Tactical Pants Glossary

Tactical Pants Glossary

Tactical pants are famous for the abundance of functional qualities they boast. And with so many features, there is bound to be an equal abundance of specific terms. To get you geared up faster, we’ve created an all-inclusive list of the tactical pants terminology that can be found out in the wild. Enlist this glossary to help you find the perfect pair to fit your tactical needs.

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Stands for Army Combat Uniform. ACUs replaced BDUs as the combat uniforms used by the United States Army. Many tactical pants take style cues from the features and design of ACU pants.

angle-cut pocket:
Pockets with openings that are cut at an angle to provide easier access for the operator on the go.

When cloth is cut specifically to accommodate joint areas, such as the knees or hips, for ease of movement.


A specialized stitch where the thread is looped multiple times in the same place for extra reinforcement. It’s usually used in areas that undergo frequent stress, such as pockets and belt loops.

basket-weave construction:
Fabric is woven in an over-under pattern for increased durability.

Stands for Battle Dress Uniform. BDUs are fatigues that were used by the United States Armed Forces as standard combat uniforms. While BDUs are not technically tactical pants, some tactical pant styles are inspired from the features and design of BDU pants.

bellowed pocket:
Used to describe a deep cargo pocket.

besom pocket:
A pocket cut with a reinforced slit opening that offers quick-access with increased durability.

blousing system:
Two-inch straps, twisted bands or a drawstring that creates a seal between your pants and your boots for protection from the elements, ticks, chiggers and other insects.

buddy utility strap:
This strap was initially created to tote carabiners, though some tactical professionals use it to store other accessories, such as flashlights or ear protection.


cargo pocket:
A large patch pocket, usually pleated for extra storage space.

cell/magazine pocket:
Usually measures about 5 inches long by 2 inches wide and is made specifically for magazine or cell phone storage.

Super durable nylon fabric. Any area lined with this reinforcing fabric will have a longer endurance than those without.

This special stitch type offers extra reinforcement.


diamond-gusseted fabric:
A piece of fabric cut in the shape of a diamond and sewn into the crotch. This added fabric releases tension in other areas of the pants and allows for quick mobility.

The layering of fabric for added reinforcement.

A piece of metal shaped like the letter “D” attached to a strip of cloth on the pants. This functional hardware can be used for attachment purposes.

Dupont Teflon coating:
A fabric coating that makes pants water and stain resistant.

Stands for Durable Water Resistant. This coating covers the entire pants to ensure it stays dry as well as stain resistant.


expandable openings:
When openings of pants legs have the ability to adjust either wider or smaller to allow you to quickly put pants on over boots.


fixed waist:
A waistband that is not adjustable.

flat-edge pocket:
A pocket that touts a flat edge at the bottom, ideal for knife placement.

french fly:
A type of fly construction where a tab closure is attached as an extension of the waistband.


gripper waistband:
See stay-tuck liner.

A piece of fabric, usually triangular or rhomboid in shape, sewn into the crotch to allow for extra room and mobility.


A closure technology, usually used to secure the waistband, that features wire bent into a hook shape, with an eye or eyelet piece made of the same material to which the hook attaches.


The inner seam of your pants that runs from the crotch down to the bottom of the pant. For instructions on how to measure your inseam, consult the Tactical Pants Size Guide.

internal elastic waistband:
Elastic is completely concealed throughout the waistband. Has the flexibility of a tunneled waistband but with a more flattering look.


key silencer pocket:
Its cut prevents keys from jingling and making noise.

knee-pad pockets:
Internal pockets over the knee for added reinforcement and the option of using knee-pad inserts.

A camouflage pattern that comes in four designs: highlander, mandrake, nomad and typhoon.


Most lightweight tactical pants weigh between 6 ounces and 6.6 ounces and are made from lightweight, breathable fabrics. These pants are ideal for warmer environments.


A camouflage pattern developed by Crye Precision that functions in a wide variety of environmental conditions.


A flexible synthetic rubber used for knee-pad inserts.


open-top pocket:
Pocket that has an opening that isn’t secured by any pocket technology such as velcro, buttons or flaps.

original weight:
The fabric weight of original weight tactical pants ranges from 7 to 9 ounces. When winter rolls around, these heavier weight pants help maintain warmth.


patch pocket:
Pockets sewn directly onto the pants. These pockets usually offer less storage space and durability than pockets that are cut into the pant.

Stands for Patrol Duty Uniform. If pants are classified as PDU, they’ve been designed specifically for the everyday police officer.

A fold within cloth made by doubling the fabric and then stitching it into place. Typically used on the front pants construction for added room or in pockets for added storage space.

prym snap:
Button type that snaps together for closure. Functions well for the operator who needs the ability to quickly get in and out of his or her tactical pants.


Fabric woven in a special reinforcing crosshatch technique that makes the fabric resistant to tearing and ripping.

Refers to the length from crotch seam to the top of the pants.

rubber grip strips:
Strips of rubber in the inside of the waistband that keep shirttails tucked in.


segmented webbing:
Elastic bands located inside pockets that allow for separation of magazines, tools, etc.

slash pocket:
Unlike the patch pocket, this pocket is sewn into the pants. These pockets boast a slit opening for easy access.

stash pocket:
Easy access pocket, usually with an open-top.

stay-tuck liner:
A silicon liner located on the inside of the waistband that keeps shirttails in place.

Stretch refers to a classification of tactical pants that offer fabric features inspired by athletic wear. Designed to provide maximum agility, stretch tactical pants use a synthetic fabric type, such as a nylon/spandex or poly/cotton blend, to allow for a wider range of movement.


tack button:
Metal button that is shaped like a tack and offers secure closure. This button type is durable and sturdy.

tunneled elastic:
Elastic is threaded through the interior of the waistband and attaches visibly on the inside of the pants. This flexibility in the waistband allows for easy holster placement and concealment of firearms without needing to buy pants a size up.

Stands for Tactical Duty Uniform. If pants are classified as TDU, they’ve been designed to cater specifically to special operations and SWAT team members. The TDU line is 5.11 Tactical’s replacement for BDU pants.


YKK Zipper:
A zipper brand known for its high quality.