Tradesmen out on the work-site are exposed to all sorts of extreme conditions, from the weather, the terrain and just plain ole rugged stuff like sharp edges, splinters, sparks and abrasion.
These folks seek out heavy duty clothes and a company called Duluth Trading is trying to answer the call. They have come out with, what I consider a very strong contender to replace my 5.11 Tactical Pant inventory…the Flex Fire Hose Work Pant.
Made of 8 oz. Fire Hose cotton canvas that’s lighter, but as abrasion resistant, as Duluth’s original “11.5-ounce Fire Hose® Work Pants” , the “Fire Flex” Pants add in 3% spandex to provide softer wear and more flexibility over the stiffer originals. And at 8 oz these pants are even lighter than the 5.11 Tactical’s which are 8.5 oz.
The material is also Teflon®-treated to resist stains and water. I’m sure that wear and washing will eventually diminish this feature, but water still beads on them after a few weeks of wear and multiple washings. Duluth ships these things “pre washed” so they are comfortable right out of the bag.
The Flex Fire Work Pant has plenty of pocket space. Compared to the 5.11’s the differences I have noticed are that the cargo pockets are a bit higher, the Flex Fire’s don’t have that small magazine pocket (which I never carry a magazine in anyway) and the rear pocket has a more traditional flap closure vs the “slit style” rear pocket on the 5.11. +1 for the 5.11 there in terms of ease of rear pocket access.
The placement of the belt loops are perfect for my belt slide holster(s). Often times pants have that inconvienent belt loop right on the hip, which leaves me with two options; not using the loop at all which feels odd and causes the belt to sag a bit on the hip, or I have to wrestle with threading the belt through one side of the holster, through the loop and out the other side of the holster.
What the Flex Fire’s have going for them in terms of storage is the multi pocket approach to the cargo pocket.
Compared to the 5.11’s Cargo pockets, the Flex Fire’s provide more organizational options. The each leg sports one main/large pocket that has an additional two exterior pockets on top. This lets you arrange stuff on the leg vs stuffing it all into one large pocket. And, whats neat with the design on the two outside pockets is that one is closed when the flap is down and one is open. The “Always open” pocket fits my portable radio perfectly and the closeable one holds my cellphone quite nicely.
You may also note what appears to be the “extra velcro” on the pocket flap. Inside the main cargo pocket are two tabs that let you secure the flap inside the pocket so that they can all remain open with the flap held securely against the leg.
I don’t have a photo of it, but there’s even a hidden pocket inside the pants at the left front waistband area. Great place to stash something like a hidden cuff key.
The waist closure is a traditional button/slot affair compared to the 5.11’s snap style closure.
I’m not reccommending one style over the other in this department as either seems to work fine for me. I have seen some anecdotal reviews stating that Duluth’s buttons have (on occasion) been seen to fail by pulling out of the waistband material. From what I have seen that may have been more of an issue of too small a waist size being worn…I guess I will see but mine have had no issues.
At about $70.00 a pair you will be paying about $20.00 over the cost of a 5.11 and…as almost everything is these days…they are made in China. But so are 5.11’s (as well as other overseas manufacturers).
Light, tough, comfortable and practical. If you are seeking additional options for a tactical pant the Duluth Flex Fire Hose Work Pant’s are absolutely worth a test run. And with Duluth’s “No Bull” guarantee that they will refund your money if you are not satisfied, what do you have to lose?