One of the biggest changes in British military camo is now finally upon us with the introduction of MTP and so into the bin will go the jungles and windproof trousers that have long been favoured by the British soldier for use in the field. The question is what will replace them in years to come, with MTP being copyrighted there is unlikely to be any alternatives on the British market for some years so many including myself will be turning to Multicam products so bridge this gap. The company which pioneered Multicam and worked with the Mod in the Development of MTP is called CRYE PRECISION, this is an American outfit who make all their Products in the USA and supply US and indeed UKSF with a number of items including clothing and this is where I believe they come into their own.
Their clothing products are purely designed for use in the field and the designers have not had to worry about how well creases will look in them and for that reason the COMBAT PANTS AC are an absolutely outstanding item of clothing. These trousers are built with the sole purpose of combat in mind and that is it, they are made of 50/50 NYCO RIPSTOP material which is extremely hard wearing. In 4 months of hard use there were no rips or signs of wear and in fact all that had happened was the colour had faded, if you compare this to the current issued trousers which can I only really be worn for one 6 month tour without falling to pieces. On both knee joints and also on the back of the trousers near the waist are sections of stretch fabric to make the trousers more comfortable when wearing and also to stretch with the wearer whilst moving, the stretch fabric on the knees works in conjunction with the knee pads which I will come onto later. They come in a lot of different sizes so there should be a pair to fit everyone, they also come in a number on different colours although the Multicam ones would be the most popular I think.
The COMBAT AC PANTS have a padded waist for user comfort and are done up by means of a Velcro strap which has a lot of play in it so you can make them as tight or as loose as youd like, many people will be wary of this and will be thinking that the Velcro will get dirty and fail especially in sandy conditions like Afghanistan but you neednt worry as I again had no problems and I spent a lot more time than id care to imagine in the brown out of Chinook whilst there. You also have strong belt loops which fit a rigging belt through and theses loops in turn have smaller loops on them which could be used to attach lanyards for securing kit/pistols etc to. On the side of the knees and also on the bottom of each leg are Velcro tightening straps to pull the trousers in more snug to the wearer, I never used the straps on the bottom at all but I did however use the ones on the knees a few times to create a better fit with the knee pads.
There are a total of 10, yes 10 pockets on these trousers!!!! You might be thinking that is a touch over the top and to an extent you would be right but it is the placement of some of the pockets which again shows how well these have been thought through. You get the normal hand warmer pockets, rear pockets as per most other types of combat trousers, the map pockets on each leg are slanted to allow easier access and can also hold a fair amount of stuff in (easily talking a folded map and case). It is the other 4 pockets that I found most useful though mainly due to their placement; there is a pocket on each thigh and also at the bottom of each leg in the area of the ankle. At first I couldnt think why those pockets were placed where they were until that is I was sat crammed in the back of a CH47 and then it all made sense. They are there to be used when sat in vehicles/aircraft where room does not allow you to get to other pockets on your person, they are not big pockets but big enough though. I would put a glove in each of the ankle pockets and other small yet useful items in the thigh ones. All the pockets are done up with Velcro flaps to ensure you dont lose anything that is in them.
Im now going to move onto the COMBAT PANTS AC best feature, its built in knee pads. Every soldier now uses kneepads as you end up spending a lot of your time on them in the field. I have never been a big fan of the skateboarder style of knee pads as I found them uncomfortable and rarely positioned right on my knees to do any good. The guys at CRYE have made these trousers with knee pads that actually fit into the knee area of the trouser by means of double layer fabric and Velcro, the actual knee pad is made from moulded foam and a hard outer plastic part which is what would come into contact with the ground itself. They are very easy to fit and remove, all you have to do is slide them down into the top half of the shin and push it into the area of the knee and then make a snug fit around the hard part of the knee pad using the Velcro patches, the pictures should hopefully explain this better. When I was wearing the trousers with the knee pads in it did feel a little weird at first but I soon got used to it and I never got sore knees in them even with taking up some fire positions on some pretty rocky ground, the Stretchy material on the knee helps the positioning of the knee pad a lot to and I doubt the pads would work as well without it as it allows the knee pad to stay in the position of the knee cap whilst bending down.
The COMBAT PANTS AC are the best designed combat trouser I have ever worn and they are 99% perfect in every way, as I said I wore these for 4 months in Afghanistan and never had any problems with reliability or comfort and are miles ahead of the current issued trousers ( having not seen the PCS kit yet I cannot make a comparison to that but I will do I due course) The only downsides are that I did find myself getting quite warm in them and my knees got quite sweaty with the pads in, now this is not a show stopper but maybe something to consider if you will be wearing these in the summer months. The other downside is the price, at £110 per pair they are not cheap and that is without knee pads which are another £20 and without adding on the postage from the US which is the only place to get them from apart from EBAY but I guess you do get what you pay for. They are made in the US and that shows in the manufacturing quality so I suppose it is a small price to pay, overall I would recommend these to anyone who will be spending a lot of time outside the wire on ops as opposed to someone who will be spending their time in the Green Bean cafe in KAF. 10/10