There have been a lot of variations of so-called “tactical pants” made over the last nearly decade and a half since we’ve been at war. And no, not all of them are equal by any means. There’s a difference between conscientious development refined by end user feedback and just slapping a sundry of slash pockets randomly on a pair of otherwise normal trousers. Today, the Norseman breaks down the UF Pro Striker HT’s and details each feature.
I recently received these UF Pro Striker HT pants and I was excited to check them out. You can view my first impressions of them here.
Now that I have had these for a decent amount of time I thought that I would give you a better understanding of the system and more importantly, my overall impression. Spoiler alert…I love them, but they could use improvements in a few minor areas.
From the ground up: The cuffs of these pants are as modular as the rest of the system, and start with a hemmed seam housing an elastic drawcord and keeper. They can be drawn tight around the boot top or left as a straight leg. The end of the shock cords are stitched with a piece of hook and loop material to the tag end can be secured. Up the back of the leg is a zippered pleat that houses a strip of Velcro to secure the tag end of the shock cord. This system keeps everything nice, tight and clean, perfect for concealing your court-ordered ankle bracelet. The addition of the shock cord also affords a better security for the lower leg pockets to keep them from flopping around when stuffed full of beef jerky and porn mag clippings. The zippered pleat when unzipped is wide enough to pull the pants on over your boots, just in the event that you forgot which order to dress. There is also a patch of Cordura® at the instep to keep the hem from wearing out as you walk. Finally, inside the front hem is a small snap loop to secure the cuff to the boot laces so they will not ride up if you have to Chuck Norris kick a hipster at the tasty freeze.
Moving up the leg at the calves we find a zippered pocket that is perfectly sized to hold a patrol log book or dip can. I found the pocket just a tad small to hold a 30rd M4 magazine, but who would want that kind of weight on the ankles anyhow? The tops of the pockets are angled slightly to make them more ergonomic when taking a knee. At the bottom center of the pocket is a single grommet hole for drainage.
Next up are the knee pads. UF PRO uses a three layer system, and the first line of defense is a sewn-in CORDURA® pad. This provides at least a little protection even if you are running them slick with no inserts. Under the built-in padding is the second layer of protection, the hard inserts (they’re not really that hard, and are more like dense rubber). They insert into a Velcro secured pouch that is sized just right for the insert. The last knee layer closest to the inside of the pants. This layer is much larger than the other two but is flexible and soft. The sides of the insert are lobed to prevent them from bunching up as they bend with the knee. As an added bonus it is easy to put the knee pads in or take them out while wearing the pants.
One problem that I have found with the flex pads is that if you put the pants on with these pads already in place they can bunch up. This happens about half the time. With the system altogether the added weight at the knee is noticeable but it is far better than the strap on kneepads I used on active duty. The internal knee pads are far less restrictive and somehow they always seem to land under the knee in the proper place. The zipper slot that opens to the largest insert can also be left open as a lower vent to help with air circulation, although this increases the likelihood of scooping up sand and dirt and depositing it squarely behind the knee pad. Ouch!
Moving up the leg, the next innovations are the cargo pockets. They are not designed like traditional cargo pockets and they have a little less capacity but are a capable addition. The cargo pockets have a double access system. Both openings are controlled by independent zippers. One zipper is on the top of the pocket replacing the traditional cargo flap. The other zipper is on the front thigh side of the pocket. On the inside of each of the cargo pockets are two open top pockets to secure small items, but they can also hold double stack pistol or traditional M4 magazines. I have also found that they hold a small framed pistol like a concealed drop holster inside the pocket. They are large enough to hold my full size 1911 pistol and zip the pocket closed but it prints a little on the pocket. My .380 however, is invisible when the pocket is zipped.
The cargo pockets also have a metal grommet hole in the bottom for drainage. On the outside of the pocket is an open top slip pocket that is sized just right to hold a cell phone, and comes with a stiff piece of material that Velcros to the inside. You fold the stiff piece over your phone, GPS, Kestrel or other similar objects, then stuff it back in the pocket. It is listed as the security pocket but I found it to be more hassle than it’s worth, and when navigating any serious obstacle it’s still a high probability that you’ll lose the gear stored there. They would do well to make the stiff insert a little longer (but then, couldn’t we all use another inch or two on our stiff inserts?). Under the pleat next to the security pockets there is a single pen sleeve with a perfect depth for a standard ink pen with pocket clip. It makes it nice to not have to dig around the other pockets to figure out where you put your ink stick.
Moving further up the leg we find two zipper secured vents. The vents are angled and backed with a soft mesh to keep the air flowing and the bugs out. When opened in conjunction with the lower vents the system provides a pump cooling action that circulates air as you move. I have also found that they make an excellent escape scuttle for unwelcome odors, so use them wisely or suffer the consequences. Just to the outside of the vents are two small pockets that are about perfectly sized to hold any clip-on device. The kind that you want to keep close at hand like your folding knife, or flashlight. The crotch gusset is made of a very durable stretchy material that would give your yoga pants a run for the money. More importantly, the soft flexible nature of the gusset makes that incognito adjustment or undercarriage scratch as simple as if you were in your skivvies.
Moving right along, the slash pockets appear to be your run of the mill pockets at first glance. You should suspect by now that there is more than meets the eye in this area also. They feel a little shorter than most but not so much that it makes a difference. The bottom half of the pocket is also made of the aforementioned mesh material for a little more ventilation. There is a seam running along the pants inside of the top of the slash pockets. This seam is a cleverly disguised zipper that houses a secret stash pocket on both the right and left side. An excellent place to stash those small SECRET items that could be easily missed by a careless pat down.
The fly is secured by a metal clasp and a snap along with a double zipper. I thought at first that this was just an attempt to innovate where none was needed, but the double zipper actually proved useful when wearing a duty belt. It is much easier to zip up rather than down and could use some sort of a toggle to make it easier to find with gloves on. The fly also feels a little short compared to similar clothing. It just seems like you have to stretch it out to get a good flow going. It would be a hard task when trying to lay on your side and relieve yourself in a hide site.
The waistline has six belt loops that are very sturdy. They use a double loop system wherein each belt loop has another over the top that snaps open and closed. The purpose is to attach a duty belt outside your web belt and be able to remove it without dropping trou. I found the loops to be spaced and placed just right to accommodate a variety of holsters and cases without restricting their placement too much. Along the front are two loops for the attachment of Y type suspenders. There is also a corresponding loop at the center of the rear. The beltline itself is not the flat type that we traditionally see in ‘Merica. It is tapered to a segregated rise at the small of the back which I find to be much more comfortable when tucking in that combat shirt. That feature is something of a more European influence than we traditionally see stateside.
On each hip there is also about a six-inch patch of elastic crimping to allow for a little waist expansion and contraction we all experience on long deployments. Just below the waist on the inside is a zipper that runs almost all the way around and is covered by a flap to protect the zipper and the wearer. This zipper is for the installation of the WINDSTOPPER liner option.
On the seat are two standard back pockets. The back pockets have zipper access like all of the others, as one would expect. These pockets are also pleated so they can expand a little when stuffed with your gloves or gear. There is also a grommet drain hole at the bottom center of each one. I find them to be a little short to fit my passport wallet and still zip up. There is also a corner of the pocket that has been sewn down by the corner of the cargo pocket. This makes for a strange back pocket with a little ledge in it.
The WINDSTOPPER Liner is made of 100% PTFE membrane covering 100% Polyester flannel base. They are cut anatomically so you don’t have to fumble with clearing your fields of fire for an emergency piss. The liner also has flat seams so you will not notice a friction point where they contact your skin. They are windproof and breathable but they are not waterproof. They will wet right through in a downpour but they are a comfortable and warm addition that can be removed when things heat up. There is no way to secure the bottoms of the liner to the cuff of the pants so when you take them off the liners turn inside out. The materials of the liner also leave me wondering if they would melt and cause severe burns during an IED blast. Better to be safe and keep your FROG gear on underneath if you are wearing these in a hostile environment. Just to test the liners I put them in and took a few mile rides on my quad during a brisk morning. They worked better than I had expected and are a nice addition to the system.
The camo pattern: The Pencott patterns are the next evolution of the digital patterns we all know and love. Essentially they are a digital pattern, built by a micro digital pattern. There are three patterns that I am aware of, the green zone, badlands, and sandstorm. I have the badlands which are perfectly suited for my environment. I think this pattern is probably the most versatile of the three as the green zone and sandstorm seem to be very environment specific. Overall it is a good pattern that blends away and the color/pattern combination break up the human outline very well. UF PRO offers a variety of uniforms in the Pencott patterns and a few other camouflage arrangements. There are also quite a few different solid color options to meet other agency and department standards.
Final impression: While wearing these pants almost exclusively for about a month, I put them through some rather unconventional tests. I’ve done the standards of shooting in different positions, hiking and climbing around in the mountains of course. What I’ve also done is the more mundane day to day tasks that anyone one in uniform will most likely perform when not getting tactical. Most folks may not understand the number of routine activities that will be performed in a tactical uniform outside of the cool and sexy operational stuff. For me, that is where these pants shine.
Many of us have lived in our uniforms for months on end, and they have to be functional clothing as well as the kit. I have slept in these pants, just as I have many times on operations, and they are as comfortable as pajamas. I’ve also worn these pants to assemble IKEA furniture, which is an obstacle course of a different kind. The pants are amazingly functional for fitness activities from ruck runs to yoga. I was also pleasantly surprised with the freedom of movement I had when bouldering in the mountains. The stretch material has shown no wear and appears to be much more durable than it looks, but only time will tell. I’ve manipulated every zipper well over 100 times each and they seem to show no sign of wear.
Overall this is a very well made piece of gear that will be an asset on any mission. They should serve you well and last a long time under operational conditions. If the rest of the clothing system is as durable and innovative as the pants, then this is one uniform that I would have loved when I was walking the walk. For now, these pants have earned a permanent place in my kit for hunting, shooting, guiding and all my hobo-like activities the mountains.
Keep calm and drink mead. Til Valhall!
Head over to the UF PRO website for more information and the link to order. You can also look into them on Facebook, here. Instagram @ufprogear, and Pinterest by clicking here. You can also look into them on YouTube by clicking here.
Please be so kind as to give the Tactical Tyrion series your attention.
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