Vertx Tactical Pants Endurance Test: Week 1

Freedom of movement

If there’s one phrase that encapsulates my reasoning for endurance testing a pair of pants over a nine week period, that would be it…another would be “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”

For the few past years, I have been reading online and print article reviews of tactical clothing with a cautious, but positive curiosity.  While a part of me eagerly seeks details and features of the clothing, another part realizes facts alone cannot determine if an article of clothing will hold up after an extended period of use.  And let us be clear about tactical clothing, it is essential gear which will be USED, not WORN like your favorite pair of skinny jeans on your daily jaunt to Starbucks.

So, how best to determine if a piece of tactical clothing will live up to the hype found in its marketing material?  I found the answer in one of my favorite blogs: www.pistol-training.com.

Over the past few years, ToddG of http://www.pistol-training.com has been performing the most informative and longest duration handgun endurance testing. Here are some of his results:

  • M&P9 62,333 rounds in 228 days
  • HK45 50,000 rounds in 252 days
  • HK P30 91,322 rounds in 322 days
  • Gen4 Glock 17 71,260 rounds in 473 days

After reading ToddG’s reviews, I began to question why no one had performed a similar endurance testing of tactical clothing…shortly followed by “why not me?”

Why Not Me?

To borrow a phrase from Andrew Tuohy, “I am not an operator.” I have never HALOed into Iran wearing nothing but a pair of UDT swimmer trunks and a knife between my teeth.  However, I did spend 8 years and 364 days in the US Navy, as a lowly, under-appreciated/underpaid/misunderstood Deep Sea Diver.  And since 1987, my main source of employment has been as a consultant in the field of structural bodywork, as well as strength and conditioning.  I have worked with clients ranging from a 17-year-old pitcher who threw 97+mph, to professional triathletes, Stanley Cup winners and security contractors.  Additionally, in 2010, I was afforded an appreciative opportunity to write for SWAT Magazine by its editor Denny Hansen.

Concerning the endurance testing of tactical clothing, what I bring to the table is a profound understanding of biomechanics.  As I stated in my Vertx Tactical Pants Testing Intro video,  there are seven primal movement patterns common to every human.  Possessing a keen understanding of these seven movements, allows me to replicate in a matter of days, quantity of movements that would normally take  months to achieve in a real world environment.  Condensing thousands of deliberate, explosive and labor intensive actions into nine weeks, allows me to share the results of my endurance testing sooner, rather than later.  And by uploading weekly video recaps, you will experience every step of my testing procedure, allowing you to determine the relevant nature of my endurance test to your real world experiences.

I recommend you watch my Vertx Tactical Pants Endurance Testing Intro video here first.

Monday – July 2, 2012

Tire flip: 450 lb. tire, flipped for 20 sets of 5 receptions each (100 total flips) in 31:33 minutes.

 If you have never lifted and flipped an extremely heavy tire, then you don’t know what you are missing.  Due to their construction and intended purpose of being used on heavy machinery, these tires have  immensely rough treads which literally tear into your hands.

What better way to test the strength and abrasion resistance of the 98% cotton, 2% Lycra blend Vertx uses for their pants?

Normally, when flipping tires, I utilize both knees to prop the tire up while changing hands positions to flip the tire over.  Alternating knees prevents overdevelopment of hip musculature which can lead to overuse injuries and lower back pain. However, for testing purposes, I will only use my right knee.  This serves two purposes:

  1. Using the right knee repeatedly, to prop the tire up, will turn the right thigh into a stress point.  Over time, a high number of tire flips will test the resiliency  and stain resistance of the pant’s material and construction.
  2. By only utilizing the right knee, the material on the left thigh becomes a “control,” giving us something to compare the pant’s right thigh against nine months from now.

The first 100 flips.

While I had read much about Vertx’s articulated knees and high cut rear wist band, I was not sure how well this would translate into actual performance.  However, notice in my video when I squat down to lift the tire, that I do so without having to “hike” the pants up over the crease of where my thighs join my hip.  I was able to  drop down into a full squat, hamstrings touching my calves, without any preparation or hesitation, or without any pinching from the pant legs bunching behind my knees   Additionally, the higher cut waist band felt extremely comfortable and I did not have to worry about exposing any plumber’s crack.

While the temperature was nearing 90°F, the pants were not uncomfortably hot, but did become slightly damp from perspiration.  However, 15 minutes after the completion of tire flips, the pants were relatively dry.

Tuesday – July 3, 2012

  1. Light Prowler sprints: 140 lb. 10 sets of 25-35 yards each, 90 seconds rest between each sprint.
  2. Heavy Prowler pushes: 450 lb. 5 sets of 20-30 yards, 90 seconds rest between each push.
  3. Vastus Medialis Oblique (VMO) Prowler walks: 630 lb. 3 sets of 15-20 yards, 2 minutes rest between walks.
The Prowler, a nasty piece of equipment developed by Elite Fitness, produces severe bouts of nausea more consistently than any other piece of equipment in our gym.  I utilized Prowler sprints to test both the articulated knees and gusseted crotch.  The VMO Prowler walks proved extremely comfortable, without any binding of material behind the knee, nor did it limit how far I could flex my heel back towards my rear end.

Wednesday – July 4, 2012

8 seconds followed by 12 seconds rest, performed 60 repetitions (20 minutes total)

Yes, 20 minutes of sprints suck.  However, they could have been made worse had the gusseted crotch not performed as advertised.  At no time did I feel as if the pants were limiting my stride, both in the crotch, nor around the thigh/hip area.  While I could feel the material in these areas moving around me, they were not binding nor restrictive.

Thursday – July 5, 2012

  1. Snatch grip deadlifts on a podium: 275 lb. 10 sets of 3 repetitions, 2 minutes rest between sets.
  2. Tire flips/sledgehammer medley: 5 tire flips, 10 over shoulder sledgehammer strikes per side, 5 tire flips. Performed a total of 6 medley, with 3 minutes rest between sets.
100 flips from Monday + 60 flips Thursday = 160 flips
Snatch grip deadlifts on a podium are an evil exercise.  Standing on a podium makes you begin the exercise in a deficit, requiring a significant amount of full body flexibility.  In the video, again notice I can drop into a full squat without any preparation or fidgeting with the pants, nor do I have to worry about getting arrested for indecent exposure.  Again, the higher cut rear waist band kept me covered and the elastic panels on the side of the pants, were snug, but not compressive or restrictive in the bottom starting position of the exercise.  For those of you who have performed this exercise, notice the barbell is literally scraping the top of my boots.

Friday – July 6, 2012

Myofascial stretching 15 minutes

 Guy Voyer, a osteopath from Canada, is one of the leading authorities on myofascial stretching.  Here are some of his stretches I utilize with my athletes to maintain their flexibility and joint health.  While I only demonstrate 3-4 minutes of my stretching program, I stretched for 15 minutes.  Again, as with the tire flips and  snatch grip deadlifts, I didn’t need to hike the pants up around my hips, nor did they feel restrictive at any point.  My transitions between stretches was seemless and extremely comfortable.  More importantly, I was displaying the same level of flexibility in the pants, that I usually exhibit when stretching in gym shorts.

Dirty Pants

Saturday – July 7, 2012

Washed in cold water, without laundry detergent and dried outdoors.

As I stated in my Vertx Endurance Testing Intro video, I planned on washing the pants once a week, on Saturdays.  Additionally, I decided to wash the pants on the shortest cycle and without the benefit of detergent. Only then, would we see how the pants handled stains and delayed washing.  Overall, there was some improvement, however, it will be interesting to see how they pants stand up to continued exposure to tire flips.

 Wrap Up

So far, the pants have  lived up to their reputation.  However, nine weeks is a long time…plenty of time for things to go south.  However, what I find most impressive is the extreme ranges of motion I am able to perform without any hinderance or fear of tearing any of the stitching.

What Next?

In the second installment, I will further test the limits of the pant’s stitching and bartacks with a week filled with explosive lifts.

To review my testing standards and protocols, click here.

Send any questions or comments to info@Jessbanda.com

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8 thoughts on “Vertx Tactical Pants Endurance Test: Week 1

  1. TomThumb says:

    I feel like you missed a useful test opportunity by not testing 2 different kinds (one brand/style on each hand) of “tactical” gloves during the tire flipping portion of your “Vertx Tactical Pants – Endurance Test” (maybe even over the entire length of the project)

    • bandatacfit says:

      Tom, that’s an excellent idea! I originally planned on including a long sleeve tactical polo into the endurance testing, but thought that would be too much. However, the idea of the tactical gloves seems practical. What 2 brands would you like tested?

      • TomThumb says:

        that’s a more difficult question… I would think that Blackhawk and 5.11 Tactical would be the most reasonable brands, simply b/c they are everywhere, anyone involved in LE/MIL/shooting-sports has access to them. There are 14 different glove manufacturers at one of websites I frequent alone, so the choices are almost endless

  2. […] Test Week 1 focused on “slower” lifts, such as tire flips and snatch grip deadlifts, Test Week 2 […]

  3. […] specifically on the thigh region, where the tire makes contact with the pants.  If you recall from Week 1, I  decided to intentionally use the same leg for all tire flips during the nine week endurance […]

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