While running through spring on our way to summer, I had the chance to try out some of 5.11 Tactical’s Outdoor Collection: Peak Long Sleeve Shirt; Freedom Flex Short Sleeve Shirt; Apex T-Rail Belt; Apex Pant and previously reviewed Union Waterproof 6” Boot. All of these pieces are designed with outdoor use in mind, while maintaining a professional look to them. Each piece is constructed with quality materials and features that make them as durable as they are comfortable. The Union boots and Peak shirt are made for cooler weather and the Apex pants and Flex Fit shirt are made for warmer weather. With each piece being built for both outdoor and professional use, I was able to wear them both on and off the clock.
The Peak Long Sleeve Shirt is a 100% cotton, long sleeve shirt with snap closures and minimal branding. The shirt has a small 5.11 logo label under the left chest pocket and “VXI” embroidered on the back yoke on the right side. The snap closures are part of the RAPIDraw™ front placket system allowing for quick access to concealed carry or other equipment worn under the shirt. It includes two chest pockets secured with a single snap on a flap closure. All the seams are double stitched and the corners of the pockets are bartacked for reinforcement. I chose the Ensign Blue plaid shirt, but it comes in Almond (brown and tans), Sequoia (orange and browns), Rosewood (reds and grey) and Flint (greys and black) plaids. I wouldn’t say its wrinkle-free but the weight of the cotton reduces wrinkling, even after being thrown in a pack for later use when the temperature drops. The cotton had minimal shrinkage during washing and color hasn’t faded. This shirt will work for camping, giving a briefing or standing in front of a classroom. The plaid markings and heavier cotton aid in reducing the printing of a concealed firearm during everyday use. The Peak Long Sleeve is a classic look for everyday use and abuse, that retails for $44.49
The Freedom Flex Short Sleeve Shirt is a lightweight, polyester, mechanical stretch fabric shirt made for hot days on the range or trail. The shirt has perforated fabric under the arms, sleeves and across the shoulders for breathability and regulating your temperature. The fabric is coated with a wicking finish to aid in moisture management and allow for quick drying. It has the same snap closure with the RAPIDraw™ front placket system, although I would be a little more hesitant to see how long it takes before a snap fails with the stretch material. The Freedom Flex has two chest pockets with dual Velcro secured flaps and a 5.11 logo embroidered into the left pocket flap. They have removed the larger logo found on the back of the neck of older versions. Each sleeve has an oversized pen pocket large enough to fit several Sharpies or even a pair of sunglasses. The perforations are small enough to maintain a clean professional look instead of looking like an 80’s mesh practice jersey. This shirt will be one of my go to shirts for long days on the range or while traveling during hot summer days. It comes in Ranger Green, Peacoat (blue), Mahogany (a reddish brown), Black or Storm (grey) and retails for $59.99. There is a long sleeve version in same colors (except Mahogany), with the same features and same regular fit for just $5 more.
The Apex Pant is a multi-feature pant made from a two-way stretch 67% polyester/33% cotton material. The material has been treated with a Teflon® finish that repels soil, stains and liquids. This is by far the garment with the most features. There are two logo locations on this pair of pants; a little 5.11 tag on the bottom of the right cargo pocket and a 1” embroidered logo on the middle belt loop on the back of the waist. It has several design features for comfort and durability: gusseted crotch, articulated knees, stretch panels built in to the waistband and front pockets, reinforced 2” belt loops and knife clip area and YKK® zippers. The rear pockets have a matching set of magazine pockets above them in the yoke concealed by the stitching when not in use and each cargo pocket has two internal magazine pockets. The cargo pockets each have zipper closures to secure them. “Secret” features include: a small pocket inside the rear waistline, large enough to fit a couple house keys (or a cuff key); a ½” channel sleeve inside the waist designed for flex cuffs (if you’re into that); and a small 2”x3” pocket in the bottom of the left pant leg. Any of these items may and will be detected during a pat down, but might remain secreted if only searched visually. The pants are a light weight and comfortable fit good for cool and warm weather, allowing for a very active day. They allow for secure carriage of sensitive items and rapid access to other items throughout your day on the range, hiking or just patrolling the streets. The Apex pant comes in 10 colors: mostly greens, browns, greys, blues and black. They retail for $79.99 and come in sizes 28-44” with an inseam of 30-36”.
The Apex T-Rail Belt is a rugged, 1.5” wide belt made of TPU coated B10 webbing (PVC coated webbing for durability and longevity). The big feature of the belt is the fact that it is PVC coated webbing. The material is easy to clean, doesn’t pick up smells, is waterproof, won’t stretch and should last as long as cockroaches will. It comes with a natural curve to it and has a cast aluminum buckle that uses dual retention prongs to secure the belt. 5.11 recommends going up a size and I did, which allows me to have plenty of holes to work with. It allows me to tighten the belt to be worn under a tactical gun belt or loosen it enough to carry an appendix holster. I have been wearing it for several months now and it has not stretched, changed shape (curve any more than the way it came).
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In fact, I cannot tell which holes I wear it in. The belt buckle has a very defined edge and could potentially rub or cut into someone’s clothing or body, but I have not had any issues with it. I have scratched the surface of the buckle while shooting in the prone. I am very confident that my holster is secured when wearing this belt. They come in Black, Tundra and Sandstone and retail for $59.99 (currently priced at $34.99 on 5.11’s website). if you want a Brown (or black) version with a little less aggressive edge to the buckle, try the Apex Gunner’s Belt, made of the same material.
Final thoughts: As with most 5.11 clothing I had to try on the clothing to get the fit correct before ordering. I find myself in between their Large and Extra-Large shirts. The Larges fit tight around the chest/lats and the Extra-Larges are almost always too big to look professional. Pants seem to run true to size in the waist and inseams are long enough to cover the tops of your shoes when seated, but I found their jeans to be short in the crotch and butt. They are all well-made and keep a clean, professional look while providing higher end features keeping pace with their competitors. As with most 5.11 products, they are all manufactured overseas.
By the numbers:
Comfort – 4/5 The Freedom Flex SS Shirt and Apex Pants were comfortable from day one, the Peak LS Shirt is a little tight in the chest/lats in order to get a good fit and the Apex belt does have a very defined edge that some might find uncomfortable.
Durability – 5/5 They are constructed of top of the line materials and appear to be of sound construction. Most seams are double stitched and most pockets were bartacked for reinforcement. I am pretty sure the screws on the back of the buckle will fail long before the coated webbing of the belt.
Functionality – 4/5 All items performed as advertised and were designed for active lifestyles, however sizing on the shirts restricts movement in the chest/lats area.
Weight – 4/5 Apex Pants and Freedom Flex SS Shirt are light weight warm climate apparel and the Peak LS Shirt and belt are not heavy for their intended design.
Value – 4/5 The shirts and pants are on par with competitors pricing for similar quality and clothing features. There are some companies that are producing well-made clothing at a lower cost that are closing the gap on features. 5.11’s price point is on the higher end for clothing I intend to get dirty and do work in, but in all fairness, I buy a lot on sale or clearance because of that. The Apex Belt is at or below the price of other belts made with similar materials and specifically for carrying a gun.
Overall rating: 4.2/5 If these clothes perform as durable as they appear to be made, they will be worth the money. They are all feature filled garments that have a professional look to them while allowing the user to remain active.
I received this product as a courtesy from the manufacturer via Spotter Up so I could test it and give my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.
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