Another 5.11 Apex Pant review. You may recall a previous review of these pants (5.11 Apex Pants Got Me Laid Like Crazy), but it’s always worth getting a second set of eyes on something for the sake of perspective. Read up.
About These Britches: 5.11’s Apex Pant
Much maligned 5.11, maker of the first ubiquitous “tactical pant”, elevates the category with its “Apex” pant. Finally, a tactical pant with many of the options formerly found only in high-end brands at a price the working guy can afford.
Many years ago, when I first started writing about tactics and guns, I never thought I’d be writing fashion reviews. When I was just off of active duty, I ran a gym pro shop and let me tell you, gym babes got nothing over tactical guys when it comes to what they wear when training. The interwebz are full of tactical pros and poseurs, both proselytizing about which Gucci brand of pant they like best. But the honest truth is that while Dead Bird and Patagonia have their well-earned place, many folks would be better off with a high quality pant tailored to their needs and income level. Do you really need $300 pants, or do you need $80 pants and $220 of training ammo or class tuition? Invest some of that cash into performing better than you look.
High end tactical clothing enthusiasts will definitely see that 5.11 took some styling cues and small details from other lines, but form follows function and if something works, why change it? The cut of the pants is definitely athletic. If you look like 200 pounds of chewed bubble gum, move on, these aren’t the pants for you. You’ll do much better with the “dad” cut of the original 5.11 pants.
While not “skinny pants” by any stretch of the imagination, the Apex cut is more streamlined and gets rid of the excess material, especially in the seat. The extra material in the seat and thighs of the original 5.11s allowed for a full range of motion during movement. That extra room has been replaced by detailed cutting and stitching as well as a slightly stretchy proprietary fabric blend (more on that later) that allows an even greater range of motion without the side effect of looking like you have a load of crap in your britches.
The fabric is proprietary and 5.11 calls it “Flex-Tac”. While technically a canvas, it retains all of the benefits of 5.11’s traditional rip-stop material and adds a slight stretchability to the fabric, increasing the tear resistance to over 150 pounds on one plane and over 200 pounds on the other plane. It’s soft, smooth, resists scuffing and snagging, and also has the benefit of not looking like rip-stop, which helps keep the pants low profile. Speaking of low profile, the entire design lends itself to a more discrete tactical pant, with the main cargo pockets on the thighs bellowing inwards, allowing the outside of the pocket to maintain a flatter profile while keeping stored items more secure. The rest of the pockets are all intelligently laid out, and the fact that 5.11 designed these pants based on input from their Stryke pants is evident.
The front pockets allow for discreet carry of knives and lights without looking overtly tactical or military, and the double back pockets are very helpful when storing empty or partially empty magazines during reloads. There are several smaller pockets that are very mission specific, such as several handcuff key pockets and a pocket for spare cash that I am sure I would forget about immediately upon using. There is also a tunnel just below the waistband that allows discreet carry of a flex cuff or two. The only minor gripe I have about the pockets is that the internal magazine retention pockets within the cargo pockets seem to interfere with regular use, causing me to fish around for smaller items. A small gripe to be sure, but still worth mentioning.
There are slightly stretchier panels of material integrated into the waistband, allowing for more comfortable movement, especially when sitting and standing. This is not a fat guy waistband, it’s not to allow a size 36 to squeeze their ass into a 34, it’s simply to provide additional comfort. The belt loops are generous and stout, allowing my Ares belt to fit perfectly and not making me force it through the loops. They are also purposely laid out to allow intelligent holster placement, which again shows 5.11’s willingness to listen to customer feedback. The pant legs are articulated at the knee, allowing the pants to fit comfortably and naturally while standing, sitting, or kneeling. This is a detail first seen in very expensive pants, and their inclusion at this price point says volumes about 5.11’s commitment to providing quality equipment at a reasonable price.
I’ve been wearing Apex pants for about ten months, I’ve done everything from very intense 4-day shooting classes to obstacle courses and CrossFit workouts, and they still look new. 5.11 wanted to reimagine the tactical pant category with the Apex and they really hit the mark with them. Whether you need range pants, discreet everyday pants or just a great pair of outdoor-oriented pants, give the Apex a try. You won’t be disappointed.
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