Here at The Bug Out Bag Guide, we asked our readers what areas of survival preparedness they were most interested in learning more about and overwhelmingly the answer was tactical clothing for bug-out and get-home scenarios. To provide you with the most complete and comprehensive resource on tactical survival clothing, we’re writing a series of articles starting with this one on the best tactical pants to pack for your survival plans.
Believe it or not, the clothing you choose for your bug-out or get-home bag can have a substantial impact on your chances for survival. The right clothing can improve your performance, especially in harsh conditions, and provide an advantage that can greatly improve your odds for survival.
The whole point of having a bug-out or get-home bag prepared and ready to go is that you never know when you will need it. What if you find yourself bugging-out in a suit and tie, or in the middle of the night? Trekking through dangerous wilderness or navigating panic-stricken streets would be next to impossible without the right tactical gear to protect you from the elements.
In this article, you will learn the various advantages that tactical pants have over average streetwear and how to choose the best tactical pants for your situation, along with our top picks.Click the images to view size and color options on Amazon. Click the images to view color and size options on Amazon.
All About Tactical Pants – Why You Need Them, What To Look For
Tactical pants, or tactical trousers, were originally developed as practical work attire for woodsmen and were quickly adopted by both military and police forces as the clothing proved very useful in combat situations.
Tactical pants offer many advantages over jeans or typical street clothes including a better fit and easier movement. Well-made tactical pants will have plenty of easily-accessible storage areas, be made of high-performance fabric, and have reinforced seams.
Additionally, you can find some tactical pants that offer pockets for inserting knee pads as well as ankle drawstrings for cinching into your boots to keep out dust, water and insects.
For our pick of the best tactical pant with reinforced knee and built-in knee pocket pad, check out TRU-SPEC Men’s Lightweight 24-7 Pant, or Blackhawk Men’s I.T.S. HPFU Pants for excellent blousing ankle ties that fit snuggly inside boots.
The ‘must-have’ features for ideal tactical pants varies by person and situation and are highly dependent on the climate in which they will be used and your particular survival plan. No matter your individual needs, there are several areas in which you will need your tactical pants to perform: weather resistance and protection; durability; ease of movement; and strategic cargo storage and accessibility (layout of the pants).
Weather Resistance and Protection
For many people, protection from water or harsh storms is a major priority in choosing tactical pants; how your pants will perform in wet conditions is highly dependent on the type of fabric they are made from, how that fabric is treated, and how the seams come together.
For most scenarios, water resistance will suffice, but for more treacherous survival plans, consider fabric treated with Teflon, which seals out water and causes it to bead and roll off; however, Teflon does not necessarily provide protection against complete submersion. If your survival plan takes you through a body of water, your best bet is to choose a quick-drying material that won’t weigh you down. For our top Teflon choice, check out the Men’s TacLite Pro Pant.
When choosing the best tactical pants for your survival plan, keep in mind the types of activities you are most likely to be performing. Lightweight tactical pants are excellent for providing protection from scraping your skin while scrambling over rocks or through thorny bushes; they also act as a great defense against mosquitoes and ticks.
For an excellent convertible tactical pant (zip-off legs quickly convert to shorts), check out Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Convertible Pant. In terms of temperature control, those in high-temperature climates may be tempted to reach for a lighter-fabric tactical pant, but remember that even in warm areas, nights can reach uncomfortable levels of cold. For those in dual-temperature climates, layering may be the best option.
UnderArmour Men’s UA Storm Tactical Duty Pants offer protection from harmful UV rays as well as ample storage, quick-drying and breathable material, and hidden pockets for IDs and documents. For strictly colder climates, a heavier fabric, such as Gortex (less breathable but very insulating), is your best choice. Consider layering thermals underneath or wearing slim, tactical snow pants that will allow you sufficient movement.
There are a variety of options to choose from when selecting the most durable material for tactical pants, including cotton, canvas and synthetic fabrics.
Cotton is a great choice as it is comfortable and durable; however, it also retains moisture and is generally heavier than other options. There are cotton blends available that offer wicking and therefore decrease weight. Additionally, cotton materials take to weatherproofing through silicone treatments better than purely synthetic materials. To learn more about weatherproofing your bug-out gear, CLICK HERE.
If you foresee your gear getting a lot of wear, canvas is an excellent choice (canvas is the same material used for sails and firehoses, so it can withstand substantial wear). However, it is a heavier fabric and offers little in the way of freedom of movement.
Synthetic fabric, such as lycra or spandex, is typically lightweight, provides for excellent flexibility, and most blends wick moisture well.
Ease of Movement
To allow for more movement, look for flexible fabric with some stretch to it as well as features such as pleats and gusseting in the knees. For a strong tactical pant that also allows for flexible movement, check out Propper Men’s Lightweight Tactical Pant.
Strategic Cargo Storage and Accessibility
As any well-prepared survivalist knows, there are certain items that must be accessible quickly in a survival scenario such as a self-defense weapon, flashlight, knife, and multitool. To ensure the best access to your most-needed tools, look for tactical pants that have deep pockets and velcro or zipper closures.
Some will have inlaid pockets while others external cargo pockets; what’s most important is that there is room for all your most important gear and that it will be accessible on demand. Squared off pockets function well for clipping a knife, flashlight or pen; elastic webbing is great for holding gear in place; and sectioned off pockets will keep your gear nicely organized.
For our pick of the best tactical pants for elastic webbing cargo capacity, check out Blackhawk Men’s Lightweight Tactical Pant, as well as Vertex Men’s Original Tactical Pants for zippered cargo pockets that also offer a low profile appearance.
Additional Considerations for the Best Tactical Pants
When deciding on the best tactical pants for your survival plans, three additional areas warrant consideration: durability; portability (weight/storing); and color (Gray Man friendly vs. camo).
The durability of your tactical pants is an especially important consideration when preparing for an INCH (I’m Never Coming Home) scenario. This particular scenario may require investment in higher quality tactical pants that are built to withstand longer wear. Conversely, when prepping for your get-home bag, tactical pants that will simply see you through the night are sufficient.
It is important to think about how portable your tactical pants are in terms of both their weight and storage capabilities. If your tactical pants will be stored in your car, weight and bulk are less of a factor, but in terms of your bug-out bag, a lightweight and compactable fabric is most desirable.
Generally, your choices will be between regular-colored clothing and camo. Each has its own advantages depending on the locale and situation in which they will be used.
If your survival plan requires navigating a populated area, digital camo is not the most ideal choice. The reasoning follows the Gray Man principle: in a disaster scenario, the last thing you want to do is stand out as the prepared person amongst throngs of unprepared and chaotic citizens; by carrying gear that doesn’t look like survival gear, you will camouflage the fact that you are equipped and greatly increase your chances of survival.
For an inconspicuous look, check out 5.11 Tactical #74290 Covert Cargo Pants.
Conversely, a wilderness survival situation would benefit from camouflage patterns or subtle earth tones as you would be able to blend in with natural surroundings.
When choosing the best tactical pants, the most important consideration is how well the pants will function in relation to your survival plan. Always remember to keep in mind the various elements you will face and the protection your pants can provide (water resistant, heat resistant, etc.), how much and what type of activities they can withstand, how easy it is to maneuver in them, and how much easily-accessible storage space they offer.
Additional considerations include the storability of the pants (how easy are they to pack/carry), whether a Gray Man or camo look is preferred, and how long will you need the pants to perform for. If you follow these tips you’ll be sure to find the best tactical pants for your specific survival needs.
Do you own a pair of awesome tactical pants that we should have included? What are their best features? Are you interested in more articles about tactical clothing? Tell us in the Comments section below, thanks!