I’m not much on fashion. I don’t get excited about clothing. Take one look at my closet, and you’ll see my clothing philosophy is comfort and function above trends or looks. There are pieces in my “wardrobe” like a few flannel shirts that have been with me for years. Good luck ever tearing them away from me. On that note, wardrobe may be a strong word – let’s try assemblage of textiles that allow me to go out in public without exposing myself. I typically don’t get too excited about britches, whether they’re a corsair’s pantaloons, Propper tactical pants, or any other “tactical clothing” for that matter. Propper International makes more than one style of tactical pants for men; I bought the STL III style.
Tactical Pants: Propper STL 3
Shoot House couture? [a Propper Tactical Pants Review]
As I’ve grown older my body shape has changed significantly, decreasing in some areas, enlarging in others. But generally, I retain an astoundingly average male 5’11” 195 lb frame. With a midsection about as firm as Hillary Clinton’s email security policy, my ability to get pants that minimize my tactical muffin top has been an uphill battle.
Choices in pants have always been difficult. With strong thighs and a dump like a truck (what what), I always run up against poor manufacturing and sizing fit. Waist is perfect? Here, let’s cut off blood flow to your balls with a terrible inseam. Thighs fit good? Cool, let’s just give you a waist with 6-8 extra inches of room. You know the struggle. It is rampant in the tactical world as gun companies try to branch out into garment design. Rarely do they get it right.
I purchased my first pair of Propper STL III Khaki pants (read: my first piece of Propper gear ever) late last winter, but waited until Spring to start wearing them due to the fact they are a thin, stretchy material (96% Nylon / 4% Spandex with DWR, if you must ask). Immediately, and I mean instantly, I knew I was going to like these pants. With a true to size fit (36/32) the waist was perfect, and the give throughout the legs was form-fitting but not skinny-jeans tight. The inseam allowed for a bit of gathering at the boot without extra, unnecessary length.
I immediately hopped back on Amazon and ordered another pair in Olive green.
Fast forward a few months and these have quickly replaced most of my jeans and work pants. In a typical week, I wear these pants 4-5 days. I am not a fan of cargo pockets, highly overt tactical pants, or anything that screams “gun guy.” I have been able to wear the khaki-colored STL III’s to several business casual events and never once felt out of place.
Let’s face it: the cut is slim, I am not, but as I mentioned the stretchy fabric is very forgiving. Pockets are easily accessible and roomy, but loading them up really throws off the subdued look of the pant. The diagonal pocket on the front right thigh isn’t good for a whole lot due to its size and location, but it’s a great place to stash a lens cloth, business card, Zippo, or even a spare pistol mag in a pinch. As a photographer, I am up and down on location quite a bit, and the gusseted crotch was a lifesaver for the old block and tackle.
What impressed me the most is the resilience to wear. They’ve been with me through multiple hard use training classes, thorny backyard work, and early morning Dunkin’ Donuts lines. Recently I hiked through Zion National Park. It was pouring rain for two days and through the mud, puddles, and one or two slips down the mountain on my posterior, the pants held up well – no rips or tears. What you see below are pictures of the pants in the days immediately post-Zion.
After taking these pictures and repeated washings, I still can’t get some of the high-iron-ore mud stains out of them, but I attribute that to washing off the DWR (durable water repellent) finish in my machine at home over several months prior to the hike. The drying time in wet conditions is extremely fast, and their ability to wick away moisture in the heat is welcome in the summer.
At street retail of under $50, you are going to be hard-pressed to find a pair of tactical pants that hold up the way these STL 3 Propper tactical pants do on a day-in-and-day-out basis. The cost alone won me over, but the durability of the pants turned me into a believer.
This Post is part of our Trails Found Series. What is Trails Found? Members of BreachBangClear and some other badass media outlets assembled together this last September to train with one of the last of what has been called the “old Border Breed”, in the desert of Arizona. That man they were training with was no other than the legendary Jim Grasky. In 1965 Jim Grasky was a young Special Forces soldier in the early 60s. He helped chase down Che Guevara and recce some of the more remote areas of Central and South America. By 1970 he was a the squadleader for a team of smoke-jumpers parachuting in to fight remote wildfires, and somewhere during that timeframe may or may not have spent a lot of time with Air America over SE Asia. For about a quarter-century after that he was a Border Patrolman, and literally named BORTAC. Though Grasky is a man of many talents, one of his specialties is man tracking–which is why he developed programs specifically for USSOCOM and has taught the world over. Through your various social media outlets you can track other articles and photos related to Trails Found by searching for #TrailsFound16 and #GoodGearMatters.