Kneeling in hiking pants

Review: Helikon-Tex Outdoor Tactical Pants

Rugged, robust and highly versatile. Snug fitting tactical pants that step up to the demands of hiking, camping and general outdoor use.

Based on the Classic UTP (Urban Tactical Pants), the Helikon-Tex Outdoor Tactical Pants (OTP) are a step closer to the perfect outdoor pants and are ideal for adventurers looking for more out of their hiking pants. With loads of pockets and storage options to keep your hiking essentials close at hand, the OTPs offer a super comfortable yet snug fit. Tough and durable, these pants won’t be letting you down any time soon.

Helikon-Tex OTP: The stats

Material:93% Nylon, 7% Spandex with DuPont Teflon coating
Number of pockets:10
Fit:Classic jeans ‘neck’ shape, snug
Colours:6 to choose from

Design features of the Helikon-Tex OTP

Velcro waist fastener

Velcro waist band of hiking pantsThe zippered fly is secured at the waist with a velcro fastener which is super simple to use and allows a little bit of fit adjustment too. It’s surprisingly secure and feels as good as a button without the associated discomfort of it pressing into you when you bend over. I was a little worried about the velcro edges being scratchy on my skin but I don’t even feel it, and the velcro never catches on my clothing.

Belt loops

Belt loops of Helikon OPTThe waistband is elasticated and although there are 7 wide belt loops, I don’t feel like I need a belt at all due to the secure velcro fastener. On the two front belt loops there are key loops that are D-ring or carabiner compatible.

Articulated knees

Articulated knee of hiking pantsArticulated knees are an essential feature of good hiking pants, and even more important around camp. Crouching down to light the fire or clambering up rocks becomes much more comfortable when the pants move with your legs rather than against them. The knees of the OTPs are also reinforced and have internal knee pad compartments, should you need them.

Gusseted crotch

Gusseted crotch of hiking pantsAnother essential design feature for any hiking or outdoor pants is a gusseted crotch. Aside from the added comfort and greater range of movement it provides, it also decreases the stress on the seams in the crotch area making the pants more durable.

Material

Water beading on hiking pantsI really love how robust these pants feel. They are super durable and the DuPont Teflon coating means that light rain beads off instead of saturating through to the skin. They are also mega stretchy which is essential as the fit is snug. They felt a little plasticy to start with but I quite like that now. I’m not at all concerned about the material snagging or pulling when stomping around in thick undergrowth and they don’t seem to pick up dirt easily either!

Front pockets

Hiking pants with hands in pocketAlthough the pants fit snugly, there is still enough stretch in them for me to comfortably use the two front pockets to put my hands in. And as I use them the most out of all the pockets, the strengthened edges (designed to clip gear onto) keep wear and tear to a minimum. The front pockets are really deep and although I could put my phone into one of the more secure cargo pockets, the front pockets do a great job at keeping it safe, and it is easier to access it there too.

Cargo pockets

Side mesh pockets of hiking pantsThe cargo pockets on each side comprise of two separate compartments: one is fastened securely with another bomber velcro fastener, and the other has a zippered top which I really like using to securely store smaller important items. There are elastic gear bands inside the zippered pockets to keep smaller items in order. But I’ve yet to use them and can’t see myself needing to keep the insides of my pockets that organised!

Back pockets

Back pockets of hiking pantsA small pocket sits inside each of the two back pockets, which is probably overkill for hiking and general outdoor use. They are designed for storing pistol magazines which although useful for game hunters, proves a little redundant for my hiking and camping needs. But again, the stretch of the pants means that items inside the back pockets aren’t uncomfortable and don’t cause any restrictions in my movement.


Helikon-tex OTP review

I have a few pairs of hiking pants that are all on the light and airy side. So the snug fit of the Helikon OTPs has taken a bit of getting used to. However the more I wear them, the more I like them and they are fast becoming my go-to pants for hiking and camping. The classic jeans ‘neck’ shape means that they fit snugly, but due to the stretch (and design features such as the articulated knees and gusseted crotch), they are never restrictive and are highly comfortably. More so than I expected. Another thing that caught me out the first few times wearing these pants is a seam across the back of the pants, a couple of inches below the waistband, which makes you feel like your pants are hanging low when you crouch or bend over, but thankfully they’re not!

The pants are made from a slightly heavier fabric than other hiking pants I have worn making them less suited to hiking in hot conditions. They are also a bit too snug to comfortably roll up the legs to the knees for some air, and the close fit means that they are a bit less airy in general than baggier pants.
Scrambling in hiking pants

What I love the most about the Helikon-tex OTP

The more I wear them, the more useful the pockets become – actually putting all the pockets to good use can take some time if you’re not used to having them there to use! But what really stands out for me is the material of these pants. The durability and robustness makes me feel like I can put them through hell and they’ll just bounce right back for more! And combined with the stretch of the fabric, they are never restrictive – how it should be.

What I don’t love so much about the Helikon-tex OTP

For me the zippered cargo pockets are positioned a little too far around the leg, placing stored items right over my ‘dead leg’ spot. Not a big deal (there’s plenty of other pockets after all), but something I’ve not encountered in other pants. Other than that, my biggest gripe is the internal knee pad pockets (these are like a double fold of material where you slip in pads). I sometimes catch my toes in them when putting them on and they make the knee area a bit hotter than the rest. For hunting and military combat, knee pads would be super useful. But I tend not crawl around on my knees when hiking and camping quite enough to deem them useful, just yet!

Verdict

With a growing array of hiking pants in my outdoor wardrobe, the Helikon OTPs have very quickly stepped into pole position as my go-to pants for hiking and camping, and everyday use, for that matter! They’re ideal for cooler climates or for use in variable weather conditions, are mega durable, and aside from their lack of airiness in warm weather, are a highly versatile hiking, camping and outdoor pair of pants.

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