Explaining in the previous issue that I’ve returned to my pre-9/11 habit of always keeping an EDC tool (Leatherman Skeletool CX) in my pocket jogged memories of when I used to prefer cargo pants/shorts for my daily wardrobe. But now, I cringe when I recall how my cargo pants had expansive pockets that would often knock their contents into things, or the pockets themselves would get hung up as I shimmied myself through tight confines. More than once, my poofy pockets became a liability as I set up mic stands around a drum kit. These days, as so many Gen Xers do, I wear pants that are more “athletic.” For example, my favorite jeans from Arc’teryx <arcteryx.com> and prAna <prana.com> are marketed to people into bicycling and bouldering, which are two activities that require plenty of bending at the waist, hips, and knees. Coincidentally, setting up instruments, mics, and other gear in the studio often requires the same kind of physical maneuvering, which means that these examples of “casual activewear” are just as appropriate for us music-recording geeks, while we’re busting out yoga-moves to position mics. Also, their beltlines are higher in the back, so our plumber’s crack remains thankfully covered when we’re bent forward to tweak a stompbox. As one would expect with jeans, my Skeletool CX fits perfectly in the front pockets of both pants, and importantly, both feature a low-profile pocket on the outside of the thigh that’s just big enough for a Pixel 6 or iPhone 13 Pro. I’d much rather carry my phone in a thigh pocket, where it’s safe from sit-down pressure or a toilet drop. Plus, I can easily retrieve my phone from my thigh pocket even when I’m sitting down, unlike from my front pocket. Regarding durability — I have items from Arc’teryx and prAna that I’m still wearing after a dozen years or more. I also own clothing from 5.11 <511tactical.com>, a brand targeting airsoft players and military enthusiasts, rather than rock climbers and yoga practitioners. My favorite multipocketed pants are the 5.11 Apex Cargo; personally, I think these should be called Un-Cargo, because none of the pockets are billowy like those on traditional cargos. In fact, on my black Apex pants, all of the extra pockets are practically invisible; the pocket zippers are even hidden behind flaps. Being “tactical,” these pants have front pockets that are shaped and reinforced specifically for clipping a knife or EDC tool inside. The thigh pockets fit my phone, my Bosch laser distance measure, a spare headphone adapter, etc. – without ever being a hindrance. Thankfully, none of the pockets utilize Velcro, which I absolutely hate in clothing. I’d much rather have closures that operate by zipper or snaps, because Velcro catches and abrades high-tech fabrics, especially in the laundry. Speaking of fabric, 5.11’s blend exhibits a good compromise of water/stain resistance and breathability, and it has just enough stretch to allow for all the bending and twisting required of me in the recording studio or on my bicycle. A neat feature is that the fabric panels behind the front pockets are extra-stretchy, offering the benefits of a stretch-waistband – which means you can wear these pants with or without a belt, and they don’t slide down when you’re stooping or kneeling to untangle a cable. With reinforced stitches and gussets abound, my 5.11 pants look nearly new after countless days of wear and tear, as well as many dozens of washings. Meanwhile, my LA Police Gear <lapolicegear.com> tactical pants seem to be low-cost copies of the 5.11; and where the 5.11s have generous double-stitching and bartacking, the inferior LAPGs have loose threads and fabric showing signs of stress, after only a few washings.

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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