GeekMom’s newest sponsor, 5.11 Tactical, maker of a wide variety of tactical equipment, sent me a few of their products to test. They sent the Women’s Tactical Pants, the women’s short sleeved Tactical Polo, the Tac Dry Rain Shell, and the COVRT18 Backpack. I was in a pretty good position to test them all since I was able to take them on our long summer road trip.
A general review of the four products is that they all performed fantastically. The materials are durable, the seams are strong, and the (YKK) zippers can take a lot of abuse. Product pricing is very reasonable for what you get. For details on each product individually, visit the 5.11 Tactical website where you can find many more details, including (sometimes lengthy) product videos. For my take, keep reading!
Pants are a tricky business for women. We’re all built a little bit differently. I have a hard time finding pants made for women that fit me. Usually the waist is too tight, or the hips and legs are too baggy. So I often make due with men’s pants. But I was pleasantly surprised that 5.11 Tactical’s Women’s Tactical Pants fit my proportions perfectly. Made from 100% 8.5 ounce cotton tactical canvas, they are comfortable, sturdy, and survive a lot of abuse. In short, they are fantastic. The waist is partially elastic, which makes for a better fit for more women. This has had the side effect, though, of sometimes causing me to have to pull them back up when I bend (or perhaps I should have just ordered the next size down). The pants have seven pockets, including two side pockets on the legs, and a special Cordura lined pocket perfect for a cell phone or similarly shaped item. The knees have a double layer of fabric, ideal for knee pad inserts, such as 5.11 Tactical’s Neoprene ones. The pants have a D-ring to clip things to, slash rear pockets, front pockets, and a double layered seat. There is a strangely placed button in the zipper area that I have yet to figure out the purpose for. There is also a handle on the back right of the pants that is meant for attaching items, but I discovered that it is also perfect for kids to grab on to when in a crowd, helping them stay close. I like these pants so much that I would buy more for myself, and definitely some for my husband, who wears through things a lot faster than I do.
How is a simple polo shirt considered tactical? I wondered the same thing. I was also a hard sell on these shirts, because I’ve been biased against polo shirts since the 1970s. However, the first time I put it on, I quickly realized how comfortable and flattering this particular polo shirt was. Cut for actual, regular women, these shirts are feminine without being at all clingy. Perfect for me. And if I ever need to hide a microphone on my person, this is the shirt I’ll wear! The shirt is 100% cotton jersey with a taped neck and shoulders. It washes up nicely, including in the dryer. It’s a good shirt for when you want to be comfortable but look somewhat professional. And here comes the tactical part: There are pen slots on the left shoulder, and microphone pockets at both shoulders and at the bottom of the button placket. For the perfect tactical ensemble, pair with the Tactical Pants, above.
I own a Tardis. My very own Tardis. It’s called the COVRT18 Backpack. It is bigger on the inside. I swear. Of all the 5.11 Tactical products, this one got the most love and abuse on our trip. It was the bag that I carried with me almost every day. It held my iPad, netbook, purse, travel documents, sunscreen, snacks, drinks, and dozens of other things, all at the same time. Its design kept my neck and back happy, and the extreme weight of the contents was only noticeable when my feet started hurting earlier than usual. The backpack has so many secret stash spots that I kept losing my items within the backpack. I forgot which pocket I would put something in. I lost track of how many pockets this bag has. It has an upper, fleecy “sunglasses” pocket (also great for small electronics), a padded internal laptop sleeve, two side water bottle pockets, several pockets that have side access, large pockets, small pockets, and, interestingly, a reinforced “flat stuff” pocket (my words, not theirs) that is hidden behind the shoulder straps. You can only really get to it if you take off the pack. It’s a great spot to keep things mostly flat. The shoulder straps are very well padded, and there is a sternum strap to help with weight distribution. The top has a nice grab handle, and the sides have fasteners to cinch the bag down if it isn’t terribly full. I love this backpack, and it worked very well for my trip. When I wasn’t staying at someone’s house, I felt that I needed to carry all of my valuables with me. And I did. And the bag was heavy, but carrying it around all day wasn’t a burden. This bag seems to be intended to use in the urban jungle, to have a lot of functionality while blending in with everyone else. But it is a great product for anyone who needs a durable bag with many different kinds of pockets. Check out 5.11 Tactical’s website for their other tactical backpacks as well.
It didn’t rain nearly as much on our summer trip as I had assumed it would. You would think, summer, east coast, humidity, that means lots of rain. But no. We actually were quite fortunate to miss all but a few large rain storms. The Tac Dry Rain Shell got a lot of use in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, area, though, early on in our trip. It was cool, humid, and very rainy during our visit to that part of the country. I wore the rain shell every day for a week. It is completely waterproof, and kept me quite dry. The hood doesn’t cover as much of my head as I’d like, but the rest performed very well. There is a bit more to the jacket than just a mere shell, so it doubles as a light jacket when it doesn’t need to protect you from the rain. The Tac Dry Rain Shell has two side pockets, and the removable hood rolls into the collar. There is an adjustable cord at the waist to block out the wet (and cold, if present). The rain shell is made of micro ripstop fabric and has an incredibly nice feel to it. It doesn’t feel like a rain coat at all. It just feels like a light coat that happens to also be waterproof. Dedicated rain coats are fairly impractical where I live, since it rarely rains. A jacket such as this that does double duty as a light layer and a rain coat is perfect.
To get the most out of tactical clothing and gear, you don’t need to live a rough life. I live a pretty cushy life, physically, and still have gotten a lot of use out of all the products that I have tried. As long as you have a desire or need for durable, quality clothing and gear, and/or a need for many pockets, you’ll get the most out of 5.11 Tactical products. I highly recommend them.
Note: I’m not just giving these products a good review because they are our sponsor. I really and truly like their stuff. It is all quality and utilitarian, and it looks good.