So… I was afraid that Scruffy asking 5.11 to bring them back wasn’t another April Fools, and apparently it’s not. 5.11 is making tactical kilts again! Yes, they have raised the prices by $10, but they are donating $10 to charity (heeeeyyyyy… I see what you did there…).
As regular readers know, I’m a fan of kilts and ordered a couple of kilts from 5.11 the first time around. Sadly, they did not arrive in time for Kilted to Kick Cancer, and I don’t have any pictures with me in one. Of course, I do have a few shots of me wearing something from Utilikilts, and I thought I might share my thoughts on the 5.11 tactical kilt and compare them to Utilikilts.
Of course, you do need to remember that the price difference between the two makes it similar to comparing a Buick to a Bugatti. Sure, the Buick is a nice car, but…
And, for the most part, that’s the way I feel about these two items.
I have worn my two 5.11 kilts fairly often since I received them in September. They have held up well, although I will state that I haven’t exactly been rough on them. I also haven’t worn them to any cons simply due to them being fairly light weight and the weather just hasn’t permitted wearing them outside. The fabric is pretty thin, but has been double layered and is either double or triple stitched at the seems, and the creases have been stitched in, so there’s no fear of losing them. The cargo pockets have velcro closures. While they are removable, there is no way to close the pockets while not attached to the kilt. The snaps which are used to hold the pocket on as well as fasten the kilt are very secure. Almost to the point of being too difficult to un-snap.
I would say that the greatest fault of these kilts are the front slash pockets (unless you count the lack of rear pockets). The front pockets go on the outside of your leg like a pair of pants. To accommodate that, the angle of the actual pocket is straight down, which is a bit unnatural when you stick your hand into it. I prefer the way that my Utilikilts are set up where the front slash pockets run to the inside of your leg. First, this allows for obscene pocket space (I can pocket a full sized 1911 with ease). Second, anything in your front pockets will naturally pull your kilt down between your knees instead of the other way around. Remember that people should have to ask if you’re going regimental than being able to look and tell for themselves. Having mentioned this in passing to MrsWizardPC while I was delivering WizardPC’s kilt for my wedding, she confirmed that she had a few skirts like that. I believe this could simply be due to the designer normally designing pants and not thinking about it.
After all that, here’s a quick breakdown on my comparison of the two manufacturer’s kilts. I will use the Survival model of Utilikilt due to it being the most similar of models.
Utilikilts are made in the USA vs 5.11 made in Vietnam. Not sure how much that matters to you, but it does explain some of the cost difference.
The Survival kilt uses one layer of a significantly thicker fabric vs two layers of thinner fabric on the 5.11. There are ups and downs to both methods, but I prefer the single layer.
The Survival kilt uses significantly more fabric. This means a warmer kilt, and more pleats. This means it tends to hang better in my opinion (and conceals bits when sitting better). The 5.11 is damn near a pencil skirt for guys.
The Survival kilt uses button closures for it’s cargo pockets vs velcro for the 5.11. This is a personal opinion, but I like the snaps over velcro. I’ve had a few times where I either didn’t have anything in the pockets or very little and had issue where one patch of velcro would let go, but not the other. At which point I have to try to open the other without letting the first one close back up. Good news is that it’s high quality velcro that grabs fairly aggressively.
The removable pockets of the Survival can be closed when removed while the 5.11’s cannot. The Survival’s pockets also have belt loops on the back in case you want to strap them to a belt or something. Not sure the utility of that, but there you go.
The Survival’s slit pockets go to the inside of the leg vs the 5.11’s going on the outside.
The Survival has rear pockets vs. none for the 5.11.
5.11 has mount points for a sporran (I use 5.11’s 6.6 pouch) vs the Survival having a key chain clip. Both are useful, and having a sporran more than makes up for the lack of rear pockets.
The 5.11’s buttons are significantly stronger than the ones used by Utilikilts.
The Survival costs damn near 5 times what the 5.11 kilt does. Yep… you read that right. Remember my Buick vs Bugatti comparison?
While not the best tactical/utility/modern kilt out there, the 5.11 is a great “starter kilt” for those out there that are curious about wearing one but balk at the price tag of something from Utilikilts, Alt.Kilt, or the others out there. At $70, I’d recommend them. Are the more expensive kilts out there that much better in my eyes? Sure, but not everyone can/are wanting/should drop that kind of change for one. Just like with firearms.
Oh, and I would like the record to show that I never thought that I would write a blog reviewing clothes.