Arc’teryx LEAF Combat Pant Gen 2 & Tweave Durastretch Review
 

Arc’teryx LEAF Combat Pant Gen 2 Review: My Obsession with Tweave Durastretch

By Bryan Black

Arc'teryx Combat Pants

For the better part of three years now, I’ve been infatuated with Tweave® Durastretch® and the quality in which Arc’teryx LEAF uses the material to produce some of the most well designed and quality manufactured apparel I’ve ever had the pleasure of wearing.

I recently returned from a few different trips where I was really able to put the Arc’teryx LEAF Combat Pant through the proverbial ringer, including traversing a glacier in Chamonix, France and Canyoneering in California, where I really got to see how it fared in a water environment.

However, before I get into the specifics of the Gen 2 Combat Pant, I’d like to talk about my overall experience with Tweave Durastrech and Arc’teryx apparel as a whole.

Tweave Durastretch

My first experience with Tweave Durastretch and Arc’teryx LEAF products overall, came back in 2011 as Mike and I were preparing for the first GORUCK Ascent in Colorado. Through a partnership with Tactical Distributors, I was able to bring a pair of Arc’teryx LEAF Sphinx pants, which I wore throughout the entire multi-day trip where I traversed two 14’ers in the Collegiate Peaks area.

Bryan Saint Mary's Glacier

With shifting temperatures and weather, it was the first real proving ground for the material and the Arc’teryx quality I’d heard so many good things about.

We encountered sweat inducing heat, extreme wind near the peaks and even cold rain. This first experience left me impressed with the durability first and foremost. I’d scrambled all over rocky terrain and beat the Sphinx pants up pretty good; to the point where I knew I’d have some damage after all was said and done.

ITS- SHOT- Day 1-80

After returning and washing them I was surprised when they came out looking just as good as the first day I’d put them on. As I started wearing them more and more, including a physically demanding Disruptive Environments course with Travis Haley, I truly started to appreciate the stretch of the material.

Haley Strategic Partners Disruptive Environments AAR

To be honest, up until the Haley course, I knew I loved the way the Sphinx pants handled, but I didn’t really analyze why until then. I remember squatting behind a door ready to make entry to clear a room and thinking of how impressive it was that my pants weren’t riding up like others had.

Haley Strategic Partners Disruptive Environments AAR

It hit me that with fabrics like NYCO, which I’d used extensively with my military issued BDUs, when you move, the fabric simply gathers. There’s no “give” to it. Don’t knock my brain buster, I really hadn’t considered that until then.

As time progressed I appreciated the Arc’teryx Sphinx Pants more and more each time I put them on. Three years later, after traversing just about every terrain, they look nearly as good as the day I started wearing them. There’s a little staining in places from Simuntion rounds and sap from trees, but even the majority of the sap has come out of these during the wash.

What Makes Tweave Tick

Arc’teryx describes the properties of Tweave Durastretch as having excellent stretch mobility, breathability and being quick to dry, which makes them appropriate for long range wear; Tweave® Durastretch® also sheds moisture, contaminants and is inherently resistant to abrasion.

Something I really enjoyed learning about was the velcro test that Arc’teryx performs on their face fabrics. They create and use face fabrics that can handle velcro being scratched against them without breaking fibers. I had the chance to observe this first hand with Tweave Durastretch under a small USB-powered microscope.

Tweave Durastretch 01

While the Tweave website doesn’t allude to much about their fabric, I was fortunate enough to listen to Arc’teryx discuss its construction while I was over in France. Tweave Durastretch was developed in the early 2000s with Arc’teryx input and actually used to create the Gamma LT Pant that was introduced to the outdoor market around that time.

Unfortunately, because of the high cost of Tweave, it out priced the market and wasn’t used again until the LEAF division of Arc’teryx saw it as a natural fit for their end users who rely on performance.

Tweave Durastretch 02

Tweave in itself is an interesting fabric, it’s a 4-way stretch that’s comprised of 91% nylon and 9% spandex. Being a bi-component yarn is beneficial to the fragile spandex, which is protected by the nylon. Encapsulating the spandex in nylon allows it to produce the 4-way stretch properties, yet gives it rugged durability and abrasion resistance due to the compact and tightly woven yarns of nylon.

Additionally, Tweave is a smooth face fabric with a flat weave for inherent wind resistance. The DWR coating also repels moisture and even snow.

So to recap, the tightly woven fabric was definitely apparent to me, especially high up in the mountains where I experienced some of the strongest wind I’d ever been through. The smooth face of the fabric and DWR finish are credited to blocking water, yet maintain the breathability which not only helped in warm climates, but aided in the quick-drying nature of Tweave. Additionally, thanks to the abrasion resistance of tightly woven nylon that protected the internal spandex yarns, I got freedom of movement and extreme durability.

While the focus thus far has been on material, it takes more than that to make a great pant.

Combat Pant Gen 2

Arc'teryx Chamonix-Mont Blanc Adventure Pro 25

While my experience with the Arc’teryx Sphinx Pant had been great, I was excited to get into the Gen 2 Combat Pants and see how they compared to the Sphinx.

Immediately, I noticed how much more versatile they were, with the new 10-pocket design and lack of the webbing reinforced knee I was used to. In fact, they don’t look like a traditional combat pant at all, or even much of a tactical pant.

The Sphinx, while also being marketed as a combat pant, features a webbing reinforced knee, pocket for kneepads and pass through slots for the straps. I found that I didn’t use the kneepad feature on the Sphinx and the webbing strips wound up being a burden in hot weather, making the knee areas hotter than I would have liked. Granted this is just my personal experience and not indicative of all the situations the MIL/LE end user might find themselves in.

For me, the Gen 2 Combat Pant is a perfect combination of mobility, durability and breathability. It’s nearly a perfect all-weather pant as well, short of a hardshell layer. Of course, with a hardshell pant, comes a tradeoff with the attributes I listed above.

Operation Aqua Terra

With how quickly the Combat Pants dry, unless you’re in wet and cold conditions where the potential for Hypothermia exists, they’re nearly a 4-season pant. I experienced this quick drying first hand during a coastal California adventure a few months back. While traversing the rocky canyon, we continually moved from simply walking through water, to swimming and full-on cliff jumping. I found that water drained incredibly fast, thanks in large part to the half-mesh front pockets.

Operation Aqua Terra

Additionally, there wasn’t the common “soaked” feeling with other pants while I waited on them to dry. I walked them dry in what seemed to be less than an hour, but honestly I didn’t time it with all the moving we were doing.

Features

As noted above, it’s not just the Tweave Durastretch material that “makes” the Arc’teryx LEAF Combat Pant Gen 2. The construction behind each piece of material is just as important and with a company like Arc’teryx who prides themselves on just that, you’d expect no less.

Arc'teryx Combat Pants

Case in point, Arc’teryx uses 16 stitches per inch, while the industry standard is only 8. All stress points and even areas that one day could become stress points are bar tacked for added strength. I also think that the Combat Pant looks just as good on the inside as it does on the outside. The craftsmanship is truly off the charts when compared to other outdoor clothing.

With articulated knees, seat and gusseted crotch, you’re truly getting a 3D pant, not just straight pieces of material that have been sewn together.

Arc'teryx Combat Pants

Pockets

Arc’teryx LEAF really went above and beyond on the utility of the Combat Pant with its 10 different pockets that are all accessible even while wearing a climbing harness. There’s the two main hand pockets on the front with an additional zippered security stash pocket within each of these that are perfect for those items that seem to always find their way out of your pockets when you sit down.

Arc'teryx Combat Pants

Arc'teryx Combat Pants

Arc'teryx Combat Pants

Working to the outside of these front hand pockets, you’ll find a dedicated knife utility pocket to carry a folding knife, whether you’re right or wrong handed. This knife utility pocket can be used to either completely enclose the knife, or to just trap the pocket clip to prevent it being snagged.

Arc'teryx Combat Pants

The rear seat pockets are also zippered security pockets, with the zippers closing to the outside so that you’re not sitting on the zipper slider. Both the rear pockets and the two main front hand pockets are a combination of Tweave and mesh for easy draining and increased airflow.

Arc'teryx Combat Pants

The thigh pockets are particularly intriguing. While they feature a velcro closure, the hook portion of the pocket lid can affix to a small loop dot on the interior of the pocket, effectively converting it into a dump pocket and reducing interference.

Arc'teryx Combat Pants

Arc'teryx Combat Pants

Belt Loops and Closure

Eight 2” bar-tacked belt loops are sewn around the waistband and are purpose built to accommodate the Arc’teryx LEAF H-150 Rigger’s Belt and many other belts as well.

Arc'teryx Combat Pants

Arc'teryx Combat Pants

The Prym button snap on the pants is durable and it’s also worth noting here that every zipper on the pants are YKK zippers.

Arc'teryx Combat Pants

Along the outside of each leg cuff there’s a bungee hem to run an open or closed cuff. By Grabbing the bungee cord tab and squeezing the cordloc, it’s easy to cinch up the cuff.

Wrap-up

Arc’teryx prides themselves on design, craftsmanship and performance and that’s apparent to me each time I use and abuse one of their products. The only small issue I’ve had with the Combat Pant Gen 2 was self-induced. While moving with crampons on the glacier we were climbing during the Chamonix trip, I kicked my inner leg and put a small hole into the Tweave. Despite multiple washings and repeated use, that area hasn’t frayed more than slightly around that small tear and has left me impressed. Even in the Tweave with my Sphinx pants and all that they’ve been through I’ve never had a tear or issue with the material.

ITS- SHOT- Day 1-85

One of the only critiques I hear about Arc’teryx products are the cost. While I’ll be up front and say that I was provided both pairs of pants mentioned here for review over the years, I’ve spent plenty of my own money on Arc’teryx LEAF products as well. “Buy once, cry once” Is something my grandfather told me a long time ago and I’ve always remembered it. What’s quality worth to you?

I’ll leave you with the mission statement of Arc’teryx LEAF: “Products that last longer, work better, have the best value and keep you safe in the elements.” Basically when you’re not cold, wet and miserable, it allows you to better focus on the task at hand.

For more information on Arc’teryx LEAF check out their website. To purchase Arc’teryx LEAF commercially, check out Tactical Distributors along with other brick & mortar and online retailers mentioned on the LEAF website.

I’d like to thank Marc Fiorito of Gamma Nine for some of the awesome photography you see here of the Combat Pant.

See you out there!

Arc'teryx Combat Pants 04

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Discussion

  • SurvivalPunk

    What a knock out review. I am going to look into getting a pair. I like things that last. Plus they look killer.

    • SurvivalPunk Thanks for the kind words, I can definitely recommend these based on all that I’ve put the material and Arc’teryx craftsmanship through. 
      Bryan

  • MStatefan

    Been following this website pretty regularly for about a year now. Maybe its just me, but the gear that’s reviewed is way out of budget for most people. I’d never pay $350+ for some pants. Could you do some reviews on less expensive outdoor gear sometimes? Or maybe have a series of reviews on outdoor gear on a budget? 

    Thanks

    • mibi1

      MStatefan I agree!  Common man solutions are much better than money-is-no-object solutions.

    • timrocks2

      While I agree this is pricy, you learn by examining key points of quality items. When you compromise on price, you’re now making a better informed choice.

    • RaymondSpiller

      MStatefan

    • JCrist

      MStatefan Now this is the way to respond to the price of the pants, as compared to some of the above.  The guys at ITS certainly deal with some nice gear, lots out of my price range too.  I have learned through trial and error that I should save a little to buy nicer gear and that it usually works out better in the long run.  But I’m a little forgetful and somehwat negligent.  I’ll probably pass on pants this expensive and keep my eyes peeled for a sale at Tactical Distributors in the like in the case they go on sale (BIG sale).  Of course, 36/36 isn’t usually available and damned sure never on sale!  Vertx $37 jobs for me!

  • nDjinn

    I’ve been considering a pair for a year. I have other Arc’teryx gear, I am not crazy about the color gray/Wolf (I use the Khard 30 pack and the grey blends, no doubt) For paints I currently use the Crye G3 Combat pant. I love them for they perform then I need to do anything rough and the knee pad is a great innovation, but they look pretty goofy if I have to stop of gas on my way to. Perhaps this is the review that will put me over and I’ll order a pair. Great review. The Disruptive environment course sound like a great course too. Thanks for the info.

  • Meade

    I find it disturbing that you have the audacity to post a review on pants worth more than $100. Even more grotesque is the fact that these are worth over $300. I was thinking of becoming a member of this site, but if that is the type of profits ITS is seeing, I am uninterested in supporting a company as usurious as ITS. If you delete this comment (which I suspect you will) it will prove this assertion even more. 

    Food for thought: How about you do reviews on gear people can actually afford while paying for children, wife, house, car, school, or anything of the sort?

    In conclusion, these are pants, not an investment. These pants weigh 640 grams (according to their own site). Silver price today is $17.05 (10/2/2015). These pants are priced at the $350 range. If I were to get the same weight of these pants in silver, 640 grams, it would cost me the same amount! So one could either purchase 640 gram pants for $350 or 640 grams of silver which is going to actually last hundreds of years and increase in value.

    ref: http://coinapps.com/silver/gram/calculator/

    http://leaf.arcteryx.com/Product.aspx?language=EN&gender=mens&model=Combat-Pant

    • Meade I’m not sure how to interpret your comment, but if you’re alluding to the fact that we’re making so much money that we have it to freely toss around, you’re sadly mistaken. 

      However, I don’t mind spending my hard earned money on a quality product that will last and I absolutely feel the pants are worth the money. In fact, I’ve stated so in my review above, which constitutes my opinions and thoughts. You don’t have to agree with me though, that’s the beauty of the Internet and how easy it is to leave a comment. You don’t even have to leave your real name, which I don’t think you’ve done. 

      Unless you’re a telescope company that is. If so, I would say that Meade telescopes are pretty expensive too, but I’m sure you’d stand behind your product and explain how it was worth the money by breaking down many of the same points I probably did with the pants.
      If you’ve read the Website much, you’d see plenty of reviews and articles about other products that “people” can actually afford. In fact, just last week I wrote about reclosable plastic bags to repackage medicine and they only cost 6 cents a piece. They’re pretty practical, you should check that article out.

      I’d like to run some silver numbers too. If I would have purchased the same amount of silver back in April of 2011 as the Sphinx pants cost, (I received them in April of 2011 and believe they we’re going for about $500) I would have about 13 ounces of silver and spent $513.50 in 2011 prices. That same 13 ounces of silver at today’s prices would be worth $221.65 (without adjusting for inflation that is) and in just 3 years that silver would have depreciated 43%! 
      The Sphinx pants that I have, which are 3 years old and made of quality materials have certainly not depreciated 43% to me. I more than likely wouldn’t get $500 for them if I were to sell them, but I’ll never know that because I’m not selling them. They’re in awesome condition and still have years of life left, plus a lot of history. I can’t say the same about that hypothetical 2011 investment in silver.

      To get back to you wanting to become a member on our website, the $50 we charge per year works out to about 14 cents a day that you’d be spending. You might have better odds playing the stock market or investing in silver if the financial ROI is what you’re after. Although, it might be best to stay out of silver looking at the last three years.

      Oh, almost forgot. Don’t worry, your comment isn’t going anywhere.
      Thanks,
      Bryan Black, Editor-in-Chief, Founder
      p.s. Here’s my source on the silver pricing history: http://silverprice.org/silver-price-history.html

    • Meade

      bryanpblack Meade First, my real name is Meade (third bishop of Virginia and family name of general of the Civil War).

      Silvers current price is as I listed above and the current price of the pants is also listed above. So at the current market value, one could purchase the weight of the pants in silver. You may have purchased the pants when they were a “wise investment” (which I believe fabric is never an investment), but in today’s economy, those pants are beyond outrageously priced. You purchased the silver at the top of the market which was foolish. I am not telling you to invest in silver, I am providing a reference point using a truly valuable commodity to show how ridiculous a $300+ pair of pants is.

      I am a medical professional (Certified Physician Assistant) and I restrained myself from posting on your medical baggie review. Do you realize that plastic bags are water permeable? Don’t believe me? Fill a bag of water, leave it on your counter overnight, check in the morning. The organic compounds in most medicines dissolve water alone (this is why it absorbs into the blood stream). Gel based meds can even rupture if they come in contact with even minimal amounts of water. It is also illegal if there are any prescriptions left unlabeled, but to your benefit, you did label them and state that these were OTC meds. I make some money, but spending money on scummy reviews made by keyboard warriors cannot be justified.

      I am sorry to be blunt and frankly insulting, but I have had enough with the reviews suggesting unsafe medical recommendations, foolish advertisements to invest in multi-hundred dollar pants, and tacticool concepts.

      Thank you for not deleting the comment by the way. I am honestly and sincerely impressed.

      Meade, PA-C

    • RW2010

      Meade Wow…cry me a river. I pay for everything you mentioned, own a pair of combat pants and thought the reveiw was spot on. I like cars too and I cant remember a time I blasted a good review on a 300K car because I cant own one. Your silver anology/argument topped one of the funnies/idiotic I have heard in a long time so on behalf of myself and a few co-workers thanks for the laugh!

    • Meade

      RW2010 Meade Cars and pants are separate matters all together. Pants can/should be purchased for much less than $300. I could easily afford dropping $300, but spending such money on pants is boarder-line mentally deficient. Once again, I was using silver as a reference point because it is an undisputed valuable commodity unlike pants. Please note that you are out of sensible arguments so you reverted to abusive ad Hominem logical fallacies in order to call into question the soundness of my argument. This shows how weak your argument is and how illogical you are as well as confirms your illogical purchasing choices.

    • nDjinn

      Meade I value my gear. I value the things it protects and I am willing to not make do with “that will do” type stuff. You have issues no one here can fix or help with. Look for therapy elsewhere, what you are doing amounts to trolling.

    • wild shrimp

      Meade just unlike the site cheapskate.  the reviews you are looking for can be found at Target.com

    • JCrist

      Meade I was a little shocked at the sticker price of the pants. I have the right to do my own ROI to see if I want to buy them or not, as do you.  In this repsonse though, you build a bridge from this review to a personal attack on your family.  Somewhat of a reach maybe?  If you are angry about some decisions you made in your life, or the hand you’ve been dealt, maybe you should consider going and fucking yourself.  Right. In. The. Pussy.

  • gtrspeed

    Bryan, you stated these are good all-weather pants.  Would that include hot summer weather in humid environments like Florida, or do you think there is a better option that falls into the same bombproof category as Arc’teryx products?

    • gtrspeed The quick-drying nature of Tweave Durastretch does make them great for humid environments as well. There are certainly other options for warm weather wear, but I try to avoid cotton… Cotton is Rotten!

  • Rob

    Is there a civvy version of these in the dirty birds line up?

  • TimBallard

    Do the gen 1 use the same material ?

  • Doc Chameleon

    I work in some pretty austere locations. I also don’t have the option of carrying a lot clothing on these excursions. I was wondering how would one pair of these handle being worn several days or a week? Bryan, since you have had these since 2011 have they worn in spots like other pants I have purchased? i.e. the crotch area, and pockets from knifes and holsters. I would buy a pair if they will last 5 years.

    • Doc Chameleon I’ve worn these for multiple days and there’s no issues at all. I think my longest stretch was 5 days. I haven’t seen any pilling or wear spots like cotton based products get, even on the Sphinx I’ve had since 2011. I can’t speak for everyone’s experience in these, but I have no doubt that these will continue to last me over the 5 year mark.

  • RC

    Bryan,
    Do you mind sharing what size pant and belt you were wearing? The sizing of the Combat pant seemed off compared to the Drac pant so curious to see how they are sizing for others.

  • Trickylatte

    The price tho… I would like to see a tourture test of that pants.

  • Just found this old post on SSD. Sponsored by Arc’teryx and about the development of tweave. Pretty much covered here, but interesting. 
    http://soldiersystems.net/2012/04/13/softshell-tech-tweave/

  • JacobK

    I haven’t seen it posted yet, but how well do you think these pants would work for really cold weather?
    Taking into account base layers, if one were to be spending days out in 0*F temperatures would this pant maybe not be ideal but still be favorable? 

    I realize everyone’s tolerances for cold are different but I’m asking a somewhat exaggerated question to high-light what I’m after.
    Anyway, your input in much appreciated!
    Also suggestions for warm base layers are welcome :). 

    -Jake

  • Doug Crawford

    At $450 a pair I  can buy six or seven pair of 5.11 pants

  • jcw122

    Great review, the only thing I’d say is that the drying aspects should be a given considering that nylon is still nylon. Most synthetic outdoors pants (like REI, Colombia, etc) are made of nylon and perform the same in this way.

  • ymouszanon

    synthetics are much better than cotton.  cotton absorbs persperation and water and will cause hypotherimia.  but it is from the waste up which is most important to protect yourself from hypothermia. Do they make t shirts too of same material. throw those long sleeved dimpled long underwear out. rather pricy to say the least.

  • Terry Davis

    I appreciate quality made clothing and despite the sticker shock, was still considering a pair of these very interesting pants.  What changed my mind was visiting the company website.  Arc’teryx specifically excludes Fire/EMS from their Pro Purchase discount program.  Looks like we don’t make the grade.  That makes the decision whether or not to spend $400 on a pair of pants all the more easy.  Brian, nothing personal.  Definitely enjoyed the write-up.  Arc’teryx might arguably sell the finest performing outdoor clothing, but I don’t support merchants that don’t support me.

  • Axelolson

    I really enjoyed your review, the price you pay for your piece of mind in remote locations in my opinion is priceless.
    Passion for the outdoors whether for pleasure or work, having the right gear is a must. I work as a wildlife monitor watching over field crews, some of the terrain is brutal scrambling up steep slopes through marshy areas and fields of Devils club for up to 3 weeks at a time in all weather conditions. Based on your review I will be picking a pair of these bad boys for my upcoming field season.
    Axel C. Olson

    • Axelolson Thanks Axel, glad you enjoyed the write-up. I couldn’t agree more on having the right gear, it makes all the difference!
      Stay safe,
      Bryan

  • kenclary

    This is a great review.

    bryanpblack How is the fit? Is it loose, tight, or true-to-size? I’m between sizes, by the size chart (both waist and hips); would I size up or down?

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