Over the years, 5.11 Tactical has established itself as a company that provides quality, technical clothing and gear for the tactical and outdoor worlds. But one article of clothing that they offer has established a cult following with customers – the Tactical Duty Kilt. Year after year, it sells out color by color, size by size, on 5.11’s website while fans sit back and patiently wait for them to restock it. The kilt is so popular in fact that it was surprising that 5.11 it was even able to get me one to test out for myself, as I have failed to get my hands on one for the past two years.
The Tactical Duty Kilt (TDK) is made from a 6.14 oz ripstop cotton-poly blend known as Taclite that has been TEFLON coated for water resistance. There are no back pockets, but it features standard side slant pockets as well as two, massive, removable cargo pockets on each side. The whole thing snaps around your waist with eight buttons and it can accept a belt up to 1.75” thick – which should accommodates pretty much anything you might have in your closet.
As expected, my first day in the TDK was met with loving criticism and finger pointing from my wife and father-in-law. But within an hour those taunts and catcalls dissipated when I took on my first steep hill climb out on the mountain, where I discovered the true beauty of the kilt – no restrictions whatsoever. I could stretch and reach and move so much smoother and easier than I have ever been able to do in shorts or pants, which was a real revelation. I’m 285 lbs, 5’ 6” – I’m built like a hobbit and good for short, quick running bursts – and there I was traversing this 300-foot incline, stepping from rock to rock like a wood sprite. That first three-mile hike sealed the deal, and over the past six weeks I have worn the TDK on over a dozen hikes totaling a little over fifty miles in distance.
Being that it is a kilt, there’s a bit of a social and physical approach you need to expect and accept. First off – kudos to women for figuring out how to use public bathrooms in a skirt – as any type of sitting on a toilet required a full removal of the kilt. I was in constant fear that it would touch some tainted surface and be ruined forever – especially in a porta potty at a Dead & Company concert. Bigger picture though, you’ll have to get use to people staring at you. I’m a big guy, with a big beard, and equally big ego, so I am alright with it. But some people will want to talk to you about your kilt and possibly even your lifestyle choices. So, with that said, unless you’re part of a group of people wearing kilts, you’re going to need a bit of a thick skin and open mind to willfully and continuously wear one. That’s just the way things go when you’re a guy in a kilt in modern society.
Overall, I’m a little miffed that it took me this long to adopt a kilt in my daily adventures as it adds a glide in your stride and a dip in your hip that can’t be explained until you wear one out there. In the case of the 5.11 Tactical Duty Kilt, it’s so durable that it’s almost too durable, without being too heavy, bulky, or restrictive in any way. Furthermore, the removable cargo pockets are a nice side benefit, allowing you to organize your essentials and providing easy access to important items. That’s another nice touch that I didn’t really expect.
I recommend to anyone looking to get through a hot and muggy summer in the outdoors to try a 5.11 Tactical Duty Kilt out. Yes, you’ll get some odd looks and questions from time to time, but you’ll move like a gazelle over numerous types of terrain and you’ll feel so free that you’ll probably never look back towards pants and shorts again.