as many pockets as the designers think they can fit on them, and good ones will have pockets specialized for the mission they’re designed for.

Life needs pockets, lots and lots of pockets.
Life needs pockets, lots and lots of pockets.

Some of these pants are good for just the average Joe who wants to hike and carry a few extra granola bars without needing a bag, and some of them are for specific professionals like police, fire, and medical personnel.

Others still are geared towards those who are just rough on pants or want something to protect them from injury on the job, or while participating in outdoor sports like hiking, rock climbing, paintball, or action shooting.

That’s really all there is to it, so let’s get started with the pants themselves.

1. Caterpillar Men’s Cargo Pant with Holster Pockets

Lacking any kind of “tactical” design, these are hands down the best pants I’ve ever had for shooting sports. Anything from 3-Gun to trap & skeet to just a day at the range plinking, these are my favorite pants.

The “holster pockets” are basically a replacement for a tool belt, these large pockets hang from the waist like a tool belt’s pockets would.

Best Range-Day Pants
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Designed for things like a hammer, nails, ruler, box cutter, pliers, etc. the smaller ones are also perfectly sized to hold double stack pistol magazines, while the larger ones are great for AR-15 mags as well.

I’ve loaded as much as 6 fully loaded double stack pistol magazines and 8 30-round fully loaded AR-15 magazines into these pockets. All of it fit well, didn’t fall out after running and jumping while also being easy to access and draw.

Did I need to fit all of that ammo in these pants? No, but I wanted to see how much I could fit and still function and this was it.

Let’s not forget about the knee pads though! Sadly, they don’t come with the pants and being honest, they aren’t my favorite knee pads – they do a decent job 99% of the time.

at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

The downside of these pads is that they are soft knee pads. If you’re going down hard or land on rocks, it won’t be the most pleasant experience – but should protect you from harm. The nice thing is that they are removable, replaceable, and only 10 bucks a pair.

2. 5.11 Men’s Stryke Pant

Alright, admittedly 5.11 has a reputation for…well, being kind of “tacticool” and overpriced.

I’m not going to weigh in one way or another on that reputation, deserved or undeserved as it may be, but I will say that these are some damn good pants.

at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

I’m not really the target market, as the badge clips on each side will make clear, but you have standard hip and rear pockets, as well as cargo and knee pockets for storing just about anything from notebooks to IFAKS.

If you need a solid duty pant that won’t bind when you move, but will still allow you to blend into a crowd, this is a solid option.  They crotch and knees are gusseted and cut to allow you to stretch and move comfortably without leaving you looking like you’re wearing pants three sizes too big.

These are also perfect for those who want a good hiking or riding pant that will allow them to carry a good amount of gear without resulting to a shoulder bag or daypack.  

Honestly, short of a hydration bladder, I could easily do a day hike with just what I could fit in these pants, and I’d stay cool and my dangly bits would stay unpinched to boot.

What’s your take on the 5.11s?

Readers' Ratings

4.99/5 (1062)

Your Rating?


Alright, I love these things.  I wear them for shooting competition, and whenever I’m going to be working with a lot of tools or gear for something, but don’t want to throw on a tool belt.

I’ve carried a full field armorer’s kit plus a few other odds and ends around a range day back when I did demos of things that go boom, and I was able to fix any problem that arose just with what I had on me.

at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Granted, these pants have a whopping 14 pockets, including double rear pockets geared towards holding magazines or similarly-sized tools, but still.  I was impressed.

They’ve also held up to IDPA and 3GUN shoots, as well as several camping trips, and one too-long week I spent stranded in the hideous backwater land of North Carolina (Just kidding Tar Heel folk, I love you guys).

The only gripe I have, and it’s a small one, is that the canvas construction doesn’t really breathe as well as the cotton-poly blends on this list, but I’d wager my life savings they’re also more durable and tear-resistant.

4. PROPPER Tactical Trousers

If you’re looking for an industry standard for a low-key tactical pant that still offers a number of pockets and movement-facilitating design choices, this is the one.

Best Minimalist Tactical Pants
at Propper

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Propper’s tactical trousers are the basis for a number of police department uniform pants, and they can be found wherever private security services are needed.  They have a total of nine very usable pockets, including some secretive ones for keeping delicate or valuable belongings safely concealed.

Best of all, the double material at the seat and knees, plus double stitching all the way around makes for a very durable and dependable pair of trousers that won’t rip or wear out.

Finally, the waistband is very elastic and non-constricting and puts me almost in the mind of a pair of windbreaker or sweatpants rather than a traditional “tactical” pant, but they’re still secure enough to hold up a full-size duty gun and whatever else you can cram into the also-double-stitched pockets.

5. Under Armor Tactical Medic Pants

Corpsmen, EMS, Fire, and Search & Rescue personnel rejoices!  Finally, someone has made a pair of pants just for you fine folks.  No more slumming it in police uniform-style pants!

Seriously though, these pants are tailor-made (Ha!) for medical first-responders with the pockets include separations for shears, a penlight, suture tools, and a number of pens.

at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

A hidden document pocket for keeping your passport or other important small items when traveling, and even a concealed ankle pocket perfect for a backup knife or other small necessity.

I think if you’re going to have to work to save the life of another, you deserve the best chance possible to do so.

You wouldn’t think pants would really give you a leg up on the reaper, but if any piece of clothing, tactical or otherwise can help a trained professional save a life, this is it.

6. Triple Aught Design Recon AC

Finally, for something clear at the other end of the spectrum.  Triple Aught Design makes a number of awesome products, but I really am enamored with their Recon AC pants.

They’re designed for someone working either undercover, or in the intelligence field, but that makes them some of the most useable pants on this list.

triple aught design pants
Triple Aught Design Pants -$130

For one, they have all the same extra pockets, hidden pockets, crotch gusset, and breathable fabric as any other good tactical pants, but they also don’t look like tactical pants.  They just look like pants.

They are designed to pack small and carry everything you might need, all the while embracing the Gray Man ethos of not standing out from the crowd.

This makes them perfect for the EDC addict with four knives, two multitools, and a firestarter on their person at all times, but it also makes the perfect for traveling to far-flung countries where you may not want to advertise being a (relatively) wealthy American.

I’ve got an extended trip to Vietnam coming up, and these are going to be one of the first things I pack.  I know I’ll get multiple days of wear out of them, and I can keep most of my valuables very close to my person, without worrying about looking like I’m a one-man invasion planning a sequel to the Vietnam War.

triple aught design pants fishing
triple aught design pants fishing

For me, that’s the best praise for pants like this.  They should be able to carry everything and let you do your job, without getting in the way or causing you to stand out from those around you.

What else could you ask for?

Parting Shots

The word “tactical” gets a bad rep sometimes, but in this case, it’s undeserved. So-called tactical pants are actually extremely practical and can make a difficult situation much easier, or just help you get the most out of your day while staying safe and prepared.

If you’re looking to complete your tactical EDC, you’ll need a good watch – trust me. Our Best Tactical Watches article will have just the thing for you and your wallet.

What do you think of these tactical pants?  Thinking about trying some? 

The Best Gun Deals, Coupons and Finds

Subscribe to Pew Pew Tactical's sales and deals email.

18 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Marty S.

    What about us people that actually value not looking like a dad about to mow the lawn in his fresh white new balance? Seems nothing’s available for those of us that actually want to look good. I’ve adapted red clouds collective wax canvas pants (so many pockets, waterproof, and accept knee pads) to work well. But had to order them in a less than skinny configuration. LMS gear’s MUD jeans are killer too, but you pay a premium shipping them over here from Sweden. But hell, they last for years, and I beat the ever loving hell out of my denim. Outlasted Duluth firehose pants, and you don’t look like a chud wearing em.

    October 24, 2020 6:27 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Ethan S

    I really enjoyed this review and found it really helpful. I do a lot of backcountry, often trail-less, climbing and hiking, and moving shooting drills, and have yet to find a kneepad I love. I also have refrained from buy some more expensive ones because I don't one to put them to the test and regret buying them when I can't return them. Any recommendations or possibility of an article going over different options?

    October 21, 2020 12:58 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    John H

    After reading this article, I ordered the 5.11 Stryke pant, 5.11 Taclite Pro, Propper Tactical pants, and the True Specs Tactical pants. I sent them all back except the 5.11 Stryke pant. Unfortunately the most expensive, but also the best fit and best quality of the bunch for me. I loved that the 5.11 Stryke pant has inner dividers that can hold an AR-15 mag and a Glock 19 mag each in their own dividers within the cargo pockets and still have room in the cargo pocket for other items outside those two inner pockets. Also, the Stryke pants were the least baggy of the bunch. I hate to spend that much, but they were clearly worth the extra spend for me personally.

    August 20, 2020 6:44 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Mike B

    I like my Wrangler Riggs, also available fleece lined if you spent time outdoors in the winter. Sometimes Cabelas clears out inventory of certain sizes or colors at discounts. I got lucky and got mine at 40% off.

    July 31, 2020 3:51 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jacob Drain

    Should consider doing a write up on range shoes, 3 gun footwear, or hiking. Shoes are important for a solid stance and traction without being combat style for the mission at hand.

    October 9, 2018 10:00 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    My favorite for any heavy duty activities are Duluth Trading's Men's DuluthFlex Fire Hose Ultimate Cargo Work Pants - plenty of pockets and internal pockets within pockets; fabric that stretches as needed; and the ability to add internal knee pads.

    September 26, 2018 12:01 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      I second that! Duluth Trading Company's firehose and DuluthFlex Firehose pants are fantastic! I can fit a commander length 1911 in the front pocket. Just amazing pockets and tough AF.

      October 4, 2019 10:12 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Davis Tant

    No mention of Vertex Delta Stretch?

    most comfortable, while also very modern cut and no glaringly obvious tacticool accouterments.

    September 26, 2018 10:08 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    I agree with most everything in this world article. Don't have the triple aught or under armour but have tried the others. And as some have already stated there are others out there too.my experience has been to find what you like and get a couple of pairs as the companies change styles and the next time you look for them they are no longer made.

    September 26, 2018 6:01 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    Also check out the Wrangler Riggs Ranger pants in the $35-$45 range; they are my favorite. Carhartt also makes a ranger type pant.

    September 26, 2018 5:01 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    on the other end of the spectrum, has anyone considered just wearing dickies as range pants? Durable material, decent enough fit for moving around, yet without all the pockets you may just not need for USPSA or IDPA, etc. where everything is on your belt.

    We're still in "shorts weather" in my area, I have a pair of the 5.11 shorts but find them to be hugely baggy it seems, so I've been going with more of a golf short made from quick dry material, similar to dickies I guess without all of the pockets, or lately I've seen some people wearing those BirdDogs shorts in USPSA matches.

    September 26, 2018 4:45 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    K T

    I really like the stretch-fit waist, small side flashlight leg pocket and the internal separators in the main cargo pockets on the tru-specs. They are more baggy than I like, but that's fixable with 30 min on a sewing machine. Plus, I see them on sale around the web for $25 every now and then. They are pretty tough, I just wish there were more color options.

    September 25, 2018 8:20 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Nicholas Budd

    Helikon-Tex UTP Urban Tactical Pants should be added to this list. Most comfortable I've experienced this far, expensive but already come water & stain resistant, lots of colors and sizes to choose from as well. They also come in shorts which is pretty bad ass.
    You're welcome in advance!

    September 25, 2018 6:41 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Did anyone else miss the price on the triple aught design pants?

    September 25, 2018 5:48 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      They’re 130.00.

      September 25, 2018 6:39 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      David L

      Oops! Edited it in, sorry about that!

      September 26, 2018 2:22 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Mr. Untactical

    To answer your question, yes, I'm thinking about trying some. Mainly because finding a decent pair of pants for EDC that can seamlessly support a holster and gun isn't as easy as I thought.

    I'm eyeing the Proppers to start...

    September 25, 2018 5:11 pm
    • Commenter Avatar


      September 25, 2018 7:56 pm
Join the community! Log in
Please provide a valid email address.
Password is required.
Please provide a valid display name.
Please provide a valid email address.
The password should contain at least 8 characters with at least one number or special character.
Please accept in order to continue.
Trouble logging in?
Type your email address and we’ll send you a link to reset your password.
Please provide a valid email.
Type your new password and hit button below to confirm it.
Field is required.
Account already exists
We already have an account registered for email address () which is linked to your Facebook account.
To log in type your Pew Pew Meter password below.
Field is required.
Account already exists
We noticed that you have previously logged in with your Account which is linked to the same email address () - we can link both of your accounts together.
In order to link your accounts, hit button below and log in to your Account with the same email as above.

Account in Pew Pew Meter means more

Check what do you get by creating an account
Check and save your reviews!
Bookmark and compare your favorite firearms
Manage your newsletter subscription
pew pew tactical logo

new here?

Personalize your experience.
Select what level shooter you are!

pew pew tactical logo

level up your gun knowledge

Thanks! We'll send you the latest guides and training tips geared towards your level.

pew pew tactical logo


You'll now receive newsletters of our best articles on techniques, guns & gear.

$47 value

yours free!

targets targets

practice targets

printer icon printable

our 9 favorite targets and drills


practice targets

printer icon printable

enter your email to download

We'll only use the information provided according to our privacy policy.

success icon

Ready to Download

Click below to begin your download

download pdf