These Tac-Lite uniforms are a certain departure from the 5.11 standard uniforms, but after 1 month in them, I'm confident that these are officially my personal choice for summer uniform wear now. Why? Let me explain:
1. The fabric is light. Very light. On those hot, humid days where you're wrapped up in 40 extra pounds of gear and nothing you can do will cool that squad car down... the tac-lite material helps a lot. It's really a noticeable difference. The uniform material doesn't cling to you like traditional materials. I'm a fan. I was worried that the rip-stop grid pattern would be obvious, but you don't see it until you're wearing it. The average perp can't tell what it is from three or more feet away.
2. The stain resistance. I've been so impressed with the coffee beading up and rolling off the material that sometimes I pour hot java on my crotch just so I can giggle as it rolls off.
3. The cut and fit. There are muscle-bound gym folks who may not like the trimmer fit of these uniforms. If you lift-things-up-and-put-them-down all day, you may want to shy away. These uniforms are a trimmer fit. Better for people specializing in a good amount of aerobics and not Muscle Milk. They tuck nice and don't flap around in the wind.
4. Color-fast dye. Seriously. I can't fade these uniforms. Hot wash, cold wash, dryer or drip dry... they keep their appearance. This is something I've loved about ALL 5.11 uniforms, though. I've got 5 year old shirts that look fresh off the rack from 5.11. However, in the case of the tac-lites, they tend to retain that crisp, zippy fabric feeling. They don't soften up.
5. Still have that stretchy waist. Best thing ever developed for duty pants. You pull them up and... ahhhhh.
6. The cargo pockets. I concur that the zipper on the front is strange. Top is preferable. However, 5.11 puts the zippers front/back to accommodate police departments which require a Han Solo stripe down the side of the pants. It'd be nice to get a sub-pocket inside the cargo pocket to store keys or a wallet or a tourniquet so it doesn't flop sideways.
7. I would definitely try a pair on, or be sure you can exchange them. Because of the stretchy waist, I generally order 5.11 a size smaller in the waist, and they fit perfectly.
All in all, these pants - and the matching shirts - are top notch. I hope 5.11 keeps them available. With a few minor refinements, they'd be perfect.
I've used these pants for law enforcement for a couple years now and I just purchased the latest improved(?)version, which I wore on the job for the first time last night. 5.11 has addressed the "side-zip" cargo pocket issue by moving the zipper to the front for accessibility and no more sitting on the zipper. I never liked the Velcro pieces inside the rear flashlight pockets, so I simply removed them (not sure why they put it there anyway). However, 5.11 decided to go with a true ripstop material; you know, the kind that makes that nice "swishing" sound when you walk(sarcasm) Although I can understand the desire to go with such a material, I'm extremely puzzled why they did. 5.11, how could you not think of the (non)tactical issue in using a material that makes noise when you move? I've never read a review where someone wrote, "I wish they would make the material louder." It's not overly loud to the point that I'm going to return them, but regardless, I think it makes no sense at all and I give it a "two thumbs down". The only "positive" I can think of is that although I have not worn them in hot weather yet, they seem like they will be cool in the summer. My old ones (same style) are made from the same blend of material, but not ripstop, and they are nice and quiet. 5.11 has a history of listening to the input by their customers...I REALLY hope they read this. Overall, I'm happy with the pants; I just hope they soften up after a few (dozen) washes. If anyone has any tips on how to make ripstop material "quieter", please comment.
I have been a police officer for 28 years. In the past few years my department has gone to 511 uniforms. The seem just below the fly on every pair of 511 class B's I have has torn out. The Velcro on the cargo pockets is miserable to deal with. Moving the cargos zipper from the top to the back was a huge mistake. The snap closure on the waist pops open very easily. I am just really unhappy with the 511 class B pants.
My department recently switched to the 511 Taclite pants and shirts for our uniforms. They are more comfortable than the old polyester uniforms. However, the biggest complaints about the uniforms are how tight the pants are through the legs and how much lint they seem to attract. I now have to keep a lint roller handy and roll my uniform several times throughout my shift.
I work as a patrol officer in MN and have been wearing 5.11 pants for years. The new batch of 5.11 cargo pants has been hard to get used to. They put the zipper for the cargo pants on the back side witch makes its really hard to use. I hope they move the zipper back to the top of the cargo pocket. Other then the pocket issue the pants are great.
Only complaint is that if you want the legs to provide enough room you have to
Buy them with the waist 2 sizes too big, and then the waist will bunch up. Hoping 5.11 will correct this problem soon. Would like to see a regular waist like the BDU pants.
5.11 seemed to be trying for an "Extreme Makeover: Patrol Edition" with this new pant. Unfortunately I think they tried to reinvent the wheel when it wasn't needed. With the complete elimination of the former poly-rayon-dacron blends of fabrics it's impossible to mix and match the new with the old. I know it left officers in my department frustrated. 5.11 also tinkered with the finer detais that I'm not sure improved the overall garment. First, the shirt pockets where changed to accomodate two pen holders but actually made the pockets smaller to hold less stuff. The cargo pockets have seen two different design changes with the zipper moved to the rear of the pocket and then to the front. Both locations in my opinion offer no improvement than having the zipper back to the top. There is an elastic closure at the top of the cargo pocket that I get my hand caught on now. The Teflon in the fabric sheds water nicely but seems to collect dust and dirt. Granted, it cleans off easily.
Lastly, the pants seem to be sized different than than the "old" style. I've had to have my uniform provider alter the pants to provide the same fit as before.
On the good side, the garments hold their color well and the midnight navy color looks sharp. The Ripstop fabric is nice and comfortable on hot days. Overall, if you are able to accomadate the changes, these uniforms are okay.
I wear these pants everyday at work. I find the flashlight pockets irritating due to a piece of hook and loop in the middle of it. The largest flaw in these pants is the "pocket" under the cargo pocket. It has a zipper on the back side of the cargo pocket that is completely useless. The previous versions had a zipper on the top so you could reach in while walking/sitting. This new pocket can not be used for anything. If you open it while sitting, your stuff falls out!
Additionally, it seems as if the fabric is wearing out... I have to trim strings and loose stitching daily, and lint roll little fabric balls of it after washing (even though I follow the cleaning directions.)
They are alright in the sense that they are wearable. However, I will be looking for another set of duty pants
Our department just adopted the Class B PDU as a replacement for the BDU uniform. The only thing I haven't liked about this uniform is the comfort in the thighs. It seems these pants were made for stick legged people. I order my class A uniforms in a bigger size to accomidate for my thighs and have the waist taken in. Seamsters won't do anything to these because of the solid waist band. All I ask is you can keep these as a regular fit but create a large fit for those with large thighs and could accomidate the wearing of long johns for those officers in the winter.
My agency just change to the 5.11 PDU class B. The shirts are pretty good, but the pants were not fully thought through. In the three months that we have had the PDU class B, 4 officers have torn their pants getting in and out of a patrol car. My pants were torn in the washing machine. The problem is they are too tight in the thighs. They need to be "athletic cut" in the leg.