Mad Duo Mara
In the interest of honesty, I admit this is the first time I’ve tried women’s tactical pants. Military PXs are mostly stocked with dude stuff in dude sizes, and ordering online is a game of size roulette, so I never really got around to it. Women’s tactical anything isn’t exactly an enormous market, and I’ve always rolled my eyes at the vaguely condescending marketing blurbs. The language varies, but the gist is always the same: “Now you can do BOY stuff, and look PRETTY doing it!” Look, asshole, don’t stick flower embroidery on it. I want to look like a badass. More importantly, I want products that prioritize function over form.
There are currently five styles of pants available for women from 5.11, with the Strykes being the “covert” cargo option. 5.11 claims their Stryke Pants set the standard for all women’s tactical pants, providing all the tactical storage you need in a flattering, comfortable pair of pants. Fancy.
Before we get ahead of ourselves: I’m about 5’8”, 145lbs, and tried out size 8 Long in black. I’ve adjusted the color on some of photos to highlight seams and features, which is why the pants appear charcoal or gray in some pictures.
The Strykes’ features, from 5.11’s own website:
• Stretch waistband
• Fully gusseted crotch
• Articulated knees (kneepad ready)
• Bartacking at major seams and stress points
• TEFLON® finish
• 12 pockets sized for tactical use
• Rinse washed
• YKK® zippers
• Prym® snaps
The pants technically have twelve pockets, although four of those are internal compartments in the cargo pockets. The hip pockets are incredibly roomy; these are the only women’s pants I own that’ll hold a smartphone. Furthermore, there’s a reinforced panel for your EDC knife. (Both sides! Happy now, lefties?)
The cargo pockets are low-profile, with an attractive rounded design and slightly angled placement. Each contains two additional compartments, exactly sized to fit a 30-round STANAG magazine. Fishing mags out can be a challenge though, so if you’re planning on keeping backup magazines in your cargo pockets some kind of mag assist might be helpful. (Ranger plates or paracord loops, if that floats your boat. The pocket flaps won’t close over Magpuls.)
The front pockets will easily hold a knife or a medium-sized smartphone. Or a handful of tampons. Or a small pocket flask. Put whatever you want in them, I’m not the boss of you.
The knees allow for the insertion of neoprene knee pads — not a feature I’ve used, but thoughtful nonetheless. Likewise, I haven’t had much need for the badge holders or back pockets, but I appreciate 5.11’s attention to detail.
One gripe: the belt loops are very narrow. I can only thread my favorite belt through by removing the cobra buckle and then reassembling the belt once it’s in place. It’s not a deal breaker, but it is a small hassle. I also would’ve appreciated more color options. The women’s Stryke pants are available in the same colors as the men’s version, just not all the colors. Yes, it’s probably down to supply and demand, but I really like Tundra.
The pants consist of Flex-Tac ripstop fabric with a Teflon finish, which translates to “stretchy but won’t rip in the crotch” (just like your mom). So, how is the fit? Well… flattering, actually. They’re low-rise, but I haven’t experienced any noticeable gapping at the back while squatting or kneeling. The pants are slim through the hips and thighs, but otherwise true to size. On me, the size 8 is just roomy enough to allow for thermal tights (hey, Fimbulwinter is coming). If you can squat a Volkswagen, go up a size.
Grunts: Fimbulwinter (or, go read the Vafþrúðnismál)
All sizes are available in Regular or Long, and Long is plenty long. I usually wear a 33” inseam, so I have to cuff my Strykes once.
That’s all the specs and features — but how do they feel?
Unequivocally, I can say they’re comfy as shit. I constantly forget I’m wearing them, which is as close to not wearing pants as I can get away with in public. Considering how light and stretchy the fabric is, I was initially skeptical of its durability but I’ve rolled fucking tree stumps uphill with no noticeable wear. They haven’t shrunk in the wash, and after a year of regular wear, the color hasn’t faded noticeably. Color me impressed.
Shit, did I remember to wear pants? Oh, right.
These are marketed as tactical pants, but they’re equally useful for all-round outdoor use. Since skinny jeans are turning out to be a trend that just won’t die, the Strykes have gradually become my favorite pair of britches. They’re subdued enough to not look excessively tacticool, and the convenience of having so many pockets at hand is hard to go without once you’ve become accustomed to it.
In conclusion: yes, they’re as durable and flattering as advertised. Additionally, they’ve got all the pockets you could ever want, in a low-profile design that makes them appropriate for everyday wear without screaming TACTICALICIOUS. The only cons, from my point of view, are the narrower range of color options compared to the men’s version, and the small belt loops — but those are minor niggles. I love my Strykes. I want a pair in every color (including Tundra, if they ever make them).
So, there you have it. Ladypants for any manner of unladylike behavior you feel up to.
Pros vs Cons: TL;DR version
• Durable construction.
• True to size.
• Big, functional pockets.
• Comfortable, flattering fit.
• Slightly fewer color options compared to the men’s version.
• Belt loops too narrow for Cobra buckles.