Back in March, we published a detailed review of the 5.11 Tactical Defender Flex jeans and pants — if you haven’t read it yet, check it out here. Here’s a quick recap of our conclusions after initial wear testing:

The 5.11 Defender Flex jeans won our Best Pants of SHOT Show 2017 award.

The 5.11 Defender Flex jeans won our Best Pants of SHOT Show 2017 award.

The Defender-Flex line bridges the gap between consumer-grade clothing and tactical apparel. Some may look at these as just pants with some extra pockets and stretch fabric, and think what’s the big deal?, but to us these are legitimately a big deal. They’re not just jeans, they’re jeans that could potentially make the other pairs you own obsolete.

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These aren’t relegated to tactical training, range days, or outdoor excursions. You could wear them to the office or the mall, and nobody would bat an eye. Meanwhile, you’d be able to organize your EDC gear better, carry more in your pockets, and move with greater flexibility. Best of all, they only cost about $20 more than an ordinary pair of cotton jeans.

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Now that we’ve had more than six months to wear the Defender Flex jeans — and yes, we have worn them most days since then — we figured it might be helpful to give an update to our initial review. After all, some apparel feels great at first, but starts to show wear and tear quickly. Fortunately, this hasn’t been the case with our 5.11 jeans or pants. They’ve held up nicely without any fraying, loose stitches, or discoloration.

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To address some of our critiques of the Defender Flex series, the thick pocket seams have softened a little as the fabric wore in, but they’re still fairly tough to use with the stiffer pocket clips on some of our EDC gear. As for the belt loops and zipper, they’ve remained durable despite our initial concerns over their size/thickness.

Left: straight-fit jeans in Dark Wash Indigo. Right: the same jeans in slim cut.

Left: straight-fit jeans in Dark Wash Indigo. Right: the same jeans in slim cut.

Since our review, 5.11 Tactical has expanded the Defender Flex line to include more colors and two cuts: straight and slim. We had the opportunity to try the new slim-fit jeans and pants, each in a new color. Our older pair of jeans was Dark Wash Indigo, with noticeable faded creases across the front. Our new slim jeans are in the regular Indigo color (pictured below), and present a cleaner uniform dark blue appearance that we prefer.

The Defender Flex slim pants are also now available for women.

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We like the new Indigo color better than the lighter blue Dark Wash color we originally reviewed.

In addition, we picked up a pair of the slim pants in Volcanic color, pictured in the three photos below. It’s a dark charcoal shade that’s subtle enough for any urban gray man.

As for the fit of the new slim Defender Flex jeans and pants, it’s almost indistinguishable from the straight-cut pairs. These are NOT hipster skinny jeans, so don’t be confused by the slim nomenclature.

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The legs feel ever so slightly slimmer than those on the straight cut — there’s such a small difference in this area we could hardly notice it. The biggest difference lies in the upper thigh and groin area. There’s less bagginess here, but again, it’s certainly not what we’d consider tight.

After wearing both slim and straight Defender Flex jeans back-to-back, we’d say there’s about a 10% difference in fit between the two, if that. Despite some initial trepidation about these pants being too skinny, this moderately slender 6’5″-215lb author found them to fit better than the straight pairs.

Like most 5.11 Tactical apparel, the Defender Flex series seems to run large in the waist, so you may need to expect a slightly looser fit at your normal jeans’ waist size. However, this slight roominess is a plus for those of us who carry concealed handguns inside the waistband.

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We’re still pleased with the Defender Flex, and intend to keep wearing them on a regular basis. They’re solid pants with good flexibility, plenty of low-profile pockets, and a reasonable price. For more info on the 5.11 Defender Flex jeans and pants, go to 511Tactical.com.

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