Vertx — The next best thing to trousers
When choosing a pair of pants for work or everyday use, there are a lot of things that I have learned to look for. Many are the result of lessons I learned after some not so good choices. I want my pants to be casual and tough but without a “that dude is a cop” or “that guy’s probably got a gun on” look. Unfortunately the need for a comfortable, utilitarian design constructed to withstand an increased load on the belt loops while accommodating EDC considerations and a good stiff belt severely restricts wardrobe options.
Over the last 20 years I have been issued or purchased nearly every type of tan so-called “tactical pants” on the market. I wore Royal Robbins for years as a recruit instructor at the police academy, and then a fairly complete sampling of all the subsequent brands and styles that spawned from those “original” Royal Robbins style pants.
For the past 18 to 24 months I have been wearing different versions of Vertx pants. I have utilized both the standard men’s pants and the Phantom LT models, but the majority of the ones I own and use are the “standard” offering. Thus far they are hands-down my favorite breed yet, for a number of reasons.
I have used these pants in various environments and situations, from instructing on the range and in the shoot house to attending conferences (including the last two years at SHOT Show) to everyday use. I have shoveled manure, pitched hay, plowed snow and driven 12 to 16 hours at a stretch in these pants. They have always remained comfortable and reliably withstood damage. In the colors other than khaki and desert tan, they can nearly fit in and pass for any other pair of trousers.
“What do you mean, pass for trousers?!”
The clothing industry and firearms culture has unfortunately cornered themselves somewhat by educating the public eye regarding how “gun guys” dress. The tactical cargo pants and standard four to five patterns of “tactical / concealed carry” shirts that a few companies produce make it as easy to ping someone as a gun carrier as does the wear of a fanny pack. That was the reason I stopped wearing any utilitarian “tactical” trousers years ago outside of work. The Vertx color options and lower profile pockets are a welcome development. These features allow Vertx fit in and blend a more with traditional pants, allowing you to spread load your EDC across multiple pockets without announcing to the general public that you’re armed. (Remember a genuinely trained eye watching for signs that you are armed will require greater efforts to remain low profile, even in permissive environments.)
The fundamental, exceptional details integrated in the design of the pants shows in the end result. They are constructed of a blend of 98-percent cotton and 2-percent Lycra Advantage Stretch, which allows for comfortable movement, even on hot days when sweat would hamper most on-the-range activities, such as kneeling or bending. They also have a gusseted crotch and articulated knee and hip sections that also increase mobility and ease of movement along with the internal stretch waistband.
For me, the functional side of the trousers is the icing on the cake. The cargo pockets on the legs are not simply pockets stitched onto an existing pant leg. Rather the initial material was removed, allowing for the pocket construction to fall flat against the leg. The material is removed without sacrificing structural integrity and does reduce (an admittedly small amount of) weight as well — but every little bit helps, especially when soaked with water, sweat or mud. The cargo pockets also are Velcro free and are stitched on the leading and trailing edges of the closure; this keeps access quiet and ensures that items will remain secured in the pockets until needed.
The front facing pockets are deep and are cut with a horizontal section on the bottom to allow for a knife or flashlight to be clipped and lay flat while in the pocket. On the right side pocket, there is an interior pocket that has a zipper closure to secure any items you would wish to enhance security with that function.
The rear pockets are also constructed with an internal piece of material inserted as a “flap” that is stitched along the sides that helps retain your wallet or credentials during increased activity and assist in casual, daily retention.
The Phantom LT trousers feature the same functional offerings as the standard trousers, but are constructed of a 65-percent-polyester, 35-percent-cotton blend and are made in a mini ripstop construction. They are wrinkle resistant and feature Intelli-dry technology. This is a liquid repellent on the surface of the fabric. It assists in resisting stains. The interior material is moisture wicking to assist with sweat during the hot months or increased activity.
The same trousers available to men are also available in women’s sizes and cut. They are not a slightly modified version of a pair made for men; these were designed with input from female professionals in the industry for women, and no I have not wear-tested these particular styles.
The standard trousers come in law enforcement black, navy, OD green, khaki and desert tan. The Phantom LT are available in the same as above, with the addition of smoke grey
Vertx has several other options for pants, to include the four colors of Kryptek; Highlander, Nomad, Mandrake and Typhon. Those are a 50-percent-nylon, 50-percent-cotton ripstop. Those along with other Kryptek offerings from the Vertx line will be covered in the near future.
The current offerings from the Vertx trouser line are a very viable, well-constructed pants. I enjoy their “lower profile” durability and the obvious thought put into their construction. Someday I would like to see a “business casual” pair that has the increased strength in the belt loops and belt line, but has the cargo pockets so you could wear them in a more professional setting or certain work venues. We will see if that comes to market anytime soon. In the meantime, if you are looking for more in a pair of more discreet EDC pants, take a look at Vertx. They have impressed me for nearly two years now, whether I’m working at the range, working on the farm or out in the public eye.
Editor’s Note: Issue 7 of RECOIL featured a look at a number of different manufacturers and styles of tactical pant. (See “Hot Pants” on page 114.) Though it was a good review addressing numerous considerations, constraints of space and time necessarily limited the article.There are some other pants I wanted to have examined (not necessarily as just go-to-the-range britches), to include Vertx, Fighter Design (which I recently wore during the Greenside Tracking class and will be reviewing soon) and Pickpocket Proof Pants from Clothing Arts. Knowing Matt’s extraordinary and unique background, I asked which trousers he most often wore day to day. Turns out he sticks to jeans and Vertx — this article is his explanation of why. –David Reeder
About the Author: Matt Jacques is the training director for Victory First Consulting. He recently left the service of the Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, where he was the Operations Chief for Firearms Training Unit, to begin teaching full time. A former Marine MP assigned to the Presidential Helicopter Squadron, he spent over a decade as police officer, undercover detective, and SWAT team member before surviving a near-fatal injury inflicted by a wanted felon that forced an end to his LE career. Following his recovery, “Jake” spent two years as the senior manager for Weapons Integration and Training Operations with FNH USA, where he was involved in every aspect of the SCAR program, as well as all development and training aspects of the M249, M240, and the FN SPR sniper rifle systems. You can follow Victory First Consulting on the web and via their Facebook page.
Thanks to Nathan Jacques of Optix Photography for the images.