Review: The Best Cargo Pants For Preppers

pantsReady Nutrition Readers, this segment provides a recommendation for you to help you “fly by the seat of your pants,” so to speak, from a survival/wilderness perspective.  What’s in a pair of pants?  Paraphrasing Shakespeare as such, plenty can be in a pair of pants, if you look at them not just as clothing but actually as a part of your equipment.  I’m going to recommend to you what I use in the area of cargo pants, and tell you what I carry with mine.

Now some may point out that because of the nature of your work (uniform, business suit, etc.), that it is neither permitted nor convenient to have cargo pants every day.  Not so.  You may not be able to wear them every day, but remember going back to those segments I did on bug-out bags?  Even if you have to wear a set of scrubs in a hospital or a suit for your trial (hopefully as a lawyer, not as a defendant), you can pack your cargo pants of choice…ready to go…in your bug out bag (I prefer “go” bag).

Along with that pair of pants, it must be able to carry a variety of gear therefore – it’s got to have pockets. As well, a good belt is a must.  So, without further ado, here is what JJ totes in and on his cargo pants (the important stuff besides keys and wallet):

  • Left Cargo Pocket: Military cravat (aka “drive-on rag”) OG green; black Polartech hat; Djeep lighter; additional “sensitive” items.
  • Right Cargo Pocket: Leather shooting gloves, 1 pair triple-flanged earplugs in a case; balaclava (for the neck and face).  Flashlight (Coast-brand: uses 1 AA battery, with a clip for pocket and reverse-clip for hat visor).  Buck knife folder with clip.
  • Belt: 1 pouch to hold a mag; Gerber multi-tool; loop-lanyard Cordura clip for a thigh holster to attach to; Kydex clip-in holster.  The belt is a good leather belt, nice and thick, not bonded leather or woven, but solid…those deliver the best performance value in JJ’s experience.
  • Miscellaneous Items:  Salve (I use Carmex); 1 other “sensitive” item.

Looking For Durable Pants With a Lifetime Warranty? Look No Further

The cargo pants I prefer are a little more expensive than most and some may be skeptical about paying such a price until they actually see how they’re made: pure quality, plain and simple.  I use and love Wrangler Riggs Workwear, my model of preference being the Ranger Relaxed Fit type.  I prefer them in OG/olive green, although they have them in black and light tan.  The latter are a little thinner; the OG and the black are really thick, fantastic material.  They will run you $44.95 per pair.  They have a lifetime warranty on them.  In JJ’s experience, they are the finest pairs of cargo pants ever made, pound for pound and dollar for dollar.

The closest that I have seen to them is the US Army issue BDU trousers, and next are the ones by Carharrt; however, they are not that close.  The Army trousers are tough, but the two cargo pockets are not as nice.  The Carharrts (although well-made) are nowhere near these Wrangler Riggs when you feel the material for each side by side, and the latter has them beat across the board with the pockets.

The back pockets are edged and lined with Cordura nylon.  The pants themselves are 100% rip-stop cotton, an extremely tight weave, with a double layer in the front and heavily reinforced with seams and double stitching.  If you prefer a lock blade with a clip, the right front pocket has a leather reinforced semicircle stitched upon the edge of the pocket’s opening.

The cargo pockets have two snaps on each flap, left and right.  The female portion of the snap (the part you press to close the snap) is within the pocket’s flap: this keeps it from being scraped or knocked off.  On the exterior of the right cargo pocket are two small pouch-pockets that are perfect for a flashlight, knife, or other tool.  They are extremely tough, durable, and convenient to use.  During the winter months you can augment them with good thermal underwear, and during the summer months they’ll breathe because they’re cotton.

As I write this article, I am wearing a pair I have had for three years with hardly any signs of wear at all.  My advice is to buy them at least one size large (mine are two) because it is better to have them a little loose to accommodate layers underneath, and having them loose in the summer prevents constriction and chafing.  They carry all of my gear that I mentioned comfortably, and that is the kicker in addition to how durable they are.

I wear them all the time.  Boring?  Perhaps.  But at any given moment, I know where each and every item that I carry is located.  This in itself is worth the price to pay for them.  I have seen some that are name brands that are more expensive, but they don’t perform the same.  I buy my size periodically, and store them up in sealable garment bags with some desiccant in a place with low humidity or moisture.  Buy one every month to two months and in no time you’ll be able to build up a steady supply.

Their value to carry equipment at the ready is not able to be easily estimated.  I like to buy my cargoes a little long.  During the warm months, I cuff them up, and the bottoms sit upon the instep of my boots.  During the winter, I can unroll them and cuff them on the inside of my boots.  In Montana it is not looked at with any askance, as even businessmen in suits cuff their pants inside of high leather boots with rubber bottoms.  Sorel’s, Kamik’s, or Rocky Gore-Tex with a ton (800 – 1000 grams on average…I’m in the Rockies, after all) of Thinsulate are the equivalent of wing-tips or loafers in the cities, and the norm in Montana.

If you need to keep them in your “go” bag, set them up first: put a belt on them with your Leatherman/Gerber tool attached, and whatever “goodies” you prefer in the manner that I set mine up.  Then all you have to do is roll them up from the waist down to the bottom of the pants legs to make sure that things don’t fall out of the pockets, and voila!  You’re good to go!  Then stick them in your bag and you can make the change as soon as the SHTF, no matter where you are.  I’m sure someone out there is going to mention other things in addition to my stuff.  This is how I do it, and anything else is in my bag, never more than a few feet away from me.

The main focus was to recommend something that I use and love, something that I consider a piece of my equipment/gear, and completely necessary both for the area I live and for time of trouble.  I believe you’ll find them comfortable and exceptional in quality: a good investment for your needs.

Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published December 23rd, 2015
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  • Sideliner1950

    OK, I appreciate and welcome the information you provide here, and do not necessarily disagree with any of it. Since you suggest packing cargo pants in one’s BOB, I take it that you are recommending these products as survival gear. They may well be excellent products for that purpose; and if so, I might just get me some.

    But even before I first began paying attention to preparedness issues and the possibility that some event/disaster may displace me and my loved ones from our comfy hearth and expose us to the discomforts of an existence in the great outdoors, I was aware of warnings that cotton fabrics could literally hasten death for the wearer due to hypothermia when wet.

    So I think I must be missing something…since the cargo pants products you link in your article are shown to be 100% cotton (heavyweight cotton ripstop fabric), I wonder whether these cotton trousers are indeed among the best choices for use under real-life survival circumstances.

    I’d like to believe that there are durable, commercially available trousers made from alternative (natural? synthetic?) fabrics that are better suited for survival purposes. Yet, with the exception of good old US Army-surplus woolen trousers, I am unaware of any, and I find no guidance in your article.

    So if I’m not missing something after all, could you please help me — and perhaps other readers — by elaborating on your article with suggestions/ links for non-cotton survival trousers that would be considerably less prone to inducing hypothermia when wet?

    Thanks very much.

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