Heavy Duty, Ultra-Breathable: Tactical Kilt Review

Long before fitness trackers, energy gels, and three-layer waterproof membranes, people ventured into the outdoors to do tough work, not just have fun. And they wore kilts.


There are hundreds of reasons not to wear a kilt: It’s weird, it’s impractical, and it can leave you feeling…exposed.

But now there’s at least one reason you might wear a kilt: 5.11 made one that’s built for tough, outdoorsy people. And since I happen to be at least one of those things, I took it for a test hike in Rocky Mountain National Park.

In short: The 5.11 Tactical Kilt is not practical and won’t replace the outdoor pants and shorts already in your closet. But, if you’re adventurous, irreverent, and utterly immodest, it’s probably the one kilt you should consider. D-rings, removable pockets, and heavy-duty construction make it a surprisingly capable and handy option for rugged environs.

5.11 Tactical Duty Kilt Specs

andrew skurka adam ruggiero 5.11 tactical kilt
The author challenging renowned outdoorsman Andrew Skurka in Rocky Mountain National Park

Not surprisingly, this product is the result of a joke. On April Fools, 2016, 5.11—a brand known for tactical gear and outdoor-worthy apparel—launched a gag reel of a heavy-duty kilt.

The response following was bigger than the brand expected. People not only wanted to know if the kilt was real, they also wanted to buy it. Fast forward a year, and 5.11 launched another, even more outrageous video. Only this time, the brand announced it was no gag.

The kilt was real.

Dubbed the Tactical Duty Kilt, it is a wraparound, snap-closure bottom made from ripstop fabric. 5.11 triple stitches the kilt and adds a Teflon finish, so it can take abuse and shed moisture and dirt well.

But the brand added D-ring mounts, belt loops, and removable cargo pockets to merit the “tactical” name.

Tactical Kilt Review

tactical kilt product

As noted in the video above, I was surprised by both the kilt’s comfort and utility. The D-ring mounts were great for clipping on a Leatherman. And in the wet overgrowth of RMNP, legs (above the knee) stayed dry and scratch-free.

While 5.11 advertises it as lightweight, the kilt weighs 1-pound 6-ounces and didn’t allow a breeze to pass through. But, as you’d expect, the open nature of the kilt compensates well, and I never felt too warm or too cold.

I didn’t have much need for the cargo pockets as I was backpacking. But it was nice to remove the snap-on pockets and reduce the weight of the kilt. Though the brand claims the pockets are ideal for an extra rifle magazine, I think it would be well-suited for holding nutrition and hydration mixes.

I will conclude by saying it is a superior garment for answering the call of nature. Especially while backcountry hiking, I was actually thankful to not be fumbling with long pants.

Overall Impressions

So, am I a kilt-convert? Not yet. If you wear this—or any—kilt, you’ll get looks. While it’s great for starting a conversation, sometimes you just want to pass by fellow hikers with a simple “hello” and move on.

Aside from fashion, the build on this is respectable. For $80, you get a heavy-duty, outdoors-capable “pant” that’s very water resistant and surprisingly breathable.

And with extra pockets and D-ring mounts, it has some decent cargo capacity for your quick-access gear.

Just remember, everyone can tell you’re wearing a kilt.

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Adam Ruggiero is an all-sport activity junkie – from biking, running, and (not enough) surfing, to ball sports, camping, and cattle farming. If it’s outside, it’s worth doing.

Adam graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in journalism. Likes: unique beer, dogs, stories. Like nots: neckties, escalators, manicured lawns.

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