5.11 Tactical Pants Review – Stryke Pants with Flex-Tac Fabric

Well, here it is. My 5.11 Tactical Pants Review featuring the Stryke Pants with Flex-Tac Fabric. This is a big deal. At least it is to me, anyway. Although, if you’ve never had the privilege of wearing these pants, then this review could change your life as well (assuming you pick up a pair of the pants for yourself afterwards).

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5.11 Tactical Pants Review – Stryke Pants

These pants have changed my world as I once knew it.

A world where…if I wanted to be comfortable, I would wear sweat pants.

A world where…if I wanted to look good, I’d wear something uncomfortable.

It seemed impossible for the two situations to coexist until the brilliant minds at 5.11 Tactical developed a two-way mechanical stretch material with the durability of their famous Taclite ripstop fabric. A material they’ve named, “Flex-Tac.” The craziest part? Even when stretched to their limit, these pants will still repel water because 5.11 has somehow managed to Teflon treat the threads so that there is still a water resistant seal when stretched. We’ll get to that later, though.

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5.11 Tactical Pants Review – Stryke Pants
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5.11 Tactical Pants Review – Stryke Pants

Even after reading the description that 5.11 put together on their website, as well as having it explained to me by Thomas Solomon, 5.11 Custom Shop Sales Manager and my brother from another mother, I still don’t quite understand how they got these things to stretch and still maintain their signature durability. However, I’m not sure I really care. At least not nearly as much as I care that they just feel great to wear in pretty much any situation.

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5.11 Tactical Pants Review – Stryke Pants
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5.11 Tactical Pants Review – Stryke Pants

Seriously. Any situation. These pants are plenty comfortable enough to wear as intended, in a “disruptive environment,” as Mr. Haley would say. Freedom of movement concerns be damned. I’d like to see you take a knee, as seen above, in an average set of tactical trousers as easy and comfortably as you can in some Stryke Pants.

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Tom Davin (Left) & Tom Harris (Right) 5.11 Booth, Shot Show 2012

I don’t even mind wearing them around the house as lounge wear when I’m feeling lazy, yet they professional enough (in black) to wear while photographing a wedding or other special events (assuming more formal attire is not required), wearing as a Police/SWAT/Fire/EMS uniform pant or heck, working as a member of the professional media, covering Shot Show 2012 during which time I saw THEE Tom Davin, current CEO of 5.11 Tactical, hanging out at the 5.11 Booth (weird), and subsequently introduced myself.

Seriously. I looked good. Not just because of my handsome features, but because, without knowing what the day would bring, I chose to deck myself out from pretty much head to toe in 5.11 apparel that day. Talk about a great day to meet the big dog.

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5.11 Tactical Pants Review – Stryke Pants

 

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5.11 Tactical Pants Review – Stryke Pants

 

In case you haven’t gathered it on your own, I’ll just go out at say it so that we’re crystal clear (as if there’s any other kind, eh, Mr. Nicholson?):

The 5.11 Stryke Pants are the most incredible pants I’ve ever worn in any genre of pant style.

Yes, even above my custom-tailored Hugo Boss pinstripe slacks that are a part of my favorite, $700 power suit. So enough raving in generalities. Let’s get to the dirty details, shall we?

You’ll notice in the image to the left, that there are two front accessory pockets in use.  One of them is more visible in the image below.  These pockets are a very cool feature which I find uses for frequently.  Obviously, as pictured, you can use them for housing a folding knife and smart phone.

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The phone pictured is an HTC Droid Incredible2 with a low-profile hard case installed on the back.  iPhone users and pretty much everyone else with a similarly sized smartphone should have no issues.  In addition to those two common items, there are a number of other “everyday carry” (EDC) items that you can store in these little pockets.  When squatting down, there is only a minimal amount of discomfort from the items pictured being in the way.  I was actually surprised at first, expecting to have to adjust or remove the contents of those two pockets when I first squatted down while wearing the Stryke Pants, yet the need never came. Sometimes I notice them, sometimes I don’t.

Before we go any farther, I’d like to stop and thank Dave Bakholdin Photography for his patience in taking the above photos for me.

With my expression of gratitude out of the way, let’s talk about the pockets.

Notice in the trifecta of pocket-centric images below that the primary side pocket has a unique, reinforced section at the bottom of the opening to prevent wear & tear from frequently clipping a pocket knife, pen or anything else with a clip, really. One of the many little examples of the kind of attention to detail that goes into products like these 5.11 tactical pants.

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When one 5.11 knife just won’t do…

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Why I felt the need to illustrate that there are three areas in which you can clip stuff to with three separate photos is beyond me at this time. Clearly, the portrait-oriented photo on the right, showing all three items, each clipped to a pocket, would have sufficed. I can’t say that there is always a method to my madness.

Also, a special note about the pen slot at the top of the pleated cargo pocket’s** flap. The hole that you slide your pen into actually just opens up into the primary compartment of the cargo pocket, so make sure that, if you’re going to stick something with a pointed tip into the pen slot, you do NOT have anything inside your cargo pocket that you don’t want punctured.

Here’s a view from above the right-leg’s cargo pocket, with the hook & loop Velcro panels visible. Normally, I am not sure I’m as crazy about Velcro closures as I am about a button closure. Velcro is obviously louder when separating, which could cause issues for an operator needing to access the pocket contents, but also wishing to remain undetected by a potential “threat” nearby. Plus, I personally find that undoing a button is a bit easier and quicker with one hand than trying to pull open a Velcro flap if you don’t have that second hand or something else to hold the other side of the Velcro in place while you tear it open. HOWEVER, I will point out that this isn’t really an issue with the 5.11 Stryke Pants, especially if you’re kneeling or squatting. The potential for the issue to arise would really only be if you were standing up in some situations with these pants on. The particular Velcro used on these pants is strong enough to keep the pocket flap secured, but not so strong that you really have to tug on it to detach it. I usually don’t even notice it when I go to access the contents of my cargo pockets, though.

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5.11 Tactical Pants Review – Stryke Pants

**Speaking of that pleated cargo pocket’s compartment, direct your attention to the image below and you will see that 5.11 has built in two internal pockets inside the main cargo pocket, which can serve a variety of functions, including not only the items pictured, but also great for stashing basically any item & keeping it a bit tighter to your body so that it’s not flopping around inside the main compartment of the cargo pocket while you’re on the move. That can get really annoying and if you time it right while carrying hard & heavy objects (e.g. fully loaded rifle magazines), you can actually bang up your knees pretty good from that heavy cargo flailing around inside the pocket while you’re trying to move quickly to an objective. Double annoying, but not a problem with the 5.11 Stryke Pants.

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5.11 Tactical Pants Review – Stryke Pants

Speaking of banging up your knees, while I didn’t photograph this particular feature up close, the 5.11 Stryke Pants do have reinforced knees, with internal pockets to accept the 5.11 Neoprene Knee Pad Inserts. Having used these inserts in a variety of environments, I can say that they’re much more handy than you might imagine. Granted, a set of external, hard shell padded knee pads would obviously be more appropriate in certain conditions, the neoprene inserts, however, will still work really well for situations where you are required to frequently kneel down on a hard & flat surface, such as paved cement.

Here’s just a basic shot of the pleated cargo pocket, empty and with the flap closed. Don’t be fooled by it’s low profile stature.

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5.11 Tactical Pants Review – Stryke Pants

As far as maxing out the capacity of your 5.11 Stryke Pants’ cargo pockets, as you can see in the image below, AK magazines, especially ones with Magpul Ranger Plates, will stick out just enough when inserted into the internal mag pouches to prevent you from closing the pocket flap.However, if you had nothing else to store in that pocket, you could leave them inside the main compartment and would then be able to close the flap well enough. AR15 mags, being smaller in size than the AK mags, even with Ranger Plates, will fit just fine.

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Additionally, even with two mags (AK or AR) inserted into the internal slots, you’ve still got plenty of room to store slightly bulkier items in the main compartment as well, like your “individual first aid kit,” or IFAK (not pictured). All this thanks to not only the pleats in the pocket, but, of course, the marvelous Flex-Tac material.

Seriously. There’s a lot of winning going on with these pants, in case you’re somehow still in the dark here.

Time to take a look at the backside of these 5.11 tactical pants, which don’t warrant a whole lot of excitement, at least until I put them on. I won’t lie. They make my butt look good. You know, if you care about that sort of thing. I had an Ethics & Social Philosophy professor back in college who informed the class one day (luckily it was one of the very few days I actually showed up during the semester) that chicks dig guys with a nice butt, because it’s an indication of thrusting power. Seems legit, right? True story, btw. Couldn’t make that up if I tried.

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5.11 Tactical Pants Review – Stryke Pants

Each of the two wallet pockets you see here have pocket flaps that stay closed securely thanks to the help of some of that Velcro I mentioned earlier. Dealing with the Velcro on these pockets with one hand is much less of an issue than the cargo pocket flap can be on occasion.

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5.11 Tactical Pants Review – Stryke Pants

Prym button snaps and YKK zippers (below), because you’re worth it. And honestly, I don’t know that I have ever been in a situation to warrant buttoning that 2nd, tan button. I never use it. But it’s there, in case that’s the way you like to roll, which is totally fine by me. I’m just saying that I don’t personally see the use for it. Especially if I’m wearing a belt with these pants, which is usually the case.

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5.11 Tactical Pants Review – Stryke Pants

Each of the two front belt loops, one on each side of that Prym button snap we were just discussing, has an additional panel attached on the front that functions as a badge-holder. So in case you’re cool enough to have two badges, you may breathe easily knowing that the 5.11 Stryke Pants will allow you to rock both simultaneously. Pretty sure this is where 5.11 would say, “You’re welcome, double badge-holders.”

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5.11 Tactical Pants Review – Stryke Pants

Did someone say it was time for some macro shots of this revolutionary Flex-Tac material?
Cuz if not, then I’ll say it:

It’s time for some macro shots of this revolutionary Flex-Tac material.

Close…

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Closer…

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Closest…

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I can’t say that I did the greatest job on my white balance or color mixing, because the 5.11 Stryke Pants’ Flex-Tac material seen in these photos is actually a bit lighter in color than the tan color they appear in my macro images. The color seen in the images above these macro shots are a much more accurate reference. Just a head’s up.

More macro, just for funsies.

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Here are two shots of the labels that can be found inside the 5.11 tactical pants. Don’t judge me on that 38″ waist line. I’m working on it, but I eat because I’m unhappy and I’m unhappy because I eat. It’s a vicious cycle that has turned me into a fat bastard (Yep, an Austin Powers ref just showed up in my 5.11 Stryke Pants Review). Actually, I’m 6’6″ tall, so I’m actually somewhat proportional, though I could probably shed a few extra pounds around the mid-section. Anyway, back on topic here.

Pay special attention that it is recommended you turn your 5.11 tactical pants inside out when washing them.

I’m told this helps to preserve the Teflon treatment of the pants, among other things.

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Also, while withholding your judgment about my waistline circumference, don’t get too worked up over the “Made in Vietnam” thing, either. As I understand it, 5.11 Tactical is ramping up their efforts to offer certain select products that comply with the Berry Amendment for those departments, organizations, agencies, etc. that desire a particular product from the 5.11 Tactical catalog, yet require said product to be “Born in the USA.” Whether or not the tactical gear & apparel manufacturer can make these Stryke Pants here in the U.S. yet or not is unknown to me at the time of this composition, but based on the growth in capabilities that I’ve witnessed in their company over the last several years, I wouldn’t think it unreasonable that they could. If not now, then at some point soon.

Since I’m 100% at least one of you readers will ask (I’ve already been asked several times already), these 5.11 tactical pants are most definitely NOT fire retardant. I would think it might be fairly obvious now that I’ve revealed the material composition percentages, but just in case you didn’t know, which is nothing to be ashamed of, I wanted to point it out. In fact, given the percentage of polyester variants, you’re probably going to want stay pretty well aware from fire sources.

The phrase, “You’ll light up like a Christmas tree,” applies here, except in the worst possible way.

Moving on, here’s a little treat for those of you with a fluctuating waistline.

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5.11 has built in a self-adjusting waist, which uses some sort of material with enough elasticity to ebb & flow with your waistline requirements. Actually, this feature doesn’t just cater to those who might have an odd-numbered waist size, which would fall in between the even-number-only sizes that 5.11 offers. It also provides all Stryke Pants users with additional forgiveness when bending, kneeling, squatting, face-kicking or any other action where one’s movement, posture or position might otherwise be restricted by a static waistline, cutting off circulation to one’s lower regions (NEVER a good thing).

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As you can see, the 5.11 Stryke Pantsprovide enough range of motion for me to issue a very technically unsound roundhouse kick to the face of my adversary. I can assure you that it wasn’t the pants that limited my technique. It was my lack of physical flexibility that did so. Had these 5.11 tactical pants restricted my freedom of movement in the slightest degree, it’s unlikely that I would have been able to execute such a fantastical “stryke” to the face of that scumbag.

As far as fitting goes, I measure out (with a measuring tape) to be right at 38″ at the true waist. Unlike in other pants I’ve tried in a variety of other categories, the 38″ waist on the Stryke Pants fit me perfectly. I don’t even need to rely upon the self-adjusting waistline. So if you’ve tried these pants and had sizing issues, then my guess is that you’ve incorrectly measured yourself and got the wrong size as a result. I would urge you to get yourself legitimately measured before purchasing these 5.11 tactical pants so that you can maximize the benefits of them. 5.11 has actually put together a great sizing chart that is available on their website. They even tell you how to measure yourself.

Of course, even with all that information I just provided you, there are going to be some of you, myself included, who have an odd size (I generally have a 37″ inseam), which precludes you from fitting into the standard sizes. Enter the 5.11 Custom Shop. They can do a lot more than you might be aware. Alterations, embroidery, screen printing and now, laser engraving for metallic items. So since they don’t make a set of 5.11 Stryke Pants in a 38″x37″ size, I called up my buddy, Thomas Solomon, over at the 5.11 Custom Shop to have his alterations staff add an extra inch of the Flex-Tac fabric to the end of my Stryke pants. Boom. Custom fit like a boss. To the naked eye, you wouldn’t even notice. It just looks like there is a hem at the bottom of my pants. Pretty freakin’ slick.

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Ah yes…the water test. Like I mentioned earlier, even those these pants stretch, they still maintain the ability to repel water.

Fabric: Dry & relaxed
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Fabric: Wet & relaxed

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Fabric: Wet & stretched horizontally

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That’s actually not the best example, but I’m pretty sure you get the idea. It’s the best I could do on my own, with the limited time that I had. It would be important for me to point out that the pants will repel small amounts of water, but they are not waterproof and therefore will eventually soak in some of the water if you leave it on the fabric for long enough. They’re also probably not going to stay dry during a torrential downpour or anything. However, the Teflon treated Flex-Tac fabric should be pretty effective in giving you enough time to brush or shake off a liquid spill or puddle splash, for example, once it happens.

In summary, these pants are amazing. Here is a recap of the pros & cons.

PROS CONS
  • Very lightweight
  • Highly breathable to keep you cool
  • Extreme range of motion
  • Ripstop durability
  • Plenty of pocket storage
  • Water-resistant
  • Slim-cut, offering low-profile silhouette
  • Good stain Resistance
  • Limited colorways at this time(No Navy, FDE or Multicam)
  • Khaki color shows dirt fairly well, although,it has always come out in the washer thus far.
  • Some users may not like the Velcro flaps
  • Not socially acceptable to wear for every occasion(some situations still require slacks)

 

If you are now a believer, you can pick up your own pair of 5.11 Tactical Stryke Pants here:

 

5.11 Tactical Pants