Critiquing Dickies Tactical Pants and Tactical Polo for Women
I’ve finished fit testing, stain testing and wear testing, and my verdict is , YES, I would buy these. And I will be shortly ordering myself a couple more sets.
Allow me to break the critique down by category. First the pants.
The Stretch Ripstop Tactical Pant is made of 43% “Elastererell-P w/ Sorona” (Stretchy Stuff, in other words), 34% Cotton, and 23% Polyester. Translated from seamstress language, this gives the fabric some breathability, some durability, and some “give”. There is also a Teflon finish to help repel water and stains (more on that later).
The waistband has a hidden elastic insert for comfort, and also has a “gripper” insert in the back to help keep your shirt tucked in. Along the outside waist band in the back, there is an extra pocket for handcuffs, (if you’re into that – LOL).
The front pockets have a flattened area on the corner where you can clip a knife. There is a front “cellphone” pocket as well, and the side cargo pockets have several internal dividers for magazines, keys, etc. The back pockets are “inset” -meaning they are sewn to the pants internally, not just a patch of fabric that was slapped on the back. These pockets close with Velcro, and do not have a flap. ( I prefer this, as back flaps always get in my way when I’m trying to access a magazine or bandana back there.)
Dickies offers these pants in Misses sizes 4-16, and 18W-24W. The color selection is Black, Sand, Green, and “Midnight”. I chose Green.
I will be the first to admit that I am not an easy out-of-the-box fit. Sometimes I think I was made up of leftover pieces that weren’t originally intended to go together. I’m about 5′ 4″ on a tall day, but with size 10 feet, and hands to match. I’ve got broad shoulders, boobage, and a substantial caboose. But I also have T rex arms and a 29″ inseam. Taking in waists and hemming up pant legs are my usual life, so that is a “no penalty assessed” thing for any clothing maker. It’s simply a cost of doing business in this body.
I usually take a size 16-18, so I went with 18W, which I knew would probably be a little big. Yes, I used to be a 10-12, but that was 30 years ago. Wait, why am I apologizing?There are guy shooters out there with 48 inch waists, and they are not apologizing for their size. So screw the guilt. Yes, I am, as fellow Lady 3-Gunner Christi Conner Tate says, a “Sturdy Girl”. (Thanks Christi!)
As a brief “soapbox” aside, yes “Sturdy Girls” shoot. Shooters come in all shapes and sizes, and the Industry is just going to have to get used to it. Women are not a one-size-fits-all demographic. We have money to spend, desires to feed, and lead to send downrange. And if you give us what we’re looking for – ALL of us, not just the size 0-12 girls – we will line up to give you our money. (End rant)
The pants arrived unhemmed, as I requested. The unhemmed inseam for size 18W was 36″, so you could comfortably hem these to 35″. I went to 29″.
These are a relaxed fit, so there was plenty of room in the seat and thighs. I did take a couple darts in the waist to bring it in a little (the norm for me, as I mentioned above). The rise was high enough to be comfortable, and not feel like I was going to lose them at the next low port. (Hip-huggers and leggings are NOT what I’m looking for in range wear). I love the shirt-grabber band in the back to keep my shirt tucked in. My only complaint about the waist is that the handcuff pocket at center back gaps a little when belted in. Since I don’t need handcuffs, I’ll probably put a little Velcro on that. Or I could just use it as an extra emergency mag pouch.
PANT STAIN RESISTANCE
Since these pants came with a tag that advertised Teflon-treated stain resistance, I accepted the challenge. I subjected them to sunscreen, gun oil, gun carbon residue, colored lip balm, pen ink, grass, and blood. Details here. http://boostershotsblog.blogspot.com/2016/02/stain-testing-my-dickies.html
The gun oil required a second round of treatment, and didn’t all come out, but everything else did. But admittedly, this was a torture test, as I let the stains sit for a week before I treated them. I make no apologies – this represents my real life and laundry habits – Martha Stewart doesn’t live here! LOL
The stain resistance actually exceeded my expectations.
Overall, wear has been great so far. I have washed these pants at least five times and they retain a neat appearance, without looking rumpled or faded. I can’t say that for my cheap Walmart men’s cargo pants. Neatness isn’t a critical detail for a shooting match, but if you are employed as a truly “tactical” type, a professional appearance matters.
The pockets are plentiful and roomy (most women’s pockets, if they are there at all, are designed to be flattering, not practical). The belt loops did NOT interfere with my holster placement (as many plain cargo pants do). The seat gave me neither plumber’s butt, nor the need for undie picking after squatting at a low port. (Most pants -including a certain decimal number company’s – give me both)
Next, comes the Tactical Polo for Women
This shirt is 100% Polyester and “moisture wicking”. It has a long, drop tail with vents on both sides. There are Mic tabs on both shoulders, and a sunglasses tab on the front placket. There is a divided pen pocket on the left sleeve. The front placket has three “non-break” buttons, and the collar is “self-fabric” – meaning is is made of the same thing as the shirt, rather than the knit stuff that curls. The underarms also have a mesh insert to help with breathability.
Dickies offers this polo in ladies sizes S – 2XL. Colors offered are Black, Sand, Red, “Midnight”, and White. I chose white, for reasons I’ll explain in a bit.
Over all, except for one detail, this shirt fit me true-to size. The ladies XL I chose (as I always do, due to shoulders and boobage) fit me well across the shoulders and chest. The shoulder seams fell right where they are supposed to, and there was no pulling across the front or gapping in the placket. The shirttail was long enough to stay tucked, and it cleared my hips/butt easily without getting hung up. The fabric was soft and comfortable, and the athletic type mesh in the underarms was an interesting addition.
My only issue with fit, is with the collar. It seems too large proportionally for the rest of the design of the shirt to me. It almost looks as if they took a men’s XL collar and put it on a women’s XL shirt. It’s not a huge deal in a range shirt, but if I were working EMS or LE, I might think it looked a little sloppy and unprofessional. Just my opinion, having sewed a lot of clothes for myself in my life. As I said, this was my ONLY issue in an otherwise well-made and well-fitting shirt, and it may be at least in part due to my strange body proportions.
POLO STAIN RESISTANCE
Although the polo shirt did NOT carry the Teflon stain resistance claim that the pants did, I (perhaps unfairly) subjected it to the same stain torture test as I did the pants. I just wanted to see. And because “science” 🙂
It actually did pretty well considering. The pen ink didn’t come out even after three tries, and there’s still a little colored lip balm residue, but even the oil and blood and grass came out eventually. As above for the pants, this still exceeded my expectations, since Martha Stewart, I ain’t. You may wonder why I included sunscreen and lip balm, and it’s because this represents my life. I use Burt’s Bees pink a lot, because I chew on my lips at matches, and I sometimes forget, and wipe my sweaty face off on my sleeve. Hello sunscreen and lip balm stains 😀 This is one of the reasons I chose white – I may yet punt and try all fabric bleach.
As I mentioned above, I chose the white color for a reason. Besides staining, I also wanted to check for bra show-thru. I purely hate it when a white shirt for women is so sheer that you have to wear another shirt underneath it just so the world doesn’t know what kind of bra you’re wearing. I think I must have been traumatized by twelve years of Catholic school or something, because this has been a pet peeve for my whole life. I also think it looks unprofessional.
The good news is that Dickies did a pretty good job here. You can’t have the fabric be too thick if you want a shirt to still be breathable, so there is still a “little” show-thru. But a beige bra provides a decent compromise. I didn’t think it looked objectionable. There can be a similar issue with tattoos and sleeves. Many employers want tattoos to be covered and not visible under professional uniforms. But many women’s polo shirts have only cutesy little cap sleeves. The Dickies sleeves provide good coverage. I have some pretty bright ink on the upper arm, and it was still adequately covered with this shirt. Thus, Dickies wins my “white shirt challenge”!
As far as range performance goes, the button-up placket kept hot brass out of the delicate areas, but could still be opened up for ventilation when not on the line. I like this versatility better than an untrustworthy V-neck for range wear. I have been burned too many times by V-necks — Literally.
I’ve washed this polo shirt five times so far, and the collar has remained neat – without curling – and the white has remained white – not yellow or gray.
Overall, I am very pleased with both of these pieces of tactical wear from Dickies. I shouldn’t have been surprised. Dickies has been clothing hard working people of all shapes and sizes for generations. I’m glad they have stepped into the tactical market for women, and I can highly recommend these pants and shirt for any woman who wants to be Practical – not just “Tacti-Cool”.
Also available from several online uniform supply companies.