Best Combat Cargo Trousers: Ready for Any Tough & Outdoor Activities

By Kenneth Miller
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The Rundown

Not all pants are created equal. Some are made for the job, and others need to step up to complete the task at hand.  You need pants that can help you reach your goals, no matter who or what is trying to stop you.

If you’re in the market for tactical pants suitable for special operations, then you’re in the right place. We’ll go over the best tactical pants on the market, breaking down their qualities, and their pros, and cons so you don’t have to. From reinforced knee pads to Teflon-treated fabric, your search for the best tactical pants ends here.

Best Overall
Survival Tactical Gear Men’s Ripstop Pants (Ranger Green)
Survival Tactical Gear Ripstop Pants
The best tactical pants for durability, with high-quality materials and notable extra features.
What we like
  • Breathable and strong NYCO fabric
  • Slots for knee pads
  • Pen tubes
  • Velcro-adjustable waistband
  • Various color options
What we don’t like
  • Thighs may be a little tight


The Survival Tactical Gear Pants are incredibly durable, featuring ripstop technology to prevent tears from happening. The pants are made from a unique blend of nylon and cotton called NYCO, which allows the pants to be relatively waterproof while remaining breathable in hot weather. Although cotton tends to absorb more water than synthetic fabrics, the nylon mix prevents this from happening.

The knee and rear areas of the pants are reinforced with extra materials to make sure those vulnerable parts don’t wear as quickly as usual.


This pair of tactical pants is available in sizes in S to XL to fit almost any body type. Also, the waistband features adjustable velcro. You can adjust the size on the fly for yourself, or several people could use the pants with no issue, making these a perfect choice for families or teammates.

Special Features

You’re able to slip in knee pads for extra protection. This feature is especially useful for tactical situations where you’re prone or positioned for rifle fire, as your knees are often the first parts of your body to get sore.

If you’re using the pants in the field, there are times you need to take notes on the situation and quote witnesses if you happen to be a member of law enforcement. The STG Pants come with convenient pen tubes attached to dual-entry pockets for easy access, perfect for any sort of technical or investigative operation.

These pants also come in a wide variety of colors so you can match them to the primary environment you operate in—Grey for urban settings and Multicam green for forests, and many other options.

Runner-Up Best Overall
5.11 Tactical Men's Stryke Operator Uniform Pants (Stone Color)
5.11 Tactical Stryke Pants
The tactical pants are made for versatility and toughness with a business casual appearance.
What we like
  • Great polyester/cotton material
  • Teflon-coated for additional environmental protection
  • Subtle appearance great for field or office work
  • Various color options
What we don’t like
  • Non-adjustable waistband


The best seller of 5.11’s tactical pants lineup, the Stryke Operator has everything you could want and then some. The ripstop fabric is incredibly tough but gives the wearer enough stretch so that they aren’t stiff and uncomfortable.

That stretch factor is even more impressive when you consider the fact that these pants are Teflon-coated. Typically, a Teflon-coating reduces stretch and makes the pants have an almost starchy feel to them, however, the 5.11 Stryke Operator combined a polyester/cotton fabric and the Teflon-coating to ensure maximum mobility and range of motion.


While some tactical pants measure their size in S to XL+, the Stryke Operator has a specific length and width dimension to choose from. You won’t be able to share the pants with someone other than your size because the waistband isn’t adjustable. This may be a drawback to some. These pants are more versatile than your average tactical pants, suited to both the office and the field, so you might not want to share them anyway.

Special Features

Looking at these pants from the outside, you wouldn’t guess that they have a whopping 12 pockets. You have the option between general cargo pockets and highly-specialized pockets for specific tools. These pants aren’t just meant for literal strike operators, but for worksite managers, construction professionals, and anyone else with a job that requires them to be out in the field.

Complimenting its versatility, the Stryke Operator comes in a dozen different colors for any type of environment or preference. None of these are too flashy, so you could use this pair of tactical pants in any professional situation, and no one would look twice.

Best for Big Guys
Propper Men's 50N/50C ACU Trouser Pant (Universal Digital)
Propper 50N/50C ACU Pants
Big pants for big guys with army specs and a large storage capacity.
What we like
  • Wide size range
  • Military specification construction
  • Drawstring waistband
What we don’t like
  • Only comes in variations of camouflage


The Propper ACU Pants are constructed with a 50% nylon, 50% cotton NYCO material, combining breathability and durability in a single fabric. Further increasing the pants’ sturdiness are felled inseams, which protect the seam fabric from fraying with intensive use.


If you’re a bigger guy, you need pants that can handle big business. These tactical pants come for people of any size, all the way from XXS to 4XL. No matter which size you are, you’ll still benefit from the tactical features the pants have to offer.

If you gain or lose a little weight, you won’t have to worry about getting a new pair. These tactical pants come with a drawstring around the waist for a secure fit that can be adjusted quickly.

Special Features

Since these tactical pants are up to U.S. military specifications, you can expect there to be a few special features included that maximize operational value in the field. The pair comes with 8 pockets, both cargo, and tool-specific, so you can fit almost everything you need for your task in the pants alone.

Best for Hot Climate
LABEYZON Men's Lightweight Rip-Stop Causal Cargo Pants (Grey)
Labeyzon Tactical Ripstop Pants
Majority-cotton tactical pants that are designed for extensive use in hot climates.
What we like
  • Breathable cotton fabric
  • Deep and adjustable pockets
  • Waist has adjustable elastic inserts
What we don’t like
  • Tends to retain water


The Labeyzon pair of tactical pants have an interesting material choice that not many other manufacturers use. They’re made of 97% cotton and 3% spandex, which makes them great for hot environments and slightly stretchy, so they don’t stick to the wearer’s skin.

However, the material might be a hindrance in rain or snow, as the cotton tends to retain water. These tactical pants function best in hot and dry climates.


The pants have adjustable elastic inserts in the waistband and also comes in dimensional pants sizes. Wearers will have to pick their exact size but can adjust the waist size to a certain extent if they need to.

Special Features

These are tactical cargo pants, meaning they’ve been designed specifically with storage capacity in mind. The pair comes equipped with two slanted front pockets with strengthened fabric, two expandable cargo pockets with smaller tool pockets, and two rear pockets. It also has a durable plastic ring attached to the belt loop for your keys or a wallet chain.

Best for Cold Climate
CQR Men's Winter Waterproof Softshell Tactical Hiking Cargo Pants (Coyote)
CQR Winter Tactical Pants
A hyper-thermalized pair of tactical pants perfect for winter weather.
What we like
  • Thermal interior fleece lining
  • Triple-layer waterproofing
  • Excellent storage
What we don’t like
  • Gets hot if you’re not in the cold


The CQR tactical pants features unique material with three layers, each with a specific purpose. The exterior layer is made for waterproofing and excels at it. In our tests, we weren’t able to get any water through that first layer.

The interior thermal layer is the crown jewel of this pair, making them the warmest tactical pants on the market. You could trudge through snow or rain in the wintertime, and your pants would stay as warm as if you were indoors.


These CQR pants come in general sizes from XS to 3XL, a wide range for wearers of any body type. The material is also fairly stretchy, allowing for a wide range of movement.

Special Features

The pockets of these pants are incorporated well into the design. At first glance, it’s not so obvious that they are cargo pants, but they have enough space to fit most objects, large or small. If you choose the hunting camo color, you can’t even tell that pockets are there.

Speaking of colors, these tactical cargo pants have a wide range to choose from, and they’re all quite pleasing to the eye. For the worksite manager, you have black, coyote, or grey, and for the hunter, you have two types of all-purpose camouflage, among others.

Best for Women
5.11 Women's Taclite Pro Tactical 7 Pocket Cargo Pant (Black)
5.11 Women’s Taclite Pro
Durable, tactical, yet feminine pants that have great sizes and the right cut for women.
What we like
  • Heavy-duty ripstop polyester
  • Great pocket space
  • Double-reinforced rear and knee fabric
What we don’t like
  • Can be tight around the hips
  • Thick material can get warm in hot weather


The 5.11 Women’s Taclite Pro tactical pants are made completely with polyester synthetic fabric. This is fairly unusual, as tactical pants use a mix of synthetic materials to achieve maximum waterproofing and tear resistance. That doesn’t mean these pants aren’t durable. The polyester is ripstop and Teflon-coated, meaning these pants can take a beating.

The Teflon-coated polyester isn’t just good for durability and rip resistance… the coating can also protect you from stains, dirt marks, and water damage. When you have expensive gear in your pockets, you need to keep water out at all costs, and these pants can do just that.


There is a pretty big range of sizes available for the Women’s Taclite Pro, so women of every body type can find a great fit. You have options from sizes 2 to 20, with both long and short variations available. If you wear work boots or combat boots, the short cuff length might be helpful to have.

Special Features

These women’s tactical pants have some unique features that are worth considering. The reinforced seat and knees keep your extremities secure in intense situations, and extra strap and slash pockets give you added mobility and gear storage when you need it most. According to one customer, the pants have “plenty of good pockets, places to clip my morakniv, and a clip for keys or whatever your heart desires.”

Best with Padding
IDOGEAR G3 Combat Pants Multicam Men Pants with Knee Pads Airsoft
Idogear G3 Combat Pants
Excellent field pants with impact-resistant knee pads and durable Teflon-coated fabric.
What we like
  • Extremely durable material
  • Knee guards
  • Up to military specifications
What we don’t like
  • Not meant for use outside of fieldwork
  • Small range of available sizes


Like many other pants we’ve included in this ranking, the Idogear G3 Combat Pants are made of a polyester and cotton mix material, providing an equal measure of durability and breathability. Despite common problems with cotton in regards to water retention, the Idogear solves the issue with a Teflon-coating that waterproofs the fabric and increases tensile strength.


One of the drawbacks of these pants is that they don’t offer a wide range of sizes for potential buyers. For the Idogear G3, you only have the choice of 30W x 31L, up to 38W x 33L. Anyone bigger or smaller will have to search for another pair. Also, make a note that these are based on a European sizing chart, which is slightly smaller than what pants use in the United States. If your size is available, these have an excellent fit for overall comfort.

Special Features

The obvious standout feature of the Idogear G3 Combat Pants and many other combat pants is the inclusion of armored knee guards, perfect for squatting and prone shooting. There is also extra stretchy fabric around the knees to ensure the plastic doesn’t tear the material.

To store all the gear necessary for combat situations, you have 10 pockets to choose from, ranging from general cargo pockets to custom-fitted knife pockets.

Best Budget
TRU-SPEC 24-7 Tactical Pants for Men (Earth Color)
Tru-Spec 24-7 Tactical Pants
Comfortable cargo pants fit for work in the field or the office at an affordable price.
What we like
  • Wide color variety
  • Hidden pockets
  • Incredibly affordable
What we don’t like
  • Below average storage space


You can tell that these pants were crafted with everyday use at the forefront of the design process. The 65% polyester, 35% cotton fabric is ergonomically manufactured, slightly stretchy but still ripstop and capable of withstanding the elements.

Even though the materials are high-quality, including the zippers and belt strap, the price for this pair is still surprisingly affordable for one of the best tactical pants on the market.


The Tru-Spec 24-7 Series are built for everybody. They’re one of the best tactical pants for their sizing options, accommodating size 28 all the way up to 52. The polyester material stretches as well, giving you a bit more room in the groin region for intensive tasks.

Special Features

One of the best features of these tactical pants is the hidden pockets. They can fit a concealed sidearm or a knife, particularly useful if you’re an on-duty law enforcement officer who doesn’t want to advertise that fact. However, these pants have fewer pockets overall than other pants we’ve included, most likely because they’re meant for everyday use as well as operational duties.

Runner-Up Best Budget
Lapg Men's Basic Operator Pant with Elastic Waistband (Sierra)
LA Police Gear Operator Pant
Excellent every day or operational pants with a very good price tag.
What we like
  • Great for everyday use
  • Affordable
  • Airport security friendly
What we don’t like
  • Materials aren’t completely waterproof
  • Limited storage space


The LA Police Gear Tactical Pant is made from a polyester and cotton combinate, providing great rip resistance and tensile strength while also remaining breathable and cool in hot weather.

Adding to the pants’ utility is a fully-elasticated waistband, which you’re able to adjust and fix on the go. Combine the elastic waistband with a belt to ensure the pants stay secure.


Since these pants are meant for everyday use as well as field duty, the manufacturers accommodate almost every body size, with available sizes ranging from 28 to 50. Along with the elastic waistband, these pants are adaptable to almost anybody and any situation.

Special Features

With such a low price, it’s not surprising that there aren’t as many special features. You still have a magazine pouch or large cargo pocket, but there aren’t any concealed pockets or secure hooks for various tools or weapons.

There is also a fairly wide selection of colors to choose from, perfect for having several pairs for different occasions and environments.

Ultimate Tactical Pants Buying Guide

Man wearing tactical cargo pants on the field
Image credit: 5.11 Tactical

Before you leap into a brand new pair of tactical pants, there are a few things you need to consider. Using this buyer’s guide, you’ll learn what to look for as you comb through the various options for tactical pants to assess their individual qualities. If you consider all the following factors before making your decision, you can rest assured you chose the best pair of tactical pants for the job.


The material that tactical pants are made of is an incredibly important factor to think about. It will affect your comfort level and what weather you can wear the pants in, and how durable they are over time.

A lot of pants also advertise that their materials are “ripstop,” meaning it stops tears from spreading. Ripstop fabric is a useful quality for fieldwork, so you should keep an eye out for it if you live an active lifestyle or work outdoors.

The following are the materials that your tactical pants could be made from.


Breathable and soft, cotton is not the most durable material over time. However, it’s better for those with sensitive skin or for missions in the office rather than in the field. You wouldn’t use these sorts of tactical pants when it’s raining or snowing because cotton retains a massive amount of water and remains wet for a long time.


Robust and weatherproof, nylon is slightly uncomfortable but extremely durable over time. Nylon isn’t very breathable, but it is remarkably water repellant. Many pants made from nylon are designed for inclement weather and have ripstop qualities.


A similar synthetic material to nylon, polyester is typically thicker and more durable but slightly less waterproof.


Teflon is used to make the material more durable and weather-resistant but isn’t the main material the pants are made of.


The size of tactical pants is obviously going to decide whether or not you can wear them. Any pair’s dimensions will all be listed in a product description, so it’s important to know your measurements offhand. Some pants don’t offer smaller or larger sizes, and you may end up having to pick a different brand.

The cut of pants can also affect their size. While most tactical pants offer a slim cut with minimal baggage, some pants advertise cuts with a little more room. Your decision could be entirely based on your preference, or if you need pants for a job that requires one or the other.

Also, some pants feature velcro waistbands, allowing for quick adjustment if necessary. Be aware that some tactical pants list more possible dimensions than normal pants.


Tactical pants, more so than jeans, khakis, or any other kind of pants, are worn with a job to do. You put them on with the purpose of using them for a specific task in the field and need them to be up to that task. As such, you need to be aware of the special features available for each pair of pants, as they may affect how you can operate in an environment.

Special features can be considered things like tool straps, extra or concealed pockets, or knee pads, among others. Further, the pants’ actual design could be a special feature, so keep on the lookout for pants with patented or unique cons.