(Sponsored by Military 1st)
When Military 1st shipped me a pair of tactical shorts, I was curious to see how they would stack up against my normal BDU pants or a pair of shorts from the store downtown. After using them over the past month (and currently using them while writing this article), I have to say that I am both impressed and enlightened when it comes to the use of tactical shorts. In this post, we’ll dive into what I think this underrepresented section of tactical apparel is for and how they can fit into your gear bag when you head out to the field.
The Long and Short of Tactical Shorts
Shorts are not my normal attire on, or off, the field. I prefer the added protection of a solid pair of jeans or BDU pants. I was curious to find out what a pair of shorts (particularly ones branded as “tactical”) have to offer to operators throughout their day.
The first thing I noticed about these tactical shorts from Helikon, was the build quality. The material is 2-way elastic Ripstop (comprised of 60% Cotton, 37% Polyester, and 3% Spandex, for those of you who like details). This sturdy material ensures that these shorts are going to last for a very long time with no issues. The Ripstop has already come in handy when some random sharp object put a small hole in one of the cargo pockets. It’s really nice to not have to worry about that rip causing a major issue down the road.
One of the weakest points on any pair of pants is seams and zippers, and these shorts deliver high quality in both. The seams are reinforced and have additional stitching where it matters most. The zippers are YKK brand (known for quality and longevity) and feel solid with no snags or hang ups. I will note that the stitching on one of the cargo pocket’s cloth zipper tabs did come undone, but this is such an easy fix that I don’t think it will have any lasting impact on durability.
After using them for a while, I realized that the design on these shorts is very, very well thought out. Besides the pockets designed for M4 magazines and the zippered pouches on the thigh, the portion of the shorts around the knees have been cut to prevent them from riding up or reducing mobility. There is a nice, small elastic band in the back for additional flexibility. Also, the traditional button to secure the shorts around the waist has been replaced with Velcro to allow for better adjustment and manipulation when your manual dexterity is non-existent. It’s details like these that take the Helikon tactical shorts above and beyond ones you would normally purchase.
Comfort has been superb overall. Although I had a moment of concern when I pulled them out of the package and felt the relatively rough Ripstop material they had used, I quickly forgot about that upon wearing them. They do not have a significant lack of comfort over any other pair of shorts I have owned. In fact, I would consider these almost more comfortable due to the solid durability I notice when wearing them. Due to the cotton/spandex, they do wick moisture effectively and I haven’t noticed any comfort issues due to the Ripstop construction.
Where Should You Use Them
Now this is where I call into question the claims of “tactical” shorts. I would not use these in normal, tactical scenarios I find myself in at the field. Shorts do not offer the level of protection I require when crawling through the brush, kneeling to take that stabilized shot, or sliding across the concrete floors of a warehouse for style points. 😉
That said, here are the applications I would use them in over full length pants:
- Extreme heat environments (kind of a no-brainer)
- At the shooting range when you just need something comfortable to practice in that has enough pockets to carry everything on you
- Everyday wear (which I won’t use my normal combat pants for)
- When you’re relaxing after a day of work, but still want to feel operator. 😉
Better than Pants?
Overall, I think tactical shorts are a real option for anyone who wants quality and smart design. Helikon has achieved the goal of creating a pair of shorts that feels good, is going to hold up, and has those extra features that someone using them in a more tactical environment will appreciate. The design, feel, and build was clearly created with the operator in mind, while keeping it simple so you can wear them everyday. There are plenty of color options to fit any loadout (I personally went with Coyote). I would highly recommend picking up a pair of these tactical shorts and trying them out. After you do, let me know what you think in the comments!