5.11 Reinvents The Cargo Pant

Remarkably large, unobtrusive pockets and slightly stretchy fabric set the new 5.11 Defender-Flex pant apart from the crowd. These are cargo pants for a modern era.

5.11 Defender-Flex pant review
Haul all your EDC gizmos with plenty of space to spare; photos by Sean McCoy

Tactical pants are wonderfully useful, but fall way short in the style department. I personally have a great pair of wool cargo pants that I love. But my wife winces when I wear them. They have been banished from public display and relegated to the gear closet for hunting and backwoods use only.

Enter the 5.11 Defender-Flex pants, which look like everyday khakis or blue jeans with a modern fit. Casual and contemporary, the pants look good if understated.

5.11 Defender-Flex Pants
5.11 Defender-Flex Pants

But these rule the rack when it comes to pocket space. I examined the Defender-Flex pants at the SHOT Show in Las Vegas last week, and have been testing a pair ever since. They are available in select stores now, and will be available widely online soon. Here’s my initial impression.

5.11 Defender-Flex Pant Review

Slipping into the Defender-Flex for the first time, the fit seemed true to size. The fabric is soft to touch but seems durable, similar to that of most cotton pants designed for the office or light field use.

The stretch fabric is a nice touch and noticeable right away. Bend your knees, step high, twist and turn. The cotton/polyester/elastane fabric lets you move.

But the pockets are where things get interesting!

5.11 Defender-Flex pant pocket
The Defender-Flex 5th pocket is really useful!

Need to carry a Leatherman or large pocket knife? No problem. The “fifth pocket,” which is usually a tiny, nearly useless little pocket on most jeans, is huge by comparison. Located inside the front right pocket, the Defender-Flex fifth pocket holds a Leatherman Wave with room to spare.

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But, as they say in infomercials, that’s not all! Of course you have two back pockets, but 5.11 adds two smaller pockets slightly forward and above the rear back pockets. Sitting just above and behind my hip pointer, these additional pockets fit a cell phone perfectly. My older iPhone 4s fits with lots of additional space, and I suspect today’s giant smartphones would fit easily given the stretchy nature of the fabric.

Good looking cargo pants
No bulges with pockets loaded with a phone, multi-tool, keys, wallet, and more

Beyond pockets, the pants have large, burly 2-inch belt loops capable of threading a duty belt. The pants are also designed to accommodate concealed carry, with the stretchy fabric allowing for under-pant firearm carry for those concerned with such things.

Tactical uses aside (they were designed for overseas defense contractors, military, and law enforcement personnel), these are just all around great pants that can carry a lot and not look weird.

Good Looking Cargo Pants

5.11 Defender-Flex pants
The pant is available in various colors, including denim, and women’s models

And at $70, these will compete with Levis and Dockers. Given my propensity for carrying a pocket knife, multi-tool, and all sorts of other trinkets, these pants are a great option that I expect to become a favorite.

For engineers, machinists, tech workers, shoot, anyone who appreciates a little extra pocket space, check out the 5.11 Defender-Flex pants available in denim, khaki, dark brown, dark green, and more colors.

5.11 Defender-Flex pants women

They will also be available for women, pictured above in dark gray, khaki, green, and purplish-red colors, also for $70.

The 5.11 Defender-Flex is a great evolution of the everyday pant. Slip them on, load up the pockets with all your EDC gear, and look good wherever you go.

Sean McCoy

Editorial Director Sean McCoy is a life-long outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing central Wisconsin forests and lakes. He joined GearJunkie after a 10-year stint as a newspaperman in the Caribbean, where he learned sailing and wooden-boat repair. Based in GearJunkie's Denver office, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.