The low down: 5.11’s Stryke Pant and Propper’s Polo
The activities that go along with living my life are kept simple. Most of the time I can get away with blue jeans, a t-shirt and a those high speed sneakers from Salomon. There are however times when I need to step it up a notch and bring a level of professionalism to the scene, or I need a specific functionality out of my clothing. Maybe I’ve been asked to instruct with a specific agency and their clients expect a higher level of professionalism and the agency requires their personnel to have a uniform look. Or maybe I need to have the capability to stow a few extra magazines on my person. Let’s take a look at some options from Propper and 5.11 Tactical.
Just so you know in advance, my personal opinion of Propper clothing is less than stellar. I’ve been forcibly exposed to some of their recent offerings based off the traditional BDU cut called “Core” and have experienced ill-fitting garments and less than adequate durability. That said, I’ve noticed Propper is being responsible and addressing some of their clothing line and overall image. I also have a hard time holding a grudge for very long.
Propper calls this polo the Fastback Quarter Zip and it’s from their LS1 collection – it’s all about mobility and performance. Upon first inspection of the Tan XXL polo provided by TacticalGear.com I found it pretty attractive. It’s made from 94% polyester and 6% spandex. The first thing I noticed is the smooth flowing fabric and a stylish zip neck plus a larger flat collar. Other little things are the sunglass clip and dual pen pocket on the left sleeve. I’ve personally never found any use for either, but if you do, they are nice touch and don’t detract from the function or style of the shirt. If you don’t know by now, I’m a tall dude, 6”5” to be exact, and weight in about 225lbs. Propper says this is shirt is designed with a modern silhouette. I take that as a slimmer, European fit. Not boy band tight, but slimmer than traditional shirt cuts. The XXL was huge on me. I think in some situations (wearing another undershirt) this would have been ok, but overall I felt the shirt was draped over me. If I un-tucked the shirt I could have concealed a fully loaded out battle belt. I think if I had the opportunity to wear an XL my overall impression of the fit would have been very positive. I will say the shoulders and sleeve cut do carry the traits of a modern silhouette.
5.11 Tactical has become a favorite brand of public safety professionals worldwide. Over the last 12 years 5.11 has managed to successfully design and produce traditional outerwear, footwear, eyewear, duty knives, tactical gear, and holsters. The company was ranked #211 on the 2007 Inc. 500 – Inc. magazine’s annual ranking, by revenue growth, of privately held, independent, U.S.-based companies. Since I gave my personal opinion about Propper, I think it’s only fair I give my personal opinion about 5.11. All in all, I like 5.11. The main reason is they offer larger and longer sizes and have a variety of options. However in the past I’ve felt their style or cuts have been a bit too boxy for me, and much more could have been said about overall fit. With the introduction of the Stryke Pant and other garments, I think things have changed.
5.11’s motto is “Purpose Built”, and the Stryke Pant (provided by TacticalGear.com) is dubbed as a Multipurpose Range Pant and is produced with their Flex-Tac™ fabric. This proprietary fabric weaves rip resistant fabrics together with elasticity. The goal is to have a pant that is durable and allows the user unrestricted movement. This flexibility begins with a self-adjusting tunnel waistband. The stretchy material is built into the pant and not exposed. This creates a clean look and allows some extra space when the belly is bigger than it was yesterday. Users will appreciate the little additions to these pants like the badge snap holder located on the two front belt loops and two small front pockets that run vertically along the upper thigh and allow access seated or standing. These are big enough to stow standard 30-round magazines, knives and other assorted items requiring quick access. Moving down the pant to the knees, 5.11 doubled up the fabric in the knee area for added durability. I really like how they opened up the traditional hand pockets and added a piece of Cordura where the cool guys slip their knives over. They’ve created a clip pocket, too, so the clip on your knife is less likely to catch on exterior surfaces. This is doable because 5.11 raised the cargo pockets up a couple of inches. You’ll also find two linear pockets inside each cargo pocket that allow you stow smaller items and keep everything organized.
All in all, this is a pretty cool combination. I do have my concerns with the fabric in the polo. These shirts look nice until they get a couple snag points in them. I’ve also noticed if washed with other clothing items that have Velcro these types of shirts can get chewed up. One more observation – I think these shirts are a bit oversized. That could be good for some applications, or personal needs, but if you’re looking for a less baggy image, I’d try a size down. It’s a pretty sweet shirt that should allow you stay cooler in hotter environments and add some style. In my opinion, the pants are awesome. I think 5.11 has some folks in the back genuinely thinking about the end user. I would have liked to try a different color; black has limited applications for my daily activity. With this said it certainly didn’t detract from the superior functionality of the pant.
Lastly – I want to commend 5.11 for sticking up for the tall folks in the crowd. The pants fit perfectly and waist sizing was perfect.
About the author: Mike Haytack has spent the last 20 years working as a Joint Terminal Attack Controller. With 7 combat deployments in both Special Operational Forces and Conventional Forces he has amassed more than 1,400 days of deployment active combat environments. See more on his YouTube channel or on Facebook.
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Photos: Jarred Taylor and Mike Haytack