Pants (Regular) Page
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As a sizing reference: I'm 5'7", 155 lbs (yeah, I'm a little guy), medium build (BDU top medium/regular, BDU pant medium/short), waist 32", chest 43". Keep this in mind when you read my comments with respect to sizing, so you have an idea of how the garments featured below will fit on you. ALL garments in these pages are size Medium, unless stated otherwise.
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Tactical Distributors Carlos Ray Pants 2.1
2/6/18 - The Carlos Ray Pants 2.1 from Tactical Distributors are designed as a general use, everyday wear, functional and comfortable pant that are made from a soft 4-way stretch cotton fabric. Subtle 'tactical' features and a good selection of colours should please those who are looking for some not-so-common features but don't want pants that look and fit like fatigues.
Background - Norfolk, Virginia-based Tactical Distributors LLC started out in 2006 as a specialized distributor of high end tactical equipment, carrying many of my favourite brands that I've featured on my site in the past. Over the years, they expanded into the retail market. More recently, TD ventured into their own brand of clothing, with the Carlos Ray Pant first introduced in 2014.
'Carlos Ray'? A peculiar name to call a pant, you may think? It makes perfect sense, as 'Carlos Ray' is none other than the legendary Mr Bad-Ass himself, Chuck Norris. TD wanted to add some humour to an otherwise serious pant, and so it was named. Based on customer input, the CR pant has gone through a couple of iterations since it was first introduced. The second model was called the 2.0, and the one featured here is the 2.1 version.
The Carlos Ray pant is intended to provide utility and comfort, but most of all an unrestrictive fit that allows freedom of movement. Some pants accomplish this by being looser or more baggy (like Karate pants); the CR pants do it in part with stretch fabric. The CR 2.1 is now made from 4-way stretch cotton fabric (97% cotton, 3% spandex). I'd refer to it as a light-medium weight fabric. It's available in new colours introduced in Fall 2017 Goblin Blue, Blood Grass (the green shown here), as well as Black, Flat Dark Earth (also shown here), Dark Urban Gray, and Dark Desert Sand.
Features - Here are the main features of the TD Carlos Ray Pants 2.1. The photos here show a brand new, unwashed FDE (Flat Dark Earth) pant, and a 2-month old Blood Grass (green):
Fit - Since the CR pants are mostly cotton, they will shrink a bit after washing/drying. I machine wash all my clothes in cold water and dry them on medium heat in the dryer. I don't have the patience to hand wash or line dry anything. I received my normal size that I always go by: 32 waist, 30 inseam. Out of the bag, the CR pants fit perfectly with a little room to spare; not too tight nor too loose. I measured the inseam to actually be 29". They fit a lot like my older Prana Stretch Zion pants, which are my favourite non-tactical pants for everyday wear. I wear them just about everywhere. I've moved away from pants that are too baggy on me with a lot of excess material, and I've come to appreciate fabrics with some stretch in them. Here are the FDE pants brand new out of the package:
Once I washed the green CR pants, they did shrink noticeably. As shown in the picture below of the washed and worn Green pair overlaid on the brand new FDE pair, the length has shrunk 1" over the whole 40" length of the pant (waist to cuff). That's 2.5% shrinkage. You can also see that they did get tighter in the right-hand side-by-side photo below; because the cotton fabric wrinkles after washing and drying. The first time I washed them I thought 'Oh crap, now they're too snug' after putting them on, but once the wrinkles smoothed out, the pants loosened up a bit. The fit was definitely more snug than in the brand new unwashed condition, but not 'hipster snug' and the stretch fabric really prevents them from feeling too snug. They're very comfortable due to the stretch fabric, and I also like that they're not too wide at the cuffs.
Notes and observations - So, my favourite everyday wear pants are some I've never featured on this site: the Prana Stretch Zion pants (pre 2016 version). They're the pants that really sold me on the advantages of stretch fabric. The VERTX original tactical pant that I've featured in the past utilizes a 98% cotton/2% lycra which is also a stretch fabric, but the pants show more wear with use than the completely synthetic fabric used by the Prana pants. The Carlos Ray 2.1 pants remind me very much of the Prana Stretch Zions in overall fit and the high amount of stretch. The CR pants also have the very comfortable and natural feel of cotton after a few washings, as well as some concern on my part about durability, based solely on my experience with cotton-based fabric pants.
For the first two months, I wore the green (Blood Grass) pair of pants about 3-4 times a week, and washing once a week. This was regular wear at the office, around town etc. I also wore the pants at the rock climbing gym twice a week. Indoor rock climbing gyms can be hard on pants due to the abrasiveness of the holds and walls, when you get that inevitable scrape on your knee or shin. It also helps to have stretchy pants as you're often splayed out and need unrestricted range of motion. I found the CR pants to be very good for rock climbing; they're not as thin as my Prana Stretch Zion pants, so they protect my skin better, and they were very comfortable to climb in. The stretch really made itself apparent.
As you can see in the photos of the 2-month old green pant (worn about 3 days a week, washed 7 times at the time of this writing), the cotton fabric does fade and wear at the edges and areas of abrasion; same as other mostly cotton pants that I have. They'll eventually fade like 100% cotton BDUs. I kinda like that look, especially with jean-style pants like these. You can also down the fade process a bit by washing the pants inside out if you choose.
So, here are some other things to note, as well as some things I'd like to see changed. With the CR pants, the waist is also stretchy, so I cannot wear the CR pants without a belt. If I don't wear a belt, I can simply pull them down off my waist and off as they'll stretch over my hips. I'm not a big fan of belts unless I really need to wear one, which is why I like the stretch Zion pants so much with their built-in waist adjustment webbing. The advantage to the stretch waist is that you don't have to unbutton it after that big BBQ dinner that you over ate at. Another is that the stretch waist accommodates an IWB holster without having to go up in waist size.
I found myself wanting the front handwarmer pockets to be a bit deeper - maybe an inch or two. I did not like the side mag/mobile pockets. They're not deep enough, even to hold my Blackberry phone, so I never felt secure putting anything in them. Also, since they're located behind the side seam, anything in the pocket can be felt when seated or while driving. I would like to see them moved in front of the side seam, and about two inches deeper, and the opening four inches higher (they'd overlap the handwarmer pockets). Right now, they're fine for sticking a 20-round mag in while standing around at the range, but I wouldn't trust the pocket to retain a mag when moving. The double rear pockets are fine and I like the depth of the outer one.
I'd also like to see the quality of the stitching/finishing improve. The stitching isn't straight in places and there were quite a few loose thread ends. I'd also increase the width of the zipper fly flap, because after washing, it tends to wrinkle and expose the zipper. It's not open, but the brass zipper is often exposed. Both stabilizing straps for the front handwarmer pockets inside the green pant separated from the front of the pant. It was inconsqeuential as I didn't notice a difference. I'd also like to see a reduction in the number of logos/labels. Right now, there's a TD crest embroidered on the left handwarmer pocket, a 1" square TD crest label sewn to the right back pocket (which I eventually removed), a small label sewn at the bottom corner of the same pocket, and 'TD' embroidered on the center rear belt loop. I don't really count the TD button - I like that. Personally, I'd get rid of all embroidery/logos and just retain the small label at the bottom of the rear pocket. Sometimes less is more (Arc'teryx, one of my favourite brands, typically has very subtle branding on their garments).
Lastly, I'd like to see them made 2.5% larger to account for shrinkage. They're still very comfortable, but I think it'd be nice for them to end up with the advertised dimensions post-wash, instead of only once before washing. Granted, the care tag says 'line dry', but I don't even have a line nor do I separate my clothes in the wash. Even with the things I'd like to see changed, I find myself reaching for the Carlos Ray pants frequently, instead of my Prana Stretch Zions. There's just something about the feel of stretch cotton pants that's 'comforting' and familiar. I look forward to seeing what Tactical Distributors has in store in the future.
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