There’s been a lot of talk about these trousers, and with good reason. They form part of the uniform of the UK’s Metropolitan Police Combined Terrorist Specialist Firearms Officers (CTSFO); a paramilitary organisation made highly visible by the UK’s tabloid press. The CTSFO Wolf grey uniform is especially distinctive in the UK, where Police Officers have traditionally worn dark blue. They are correspondingly decked out with C2R plate carriers.
I’m not so sure.
While LEAF’s quality is better than Crye’s ‘just enough’ commitment, taken as a whole package I think I still prefer to slip into my G3 Combat Pants. But not by a huge margin. What it may come down to is the user’s preference for knee pads and fabric weight.
Here’s Arc’teryx’s video of the main features:
The trousers are composed of no melt/no drip 50/50 NyCo Cordura ripstop fabric. It has a heavier hand than that of Crye’s G3 combat pants and adds to LEAF’s projection of durability and quality.
However, although breathable, the heavier fabric does run hotter. The Assault Pant AR is for all-round use and not optimised for arid conditions like the G3.
The trousers’ most distinctive feature are its knees. The knees are capped with heavy nylon Cordura and are ergonomically shaped. Housed within these structures are removable foam inserts; these are supplied with the trousers.
Unlike Crye’s offering, LEAF doesn’t rely on lycra gussets for movement. Articulation is built into the pattern of the Assault Pants and they have been built with movement in mind. Because they use NyCo throughout, they are tough all over.
Cargo pockets are placed high on the leg, which makes them easily accessible.
Bar tack reinforcements are abundant and formidable.
Leg ends are adjusted via velcro tabs.
The trousers close with a large, slotted button which is secured with ribbon – Canadian style. The fly is zipped.
Like the G3, waist adjustment can be fine tuned by using velcro tabs at the waist. These are pulled forward, rather then back. I find Crye’s tabs easier to use.
Sizing is consistent with Arc’teryx’s outdoor range, so the fit is slightly smaller than Crye’s – which I find runs big. I’m a large in both the G3 and Assault Pant AR, although I need to gather the waist more with the G3.
As mentioned, the Assault Pant AR is patterned for full articulation. This is most visible at the knees, but a diamond shaped crotch insert is also present.
4. Knee Pads
The knees are a really interesting area.
The durable Cordura knee swatch is very distinctive but there’s more going on under the bonnet.
The knee pad pocket is highly accessible and is secured with velcro. The knee pad is inserted and removed very easily.
The knee pads are composed of EVA foam, are ergonomically shaped and offer a good deal of protection.
However, one of the things which initially drew me to these trousers was the way in which Arc’teryx’s Knee Caps (sold separately) can be integrated.
This arrangement seemed to offer the best of both worlds – a hard cap and all the additional protection that affords, shrouded by non-slip fabric.
The Knee Caps are placed inside the pad pocket instead of the EVA knee pads. The Knee Caps’ straps are fed out of the pocket, through apertures at the sides. They are then secured at the back of the knee.
This prevents the Knee Caps slipping, but I found the straps to be really uncomfortable at the back of the knee – one of the reasons I stopped using that style of knee protection to begin with.
The Assault Pant AR features six pockets.
Two hand pockets with integrated knife pocket.
These also feature mesh pocket bags, to aid heat management.
Two seat pockets, secured by velcro, with the same mesh.
Two cargo pockets at the upper thigh, which expand to the rear only – keeping them low drag.
As mentioned, these are placed high on the leg, which delivers greater accessibility than most. Again, these pockets secure with velcro. Inside are daisy chain hard points and loop velcro coins; offering various attachment options.
Arc’teryx’s Assault Pant AR is a solid pair of trousers for outdoor life. What’s more, they are semi-presentable around town.
In arid conditions, or if you run particularly hot like I do, Crye’s offering is probably more appropriate. I get around winter use of my G3 Combat Pants by wearing a base layer, to offset the fabric’s lightness.
That being said, for all year temperate use, if you run cold or if your job or hobby requires the additional toughness of a medium weight fabric, LEAF’s trousers are difficult to beat.
Similarly, if you don’t get on with Crye’s knee pads or articulation, check out what LEAF has to offer.