Helikon-Tex Urban Tactical Pant: Fit for the Field

As part of its “Urban” product line, the Urban Tactical Pants (UTP) by Helikon-Tex have been a mainstay of its trouser design that gives end-users functional field attire to meet a variety of needs. The UTP comes in a variety of fabrics such as; polycotton stretch ripstop (50% cotton, 48% polyester, and 2% elastane lining woven throughout), and provides a number of functional elements appealing to many in professional roles.

Starting at the waist, the UTP has seven 50mm (or 1.96in) wide beltloops (two in the front, one on each side, and three along the back) with an elastic waistband at the rear yolk. These features improve comfort when conducting dynamic movements, with extensive bartack to maintain durability of the materials. The cut of the UTP is available as a regular (featured) fit, in a mid-rise waistline. This accounts for a comparable profile to many other types of field or tactical  trousers.

The UTP have a hook-and-loop closure, and single-shuttle YKK zipper fly whereby the zipper line itself has a sufficient amount of excess material under it to protect the more sensitive skin areas (i.e. frank and beans) from any accidental pinching.

The two front pockets are a standard pattern, with additional bartack and double line stitching for reinforcement and to account for retention clip items (such as pocket knives). Above each front pocket is a loop for keyring, carabiner, or other clip-type items.

Below each standard pocket (on each thigh) is a 6.5” wide YKK zipper-secured cargo pocket. In front of which (on both sides) is an accessory pocket for a smart phone or rifle magazine, and secured by an over-the-top flap with hook-and-loop.

The two rear pockets are 8” wide to allot for maximum access, inside which is a smaller, secondary sleeve pocket for a baton, flashlight, or other accessory.

In the interior waistband are two front concealment pockets for money, pocket knife, pistol magazine, or other EDC items.

The minimal crotch gusset is a semi-flexible panel that provides appropriate range of motion to accommodate a variety of shooting stances.

Each pant cuff is single line stitched for reinforcement, and to prevent/limit any fraying or compromise to the material.

The UTP Polycotton Stretch Ripstop is available in Tiger Stripe (featured), Desert Night Camo, and US Woodland, and over 10 other colors. Other fabric options include Nyco Ripstop or Denim. Sizing runs from a XSmall to XXXL with variance between small, regular, and long inseam.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostAverage (3/5): At the list price of $87.00, Urban Tactical Pants (UTP)—Polycotton Stretch Ripstop—is Helikon-Tex’s take on a dedicated tactical trousers that also omits some of the more flamboyant “operator” trademarks; such as external knee pads, hook-and-loop straps, or extravagant fabrics. For the price, users get a durable and functional set of trousers for the range in the retro Tiger Stripe or Desert Night Camo pattern. While Crye trousers in this design run between $214 and $273, and can be a little tough for the average consumer to afford. More realistically, market alternatives to the UTP would be Tactical Distributor’s Neptune Pants ($64.99), Rothco’s Vintage Vietnam Rip-Stop Pants ($64.99),  or the All-Terrain Tiger TRU Trousers from Tru-Spec ($94.95). Obviously there are innumerable market alternatives for general-use range trousers that are more inexpensive, but many did not have similarities in materials (differences in blend or higher polyester content), stitching (less bartack or stitching reinforcement), or design (no elastane for added flexibility). Among the market and listed alternatives, the UTP had an appropriate (or average) level of affordability when considering what it brings in terms of design and fabrics where others do not.
  • Comfort Average (3/5): Worn for 30 days in several iterations at the range and in a variety of stressors, the UTP remained flexible and yielded a decent degree of comfort. While often the crotch is the point where trousers bind or tear in more extreme movements, the UTP had a minimal gusset and larger backseat flair to allow for an appropriate (or average) range of motion. There was no flex slits or panels in the leg to aid in material stretch when taking a knee or bringing the leg up into the chest. The thicker fabric and layered material to the hook-and-loop fly was comfortable against the skin, and during dynamic movements, although the material’s added thickness also felt heavier. The slotting for padded inserts (not included) at the knees allowed the end-user to add further protection (in addition to the double layer fabric for the slot) against rocks and other surface types. One suggestion for Helikon-Tex to consider adding in future designs would be some measure of improved ventilation to increase airflow and mitigate the thicker/heavier fabric. Additionally, some measure to adjust the waist band (hook and loop or additional elastic segments) to allow the end-user to customize their preferred level of tightness. The UTP is fitted to the physical measurements so it is recommended end-user’s leverage Helikon-Tex’s sizing guide appropriately. With the thickness of materials it is suggested to “add an inch” for account for more comfortable sizing.
  • Durability – Good (4/5): The UTP was made from a blend of cotton and polyester, with a Ripstop cross stitch to limit compromised threading if it should happen, that gave the trousers a good level of durability and stiffness. The conditions tested in included water, mud, rock, and on concrete and aside from usual wear the material retained an average level or abrasion resistance. The trousers were put through four wash cycles and no loose threading or material was noted. Final examination revealed that the UTP had a good level of bartack stitching along the belt line, belt loops, pockets, fly and gusset as well as double-line stitching along the pockets, inseam, and leg cuffs. The thicker fabric also supported the hook-and-loop material above the fly, and ensured no excessive curling along the edges or corners. These all safeguarded against any compromise to the stitching or material, and if it were to ever become so then it would be limited to the effected area.
  • Functionality Good (4/5): Functionally, the number of pockets on the UTP were extremely useful and well placed. Most could easily accommodate odd-sided items similar to a rifle or pistol magazine, and it was noted the pockets on the front thigh were dedicated to the AR magazine profile, leaving the zippered cargo pockets available or larger items. The fly itself had only a single shuttle, so a recommendation to Helikon-Tex would be a second shuttle so end-users can access the zipper without having to remove gear. A good deal of the UTP’s functionality was put into making it comfortable while worn for an extensive time (4+ hours) and regardless of conditions. The standard front pockets felt a little tight to get hands inside of, but the rear pockets were easily accessed and had a wide opening to reach your hand into. For the price, the UTP has a good amount of pockets/features, and adding more (such as hook-and-loop cinch straps behind the knee or flex panels in the hip or gusset) would likely have further increased the product cost. One negative functional aspect end-users should note is the hook-and-loop segment above the fly; ithas the hook (male) fabric oriented outwards (probably to avoid chafing the skin), but it is very grabby and will snag/pull shirts, coats, gear, and even the lint in the dryer. Be sure to put the hook-and-loop fabric together before placing into the wash.
  • Weight Good (4/5): Weighing in at 1.31 pounds, the UTP had a heavy layer of polycotton stretch ripstop with an appropriate amount of room for movement through its waist and upper thigh. The elastane woven throughout gives the material added flexibility with some limitations. However, in comparison the Crye Gen 3 (1.6 pounds), Tactical Distributor’s Neptune Pants (1.3 pounds), Rothco’s Vintage Vietnam Rip-Stop Pants (1.4 pounds), or the All-Terrain Tiger TRU Trousers from Tru-Spec (2.0 pounds) illustrate that, for its design and materials, the UTP was still lighter than most alternatives and of a good light weight amid the market of similar alternatives.

Overall Rating – Good (18/25)

Product Link: https://www.helikon-tex.com/en_usd/sp-utl-sp-utp-urban-tactical-pants-polycotton-stretch-ripstop.html

I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via High Ground Media, LLC, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.

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