The Propper company has been in the tactical garb business a long time. The company has a new women’s line, and I’ve had the good fortune to test some of those items as well as others. This first of multiple Propper wear reviews covers the short sleeve summer weight tactical shirt and the Kinetic pants, both of which are also offered in men’s styles.
This range test involved two entire days in 90-plus degree heat and bright sun, and yes I wore the items two days in a row before washing. The days involved carrying target frames and weights, shooting, and demos in prone and kneeling. Lots of bending and twisting was included; none of the locations where I work have permanent target materials, so every range day is also furniture-moving day.
First, the shirt. I was immediately impressed by the UPF 50 rating. Sun damage is virtually unavoidable where I live, so the chance to minimize it is welcome. From the moment I donned the shirt, I was struck by its combination of stretch and crispness in texture. It’s constructed of 94 percent ripstop nylon and six percent spandex. The cut is generous, with wider sleeves than I normally choose, but I was soon grateful for the way they let air circulate.
Other features of the shirt include Velcro tabs on the chest pockets that keep them from curling, a large and hidden left-side accessory pocket, and a pen slot on the left chest pocket. All these features make it great for recreational or duty use. I love that the collar will stand up straight all day to prevent neck sunburn, and then fold down like new when the sun sinks low. The pockets have deep pleats, making it not so obvious when small items like lip balm or business cards are in there. Hooray for pockets that are more than just decoration.
In the back, over the shoulders is mesh, hidden by shirt material. As with other shirts of this caped design, I found this to be the place where I sweated most. It’s not logical, but it happens. Remarkably, though I sweated quite a lot over two days, the shirt never had wet spots, including under the arms, and didn’t get stinky — otherwise I’d not have attempted a two-day trial. It gets outstanding marks for odor control!
The fit has a waist cut into it, which proved functional as I never struggled with fabric bunching up above my pistol or mags. I did have to re-tuck the back in once during the trial—not unreasonable considering the work I was doing. The length is about right and thankfully longer than most women’s shirts that come untucked frequently.
The extreme high-performance nature of this fabric where sweat is concerned is a reflection of Propper’s “fast drying” claim. I washed the shirt according to directions — in cold with like colors, followed by machine drying on low. Much to my surprise, in a full load of other wet clothes, this shirt came out of the dryer bone-dry in a mere seven minutes. This thing redefines quick-drying.
Propper made me thankful once again as I pulled the shirt out of the dryer. See, I detest ironing, and was sure that such a crisp garment would be demanding in that department. But no — it came out of the dryer looking ready for another range day. Were I headed to a business meeting in the shirt, I’d iron it, but it’s not at all sloppy out of the dryer for outdoor wear. Propper got the summer weight tactical shirt right, and it’s worth every penny of its $44.99 price tag.
On to the Kinetic pants. Let’s get right to the point: I love them. For years, I’ve chosen men’s pants for range, and more recently casual wear, because of the DUPS (Disappearing or Useless Pocket Syndrome) trend in women’s wear, sadly including range wear. Not these! Propper put two—count ‘em race fans—two front “cell phone” pockets on the thighs. Not only are they there, I can even get my hand into them! This is real cause for celebration in my book.
The cargo pockets include layers of storage, but the main compartment is easy to access and just deep enough to shove rifle mags into during tactical reloads. During the test, I carried my concealment gun in a holster, indexed for drawing, in one cargo pocket. It made no ugly bulge and stayed concealed and in place throughout.
Lovely deep front slash pockets are like any men’s pants. Propper thoughtfully added a reinforced horizontal place at the bottom that kept my folder secure without worry. With traditional slash pockets over my short-waisted body, blades often begin to creep up and out. Not so with these pants. Wearing them, I felt like you do when you meet that friend who finally “gets” you.
An unusual feature is a second loop of matching material over the front belt loops. It’s handy if you need to carry a badge or stow sunglasses.
Like the shirt, the Kinetic pants have some stretch to them. I’ve wondered for years why no one puts just a little stretch in tactical pants. It made my range time so much more comfortable, and getting into prone and kneeling was completely unimpeded. Hallelujah!
The zipper is heavy duty. One feature I’m undecided on is the long satin pull tab. Tucking it back in after nature breaks takes a bit of effort. A couple of times on a very full day, I looked down to see it sticking out from the zipper flap… it’s darker than the coyote brown pant material and rather noticeable.
Pocket lining matches the pants, contributing to a professional look. The 79 percent polyester, 21 percent cotton ripstop, plus what Propper calls NEXstretch (not sure how that math works) washed up clean and dried fast and is ready to wear without ironing. The fabric is treated with a dirt resistant substance of some kind, and it was nice that most debris just brushed off while steel stains from carrying targets washed out without extra treatment.
These pants are my new favorite. Someone at Propper kept real women who do real work in mind when these were designed. Kudos, Propper! The Kinetic Pant is more practical than most of its kind, and priced better too at $54.99.
It’ll be interesting to see if my love affair with Propper continues when I try more of their garments and boots in upcoming reviews.