Category Archives: Vertx Endurance Test

Vertx Tactical Pants Endurance Test: The Final Week

Yeah, I know…I’m a few weeks behind schedule, with this post near 4 weeks late.  No worries, I’ll make it up to you.  This final installemnt of my Vertx endurance testing, will combine weeks 6-7.

Let’s recap, here’s what the Vertx pants looked like July 1, 2012.

Here’s what they looked like August 18, 2012.

As I stated in my Vertx Testing Intro video, there are 7 movement patterns universal to every person, regardless of occupation.  And my goal, was to utilize these movement patterns in my endurance testing, condensing 10-12 months of use into a 5-7 week period.

As a reminder, the Vertx pants utilized for testing were purchased with my own funds directly from U.S. Cavalry.

Over a period of 7 weeks, here’s what the Vertx pants endured:

Final Endurance Testing Thoughts

These pants are tough.  I subjected them to anything and everything I could think of and the only wear and tear my endurance testing inducted, consisted of minor surface abrasions.  The dark smudges on the right thigh, are a non-issue.  While the pants were washed weekly, they were washed using a short wash cycle and cold water, without the benefit of laundry detergent nor stain removers.

Over 3,100 tire flips within a 7 week period and this is the only wear.

And while I used tire flips to test the strength of the materials utilized, there was one exercise which tested not only the structural integrity of the pants, but the design and “cut” of the pants…the front squat.

Due to the range of motion required at the ankle, knee and hip, the front squat was the perfect exercise for testing the design of the articulated knees and higher cut rear waistband of the Vertx pants.

During the over 500 front squat repetitions I performed, at no time did I ever feel as if the pants were limiting my range of motion.  Even more telling about the pant’s design, not once did I ever need to “prep” the pants prior to squatting, by pulling up excess material over my knees or at the hip crease.  And to everyone’s benefit, at no time did the rear waist band ride down, exposing my backside.  Additionally, I wore Magnum Cobra 8.0 boots for the duration of the testing and not once did the pants catch or snag on the boot’s high-cut upper.

After 7 weeks of trying to induce a failure point and failing miserably, I am extremely impressed by Vertx’s tactical pants.  Vertx’s attention to detail in selecting a comfortable and lasting material, combined with a design allowing for complete freedom of movement, has resulted in a pair of pants which have greatly exceeded my expectations.  And if the performance and comfort aspects of Vertx’s tactical pants are not enough reason for you to run out (or log onto the internets) and purchase a pair, consider this: you can get your own pair for under $50.

After 7 weeks of endurance testing, I can without hesitation, strongly recommend Vertx’s tactical pants.  As for myself, they’re the only brand I’ll be wearing.

Thanks to everyone who emailed suggestions and words of support, they were greatly appreciated.  I had a great time designing challenges for my endurance testing.  Truth be told, my strong desire to induce a failure point in the pants, caused me to push myself physically and mentally, resulting in setting and breaking numerous personal best in various exercises.

Here are the quick links for the previous week’s updates:

Intro

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

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Vertx Tactical Pants and Olympic Lifting

I wasn’t going to post this video, but one of my friends suggested I share this with you, as she felt it accurately encapsulated my Vertx Tactical Pants Performance and Endurance Testing.

Would you feel comfortable and secure performing this lift in your tactical pants of choice?

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Vertx Tactical Pants Endurance Test: Week 5

Week 5 and an additional 800 tire flips have been performed.  It’s only within the last 2 weeks that wear spots have appeared on the upper thigh region of the right pant leg.  Since I was on a consulting assignment and forgot my DLSR camera at home, these photos are the best I could muster.

Left Pant Leg vs. Right Pant Leg

Physical Effects of Being Worn Daily for Five Weeks and Performing over 2,300 tire Flips

Close Up of the Upper Right Thigh

With only a few weeks remaining in my endurance testing, I’m feeling especially challenged in finding a method for inducing a failure point…however, it must stay true to my testing protocol and mustn’t rely on artificial means.

Stay tuned for more info once I return to home base.

Here are the quick links for the previous week’s updates:

Intro

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

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Vertx Tactical Pants Endurance Test: Week 4

Over 1,500 tires flips performed in 4 weeks

Week 4 has come and gone…and my Vertx pants are finally displaying more than the casual wear generated through ever day use.  While I have performed over 1,500 tire flips and hundreds of squats, Olympic lifts and deadlifts, the wear exhibited is due to tire flips.  Examining my photographs, you’ll notice the wear is contained to the right pants leg — specifically the upper thigh region, which is the stress point when using the leg to assist in flipping the tire.

Right pant leg – thigh region

Oblique view – to better view the fabric’s wear

Upon a thorough examination of the pants, I can find no other fault…either in the stitching, bar-tacks, zippers, elastic side panels, nor the waistband button closure.

While some catastrophic failure would make for interesting reading, at least in determining what caused the pants to reach their failure point, the pants are currently exceeding Vertx’s marketing claims.

Additional thoughts:

Don’t let the zipper’s appearance fool you – it’s held up to thousands of repetitions of extreme and forceful movements.

Concealed zippered security pocket – Up until the end of this week’s testing, I had completely forgotten about the concealed pocket.  However when I first received the pants and examined the security pocket, I was somewhat disappointed by the small and somewhat anemic zipper.  While I tried to remain neutral and avoid any preconceived judgements, I thought that if there was going to be any failure in the pants, it would be security pocket’s zipper.  However, even after 4 weeks of wear and hundreds of violent and large range of motion exercises performed, the pocket and its zipper had gone by unnoticed and more importantly, still functions as new.  Yes, the pocket and zipper are that unobtrusive.

Side cargo pockets – Having worn BDUs in the US Navy, I couldn’t tell you how uncomfortable and unsightly the cargo pockets become after frequent use and washings.  Having the cargo pockets sewn to the outside of the pant leg, while reducing cost and labor, would cause them to snag and rip once they expanded when you carried anything in them.  The Vertx low profile cargo pockets, with their inset design, prevents any snagging and doesn’t scream “tactical.”

Articulated knees – easily my favorite feature of the pants, the articulated knees have exceeded my expectations.  When I first performed deep squats (hamstrings touching the calves), I was extremely worried they would either split down the crotch (not good) or the material around the knees would squeeze the *&*% out of them.  Fortunately, this didn’t occur and my knees were greatly appreciative.  The articulated knees allow for full and quick bending motions without need to “prep” by pulling excess slack up over your knees, prior to moving.  And while I have seen other tactical clothing manufacturer’s attempts at articulated knees, Vertx’s version doesn’t appear baggy or as if you’re wearing knee pads underneath.  Which is a good thing, especially if you’re marketing the pants for discrete wear.

Coming up: Week 5

 Here are the quick links for the previous week’s updates:

Intro

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

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For the Hater…

A few days back, I received an email (a rather nasty, accusatory one) from an individual doubting that I actually perform all the tire flips I mention in my blogs, specifically, my Vertx Tactical Pants Endurance Testing videos.  Here’s the proof, over 20 minutes of me flipping a 450 lb tire.  Other than that…there’s nothing else to see here.

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Vertx Tactical Pants Endurance Test: Week 3

Hard to believe three weeks has already passed, but as the cliché goes…time flies when you’re having fun.

This week’s testing protocol relied on an old favorite exercise, tire flips and introduced a new one, barbell split squats.  As I’ve already mentioned, when it comes to testing a material’s ability to withstand and endure  prolonged exposure to abrasive surfaces, a heavy equipment tire is hard to beat.  By the end of week three, I have already performed over 830 tire flips, with an average of 93 tire flips being performed per training session.

Monday’s session: 100 tire flips in under 30 minutes

The barbell split squat, was my go-to exercise for testing the functionality and execution of Vertx’s version of the gusseted crotch.  The purpose of the gusseted crotch, is to allow a great freedom of movement for the legs by sewing a delta shaped piece of material into the crotch region.

The barbell split squat, due to the extreme range of motion performed in a split stance, provided immediate feedback as to its performance…it worked as advertised.  Normally, when descending into a full split squat position while wearing exercise pants, the extreme stretch required, pulls down the rear wasteband…and worrying about plumber’s crack is not ideal when you have over 135 lb on your shoulders.  Additionally, I was able to descend into a full split stance without the need to prepare the pants by hiking the pant legs up over my hip crease.  A more experienced wordsmith would probably explain this better for you, but I have video…and if a picture is worth a thousand words, then my 1080p HD video speaks volumes.

*BTW, notice the pair of Magnum Cobra 8.0 boots I’m wearing allow for maximum ankle flexibility*

The rest of the week consisted of more tire flips and exercises I’ve already captured on video, so no need to re-visit those.

July 21, 2012

After washing the pants and allowing them time to dry, I noticed the first signs of wear on the right pants leg, 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 test.  While this will lead to an overdevelopment of my right leg, it provides us an opportunity to compare the right pants leg vs. the left pant leg, which acts as a “control.”

Over 800 tire flips and the pants finally display some wear

The wear showing on the right leg, is not overly noticeable or even unsightly, but appears more of a slight discoloration.

Overall, the pants are performing well…perhaps even better than advertised.  However, we’re only one-third into the endurance testing and I still have a few more surprises in store.

Here are the quick links for the previous week’s updates:

Intro

Week 1

Week 2

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Vertx Tactical Pants Endurance Test: Week 2

Week 2: Monday morning

While Test Week 1 focused on “slower” lifts, such as tire flips and snatch grip deadlifts, Test Week 2 was all about explosive lifts.  Utilizing explosive lifts would gauge the pant’s construction and material at handling repeated, high-speed, full range of motion movements.  Any weaknesses in the stitching and you’ll be walking around with a gaping hole in the crotch…not a good thing.

Here’s the weekly breakdown:

Monday – July 9, 2010

  1. Pierre Roy warm up
  2. Squat cleans: 10 sets of 3 repetitions, 150 seconds rest.  Worked up to 265 lb.
  3. Light Prowler Sprints: 7 sets of 30-40 yards, 90 lb, 90 seconds rest between sprints.

Prior to any Olympic/explosive exercises, I perform this warm up I learned from Canadian weightlifting coach Pierre Roy.  This warm up performs 2 functions: it introduces and prepares the muscles and joints to the movements that are about to come and warms up the joint’s synovial fluid, thereby lubricating the joint.  From a product testing perspective, it’s an excellent evaluation tool for determining how the rear waist band will perform while bending forward at the waist.  While a higher cut waist band is not exclusive to Vertx, they did execute it well.  During the warm up, not once did I feel as if the pants were riding down my backside, nor did I feel the pants pulling/pinching down on the front of my hip while bending forward. To me, this indicated Vertx achieved the proper cut ratio of the rear and front waist bands.

When time is short and you need a total body exercise that trains explosive speed and flexibility, there is no better lift than the squat clean.  Due to the nature of the exercise, restrictive clothing can hinder performance and ultimately, the amount of weight lifted.  The key to this exercise, is to lift accelerate the bar upwards and then to quickly pull yourself underneath it and catch it on your front deltoids.  Normally, when performing this exercise, I wear an extremely loose pair of shorts to  achieve a deep, comfortable position effortlessly.  And to be honest, I wasn’t sure how the pants would stand up to the demands of the exercise.  Initially, I thought the pants would restrict my explosiveness, thereby reducing the amount of weight I normally handle by 15-20 lb…at best.  Surprising, this didn’t happen.  Vertx apparently found the proper balance of strength and stretch in their pant’s material by their 98% cotton canvas and 2% Lycra construction.

The explosive nature of the exercise was a great evaluation tool for the pant’s articulated knees.  Optimally, pants with articulated knees, would allow for mobility without restriction or chafing.  Watch the section of the video where I perform squat cleans and notice how I perform the exercise: without needing to prep the pants by pulling extra material at the hip crease or knees.  If they allowed me to perform this exercise without restriction, they should work for you in the field.

Tuesday – July 10, 2010

  1. Lumberjack: 10 sets of 6 reps, 75 lb.
  2. Glute-Hamstring Raises: 6 sets of 6-8 repetitions
  3. Reverse Hyperextensions: 6 sets of 10-12 repetitions, 90 lb.

The Lumberjack, invented by Pierre Roy, is a great tool and assistance exercise to the full Olympic lifts.  Due to the small size of the device, it’s overwhelmingly the favorite training device of many of my clients deployed overseas.  Additionally, due to the ease of use, is a great introduction to the Olympic lifts, as it utilizes the same hip drive needed when lifting heavy weights explosively off the ground.  For evaluation purposes, it provides valuable information on the strength and comfort of the elastic side panels in the waist band of the pants, as well as their metal button closure.  Normally, when performing this exercise wearing loose shorts, I still need to fold over the waist band, to prevent pinching in the waist and hip crease, where the upper thigh joins the hips.  However, this wasn’t an issue, the waist band allowed ample mobility without appearing overly baggy.

The glute-hamstring raises and reverse hyperextensions further tested the backside of the pants construction and fit.  While the majority of product testers solely focus on the front side of the pants, namely the knees, they overlook the all important back side.  These 2 exercises, are a great indication of how the pants will perform while leaning forward at the waist, as in  picking something/someone off the ground .

Wednesday – July 11, 2010

  1. Arm training
  2. Dynamic Stretching: 10 minutes

While last week I focused on slow and static stretching, this week I focused on a more dynamic, movement based system of stretching.  The difference between the 2 systems of stretching, depends on timing.  Slow and static stretching is best performed after training/exercise, due to the sedating affect of the central nervous system.  Dynamic stretching, should be performed pre-exercise, to stimulate the nervous system and promote a state of heightened awareness.

How many of you would be comfortable on stretching dynamically in a pair of pants?  For the record, I was…the pant’s construction and material, allowed full range of motion stretching without fear of ripping the gusseted crotch.

Thursday – July 12, 2010

  1. Clean Grip Jumps: 10 sets of 3-5 repetitions
  2. Front Squat: 10 sets of 3-4 repetitions, 150 seconds rest, maximum weight 245 lb.

Out of all the variations of squats, front squats require the most flexibility in the hips, knees and ankles.  The key to this exercise, is the maintaining of an upright position.  This prerequisite of above average flexibility and unencumbered mobility, is the reason the majority of weightlifters perform this exercise in shorts.  During the 36 repetitions I performed in the pants, mobility wasn’t an issue.

Overall, the pants continue to exceed expectations.  While impressed with their mobility, I especially appreciate the material utilized…it allows freedom of movement without appearing baggy, nor does the material feel rough and extremely textured like sandpaper.  Something you’d appreciate when wearing them for hours at a time.

Next week, I’m back to a outdor, modified strongman training regimen…yea, more tire flips.

To review Week 1 of my endurance test, click here.

For a review of my testing requirements and protocols, click here.

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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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Secret Project Revealed!

If you wear tactical clothing, whether for work or training, you don’t want to miss out on this!  First review is out this Friday.