Tag Archives: tactical clothing

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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TACTICAL GLOVES PERFORMANCE ENDURANCE TEST: The Final Week

While the third and final test week of my Tactical Gloves Performance Endurance Test took place on August 13-17, 2002, due to a hectic travel/consulting schedule, I finally have time to post my results.

Week 3 Results and Observations:

During my Week 1 review, I posted photos of a small tear along the inside seam of the small finger. And while I first noticed the small tear during the first 300 tire flips I wore the gloves, due to its location, I believed the tear occurred during manufacturing and was overlooked during the quality control process.  Wanting to be fair and allow 5.11 Tactical a opportuity to explain this apparent oversight, I spoke one of their customer service representatives (August 9, 2012) and explained my issue.  And while the customer service representative was polite and offered to replace my gloves, I stated that I would be willing to post a reply/explanation from anyone within 5.11 Tactical concerning the quality control issue.  The customer service representative stated they would forward my request to the appropriate personnel.  Since I have yet to hear from 5.11 Tactical, I’ll take that as a “No, thanks.”

Small tear along the inside of the small finger, getting progressively larger.

During the three weeks of testing, I have performed over 900 tire flips wearing the gloves.  As a reminder, I wore a 5.11 Tac A2 on my left hand and a Blackhawk S.O.L.A.G. on my right hand.  Here are photos:

5.11 Tac A2 glove after 900 tire flips

Blackhawk S.O.L.A.G. glove after 900 tire flips

As the photos demonstrate, the synthetic leather of the Blackhawk S.O.L.A.G. held up better to the abrasiveness of the tire utilized for flipping.  Additionally, the synthetic leather grip pads of the Blackhawk S.O.L.A.G. extend further along the fingers, providing a greater area of protection/reinforcement and better “gription” along the fingers.

And while the Blackhawk S.O.L.A.G. gloves are thicker, this is not necessarily a good thing, as I noted in my Week 2 review.  A thicker glove increases the diameter of whatever object you grasp, increasing the demand on both your nervous system and forearm muscles.  As such, a 2-3 week break-in period is required for both your nervous system and forearm muscles to become accustomed to the increased demand.

The Good & Bad:

The sweat panel on the 5.11 Tac A2 is the best feature of the gloves.

Sweat wipe panels should be mandatory on all tactical gloves

Conveniently located, the sweat panel is of adequate size and performed better than expected.  At first, I did not expect to utilize the sweat panel, but after a few hotter than normal New England summer days, that quickly changed. It’s location facilitated its ease of use, without affecting performance or the glove’s structural integrity.

The wrist adjustment strap of Blackhawk;s S.O.L.A.G. proved to be bothersome.  When tightening the strap around the wrist, one of the edges of the wrist closure would snag and bind within the plastic “loop.”

PITA nuisance

When donning the gloves, I had to ensure the wrist closure would not snag within the loop closure.  And while not a major issue, it was annoying.  During use, especially during activities which required me to curl my wrist back into extension, the wrist closure would inevitably find its way into the plastic loop.  PITA.

Grip & Friction

Very few activities challenge your grip like weighted Farmer Walks.  The loaded bars, due to their independent nature, require tremendous grip strength and control to maintain their parallel orientation and keep you walking in a straight line.

I utilized this exercise to test the “gription” of the synthetic leather utilized by Blackhawk and 5.11 Tactical.  And while Blackhawk’s S.O.L.A.G. was constructed from thicker material, it provided a more secure and comfortable grip.  At no time did I feel as if I was losing positive control of the Farmer Walk handles.

To test the protective element of the gloves against friction, I utilized overhead sledgehammer strikes.  Due to the requirements of the exercise, friction burns due to your hands sliding along the sledgehammer are common.

Again, due to their thicker material, Blackhawk’s S.O.L.A.G. provided better protection against the friction encountered when performing sledgehammer strikes.  Additionally, they also provided a more secure grip on plastic handle than the 5.11 Tac A2s.

The Verdict

So which did I prefer…the 5.11 Tac A2s or Blackhawk’s S.O.L.A.G.?  Well…it depends.  I would feel extremely comfortable wearing the 5.11 Tac A2 gloves on the shooting range.  Their thinner construction, would offer protection while not proving cumbersome during weapon manipulation.  However, if going into harm’s way, or a combat environment, I would much prefer Blackhawk’s S.O.L.A.G., due to their thicker construction.  The thickness of the synthetic leather combined with the larger grip pads, would provide a more secure grip and protection against moderate impacts.  So which pair you purchase, is dependent on how you plan to use them.  But either way, both pair of gloves exceeded expectations.  They withstood thousands of repetitions of exercises selected to test their material, construction, as well as their design, and suffered only minor wear ‘n tear.  Regardless of which pair you choose, they’ll serve you well.

To everyone that sent emails offering suggestions and words of encouragement, I appreciate your time and effort.

Quick Links:

Week 2

Week 1

Testing Intro

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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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Tactical Gloves Performance Endurance Test: Week 2

Week 2 of my endurance testing continued with more tire flips as well as hanging pull exercises, such as numerous chin up/pull up variations.  Fortunately, the learning curve for my nervous system was shorter than expected and my speed and efficiency in the tires flips improved dramatically.  And while the gloves definitely protect my hands from the abrasive tire surface, my grip still doesn’t seen as secure as it does with skin on tire contact.

Some additional concerns and observations:

  1. A rougher or textured finish to the gloves, whether natural or synthetic leather, would greatly enhance the “gripability” factor and increase confidence while wearing the gloves.
  2. Sweat panels should come standard on ALL shooting/tactical gloves.
  3. The 5.11 TAC A2’s synthetic leather is considerably thinner than Blackhawk’s S.O.L.A.G., making them especially useful when precision or fine motor control is needed or for wearing in high temperatures.
  4. The thicker synthetic leather of the Blackhawk’s gloves would serve well in cooler environments or where the risk of hand injuries are high: climbing walls/fences, barber wire, etc.
  5. 5.11 TAC A2’s “reinforced saddle” between the thumb and index finger would extend the life of the gloves if you repeatedly carry small diameter objects: ammo canisters, buckets, shovels, etc.
  6. Much like tactical pants having a “higher cut” rear waistband, to keep from exposing your backside while bending over, the 5.11 TAC A2’s have a higher cut on the inside of the wrist.  Not only will this offer greater protection for the inside of the wrist (chafing from uniforms or gear), but prevents a gap from forming and keeping debris out, while moving your hands.  Plus the reinforced/synthetic leather tab on the inner wrist cuff is a nice detail.

Inside Wrist Coverage: 5.11 Tactical TAC A2 left hand, Blackhawk S.O.L.A.G. right hand

As I stated last in last weeks update, allow for 2-3 weeks of wear for your hands and nervous system to get used to the effects the gloves are going to have on your coordination and strength levels.  Initially, your shooting times and the amount of work you can perform in them will decrease, but as you continue to wear them, your times and workloads will return to normal.  This will mostly impact activities which require speed (weapons manipulation) or the carrying of heavy implements (ammo cases).

Quick Links:

Week 1

Testing Intro

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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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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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