As most readers are aware, women’s participation in shooting and hunting has skyrocketed over the last decade. This has resulted in companies expanding their clothing lines to meet the needs of ladies.
In days gone by, most outdoor/shooting lifestyle clothing was simply small sized men’s clothing. Unfortunately that is not a tenable solution. Ladies started complaining and manufactures responded. One of the first companies and a leader in clothing specifically designed for ladies is 5.11 Tactical.
5.11 early on realized that women’s bodies even athletically built women have curves in places men do not. They quickly moved to redesign the 5.11 Tactical Pant and it was a hit overnight. With more and more ladies participating is shooting sports and more becoming armed professionals, 5.11 rapidly expanded their women’s line. Today 5.11 Tactical has uniform, range and lifestyle attire for ladies.
In 2019 the product line has greatly expanded, with more items being dedicated to lifestyle. As much as many folks would like to live in 5.11 Tactical Pants, they are not well suited for all occasions.
With the holidays rapidly approaching we decided to look at a few items that would be ideal for travel, casual, work and even range wear. Thanks to my partner in crime we were able to put together an outfit that would look good and work well for all of the above.
The ensemble included two jackets; the Emma Full Zip and Atlas Jacket, a pair of Wyldcat Pants and two shirts; the Victoria and Cheyenne. Neither jacket is designed for hard core cold weather, but they are ideal for layering. Lisa felt that a heavy winter coat unless it is brutally cold, is a pain to deal with when traveling. If you need a heavier coat, she suggested the Peninsula Insulator Packable Jacket. Being a true packable jacket you get the benefits of warmth and convenience for $84.99.
My female evaluator found all of the items ran true to size. She wears a 6 pants and medium in tops. None of the items bound or fit like a second skin. The jackets allowed for layering without sacrificing comfort. Since she travels for FEMA, she liked the fact that there was minimal shrinkage when things were washed and tossed in the dryer.
One of the hardest things of clothing to find is a versatile long lightweight coat that you can layer under. The Atlas is 5.11’s newest outerwear option to help correct that. In medium, from the collar to hem it is 32” long or more practically speaking on a 5’4” frame it comes to the upper thigh. This protects your bum when sitting down and from rain dripping off an umbrella. It also ensures if you are carrying an outside the waistband holster it is totally concealed.
It may seem like a small item but, 5.11 paid great attention to all the pockets. The chest pockets have double hook and loop closures and the bottom of these pockets is 4” below the seam and bottom closure. This ensures items like a phone, keys, etc. will not fall out. The large zipper similarly designed. Inside of these pockets is a zippered pass through so you can readily access your firearm, pepper spray, wallet, etc.
Many stylish jackets overlook the sleeves, 5.11 did not do that. They are gusseted for comfort when reaching overhead and when you are layering. Each sleeve has a hook and loop adjustment on the cuff for a custom fit.
Overall comfort is further enhanced using polyester/elastane fabric. This fabric “stretches” in all directions so you do not bind when moving. While not waterproof, the material is highly water and wind resistant so will not get soaked if you get caught in a sudden downpour. At $129.99, this jacket is a good buy and will serve you for years to come.
The shorter sibling to the Atlas is Emma full zip. This jacket can be worn as a standalone piece or layered under the Atlas or other heavier duty rain gear. With its lay flat hood, the Emma is an ideal year round jacket. Like the Atlas this jacket uses polyester/elastane but it more of what 5.11 calls a scuba knit. This fabric gives you true full range of motion stretch and will not bind when worn inside rain gear.
While stylish looking, the Emma is all about function. The full length zipper makes the jacket easy on/off with quick access to a holstered pistol or belt carried cell phone. The sleeves are cut to give you full range of motion without them rolling up. To ensure the sleeves don’t slide up and to keep your hands warm(ish) each sleeve has a thumb hole placed to protect the entire palm.
5.11 carried the style, function and fit over to this jacket as well. The Emma is 24” long from hood to that bottom hem which will lie just below your hips. Unlike many jackets the hem of the Emma is wide, nearly 5”. This helps it to lay flat and not to “print” if you are carrying and because it is double layer, it will not roll.
If you like a good sweatshirt, the Emma Full Zip will meet and exceed your needs. I was told to share some advice on sizing; the Emma runs snug, if you plan to layer buy the next size up. I have a feeling this snug/smaller sizing if the scuba fabric, it is form fitted. Not only is it built for an active lady and it is priced not to break the bank with an MSRP of $79.99.
Should you prefer a more traditional sweatshirt fit, then the Victoria will be just for you. Dare I say; a sweatshirt on steroids. The polyester/jacquard blend is 54% poly/46% cotton keeps its shape after numerous washings and warm as well. If you wear the Victoria to workout in this blend will wick moisture and dry quickly.
What was most liked about this shirt is that it felt like a comfy stretchable blanket. When worn over a t-shirt or camibra top there was plenty of room so there was no bunching. If you are traveling with the Victoria, because of the blend you can wash it, hang it over the shower curtain rod and it will be dry the next day.
The Victoria will set just below your belt/waistline. It is a full body cut so it is not form fitting. You will find angled zippers in front of each hip allowing you to wear the Victoria while shooting a pistol match and not have to take it off for easy access to your magazines and pistol. At $49.99 the Victoria is competitively priced against any name brand athletic apparel, but built to survive the active outdoor lifestyle.
If you need a bit dressier but comfortable casual shirt, the Cheyenne flannel is just what you are searching for. While this shirt is flannel, it is not the classic cotton flannel. 5.11 uses a 64% polyester/34% viscose/2% elastane which will wear better and not shrink while giving you that soft comfy feel right out of the store. This blend will also stretch and not bunch up while going through your day.
When you put the Cheyenne on, it looks like your dad’s flannel complete with chest pockets but it is not. You will find it lays well, does not cling to your every curve and it looks good wash after wash. One feature of this shirt that struck us was it fits and looks good whether worn tucked or untucked. It is rare that a blouse will do that, generally you look good one way or the other.
Since this shirt is built for ladies who actively carry concealed, 5.11 uses their Rapid Draw placket. Instead of buttons, 5.11 installs snaps that look like buttons. A quick tug on the shirt tails opens your blouse giving you access to your holstered handgun. These are not lightweight snaps that pop open every time you brush against something so you do not have to worry about a wardrobe malfunction.
I am told at $59.99, the Cheyenne is competitively priced with fashion flannel. Unlike designer attire, 5.11 designed this blouse for members of the active outdoor, shooting lifestyle.
The last item we wanted to look at was a versatile pair of pants, the Wyldcat. These pants scream fashion not gun, yet they have belt loops that are properly sized for a gun belt and spaced to accommodate holsters. For comfort in all activities they are made from cotton/polyester/elastane stretch sateen with Microsand finish which is stain resistant. These pants fit like a glove, yet they allow for virtually unrestricted movement.
The Wyldcats look good, but they were built for function. In addition to proper belt loops, there are functional patch pockets. These pockets are placed properly so you can securely carry your cell phone, wallet, and other stuff without fear of these items falling out. Concealed just above and at the leading edge of the pocket are AR magazine pockets sewn into the contoured waistband. These pockets not only carry magazines but they will secure your cell phone whether you are sitting, climbing, running, etc.
There are front slash pockets at the hips and an additional slash pocket on each thigh. The front pockets too are deep enough to carry a clip-it knife, money, ID without fear of losing your stuff. The lower slash pockets will readily carry pistol magazines or your cell phone without the bulk of a cargo pocket.
What sets these pants apart from other ladies “tactical pants” are the legs. They are taper cut to tuck into the tops of a fashion ankle boot. When you look closely at the outer seam, you will notice a zipper from knee the knee to the cuff. This allows the pants to become a boot cut pant for freedom of movement if you wear the Wyldcats as a range pant. The added room will allow you to zipper the legs over a riding/western style boot. I think you will be hard pressed to find a pair of pants similar to 5.11 Tactical’s Wyldcat.
We hope this will help you find clothing for yourself or others on your Christmas list. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, I wish you all the best.