The common trend today is to wear tactical cargo pants Every Day Carry (EDC) and attempt to blend in with your surroundings. The idea behind the cargo pant was to have a durable pant that could provide a little bit of a casual look while you conceal a firearm. For the most part, people were drawn to the latest and greatest cargo(tactical) pants for their flexibility, durability, and how they seemed to be designed to handle the demands of someone in a gunfight. The problem with the tactical cargo pant is that it kind of sticks out like a sore thumb these days.
I think there is a growing population of gun owners who are not willing to change out of their jeans in order to merge with the cargo pant community, no matter how many advantages it may bring. It looks like the community is starting to look for ways to conceal in style without losing too much function. Luckily, 5.11 has developed jeans that make it possible to get some of the functionality of the latest cargo pants but with the comfort and style of the common pair of jeans. This isn’t just 5.11 getting away from tactical clothing and going into standard mainstream clothing designs. This is style and fashion with a tactical and utilitarian purpose. Something very different from what it may seem they are doing on the surface.
I am glad to see that the market is starting to shift away from the cargo pant style and gun owner fashion to a more realistic and blended style. People are starting to prefer a more incognito and stylish concealment method. When you take a gorgeous woman on a date but wanna make sure you are appropriately strapped, you may want to opt for a more casual look rather than an operator style. This is why I am looking more for clothing that is more stylish rather than just functional. We can have the best of both function and style without compromising too much, but the question is if 5.11 managed to make an EDC jean that effectively combines fashion with tactical efficiency.
The Defender-Flex jeans I chose are a straight cut which I prefer for the added mobility and comfort in leg room, which will be covered later. I chose the blue jeans(Dark Wash Indigo) because I feel it is more fitting to my style and the overall appearance of my surroundings. Though, cargo pants are very common due to the functionality requirements of most jobs here in Alaska due to the oil field workers and such. A good way to stick out in my town and area is to be stylish. But people just assume you are a visitor for some reason. But going into bigger cities in Alaska, you will blend into the population more where style, fashion, and the latest trends are more commonplace.
These pants actually have quite a nice look to them. They have quite the modern look with a dark blue and slightly faded at the front of the legs, on the quadriceps region.
I think they go well with my standard winter attire to give a nice casual look that blends well with a sense of mild stylishness. Makes it very easy to go to the range, be able to perform complex movements comfortably and then go out in public to run errands in style. In fact, that is exactly the reason 5.11 designed these jeans. The market has taken quite a shift as more and more people are seeing the benefits of having clothing that can have utilitarian uses without a loss in style. I think 5.11 pulled it off in the style department. The one thing I see is that they are limiting the selection to two colors, blue and almost black indigo blue. I feel that this color spectrum should be expanded if and when the market catches up and starts demanding greater selection and more options.
The Defender-Flex Jeans are designed to act as a merger between style and function. It does this in a few ways. First way is that it provides extra reinforcement at common stress points through the jeans. Second is it has added flexibility that other jeans will not have.
The Defender-flex jeans by 5.11 are made of an interesting combination of materials. My limited knowledge of jeans is that most jeans are made of 100% cotton. This can be somewhat heavy when everything is all said and done. These Defender jeans are made to be light and flexible. They make use of a material called Lycra, which is basically a combination of cotton, polyester, and spandex. 5.11 is not the first apparel company to utilize this material, but it is definitely good to see that they put time into using good materials instead of just using classic denim material.
One of the functions of these jeans, or at the least the intended function, is to bring the jean closer to the cargo pant in capability. One of the big things cargo pants allow is significant storage space. These jeans come with two extra pockets just above each of the rear pockets, which can be used to stash your wallet, a multi-tool, a Tourniquet, or a pistol magazine.
They are deep and wide enough to hold a couple of full-sized Glock magazines. I can’t say that these pockets hide the magazines that well, but if you are wearing a long enough cover garment, you may be able to pull it off without too much issue. Personally, I find this utility pocket to be a terrific place for my thick metal wallet to prevent myself from fully sitting on it, which would be quite uncomfortable.
The rear pocket, as you can see is just deep enough to fit a 6 inch long phone.
The front pockets of the jeans, compared to other jeans I own, are just a tad shallow at about 6 inches deep. But they are easily deep enough to hold a knife and a wallet in the front if you wish. A cool feature these jeans have, that you don’t get with other jeans, is a nylon lining on the inside of the front pockets.
Though I did find it strange that there was no outside reinforcement on the seam of the pocket to prevent wear from the knife clip, like you find on most tactical cargo pants.
As long as we are on the subject of storage and knives, the coin pocket on the right side is wide enough and deep enough to comfortably hold a 4 inch folding knife. Personally I found the Coldsteel Recon 1 to fit easily and with room to spare.
The belt loop construction of the Defender-Flex jeans, as with most of the design, are unique and have a specific function. If you look at the front and rear belt loops, you may notice that they are strategically positioned right in line with the stress points and seams. This was by design, and was meant to provide added support when wearing a belt. Also, you will notice that the belt loops do not interfere with the openings of the pockets.
If you look on the inside of the waistline, you will notice that the belt loops are secured to the inside of the pants using pocket material and a heavy stitch. This is just another example of the tough and durable construction 5.11 put into these jeans.
The mobility of the jeans is unlike anything I personally have experienced before. It is common to have denim jeans that are rigid and stiff, and you have a sacrifice in mobility that you have to train around at times. This is not really the case here. Also another part of this flexibility is in the waistband. The pants I got were a 32, which is barely my size, but it had basically the same dimensions as a 33 inch waist. This is by design in order to accommodate an IWB holster. Aside from that, the extra flex and increased size of the waist aids in overall mobility instead of causing pinching and stretching. This is a detail often overlooked in pants, and it greatly hinders convenient function for some people when it is absent.
You can expect to pay about $70 for a pair of these jeans off of 5.11’s website. On Black Friday, 5.11 had these jeans on sale for about $54. I think the original price is somewhat inflated for what you are getting. I feel the Black Friday sale price is a better representation of what the pants are worth. The jeans are made in Cambodia, instead of the US, which leads me to believe this should result in lower prices for the end-user.
I feel that these jeans are going to be a hit on the US market. I am hoping that this type of apparel will become more common to the point that the old “5.11” look fades away and fashionable practicality takes its place. I am a strong believer in the idea that we should not have to step too far outside of our normal daily lives. I just feel that there is no reason that we should have to wear pants that make us look like we live at a range or in the outback, just to get a functional EDC system. I think that it is a good start to changing the way we see EDC and the clothing we need in order to be effective when the time comes. There is no reason that we can’t look good in casual clothing while we stand ready.
Overall Ratings– 17/25
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