Shorts Page 1 Page
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.
TO VIEW FULL SIZE IMAGES: USERNAME and PASSWORD are both "mm"
RailRiders VersaTac Shorts
4/2/10 - It was only a matter of time before RailRiders introduced their short version of their popular Versatac pants. Due to the overwhelming success of the Versatac pants, RR expanded the line to include shorts. Like the pants, the Versatac shorts are available in both Light and Mid weight versions. While the shorts share many of the same features as the pants, they aren't simply the pant version chopped off at the knee - there are some differences between them.
Note that I'm comparing the shorts to the original VersaTac Pants reviewed above. Some changes might have been implemented since then.
Lite and Mid VersaTac shorts - The Versatac shorts are available two versions; the Lite and the Mid. The only difference between the two are the fabrics used, which are the same as the Lite and Mid Versatac pants. The Lite utilizes 3 oz Duralite for the shell (main body), and Rail-Tex for the patching fabric and reinforcements. Rail-Tex is a very tough, lightweight, abrasion-resistant 5.2 oz nylon, equivalent to 280D cordura. The Lite short is available in Khaki and Light Tan.
The Mid (featured here) is constructed entirely of a 6.6 oz canvas-weave nylon named 'Yukon Canvas', for both the shell and all patches/reinforcements. Even though it's heavier by weight, it has a looser weave and is very soft, breathable and comfortable. The Mid Short is available in Stone (pictured here) and Natural. The Stone is more of a medium tan and the Natural is light greyish tan. Both are treated with a DWR (Durable Water Repellant) finish that provides some stain resistance and water resistance.
Features - The main features of the Versatac Mid shorts are:
Notes/Obervations - Construction and workmanship on the VersaTacs are excellent. All points of stress are bartacked. Like the pant, fit and cut is not too baggy nor tight, and very comfortable for everyday or active wear. The short ends right above my knee (I have short legs, though).
While not as secure as flapped pockets, I do like the convenience of the open-top rear pockets. I did jump up and down with my wallet inside and couldn't make it fall out. However, just to be on the safe side, when I insert my wallet, I orient it with the long edge horizontal instead of vertical, so that it's too wide to slip out between the velcro patch and the side. As mentioned above, the side entry pockets are very deep. In fact, my fingertips don't touch the bottom when my hands are in there. I'm more used to having my hands supported in my pockets and the contents a bit higher up, so it takes a bit of getting used to.
If you plan on carrying a lot of stuff in the pockets, I'd pick the Mid over the Lite as the heavier material carries items better. With thinner shorts, stuff in the pockets tend to sway a lot more. However, if I was around water or anticipated getting wet, I'd pick the Lite as the material dries faster and won't be as heavy when soaked. I'd also pick the Lite for humid environments. I've found that in high humidity, thicker garments just get heavy with sweat, no matter how breathable.
Mid or Lite, the Versatac shorts share the same comfort and functionality as the Versatac pants that preceeded them.
TAD Gear Force 10 Cargo Shorts
6/7/07 - At first glance, I thought that TAD Gear's Force 10 Cargo Shorts were simply a short version of their Force 10 "Legionnaire' Classic Cargo Pants. Upon closer examination, I found that the shorts combine features from both the Legionnaire pants and the Force 10 Cargo Utilities.
The Cargo shorts are available in two fabrics - a Desert
Tan 100% 7.5 oz cotton twill gabardine (like the Legionnaire pants),
and a lightweight 100% nylon 'Amphibious Cloth' in Khaki. TAD Gear's
Green and Black labels refer to their garments made of natural fibers
and blends/synthetic fibers respectively.
The Cargo shorts come in even waist sizes from 30" to 44" , with a 10" inseam for sizes 30" to 34" and 11" inseam for sizes 36" to 44". On me, the size 32's come down to mid-knee level.
Here's a rundown of the features on the Force 10 Cargo shorts (size 32 shown):
If you own one of TAD Gear's pants, you'll be familiar with the features and build of the shorts. The shorts have no less than 58 bartacks for reinforcement in high-stress locations! I found both the cotton and nylon shorts to be equally suitable for every day, casual use. I found the heavier cotton fabric sways a bit less when carrying stuff in the pockets but the nylon ones are a bit cooler in hot or humid weather. If there's a chance I'd encounter water or needed light weight and packability, I'd pick the nylon ones. For dry, rocky environments, I'd pick the cotton ones. It also depend on personal preference whether you prefer traditional cotton or high-tech nylon. Either way, I'm well-equipped for summer.
Rocket World Force 10 Spartan Shorts
7/31/09 - Just in time for the rest of summer, the Rocket World Force 10 Spartan Shorts from TAD Gear are the short version of their Spartan Pants with some newly incorporated features. Like the Spartan Pants, the Spartan Shorts are sans side cargo pockets, which result in a more streamlined version of the Force 10 Cargo Shorts featured above.
Rocket World is another outlet for the creativity of TAD Gear's owner, Patrick Ma. Rocket World special edition TAD Gear apparel will often have subtle (or not so subtle) details that inject a little humour or fun into a tactical world that sometimes takes itself too seriously. With the Rocket World Spartan Shorts, the bartacks are done in green contrast stitching, and the buttons are taped using the same colour. It's a very subtle effect.
The Spartan Shorts are available in two colours - Arid Earth (shown here), and M.E. Green in a light weight 100% cotton ripstop. The fabric used is in between the heavier cotton twill gabardine Cargo shorts and the light weight 100% nylon 'amphibious cloth' in the previous writeup.
The Rocket World Spartan shorts have 'California Cut', with a slightly slimmer leg and longer inseam than the Force 10 Cargo shorts. If you look at the photos in the Cargo shorts review above, you'll see that they end right at mid knee. The Rocket World shorts have a 2" longer inseam (so they below my knee) and aren't as baggy.
The Spartan shorts come in even waist sizes from 28" to 44" , with a 12" inseam for sizes 28" to 36" and 13" inseam for sizes 38" to 44".
Here's a rundown of the features on the Rocket World Force 10 Spartan shorts (size 32 shown):
Observations/Notes - Like the TAD Gear Force 10 Cargo Shorts, the Spartan shorts are bartacked at all stress points and are just some of the most practically designed shorts I've owned. The rip stop fabric on the Spartan shorts seems a bit lighter weight than the fabric used on the ODRP pants in the writeup below - but that was a couple of years ago and the current ripstop pants should have the same fabric as the shorts. It's really good stuff for hot weather, and when wet, it dries faster than the heavier ripstop or twill fabrics.
The new hypalon knife clip pocket reinforcements can work for, or against you, depending on the tension of the knife clip. Hypalon is very grippy material. It really does help increase the purchase that the knife clip has on the pocket, reducing the chances of it slipping out accidentally. However, on knife clips that are tight to begin with (like ZT knives), the hypalon can make it difficult to extract the knife quickly. The pocket wants to follow, and it requires a good tug to free the knife. On some other knives with less 'aggressive' clips, the feature works great.
As mentioned above, the Spartan shorts have a 'California cut', and they do have a bit of a board short look and cleaner/smarter appearance because of the lack of cargo pockets. I like this less baggy cut as I have skinny legs. After a few washings, the fabric breaks in nicely, and they're great for everyday wear or outdoor activities in spring, summer and fall.
8/12/10 - The S.O.D. Short Pant 01 from S.O.D. (Special Operations Department) is a short pant based loosely on their Para One Pant 1.2. Some of the 'combat features' have been toned down for the shorts, to make them more suited for everyday wear.
As mentioned in previous writeups, S.O.D. has been making clothing since 1938, so they're not newcomers to the clothing industry. S.O.D. actively participates in the development of its raw materials, together with its own collaborators and suppliers. This results in near perfect colour matching between various fabrics and components; something that most manufacturers will agree is not only expensive, but difficult to do. The attention to detail and workmanship (all S.O.D. items are designed and manufactured in Italy) are some of the best I've seen in garments. All materials used by S.O.D. are of Italian, U.S. or Canadian origin.
HCS (Hybrid Coyote Sage) - S.O.D. offers their products in quite a few different colours, including Crye MultiCam, and the desert and woodland versions of Italian Vegetato. HSC (Hybrid Coyote Sage) is a new colour exclusive to S.O.D. that has just been introduced, and is in service with the Italian SF. As the name implies, HCS is a hybrid of coyote brown and sage green. The end product is a brownish-green shade that works better than sage or OD green in arid areas, and very well around dry grass and shrubs. While it may not be as effective as camouflage patterns in some environments, it's surprisingly good for a solid colour, both in rural and urban areas. It's probably the most versatile solid colour for a uniform I've seen yet. What's also pretty impressive is how SOD has been able to match the components used to construct their garments. HCS is also suitable for LE as it doesn't look as 'military' as a camo pattern. I've been wearing the HCS shorts below for two months now all over the place, and they just look like a pair of cargo shorts.
Features - Here's a list of the features on the Short Pant. Size M (European size 50) is shown here:
Additional Notes and Observations - While the Para One Pant is cut a bit snugger than the typical U.S. BDU pant, the S.O.D. shorts are a relaxed, casual fit. As I mentioned above, I really like the elastic waist on these - they provide enough tension so that I don't have to wear a belt, yet expand when needed. The material is the same as that of the Combat Line clothing, and it really is the most breathable/comfortable NYCO fabric I've worn. More so than any U.S. BDU made out of NYCO or 100% cotton. As with the Combat Line garments, the attention to detail of the shorts is apparent upon close examination. There are little 'extras' all over. Pocket corners and flaps have angled corners, mini-bartacks everywhere, and all components are closely colour-matched or compatible. These shorts are great knock-around shorts for relaxing, or some serious outdoor use with its load-carrying capability.
As of this writing, the S.O.D. items are only available directly from Italy. S.O.D. is currently working with TangoDown for U.S. distribution/retail.
VERTX Tactical Short
8/29/10 - The VERTX Tactical Short is a direct modification of the VERTX Tactical Pant, and provides a hot-weather alternative for those who like the same practical and low profile features of the Pant.
Description - The VERTX short is a derivative of the VERTX pant, which was designed as a covert, comfortable walk-around pant that doesn't stand out, yet has features that provide the wearer with cargo-carrying capacity and full freedom of movement and mobility when he has to burst into action without warning. Obviously, with short pants, looking 'covert' and not attracting unwanted attention or notice with overtly 'tactical' or military-looking external features is less of a concern, as cargo shorts are commonplace and don't stand out in a casual environment. The reason one would want a VERTX short over another cargo short is the ability to carry the same items in a more streamlined design.
Features - Here are the key features on the VERTX Tactical short (32" waist shown):
Notes and observations - As far as sizing/fit goes, the VERTX short, for some reason, fit snugger than the pant. The VERTX pant fits 'true to size'. A size 32 fits a 32 waist. But, if I'm a little over 32, it's going to be on the snugger side. With the short, I got the same size 32 as the pant, and the waist was definitely tighter. I compared it to the 3 VERTX pants I have and experienced the same thing. When I did some measurements on the shorts, I found that the size 32 measures 32 when the elastic is fully stretched out. A size 33 would probably have been a better fit on me. So, I'd recommend going up a size when purchasing the shorts. Also, although the cut/pattern is based on the pant, the shorts have been modified slightly to fit properly, and the cuff (leg opening) has been narrowed slightly so that it doesn't flare out, so it's also a bit tighter around the butt.
One thing I'd like to see added are small velcro patches to keep the rear pockets closed more securely. The credential trap works well, but the wallet must be tall enough for it to be 'trapped'. If it's too short, the credential trap won't keep it from falling out.
If you appreciate the low profile nature of the VERTX pants, you'll appreciate the VERTX shorts for hot days on the range, hiking, climbing, or just every day around-town wear.
VERTX Phantom LT Shorts
1/24/14 - The VERTX Phantom LT Short is a direct modification of the VERTX Phantom LT Pant, and provides a lighter weight alternative to the hot-weather alternative to the Original Tactical Pant fabric. The VERTX Short shares the same practical and low profile features of the Pant.
Description - The VERTX pant was designed as a covert, comfortable walk-around tactical pant that doesn't stand out, yet has features that provide the wearer with cargo-carrying capacity and full freedom of movement and mobility. While the VERTX Short is a derivative of the pant, and intended to have covert tactical features, 'tactical shorts' aren't going to stand out in a crowd as any commercial outdoor retail store like REI will carry cargo shorts of all kinds designed for everyday wear, hiking or travel. What the VERTX short has over many other commercial cargo short designs is the ability to carry the same items in a more streamlined design.
If you read my notes and observations of the Original VERTX Tactical Short above, you'll see that I did have a slight issue with the fit being tighter on me than the pants, even with the same waist size. So I was curious as to whether I'd have the same issue with the Phantom LT Short. I also wanted to try out a lighter weight version for hot weather. The VERTX Men's Phantom LT Shorts shares the same features as the original shorts and is constructed of a lightweight durable 65% poly/35% cotton mini Rip-Stop fabric. The fabric also features IntelliDry™ treatment which keeps the wearer cool with advanced moisture wicking while providing superior water/stain resistance.
The Phantom LT Shorts are available in khaki, desert tan and olive drab green. I was hoping for smoke grey shorts, but strangely they're not available in that colour at the time of this review. I chose desert tan for a direct comparison to my original desert tan shorts. The LT fabric has a mini-ripstop weave which is 2/3 the size of the standard USGI weave seen on most BDUs. It's definitely lighter weight than the midweight 98% cotton/2% spandex fabric of the VERTX Original Tactical Short.
Features - Here are the key features on the VERTX Phantom LT Tactical short in Desert Tan (32" waist shown) - they're essentially the same as the Original VERTX Short:
Notes and observations - When I reviewed the original VERTX short 3-1/2 years ago, they fit snugger than the original VERTX tactical pants even though they were the same waist size (32). The opposite was true when I recently got the Phantom LT pants; they were slightly snugger around the butt than the original tactical pants. However, the Phantom LT Shorts shown here, also size 32, fits perfectly - definitely not as tight around the waist as the original VERTX shorts that I have.
Over the years, I've found that my preference for shorts fabric leans towards the lighter fabric (not ultra light) instead of the medium or heavier ones. If it's cold, I'm going to be wearing long pants. If it's hot, I want shorts that are cool and comfy. For that reason, I hadn't worn the original VERTX shorts very often because they're of a medium-weight fabric. My favourite everyday wear shorts ended up being the long-discontinued Rocket World Force 10 Spartan shorts in a 100% cotton ripstop, which have a slimmer fit and are just plain comfy. The lighter weight nylon of the TAD Force 10 Amphib cloth shorts allow too much movement of the cargo pockets when items are in there, also due to the baggy fit. So, with the Phantom LT shorts; I figured I had found the perfect combination of light weight fabric for hot weather, combined with a not-too-baggy fit.
Since I received these sample shorts from PredatorBDU.com in late November, there wasn't too much opportunity for hot weather wear as it was already cooling down. However, over the Christmas break, I went on a 17-day visit to Singapore, in South East Asia, and took that as my opportunity to check out the Phantom LT shorts. For those of you who aren't very familiar with the tiny island nation of Singapore, it has a tropical rainforest climate and is located very close to the equator. I lived there for 9 years about 30 years ago. Relative humidity is high, and it can get hot even in the 'winter' months. I've tried a variety of clothing on past visits to Singapore, and dislike 100% cotton as it absorbs sweat but doesn't dry fast, and stinks after just a day of wear. With cotton, I always felt muggy and that my cotton clothes stuck to me as they got saturated with perspiration. Some synthetics worked better than others; they dried faster than cotton but some didn't 'breathe' as well, so made me sweat more. I had worn 100% cotton ripstop BDU shorts in the tropics, and while they work great for dry/hot weather, they didn't work well in the humidity.
The trip to Singapore was a family trip with my wife and 6 year-old son; completely non 'tactical' in nature; so I don't have the usual photos this time around of me running around at the range in these shorts shooting my carbine. My evaluation was from an every day utility or tourist perspective; walking a lot, taking buses and trains, running around playing with my son etc while carrying a 'basic tourist load' of money, sunglasses etc. Before we went, I admit that I was a bit skeptical of the "IntelliDry™ treatment which keeps the wearer cool with advanced moisture wicking while providing superior water/stain resistance." I wondered how it could wick while repelling water and stains. Also, I wasn't sure how breathable the poly/cotton blend would be.
I brought along my TAD Force 10 Amphib cloth shorts as backup in case the Phantom LT shorts proved too warm. Well, throughout my whole trip, I never had to switch to the Force 10 shorts. The Phantom LT shorts exceeded my expectations. The weather while I was in Singapore ranged from pleasantly warm to sweltering on some days in the sun, with occasional rain. Humidity was pretty high; though not as bad as during the summer months. I had fully expected the Phantom LT shorts to start feeling damp and clingy after a days' wear, or feel stuffy, but I was really surprised that they didn't. Unlike my cotton t-shirts, which I could feel get more damp as the day progressed and they absorbed my sweat, the Phantom LT shorts felt dry.
They were also very breathable - more so than lighter weight 100% nylon. They felt as comfortable and breathable as dry cotton, but never got damp and heavy the way cotton does. Another thing I kept a close watch on was smell. While my cotton t-shirts needed daily changing/washing as they'd get that familiar sweaty smell at the end of the day, I didn't have to wash or change the Phantom LT shorts - they never started to smell. I was pretty amazed. I only washed them once (more because I felt that I should, rather than needing to) during the whole trip, and I wore then every single day (even on the 17-hour flight back home to the U.S.). As far as the fabric was concerned, it worked awesome in the hot/humid climate, and that's not an easy climate to find comfort in. As a side note, the discontinued Duofold coolmax long sleeved t-shirt I brought for sleeping in also worked spendidly at keeping me dry while never taking on an odour even after multiple warm/sweaty nights of wear without washing.
As far as utility goes, the shorts worked great. The concealed security pocket is where I kept all my cash and wallet; and the low profile side pockets carried my sunglasses, phone, bus/train cards and loose change when I wasn't carrying a shoulder bag. The Phantom LT ripstop fabric is light weight, but not so light or thin such that stuff inside the cargo pockets flop around - the shorts carried all items very well. I didn't wear a belt with the shorts (one of the main reasons I like them so much), and the elastic waist was able to keep them comfortable even as I put on a few extra pounds of chub from pigging out on the awesome local food. My son also has a tendency to hang onto my pockets, pulling down on them when he got tired, and the shorts stayed up and secure. Whether I was walking around town, chilling in a hammock or chasing my son up and down a jungle gym (I'm getting too old to do that); the shorts really worked well - comfortable, breathable and dry with full range of motion, and most importantly; without losing any of my pockets' contents. The convenience of the no button or velcro side cargo pockets can't be beat. The fabric also seemed very dirt and stain resistant, true to the advertising.
For travel and everyday wear in warm/humid climates, the Phantom LT shorts were a big winner with me, and I'm certain they will perform very well in hot, dry environments as well. In my humble opinion, I think that the LT fabric weight is just about perfect for a pair of shorts - not too thick as to be stuffy or too warm in hot weather, and not too thin such that it doesn't carry loads well. I prefer them to the original VERTX shorts which may be more hard-wearing in the long run due to the thickness of the fabric, but sacrifices some comfort in hot weather. These are my new favourite everyday wear shorts at the time of this writing. By the way, PredatorBDU.com is offering a 10% discount to all MilitaryMorons readers - use the discount code MM10 for 10% off on everything they carry until Dec 2014.
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