March 21, 2009
VERTX Tactical Pant Preview
This is a preview of a new Pant from VERTX due out in July '09. The premise behind the VERTX pant is that it is a covert pant for 'any time, any place, any mission' with its best features unnoticed by anyone but the operator wearing them.
The VERTX brand is owned by Fechheimer, which has been manufacturing uniforms and public safety apparel since 1842. For the VERTX pant, they enlisted the design services of Arc'Teryx who took direct input from operators to come up with this pant. Feccheimer had previously collaborated with Arc'teryx on their Flying Cross brand Justice Jacket for LE use.
In a market flooded with tactical pants that in some places might attract unwanted attention or notice with overtly 'tactical' or military-looking external features, the VERTX Pant is designed to as a covert, comfortable walk-around pant that doesn't stand out, yet has features that provide the wearer with cargo-carrying capacity and full freedom of movement and mobility when he has to burst into action without warning.
If you're familiar with Arc'Teryx, and have owned or seen the LEAF line garments featured elsewhere on this site, you'll know that Arc'Teryx designs are very streamlined with simple lines, vs. more complicated or 'loaded' designs on the market. Arc'Teryx clothing are somehow able to strike the balance between function and aesthetics. This design philosophy is apparent in the VERTX pant. The design of the VERTX pant took over a year with six pattern iterations.
Here are the key features on the VERTX Tactical pant (32" waist, 30" inseam shown):
• Material - This is the key to the VERTX pant's comfort and mobility. The material is 98% cotton, 2% spandex, allowing the fabric to stretch. I'd call the fabric mid weight.
• Stretch waistband - The waistband has elastic on the sides for a little bit of give. It's not bunched up enough to be uncomfortable, but has enough stretch to add about two inches to the waist. The pant has a front button and zipper fly.
• Higher back - The back of the pant is higher than in the front so that you can bend, kneel, squat without the rear being pulled down.
• Belt loops - The belt loops will accommodate 2" belts, and there are double belt loops at the rear for reinforcement, as the stress is typically more to the rear of the pant.
• Gusseted crotch - The crotch is designed for mobility. Many gussets have an appearance of added mobility but don't really do much. The front gusset seam is low in the crotch and the rear seam has been moved higher up the back 'crotch curve'. This design does not 'point load' the seam but spreads the load across the seam. This results in true range of motion without restriction and less chance of blown seams.
• Rear pocket credential trap - There are two patch pockets on the back of the pant, about 5.5" wide and 6" tall. This is an internal angled 'flap' that can be used to secure a larger wallet, passport or credential holder. For the flap to secure the item, the item should be at least 5 inches tall. Otherwise, the flap will not trap the top of the item.
• Low profile side cargo pockets - Rather than the 'normal' configuration where the pocket is sewn to the outside of the pant leg, the 8.5" x 7" VERTX side pockets are inset, giving it a discrete, covert touch. A hole is made in the side of the pant and the pocket sewn to the inside instead of the outside, creating a very low profile pocket. The pocket has a 'speed pleat' which allows it to expand its carrying capacity when needed. The top of the pocket is overlapped by the flap which is sewn down at the ends and does not flip up, eliminating the need for a closure system like buttons or Velcro. The opening is angled down towards the rear slightly for more natural access.
• Internal side pockets - Inside each side cargo pocket is a 3" deep internal slot pocket for organization. This pocket will fit a sunglass case, cell phone etc, and a 30-round M4 mag perfectly. When the mag is placed in the internal pocket, it stays upright, ready for extraction.
• Articulated knees - This is a key design feature of the pant. The VERTX pant is designed for mobility and to accommodate a lot of movement and positions other than standing. The natural stance of this pant is with a straight trunk and bent knee. When you wear a regular pair of pants and bend your knee, you leg movement might be restricted, and if not, the fabric will tighten up over the knees and ride up at the ankles. Not so with the VERTX. The knee is designed with darts, which pre-shape it, and also with more volume, which allows the knee to bend without the bottom riding up, or the fabric getting too tight and restrictive.
• Wider cuffs/ankle opening - The cuffs on the VERTX pant are a bit wider than most others. I measured them to be 9.5" - most of my other pants are from 8" (the tightest) to 9". They're wider to accommodate boots, and to better conceal a back-up weapon/ankle holster. Also, the knee is wider than a regular trouser, hence the wider bottom.
• All stress points are bartacked.
• Colors - Available in Khaki (shown here), Desert Tan (deeper reddish tan), Black, Navy and OD Green.
• Sizing - The VERTX pants are available in even waist sizes, and also these odd ones (29, 31, 33, 35). Inseam lengths available are 30, 32, 34 and 36.
Notes and observations
The pair shown here is a pre-production pant, but it shows no signs of being anything but a production model. It's very well put together, and as I mentioned before, evokes the typical Arc'Teryx-designed functionality and subtlety.
I use the term 'comfortable' a lot in my write-ups - so much that I wonder if I overuse it. I mean, can all the pants I review be 'comfortable'? I thought about it carefully, and decided that no, I don't think it's inaccurate to use it. If I find a pair of pants comfortable, it means that I can't find anything outstanding that causes discomfort, like it being too tight in one area, or a scratchy seam somewhere etc. Comfort is relative, and it depends on the conditions the garment is used in (weather, temperature, humidity etc). Anyway, while I have found most of the pants I've featured on my site to be ‘comfortable’; I think the VERTX pant is the most non-restrictive feeling pair. Other pants don't really restrict movement - by that I mean that my legs aren't going to be prevented from going where they need to because of a pair of pants. But what I mean is that when assuming different leg positions, like when kneeling or squatting, the pant can tighten up in certain areas as the dimensions change, and won't feel as 'comfortable' as when standing up straight. With the VERTX pants, on the other hand, I felt less binding and tension in the fabric. Part of this is attributed to the design/cut; the other is the spandex in the fabric. The cut feels more like a Karate GI pant or climbing pant than a regular 'tactical' pant.
The stretch properties of the fabric are immediately apparent the moment I took a knee or squatted. There's extra room at the front of the knees and the knees are already pre-shaped with a bend in them. Squatting doesn't feel one bit restrictive, nor do the bottoms ride up a lot. The rear of the pant waist pretty much stays put, instead of being pulled down when the thighs come up. These pants have more mobility built in than my old legs do.
One thing I noticed when I first started wearing the pants was that they seemed to show dirt easily. For some reason, dust and dirt wouldn't brush off like on other pants and I'd find a bit of lint here and there stuck to the pant. For example, if I brushed up against a dirty car, the dirt wouldn't dust off with my hand easily. I contacted VERTX and they said that they'd noticed that as well, and it would resolve itself after the first couple of washes. Sure enough, it did. By the third wash, I didn't notice the VERTX pant attract lint or dirt any more than my other pants. Dust/dirt brushes off with my hand same as any other cotton pant. I guess the fabric needs some sort of 'break-in' period by going through the wash a few times.
I'd consider the VERTX pant a lightweight/midweight pant, suitable for a wide temperature range. I'll wear it in the summer and see how that goes when it gets hot. Another thing I liked about the VERTX pant is that the utility notch on the side slash pockets makes it easier to access items in the pocket when seated, like in a vehicle. The side cargo pockets with their overlapping flap and no Velcro or buttons are quick to access and seems secure enough. One addition I'd like to see is a small Velcro patch closure to provide additional security for the back patch pockets, when an item is too short to be captured by the credential trap.
All in all, a very promising pant for those who need or want tactical features in a less tactical-looking package. Even if that's not needed, most people will appreciate the low profile nature of the design, and most importantly, the comfort and mobility without restriction that these pants provide. I can see these worn for travel, hiking, shooting, climbing, or just every day around-town wear.
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