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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.

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.


Verstac Mid short with Liger belt

Deep front pockets



Features - The main features of the Versatac Mid shorts are:

  • 10-inch inseam
  • Seven belt loops - The belt loops accommodate 2" belts and are wider than the ones on my Versatac pants. I don't know if these were changed on later versions, but they're 1" wide instead of 3/4" wide. They're also heavily bartacked.
  • Reinforced seat and front pocket openings - the seat is reinforced with another layer of fabri, as well as the entrances to the side slash pockets.
  • Gusseted crotch - comfortable and strong
  • Knife clip reinforcements - an extra layer of fabric is added on the outside of the side slash pockets for knife clips.
  • Side slash/handwarmer pockets - these are deeper than normal, a feature some may like, and some may not. They're about 10" deep from the bottom of the opening (where the knife clip reinforcement is), to the bottom. While items inside are kept more secure, they're also lower down on the thigh (instead of at the crease) and move when the thigh moves. The pockets are made of the same fabric as the rest of the shorts.
  • Side cargo pockets - To adapt these for shorts, the side cargo pockets are located about 2" higher than on the pants, and are about 1" shorter. Like the pants, the side cargo pockets are built on an extra piece of fabric - a platform - not just sewn directly to the shell. This adds structure to the pocket and also helps reduce swaying of the contents when on the move. It also adds an extra layer of abrasion resistance between your thigh and the pockets' contents. They have a flap closure with two slotted buttons and velcro. The idea is to use the buttons when extra security is needed. I find convenient just to use the velcro and leave the buttons undone, but I'm glad they're there if I need them for less frequently accessed stuff. The pocket is bellowed for bulkier items, but bartacked at the front bottom corner for a lower profile. There is also front/side vertical zipper access, located at the front of the pocket. This allows quick access when seated, kneeling or driving a vehicle. By putting my cell in one of the cargo pockets, it's easily accessible when seated. As with the pants, I just leave it open sometimes when driving, to dump my sunglass case, wallet or phone into. Inside the cargo pocket is a small pocket sized for a single pistol magazine or folding knife with elastic retention at the top.

Front details

Side handwarmer pocket

Side cargo pocket

Internal pocket with G19 mag

Cell phone slot pocket
  • Cell phone pockets - A cell phone slot pocket has been added on each side, behind the side cargo pockets with the opening at the top. They're shallow enough (5" deep) to slip a cell phone in, but be aware that if you run, the contents aren't secured inside. I've illustrated one with a 30-round M4 mag to show how deep it is.
  • Two back pockets - instead of the flap pockets on the pants, the shorts have a non-flapped pocket in the rear, with a small velcro patch to close it. The pocket is about 6" deep and 7" wide.
  • Rigid slotted buttons - the waist button and side cargo pocket buttons are all hard plastic Canadian military-style, and taped. I found these to be a great improvement over the rubbery buttons on the first Versatac pants.
  • Even waist sizes from 32" to 42". These is no elastic on the sides.

Cell phone pocket with 30-rnd mag for illustration

Vertical zipper on side pocket

Rear pocket

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 heavier weight cotton twill is very rugged-feeling and would be suitable for those individuals who wear shorts year-round. They'd also do well for bouldering and rock face environments, as the thickness of the fabric offers some protection against sharp surfaces. Like a pair of Levi's, they'll get softer over time with each washing and wearing.
The 'Amphibious Cloth' nylon is very similar to Supplex nylon, and the nylon shorts are suited for hot weather, surf, water and sand, as they're quick drying and very lightweight and breezy. The khaki colour is the warmer of the two fabrics in the photos.

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.


Cotton Cargo shorts

Rear

Small hammer in right cargo pocket

Nylon Cargo shorts

Here's a rundown of the features on the Force 10 Cargo shorts (size 32 shown):

  • Button waist and Zipper fly - A Delrin-tooth YKK zipper fly for convenient donning/doffing with a Canadian-style slotted/taped waist button.
  • Seven 2-1/4" belt loops fit rigger belts (the Cotton shorts shown here with an SOE Cobra rigger belt and the Nylon shorts with a Liger belt). The front two belt loops have YKK D-ring gear keepers for dummy cording the contents of the front pockets - these will be useful if you're wearing the nylon shorts around water.
  • Gusseted Action Crotch - for full mobillity without the worry of splitting them.
  • Reinforced double seat.
  • Two rear 7" x 7" pockets with slotted button closures - These are exactly the same as the ones on the Legionnaire pants. All pockets are made from the same fabric as the rest of the shorts instead of a lighter weight material. Pocket flaps corners are angled off.
  • Two 6" deep x 4.5" wide welted cell phone/utility pockets in the front - no closure. I use these more than the side pockets for small items - I miss them on pants that don't have them. They're deep enough to be pretty secure and don't restrict movement.
  • Two side/slash pockets - these have TAD's reinforcements for pocket knife clips. The extra reinforcement helps with the wear associated with the repeated carrying of knives with pocket clips. Inside the right pocket is a small 3" tall x 2.75" wide coin pocket which also fits my cell phone or pager.
  • Large, side bellows cargo pockets - These have a 'true bellows' design instead of the more common pleated BDU style. This results in a cleaner appearance overall. The roomy pocket has bellows in the rear only, for a lower profile and less snag potential when moving forward. They're about 1-1/2" shorter than the Force 10 cargo pants pockets. The pocket opening is slanted forward, for easier access. The flap corners are angled off and the flap is secured by slotted buttons, like the Legionnaire pants. There are no internal compartments as it was found that the shorts pockets are best used for bulkier, less dense items than small dense ones. This is due to the fact that the leg opening on the shorts is larger than that on the pants, so there is more swaying of the contents under high impact movement (running/jumping). The pocket flap top has a slot for momentary stowage of a longer object down the pocket like a ruler or tool (shown here with a small hammer). There are water-drainage grommets on the Nylon short pockets, not the cotton ones.

Front details

Rear pocket on cotton short

Side cargo pocket details

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".


Spartan shorts

Rear


Here's a rundown of the features on the Rocket World Force 10 Spartan shorts (size 32 shown):

  • Button waist and Zipper fly - A Delrin-tooth YKK zipper fly for convenient donning/doffing with a Canadian-style slotted/taped waist button using contrasting green tape.
  • Seven 2-1/2" belt loops fit rigger belts. The front two belt loops have YKK D-ring gear keepers for dummy cording the contents of the front pockets.
  • Gusseted Action Crotch - for full mobillity without the worry of splitting them.
  • Reinforced double seat.
  • Two rear 7" x 7" pockets with slotted single button-through closures - These are the same style as the ones on the Spartan pants; with no flap. All pockets are made from the same fabric as the rest of the shorts instead of a lighter weight material. The buttons are taped in contrasting green.
  • Two 6" deep x 4.5" wide welted cell phone/utility pockets in the front - no closure. These are pretty standard on all TAD Gear pants and I use these more than the side pockets for small items. I miss them on pants that don't have them.
  • Two side/slash pockets - these have TAD's new hypalon reinforcements for pocket knife clips. The extra reinforcement helps with the wear associated with the repeated carrying of knives with pocket clips. Inside the right pocket is a small 3" tall x 2.75" wide coin pocket which also fits my cell phone or pager.
  • Small removable molded rubber Rocket World glow in the dark logo on velcro patch.

Front details

Rear

Hypalon knife clip reinforcement

Rocket World logo

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.

 

 


S.O.D. Shorts

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.


S.O.D. shorts


Features - Here's a list of the features on the Short Pant. Size M (European size 50) is shown here:

  • Material - 50/50 NYCO ripstop fabric.
  • Zipper fly and button waist - The waist has a zipper fly and the typical European two-button waist tab. The buttons are taped slotted buttons.
  • 7 belt loops - The belt loops are sized to fit 2" belts.
  • Elastic sides - The waistband between belt loops 2 and 3 is elasticized, and will expand quite a bit. I really like this feature as it's just snug enough to wear without a belt, and yet will expand if I have a heavy meal.
  • Side slash pockets - The side entry slash pockets are deep and roomy with large openings. There's the same little triangulare 'web' at the bottom of the entrance. My only complaint with the pocket design is that when a folding knife is clipped at the bottom, the clip can interfere with the side cargo pocket flap. A small slot or opening in the flap seam to allow the knife clip to pass through would be nice.
  • Double seat - self explanatory.
  • Rear pockets - The two rear pockets are an unusual shape, extending and narrowing downwards towards to side of the pants to channel smaller objects to the outside so you don't sit on them. The very cool-looking angled flaps are secured with velcro, instead of the two slotted/taped buttons on the Para One pant. I actually prefer the speed and convenience of the velcro closure to the button, but it's not as quiet. There's a dummy cord loop just inside the flap on each rear pocket.

Front details

Rear

Cargo pocket

Drain holes
  • Side cargo pockets - The side cargo pockets are the same as on the Para One pants - roomy, measuring about 9" tall x 9" wide at the bottom (they're 8" wide at the top). The entrance is slanted down in the rear slightly for easier access. The opening of the pocket has elastic at the rear, and a two-button flap closure. The buttons are both slotted/taped, and are large enough to manipulate with gloves. The front edge of the flap is sewn down. I sometimes leave the middle button or rear button undone, depending on what I'm carrying in the pocket for quicker access. There are two larger expansion pleats on the side of the pocket, and a smaller pleat in the rear. The bottom of the pocket is bellowed, with two drainage holes at the bottom. One thing I'd like to see, especially with such roomy pockets, is the addition of some internal organization. I'd be happy with two internal slot pockets, one about 2" wide and the other 3.5" wide. This would help keep everything from collecting at the bottom of the pocket, especially smaller items.
  • Details - All points of stress are mini-bartacked and all seams double-stitched, even the pockets. High-tensile nylon thread thread is used in the construction of these garments.

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.


VERTX short



Features - Here are the key features on the VERTX Tactical short (32" waist shown):

  • Material - This is the key to the VERTX pant's comfort and mobility. The material is 98% cotton, 2% spandex, allowing the fabric to stretch. I'd call the fabric mid weight.
  • Stretch waistband - The waistband has elastic on the sides for a little bit of give. It's not bunched up enough to be uncomfortable, but has enough stretch to add about two inches to the waist. The pant has a front button and zipper fly.
  • Higher back - The back of the waist band is higher than in the front so that you can bend, kneel, squat without the rear being pulled down.
  • Belt loops - The belt loops will accomodate 2" belts, and there are double belt loops at the rear for reinforcement, as the stress is typically more to the rear of the pant.
  • Gusseted crotch - The crotch is designed for mobility. Many gussets have an apperance of added mobility but don't really do much. The front gusset seam is low in the crotch and the rear seam has been moved higher up the back 'crotch curve'. This design does not 'point load' the seam but spreads the load across the seam. This results in true range of motion without restriction and less chance of blown seams.
  • Utility notch pocket - The utility notch is a relief at the bottom of the side slash pockets that provides a space for a knife clipped to the pocket. Note that on the pant, there were some complaints that the curvature of the hanging pocket prevented knives from hanging straight down. This has been changed on the shorts, and a knife will hang straight down now.
  • Concealed security pocket (not pictured - refer to Pant writeup) - There is a zippered security pocket located near the opening of the right hand side slash pocket. The opening is so well concealed that you'd never really notice it there, as the zipper isn't exposed. The zipper pull is below the utility notch, and is accessed when you put your hand inside the pocket. This is a secure hidden pocket for ID, wallet, magazine, spare mag etc and is the same size as the side slash pocket. Note that the brass zipper pull can leave a mark on knives clipped inside the utility notch, as it makes contact.

Front details

Gusseted crotch

Rear pocket

Side slash pocket with utility notch

30-rnd AR mag

20-rnd AR mag
  • Rear pocket credential trap - There are two patch pockets on the back of the pant, about 5.5" wide and 6" tall. This is an internal angled 'flap' that can be used to secure a larger wallet, passport or credential holder. For the flap to secure the item, the item should be at least 5 inches tall. Otherwise, the flap will not trap the top of the item. The VERTX logo is embroidered on the upper corner of the right pocket vs. the label used on the first run pants.
  • Low profile side cargo pockets - The side cargo pockets have been downsized slightly from the pants - measuring 7.25" x 6.25" .Rather than the 'normal' configuration where the pocket is sewn to the outside of the pant leg, the VERTX side pockets are inset, giving it a discrete, covert touch. A hole is made in the side of the pant and the pocket sewn to the inside instead of the outside, creating a very low profile pocket. The pocket has a 'speed pleat' which allows it to expand its carrying capacity when needed. The top of the pocket is overlapped by the flap which is sewn down at the ends and does not flip up, eliminating the need for a closure system like buttons or velcro. The opening is angled down towards the rear slightly for more natural access.
  • Internal side pockets - Inside each side cargo pocket is a 3.5" deep internal slot pocket for organization. This pocket will fit a sunglass case, cell phone etc, and a 20-round M4 mag perfectly. When the mag is placed in the internal pocket, it stays upright, ready for extraction. Note that a 30-round M4 mag will stick out the top of the pocket, since the pocket is shorter than the Pant version.
  • All stress points are bartacked.
  • Colours - Available in Khaki, Desert Tan (shown here), and OD Green.
  • Sizing - The VERTX pants are available in even waist sizes from 28 through 48 and also these odd ones (29, 31, 33, 35).

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 Short

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.


VERTX Phantom LT 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:

  • Material - 65% poly/35% cotton mini Rip-Stop fabric with IntelliDry technology.
  • Stretch waistband - The waistband has elastic on the sides for a little bit of give. It has enough stretch to add about two inches to the waist. The waist has a front button and zipper fly.
  • Higher back - The back of the waist band is higher than in the front so that you can bend, kneel, squat without the rear being pulled down.
  • Belt loops - The belt loops will accomodate 2" belts, and there are double belt loops at the rear for reinforcement, as the stress is typically more to the rear of the pant.
  • Gusseted crotch - The crotch is designed for mobility. The front gusset seam is low in the crotch and the rear seam has been moved higher up the back 'crotch curve'. This design does not 'point load' the seam but spreads the load across the seam. This results in true range of motion without restriction and less chance of blown seams.
  • Side slash pockets - as you can see from the photo below, there's a very slight shape difference between the original VERTX short and the Phantom LT short; the hanging pocket of the LT is more square at the corner than the original, which allows folding knives to sit better.
  • Utility notch pocket - The utility notch is a relief at the bottom of the side slash pockets that provides a space for a knife clipped to the pocket.
  • Concealed security pocket - There is a zippered security pocket located near the opening of the right hand side slash pocket. The opening is so well concealed that you'd never really notice it there, as the zipper isn't exposed. The zipper pull is below the utility notch, and is accessed when you put your hand inside the pocket. This is a secure hidden pocket for ID, wallet, magazine, spare mag etc and is the same size as the side slash pocket. The brass zipper pull on the original short has been changed to a colour-matched zipper pull.

LT vs. Original

LT vs. Original fabric

Slight pocket difference
  • Rear pocket credential trap - There are two patch pockets on the back of the pant, about 5.5" wide and 6" tall. This is an internal angled 'flap' that can be used to secure a larger wallet, passport or credential holder. For the flap to secure the item, the item should be at least 5 inches tall. Otherwise, the flap will not trap the top of the item.
  • Low profile side cargo pockets - The side cargo pockets have been downsized slightly from the pants - measuring 7.25" x 6.25". Rather than the 'normal' configuration where the pocket is sewn to the outside of the pant leg, the VERTX side pockets are inset, giving it a discrete, covert touch. A hole is made in the side of the pant and the pocket sewn to the inside instead of the outside, creating a very low profile pocket. The pocket has a 'speed pleat' which allows it to expand its carrying capacity when needed. The top of the pocket is overlapped by the flap which is sewn down at the ends and does not flip up, eliminating the need for a closure system like buttons or velcro. The opening is angled down towards the rear slightly for more natural access.
  • Internal side pockets - Inside each side cargo pocket is a 3.5" deep internal slot pocket for organization. This pocket will fit a sunglass case, cell phone etc, and a 20-round M4 mag perfectly. When the mag is placed in the internal pocket, it stays upright, ready for extraction. Note that a 30-round M4 mag will stick out the top of the pocket, since the pocket is shorter than the Pant version.
  • All stress points are bartacked.
  • Colours - Available in Khaki, Desert Tan (shown here), and OD Green.
  • Sizing - The VERTX Phantom LT shorts are available in even waist sizes from 28 through 44 and also these odd ones (29, 31, 33, 35).

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.


Hardcore tropical climate eval

Taking a breather during the kid-chasing Jungle gym obstacle course

Holds up a tired kid, too

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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