I Love My Tactical Internet Pants

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This is a review of pants.

Okay, for the six of you still reading, I have to tell you something personal: I’ve never been very happy with clothing that wasn’t jeans or shorts. I am a geek, and have a geek’s physique. I’m not unhealthy, per se (I eat salads for lunch almost always, drink soy milk, and try to walk 3 miles a day), but a combination of nature and nurture have left me with, shall we say, a rubenesque form. And work clothes have never fit me well.

For the last half dozen years I’ve made due with the dress khakis from Target for my work attire, and every day when I get home I’m out of them and into my "comfy" clothes as quickly as possible. But all that has changed. I’ve had a clothing epiphany.

If you are a fan of the geekier, techier side of things on the internet, you may know of Andy Ihnatko and/or Merlin Mann, both wonderfullly creative and cool people who are what we call "famous (for the internet)." In various places over the last year or two I’ve heard them extoll the virtues of the "Tactical Internet Pants." Feeling the need to find some workday clothing that I might actually enjoy wearing, I decided to contact the maker (511 Tactical) and see about getting a review- err, copy.  The pants, and a few other things, showed up on Friday, and after a weekend’s worth of wearing, I’m in love.

The first thing is, they fit. I mean, they don’t just snap around my waist correctly, but they are perfectly cut. They hang right, the break just so, and they feel awesome. They’re also tremendously durable and well-made, and… they’re geeky. Indeed, that’s the funny thing about these pants, and why they are becoming popular with the tech-set. They have pockets and rings and slots all over that are perfect for stashing… stuff. Gear. Tech. Gizmos – heck, Andy has said his Dell Mini 9 Hackintosh fits perfectly into one of the side leg pockets, along with his camera and other equipment, making these pants the perfect portable blogging platform.

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There’s a whole background here that others have told better than I, but the short story is that these pants were originally designed for climbers. Then the FBI discovered them, and the company started selling to the police and fire departments hard core. Now, the same things that made them popular to the emergency services folks are getting them discovered elsewhere. They are really well-made clothes that are designed to fit a wide range of sizes, and will help you carry and use all the gadgets you need to take with you. Plus, you kind of look like Indiana Jones when you’re wearing them. Kinda.

I also got to wear one of their shirts. Actually, I wore the whole outfit to Easter dinner this weekend, and my mother-in-law actually asked me if I’d lost weight. That right there will be causing me to buy at least two more pairs of pants and three more shirts. The shirts are the same heavy cotton, well-cut, durable, with the coolest pockets – including these velcro slots on the chest where you can slip papers in and stow them securely. It’s like spy stuff!

Obviously I’m not the guy to ask about materials or fabric weights or stuff like that. I just know what I like. And if that’s not enough, check out the extended post below where I’ll embed videos from Andy and Merlin, also talking about the Best. Pants. Ever.

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But if it is enough, then go buy yourself some tactical internet pants.

Wired: Rugged, well-made, great relaxed fit, tons of pockets.

Tired: They’re not tux pants, but they’ll do for most business-casual environments.

Price/Maker: $50/511 Tactical

Rating: 10/10 (no hesitation)

Tactical Internet Pants from Merlin Mann on Vimeo.

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