Product Review: Covert cargo pants from 5.11 Tactical

In my opinion, these are the perfect pants for wear in any casual off-duty venue where it’d be appropriate to wear khakis or ‘nice jeans’

Not too long ago, I was contacted by a guy representing my friends over at 5.11 Tactical. “Can I send you some products to test, evaluate, and review?” he asked.

“Yes, please,” I replied. 

Soon thereafter, I received a box of gear — an ATAC L1 flashlight ,a pair of sunglasses, and a few other items. In coming months, I’ll let you know what I think of a pretty wide variety of items from 5.11, but I’ll begin with the Covert Cargo Pants

Nice [Bleeping] Pants!
Let’s begin with the bottom line: In my opinion, these are the perfect pants for any casual off-duty venue where it’d be appropriate to wear khakis or “nice jeans.” They’re simultaneously comfortable, practical, and durable — the ideal troika for any attire in my wardrobe. 

The pair of 5.11 Covert Cargos sent to me was NOT the first pair I’d ever worn. Far from it — they’re kind of my mainstay. 

Made with a durable, 100 percent cotton fabric (which seems to get softer with each trip though the washing machine), these pants feature two areas of elastic at the sides of the waistband, which affords plenty of comfort on Thanksgiving. 

They’re available in four appropriately conservative colors — khaki and green, of course, as well the exotic sounding ‘tundra’ and ‘coyote.’

Those last two colors look suspiciously like “brown” and “beige” to me, but that’s just my simpleton interpretation. 

Aside from the comfort, my favorite feature on these pants is the excellent functionality of the pockets. They’re plenty deep enough for a host of different “carry-ables.” For example, my full-size Smith & Wesson M&P fits quite nicely in the top-most zipper pocket on my strong side.

I tend to believe that good guys wear holsters, so I choose to go with a nice inside-the-waistband solution for the weapon itself. I must say though, that if my full-size hides that well in these pants pockets, any law enforcer who prefers a proper “pocket gun” off duty will be well served with the Cover Cargos. 

Pockets Within Pockets
Including all the little internal pockets, there is a total of 16 storage slots in these pants, only a few of which are plainly visible to the passive observer. 

There are two internal pockets in each of the four zipper-side pockets.  The top-most zipper pockets are perfect for spare pistol magazines (see the image above and left) as well as the abovementioned ATAC L1 flashlight, which I now carry pretty much everywhere in that very pocket. 

According to the 5.11 literature, the zipper pockets along the thighs can each conceal two 30-round AR-15 magazines.  Until the day of the Zombie Apocalypse, I don’t see myself running around town with my AR, so I’ve never actually experimented with that potential benefit, but those internal pockets are also perfect for stowing my wallet and my mobile phone. 

One bummer about all these nicely-concealed pockets is that when I go through the airport scanner — and I wear these pants while travelling quite a lot — is that I almost always get a second look from TSA on the zipper pockets.

But I’ve grown accustomed to that little delay, and just build two extra minutes into my travel time — a small price to pay for the convenience I get from all the positive attributes. 

One Suggestion
I love the Covert Cargos from 5.11 and I have “voted with my wallet” at my local Galls store by purchasing a number of them. 

But they’re not totally flawless. 

I do have one suggestion, which might lead to an improvement sometime down the road. 

My wife regularly complains about these pants, because they’re darned close to the only pants I wear. I own probably five or six pair in various colors — they’re pretty much perfect for my purposes — but I know that Mrs. Wyllie would like to see some more variety.

“Honey, you never wear these corduroys anymore,” she’ll lament as she holds up a pair of Levis I probably haven’t touched in two years.  “You look cute in jeans, and you never wear those either!” she’ll add, holding up my dusty old denims.

I’m pretty sure that last little comment is intended to influence me to grab a pair of Levis from the closet post haste. Quite frankly, that complement ploy works (Aaahh... married life!). 

So, here’s my suggestion (er, um, request) to the folks at 5.11. You’ve already got that “high-fashion denim” called Flex-Tac, but I think that’s only available in the Stryke pants.  Perhaps you’ll help me out, and tinker around with making the Covert Cargos in a blue-jeans-color Flex-Tac?   

That’d be pretty popular at Wyllie House.  

About the author

Doug Wyllie is Editor at Large for PoliceOne, responsible for providing police training content and expert analysis on a wide range of topics and trends that affect the law enforcement community. An award-winning columnist — he is the 2014 Western Publishing Association "Maggie Award" winner in the category of Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column — Doug has authored more than 900 feature articles and tactical tips. Doug is also responsible for planning and recording the PoliceOne Podcast, Policing Matters, as well as being the on-air host for PoliceOne Video interviews. Doug also works closely with the PoliceOne Academy to develop training designed to prepare cops for the fight they face every day on the street.

Doug regularly represents PoliceOne as a public speaker in a variety of forums and is available for media interviews — he has appeared on numerous local and national radio and television news programs, and has been quoted in a host of print publications. 

Doug is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers' Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

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