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 Post subject: Combat pants Round-up
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2018 10:14 pm 
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Disclaimer: The below article represents only the author’s personal opinion, resulting from the personal experience with the products, not endorsed or supported by any manufacturer or commercial entity. It’s not the hard truth, the one and only, and your opinion might differ, which is perfectly fine. My experience with these pieces of equipment is limited to Airsoft use, and not military / LE use.

Note about pictures: Due to the artificial lighting conditions, some colors are a bit off. This is visible especially on the stretch material of the UF Pro’s, which appears pink-ish, but is green in reality.

The Contenders:

Crye Precision G3 Combat Pant in Multicam (US)
ClawGear Raider Mk IV in RAL7013 (Austria)
Platatac Special Projects Tac DAX Mk 2 in Kryptek Highlander (Australia)
UR-Tactical OPS Integrated Battle Pants 3D in Kryptek Mandrake (Hong Kong)
UF Pro Striker HT Combat Pants in Brown Gray (Slovenia)

A few words about the manufacturers and real life (military / LE, excluding airsoft) use

Crye Precision - Practically the inventors of the modern combat pants, they set the industry standard, most other producers oftenly derive their designs from Crye’s. Worn by military and LE agencies all over the world. Made in USA.
Delta Force operator in Syria, wearing Crye

ClawGear - Austrian equipment manufacturers, until recently they claimed some Swiss affiliation as well, however that part disappeared entirely from their website. Seen to be worn occasionally by some central European armed and Special Forces (most notoriously by the Austrian JagdKommando). According to a statement from someone from ClawGear, their products are made in Romania and Pakistan.
Austrian JagdKommando during a training in Vienna, sporting a ClawGear Operator Combat Shirt

Platypus Outdoor - Australian manufacturer of military equipment under the Platatac brand. Supplier for the Australian Department of Defence. Seen to be worn by the Australian armed and Special Forces (SASR, 2 CDO, SOER), New Zealand SAS etc. Made in Australia.
Australian SASR TF-66 wearing Platatac

UR-Tactical - Hong Kong based brand. Not much is known, they seem to be using legit materials / camo patterns, not chinese knock-offs. No clear real-life usage, but there are some speculations that some of their equipment was worn by some South Eastern Asian SF in a recent SF team contest. It was used in “Terminator 4” though :) Most likely made in Hong Kong.
Still of Christian Bale as John Connor in Terminator Salvation, wearing UR-Tactical OPS

UF Pro - Slovenia based manufacturer, relatively new on the market. Seen to be worn especially by Law Enforcement Special Forces in Western and Central Europe (such as Spanish GEO, Austrian EKO Cobra or French DGSI). Probably made locally in Slovenia.
Austrian Einsatzkommando Cobra in UF Pro outfit.

General Design and Features

Most combat pants today are clearly inspired by Crye’s designs (especially Gen2 & 3). This holds true also for the lineup of this article, with a couple of notable exceptions though.
Crye G3 - the “classic” by now design, with integrated knee protection and stretch material on the back, crotch. and around the knee area. Being G3, the stretch material is also in the same color / camo as the rest of the pant material. The seat area is reinforced, and together with the stretch material in the back and crotch should prevent any tear in that area.
Pockets (I will not mention all the countless pockets, but only the ones , or the features, that seemed most interesting to me): The big side cargo pockets contain elastic bands that can be used as holders / stabilizers for objects in those pockets (for example to fix in place a bottle of water or an extra magazine. High front pockets can be used to store things that you need quickly accessible, like a telephone or a folded map.
Also present is the now ubiquitous ankle cuff adjustment, allowing you to tighten the ankle area around the combat boot.
The belt loops are large and reinforced, but not much else to be mentioned here.

ClawGear Raider MkIV - inspired by Crye, however with a few considerable design modifications that makes them more than just another clone. ClawGear gave up the stretch material and opted for a bit more “loose” design to compensate for it. The bottom and crotch area does have some heavier stitching but overall it doesn’t look as heavily reinforced as Crye’s. Still, I don’t think they will rip easily. Worth noting is the overall stitching looks very heavy duty, with multiple parallel lines of stitching in most areas.
Pocket wise, the Raider MkIV comes with a few interesting twists, one of them being the two side pockets specially conceived for holding a STANAG magazine (each). They ride above the big side cargo pockets, and I for one find them very useful, especially for quickly dropping a spent mag instead of a dump pouch, or for storing a couple of extra magazines when not carrying any harness / plate carrier. The zippers feature paracord loops that can be attached to nearby pocket buttons, to prevent them from unzipping accidentally. Also, the side cargo pockets have an extra compartment accessible from a vertical zipper (easier access when kneeling, for example).
Ankle cuff adjustment via velcro tabs is also present, but this time attached to an inner elastic band that allows more control than just the simple velcro tab from Crye.
The belt loops seem longer than Crye’s, but also narrower (except for the dorsal one, which is extra large and features the company’s logo - that’s a nice design touch. Also nice to have - 2 D-rings attached to the front facing belt loops
One more comment here regarding the color. RAL7013 or Brown Gray how it’s called sometimes, is something between the US OD and Ranger Green, closer to the last one. It’s in fact closer to the real Olive color than what passes today as Olive Drab. For me, it’s close enough to the US Ranger Green to be worn with as a set without giving it much thought. It’s hard to be assessed from pictures, it needs to be seen live.

Platatac DAX Mk2 - the Kryptek Highlander pants I have seem to be inspired more by the G2 Crye, in the fact that the stretch material on the lower back and around the knee area is not in the camo color (it’s khaki rather). Interesting enough though, I have seen Dax Mk2 pants in Multicam that have the stretch material in MC rather than tan/green, so I don’t know if this is an exception or the rule. It’s possible to be because I have a feeling the Kryptek camo models were more on the experimental / prototype side, and not really made available on a large scale.
One interesting difference from Crye is that there are no buttons on the pants - they are all replaced with Velcro. Stitching looks very solid as well, nothing to be ashamed of. Ankle cuffs and belt loops look very similar to Crye, and the general impression of the pants is that they’re very close to their source of inspiration.

UR-Tactical OPS 3D - honestly, not much to say here, they’re almost identical copies to Crye G3, design wise. No real improvements like with Platatac or ClawGear (one exception maybe, that I will mention in the knee protection section below). Overall it looks like they just took Crye’s model and created a cheaper version. Worth mentioning is that there is no stretch material whatsoever, neither in the crotch, lower back or knees area. The reinforced seat area is by far the smallest of the Crye inspired designs. Still, quality is good, stitching looks decent. Just nothing new or creative.

UF Pro Striker HT - The only new and truly original design in this review (excluding the baseline - Crye). It seems that UF Pro considered that the only way to be noticed on today’s market is to scrap almost all that is held sacred (read Crye) and come up with something else. From the use of stretch material, to pocket design, knee protection, airflow circulation and even belt loops, there are a lot of innovations. The entire seat area is made out of stretch material. This makes the pants very comfortable to wear, and despite fears, it appears to be quite resistant as well.
The HT in the name denotes that they were created especially for high temperature climates, and they feature a design facilitating the airflow and the evacuation of hot air through 2 oblique slits near the frontal crotch area. I’ve read a couple of independent tests and they seem to indeed point out to a reduction in temperature of a few degrees on hot weather, therefore a better level of comfort.
The “default” knee protection is made out of Cordura, offering a small degree of padding and protection even without any other knee pad insert (more on this system in the section below).
The belt loops are double (one inside the other), and the outer belt loop features metallic push buttons that allow the quick donning of a duty belt with gear already on it.
The pockets are also very well thought. The side cargo pockets have double access (top and front), facilitating the access when kneeling. Like ClawGear, there are mag-sized pockets on top of the side cargo ones, and they even have plastic reinforced tabs for securing whatever you decide to store in there.
Instead of an ankle cuff, there is a zipper for lower leg adjustment, accommodating even big boots (think like firefighter boots). In addition, there’s a small hook on the front lower leg part, that can be attached to the boot string to keep the pant legs from raising.
One nice feature is the double crotch zipper, you can unzip it either from bottom or from the top, if you need to take a quick leak without taking off your battle belt.
And overall, they look amazing. The Brown Gray color (RAL7103) can be worn well with Ranger Green, as is the case with ClawGear.

Knee Protection

Crye G3 use the all too known and copied Airflex knee pads. Soft enough to be comfortable, very flexible, but I have some doubts when it comes to puncturing protection (haven’t had any incidents so far, but they don’t look very solid). Also they tend to get out of place quite easily, there have been a lot of reports of people just losing them especially in muddy areas, where they tend to stick and get sucked out of their pockets. If you kneel on a rock, stick or sharp object, you will most definitely feel it. I tend to look more carefully where I’m putting my knee down when wearing them compared to other pants.

ClawGear Raider MkIV uses a different system from Crye’s. It has an inner pocket which communicates on the outside with 4 slits. It can accommodate various inner knee pads, however it seems to have been designed with the D3O Trust HP knee pad in mind. The Trust HP is composed of an inner semi-solid, foam like pad and an outer hard-shell. The two parts are fixed together through 4 screws (here is where the 4 slits of the Raider MkIV come into play). When fixed, they offer a solid level of protection, with enough cushioning due to the inner pad and resistance due to the outer hard layer. The weak link are the plastic screws, which seem to wear out and give up when you least expect it, having to be re-fastened in the field, or replaced altogether. Fortunately, ClawGear was kind enough to send a handful of replacement screws (for free) when a friend wrote to them asking where can he get some extra spares (great customer service there).

Platatac Dax Mk2 - similar knee pockets with the Crye G3 (a tiny bit larger though, and I will come back soon on this aspect), and they can accommodate the Airflex knee pads. However, they came with their own knee pads, which I believe are worth mentioning. Unlike the flexible and comfy Crye Airflex, the Platatac knee pads are made from a much tougher material. They’re almost half shells of tough plastic, with horizontal ridges that prevent slipping once you kneel down. They are by far the strongest knee pads in all the pants in this review, I can bump my knee in virtually anything without feeling much, kneel on any surface or sharp object without fear of puncturing or getting hurt. Unfortunately, they are a tiny bit larger than the Airflex pads, and I didn’t manage to squeeze them inside the Crye G3 pockets without fearing that I would rip something off. So Airflex inside Dax pockets - works fine, Platatac pads inside Crye pockets - no can do (or I didn’t try hard enough). Also the black surrounding flexible material (which is used for holding the knee pad inside the pocket) is considerably sturdier, so under no circumstance they would inadvertently slip out, like the Airflex tend to do. Overall, I feel much more secure with these knee pads than with the Airflex. But that comes however at the expense of some comfort.

UR-Tactical OPS 3D - similar system with Crye Gen 3, but the included knee pads are something like a mix between the Airflex and Platatac’s own design. Material is rubbery-plasticky, thicker than Airflex, has the ridges that Platatac has, but nowhere near the toughness. They don’t feel as comfortable as the Airflex, and in short they kind of have that made-in-China feel to them. They still do their job though, just without much “class”.

UF Pro Striker HT - the protection is given through a multi-layered setup. On the exterior, part of the pants themselves, there is a knee pad made out of padded cordura, that provides some degree of protection, for very light use. Underneath, there are two other pockets. The one on top is smaller and is made to accomodate the hard protection, UF Pro Solid Pads - a plastic, semi-articulated piece, strong enough to offer some puncturing resistance and flexible enough to be comfortable. On the inner, larger pocket, you can use either or both the soft protection: UF Pro Flex-Soft pads - a comfy, padded, quilt-like material) and the UF Pro Flex-Sas-Tec pads (yeah, a mouth-full, a shock absorbing foam that hardens on impact). Personally I am using the soft pads and solid pads in combination - they didn’t have in stock the Flex-Sas-Tec pads at that time. I feel the level of protection on a similar level with the ClawGear’s D3O Trust HP pads, however I like very much the degree of customizing the level of protection according to the needs. The interesting thing is that there is no adjustment to the knee pad area, but due to the large surface covered, they seem to be exactly where they need to.

Sizing, Fit and Wear Comfort

Crye G3 - Size is a bit generous (like most american made products). My 34R pants measured a full 36” in the waist with all adjusters at max. This is somehow inline with what Crye states on their sizing guide, where the pants size is the actual minimum waist size that can be accomodated, and it goes up with 2-3 numbers. According to Crye, a size 34 would fit a person with 34-37 waist size. Waist fastening is done only via a Velcro Tab, no buttons involved. Waist adjustment is done via elastic(ish) velcro tabs.
Knee protection can be adjusted vertically (through elastic strings accessible via pockets) and horizontally via one behind the knee velcro strap. Since it’s only one sided, the horizontal adjustment should not be very customizable in theory, but in practice, the knee protection manages to stay more or less where you need it to. Still, there’s room for improvement here. The pants are very comfortable, both when walking / running and when sitting / driving for longer periods of time.

ClawGear Raider MkIV - sizing seems to be more or less inline with Crye, however they wear a bit baggier due to the design differences. Waist fastening is done via a button and a Velcro tab. Also present are the waist adjustment velcro tabs. What is better though is the knee protection adjustments: in addition to the vertical adjustment via elastic strings, there are this time two horizontal velcro straps on the back of the knee for a higher degree of adjustment and holding in place. This allows the knee pad to be fastened a lot tighter around the knee if needed.
Comfort wise, the pants are comfortable, a bit more loose, however not as comfortable on the knee area especially when sitting / driving, due to the extended surface area of the D3O knee pads, but without becoming a nuisance at all times. A nice touch is the bit of padding around the waist, that helps with comfort when wearing over extended periods of time.

Platatac Dax Mk2 - similar sizing to Crye. Waist fastening through Velcro tab. Velcro side pads for waist adjustment, vertical and horizontal knee pad adjustment, horizontal via double pads behind the knee (see, Crye? everybody’s doing it…). Comfort is almost on par with Crye when walking or running, but due to the much tougher knee pads, they tend to be annoying when driving or sitting down for extended periods of time (your knee cap will press against the hard shell of the knee pad and this will become uncomfortable in time).
Also something worth mentioning is that the pants have a slight padding in the waist area, which increases wear comfort over longer periods of time, or when you have holsters or mag pouches on your belt, pressing against your waist. Really nice touch there.

UR-Tactical OPS 3D - pay attention with sizing on this one. Unlike Crye and other designs, the size represents the top waist size they are able to accomodate. For example the 34R I have are indeed 34” wide (measured with a tailor tape), with all adjustment tabs opened up. So they are more comparable with a size 32 Crye or similar. I recommend getting one size larger, to be on the safe side. Waist fastening is done with buttons (no zipper, only buttons). The horizontal knee pad adjustment is with 2 tabs instead of one, the only improvement brought to the Crye design. Also the tabs have some elastic connection to the knee pocket, allowing for a slightly tighter adjustment. Wear comfort is decent, not bad but not stellar either.

UF Pro Striker HT - sizing is as expected. More interestingly, they also come in odd sizes (like waist 33, 35) and not only in even numbers as Crye does. The waist area is elastic, no need for velcro tabs. Also, the waist fastening is double, through a metal hook and a metal button. As mentioned previously, they are created with hot environments in mind, and the exhaust slits near the crotch area seem to help with temperature rising inside and hopefully with chafing. Interesting though, you can add a winter liner on the inside, for the cold season - so great versatility here. Overall the pants wear very comfortably, they feel (and also look) great, and you can increase the level of comfort over long drives by quickly pulling out one or more knee pad layers - it’s as simple as pulling on some velcro or zipper and taking them out.

Fading, Wear & Tear

I’ve had most of the pants in this review for less than 2 years, and wore them in rotation (some less, some more). Oldest I have are the ClawGear Raider MkIV’s, and the newest are the UF Pro Striker HT. However, least I’ve worn were the UR-Tactical OPS 3D.
I wash them only at 30 degrees, to prevent premature fading, and so far there is almost no noticeable fading on any of them. The ClawGear show however a bit of fading near the edges of some areas, due to being the most worn (and most washed), but they are still in good condition. A friend is telling me though that his ClawGear pants show more fading than Crye after a comparable number of washes, so it’s worth keeping that in mind. Also, no tears or rips in any of them thus far, colors are still good. There’s a loose thread on the stretch material on the knee of the Platatac Dax pants, but nothing significant.

I have to say that I am a bit worried about how the external cordura of the UF Pro knee pads will behave in time. With no external plastic / rubber protection, there’s nothing to prevent it from getting punctured or torn when kneeling on hard or jagged surfaces. I understand from other reviews that it really isn’t a particular concern, but I guess we’ll see.

Pricing and accessibility (in Europe)

Crye G3 in Multicam are quite common, and a new pair can be bought in Europe for about 300-350€, which is more towards the upper side of the price range. To this, you should add the price of the Airflex kneepads, which can be bought new for around 40€
ClawGear Raider MkIV are 130€ on their website (with a bit higher price - 160€ - for the Multicam version). They are quite easy to be found in Europe, even in major airsoft stores. The D3O knee pads were an additional 45€.
Platatac Tac DAX Mk2 are a bit harder to find, at least in Europe. It’s worth keeping an eye on their ebay account though, where they sometimes sell some of the rare or old stocks at much discounted prices, compared to their official shop. I got my brand new Kryptek Highlander pants for something like 75€ (not including shipping and taxes), which was an absolute steal (something like 50% of MSRP). And since I placed a bigger order (bought also a couple of combat shirts) they threw in the knee and elbow pads for free. Loved doing business with them!
UR-Tactical OPS 3D - store price was about 135€, plus shipping and taxes from Hong Kong. Knee pads were included.
UF Pro Striker XT - store price for the Brown Gray version is 173€, with higher prices for other camo’s (up to 200€ for Multicam). To this, you should add the price of the various protection pads you want to purchase, which range from 19 to 24€ each. In my case, I paid 216€ for the pants, the hard pads and the soft ones.

Pro’s and Con’s and Final thoughts

So there you have it. I’ll try to sum up in a couple of words for each of the models in this review.

Crye G3 - The baseline. Possibly the most comfortable pair of pants, slightly outdated by the added design features of their various copycats, but still running strong. Pricey, but you also get the aura :)
ClawGear Raider MkIV - one of the most innovative clones, laden with features and at a decent price for the quality bought. Solid but sometimes annoying knee protection. Good customer support.
Platatac Tac DAX Mk2 - sticking to the proven Crye design with a few improvements. Great price if you’re lucky, great knee protection, a bit hard to come by (at least in Europe)
UR-Tactical OPS 3D - good Crye clones, decent quality, but not much else. I honestly expected more for the price, considering what the others came up with.
UF Pro Striker HT - The new kid on the block, breaking all the rules and writing new ones. Great innovative design, very comfortable (I’d put it up there with Crye), great looking. A bit pricey (when you add the various layers of knee protection), and I am a bit ambivalent on the lack of external knee protection.

I also tried thinking of making a top of some kind, but I simply can’t. Each of these have their strong points and might cater to different tastes and different budgets The only ones I consider not really worth the money are the UR-Tactical, but then again I received them as a gift from my teammates, so no complaints here either :) So I’ll just put here my thoughts, but it’s up to you do do the filtering and choose according to your own heart.

On a final note, a question I receive often - is it worth buying an expensive pair of pants / combat shirt / gear piece if you are only using it for airsoft? Well, worth is a very subjective notion. Having had in the past also things like Helikon, Miltec, Emerson, TMC and others, and having the money to buy now something better, I consider it worthy, just because I feel better in them. I’ve had sizing problems with Emerson. I’ve had horrible fading issues with TMC. I’ve had Helikon pants torn apart without doing anything special. Of course, you can buy like 8 pairs of Emerson for the price of a Crye, and it won’t make you a better player either way. So just buy what you like, can afford and sings to you.

Later Edit: I've received some suggestions to add also a couple of pictures of the pants actually being worn, not only laying on the floor. Although I'm not exactly the perfect model (being more Gimli than Aragorn), here are some pics of the pants being worn at various airsoft games. Strangely enough, I can't find any half-decent pic of me wearing the UR-Tactical OPS 3D (which probably says a lot about my love for them)

Crye G3 pants with Helikon Trooper softshell

ClawGear Raider MkIV pants with ClawGear combat shirt

ClawGear Raider MkIV pants with Helikon Trooper softshell

Platatac Tac DAX Mk2 pants with Platatac CUTS Combat shirt

Platatac Tac DAX Mk2 pants with Platatac CUTS Combat shirt

UF Pro Striker HT pants with Helikon Trooper softshell

UF Pro Striker HT pants with Crye AC Ranger Green combat shirt.

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