Pants Worth Paying For

By , April 4, 2014

I’ve spoken often about the importance of clothing. As the shelter we carry with us living in Nature, clothing may be our most critical asset (see Clothing: Essential to Survival and Self Esteem). Oddly, I’ve never said much about pants.

Recently, I’ve realized that I have an actual philosophy about pants that goes beyond mere preference—those features I look for, and those I avoid—that dictates how I go about getting the pants I want.

The philosophy appears to be that the best pants I own are those pairs I’m willing to purchase new.

Almost all the pants I own come secondhand from thrift stores, rummage sales, and giveaway piles. The ones that have been purchased new are almost all one kind: TRU-SPEC Lightweight 24-7 Pants.


A heroic pose in heroic pants….(Photo: Michelle L. Zeiger).

As one might imagine, I seek out cargo pants. Not only do they carry a lot of gear, as the term implies, but they’re generally constructed more sturdily than other pants. They often are constructed of safer fabrics than cotton: wool, nylon, polyester or poly/cotton blends. If you were to catch me on the property on any given day, you’d likely find me trotting around with my pockets bulging with the tools I need for the day, with extras slung on a wide belt. That belt more often than not cinches tight a pair of secondhand pants several sizes too big, worn anyway because they’re good pants. (I do show enough sense not to get any pants that are too small for me.)

The TRU-SPECs offer a lot of carrying capacity, often more than I need in a day. They offer 10 pockets, from a pair of narrow knife pockets to large, hook-and-loop flapped leg pockets. The latter is large enough that I can easily stow my Franklin Planner in one, which I find very helpful (see The Franklin Planner: An Unlikely Homesteading Tool).

The cargo pockets each have a pair of pouches in the bottom. These are designed for ammunition clips (these are, after all, military/tactical gear). I don’t own any clip weapons, currently, nor do I find a lot of reasons to carry around that much ammo, but I do find those pouches handy, as they keep smaller items from rattling around the pocket.

These side pockets and the hip pockets are gusseted, to hold more stuff. But, in an improvement over many other pairs of cargo pants, the gussets are secured by hook and loop, so when empty, the pockets don’t bag and flop around loosely.

Each side cargo pocket has a cell phone sized, hook and loop closed pocket on top of it.

TRU-SPECs feature 65/35 polyester/cotton ripstop fabric. This makes them fast drying but breathable, and very rugged. It’s also coated with a stain resistant treatment that not only keeps them fairly clean, but beads water fairly well.

They’re tough pants. One day while bucking a tree, I swiped my leg with a saw 3 times before it damaged the fabric (wood gathering, for me, is definitely a contact sport—see Grudge Match 2010—Mark Vs. “The Death Birch”). I try to avoid this sort of thing, but better to rip the pants than the skin.

The pants present a nice profile. At a casual glance, they look more like a pair of slacks than military BDUs. I can wear them to town without feeling like I’m a SWAT Team wannabe.

I still haunt the thrift shops and bargain “basements” on line, but when I buy new, I know which make and style to choose to get my money’s worth every time.

This last winter, I found an opportunity to test these favorites against another contender for “best pants for our lifestyle.” I’ll describe that in a future post.

Note: this is an unsolicited endorsement. Tru-Spec has not compensated me for my opinion here, (regrettably!).

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