Materials and sizing
The OTP pant represents the latest variant of Helikon-Tex’s highly successful UTP® pant design. The OTP pants is made using a lightweight, breathable, and moisture-wicking, four-way, (6.5 oz) stretch fabric that is a 93/7 Nylon-Spandex blend. The OTP fabric offers superior breath-ability over cotton in warmer environments. It is available in black, mud brown, coyote, adaptive green, khaki, OD, and Shadow Grey (shown here). The Shadow Gray color is a very similar hue to the Arc’teryx’s Wolf Grey.
The OTP pants comes in 30″-42″ waist sizes and regular to long leg lengths which many taller, slimmer folks will appreciate. I am 5.7″ with with a 31″ waist and I am wearing a size 31, regular OTP Pant. Helikon-Tex waist sizing is typically true to size and the elastic waist band provides just the right amount of ‘give‘ not to be suffocating while sitting and will easily accommodate IWB holsters. Though if you are used to looser fitting pants and like me, and have thicker legs you may want to consider sizing up in the OTP Pant as they are cut a bit slimmer than the UTP Pant.
The OTP pant shares nearly all the same features as the UTP pant but I will touch on those that are unique to the OTP pant.
- Key loops
- Two 8″ x 6″ angled front pockets with reinforced edges -these pockets, like all the pockets found on the OTP pant, are different from the ones on their UTP pant counterparts in that they are made of mesh to enhance air flow and provide venting during warmer temperatures.
- Two 5 1/4″ x 6″ back pockets
- Two 4″ x 2′ Internal Back Pockets – one of my favorite features on the UTP, these pockets are a great way to keep those small slim items readily accessible. I did notice that these pockets are slightly more shallow on the OTP pant.
- Two 7 1/4″ x 5 1/2″ low profile, thigh cargo pockets – The OTPs mesh pockets are about 1″ wider and deeper than on the UTP pant, and an internal elastic organizer strap has been added and can be used to secure spare magazines, first aid equipment (combat gauze), CAT or other small essentials.
- Two 6″ x 3 1/8″ velcro flapped thigh pocket -this pocket is an inch deeper than on the UTP pant. This pocket is designed to fit one 30 round AR mag or other similarly sized items and is placed in such a way that its contents are easily accessible while seated such as when driving. Being a bit behind the times and still using an iPhone 5, this pocket fits my phone like a glove but those with some of the larger smartphones will likely find this pocket to be too narrow to accommodate their device.
- Jean style cut
- Reinforced knees with 5.5″ x 9″ kneepad compartments
- Elastic waistband – The waistband has elastic on the back for a little bit of give. It’s not bunched up enough to be uncomfortable, but has enough stretch to add about 2 inches to the waist. (Those familiar with the UTP pant will notice that the hidden waistband pocket has been omitted from the OTP pant)
- Higher back – The back of the pant is slightly higher than in the front so that you can bend, kneel, or squat without having to worry about ‘plumber’s butt’.
- Crecent Gusseted crotch – as with my comments on the UTP Pant, a gusseted crotch is designed for increased mobility and in my opinion, a diamond gusset would have been a far more effective choice particularly one that places the gusset seam lower in the crotch and the rear seam higher up the back which would more effectively redistribute the load across the seam providing a fuller range of motion minimizing the risk of blown out seams.
- Articulated knees – This is one of the key design features of the OTP pant. The OTP pant has been specifically redesigned from the UTP pant for enhanced mobility and to accommodate much more range of motion particularly in positions other than standing. The articulated knees are designed with pleats at the knees which give them their shape and are meant to closely mimic the legs’ natural bend while standing straight.
- Cuffs with cord channels-the cuff openings are my biggest issue with the OTP pant. I measured the cuffs which at 7.5″ in diameter compared to the UTPs 8.5″ is quite noticeably narrower making them harder to slip over ankle boots without them constantly riding up without having extra length in the hemm to compensate for this.
- Bartacked Stress points.
Water Resistance Test:
Probably the most impressive characteristic of the OTP pant is its weather resistant properties. While Helikon-Tex makes no claims that the OTP pants are waterproof or water resistant for that matter, purely out of curiosity I performed a ‘Saturation Test’ to see just how susceptible to moisture the OTP fabric was.
To do this, I place a small bowl on the inside of one of the legs and pushed the fabric down onto it to create a slight dip at the center of the area. I then poured about a half a teaspoon of water into the crater I had made to see how quickly the fabric would absorb the liquid. After letting the water sit for 30 minutes, I carefully examined the fabric where the water had been sitting noting any dark or discolored areas where the water had seeped through and I found none. When moving the fabric, the water just glides across the fabric without leaving any visible trails. After an hour, the fabric remained unchanged and the underside was completely dry. (the photo marked ‘after’ below, was taken an hour after the one marked ‘before’)
If you look closely at the texture of the OTP fabric (see photo below, far right) you will notice the fabrics’ smooth outer layer and by contrast, the underside’s more textured porous appearance. This allows moisture to be efficiently drawn away from the body and to the surface where it can quickly evaporate, all the while keeping unwanted moisture out.
I suspect that over time and after being run through the wash a few times, that like other breathable fabrics, the waterproofing on the OTP will diminish and will need to be refreshed. I was still very much impressed by the OTP fabrics’ performance which actually was significantly better than when I performed this same test on some of other softshell fabrics.
Notes and observations –
As with the UTP pant, even with pockets loaded with magazines and gear the OTP pants’ inset cargo pockets and low profile design results in very minimal printing, avoiding any awkward bulges.
As previously mentioned the OTP pant is bit more fitted by design and if you are like me and have thicker legs, keep in mind that its going to a bit snugger than you might be used to in a tactical pant. For folks who prefer a looser fit, I’d recommend going a size up from what you’d normally wear. The OTP pant, has a slim, tapered fit with about a 5” taper from the upper thigh to the cuffs. I’d personally prefer less of a taper and slightly wider cuffs to allow them to slipover the ankle more naturally when wearing boots. I did notice, that waist band on the back of the OTP pant does have a bit of a tendency to relax, giving the wearer a bit of a ‘saggy butt’. To combat this, I had a tailor take off about 2.5″ of material just below the waist band at the back.
The OTP pants are without a doubt Helikon’Tex’s most athletic pant and the stretch properties of the fabric are immediately apparent any time I took a knee or squatted so much that I even occasionally wear them during Crossfit and gym workouts. Additionally, while not specifically a water proof pant the OTP material does provide an impressive weather resistant barrier from the elements and will delay water from soaking through and in the event that the material should get fully wet, it also dries fairy quickly.
I would say that the Helikon-‘s OTP pant is a light-weight, highly adaptive, pant, suitable for hot to cool temperatures. I wore it almost exclusively over 12 days in the New Mexico and Arizona desert with temperatures often reaching higher than 100 degrees F and had zero complaints. By comparison, I would wear the UTP pant for cooler climates and the OTP pant during hotter ones. As far as wear and tear, only time will tell how durable the OTP material is, but I did a fair bit of kneeling in them over rough and gritty surfaces and the fabric seemed to hold up pretty well.
It is well-suited to a wide range of outdoor activities; from hiking, climbing or even as a casual pant for day-to-day use. For those doing contractor, plain clothed LE work or any type of operation where a low visibility must be taken into consideration, without losing the storage capacity and utilitarian features of a duty pant, the OTP will have no problem blending in as a cargo style hiking pant.
In summary, the OTP pant has proven to be very an impressive product with a lot of promise and I would recommend them to anyone in the market for a pant with tactical features without appearing overly tactical.
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