Never in Airsoft has a single word evoked such a response as much as the word Crye… It’s one of those words that instantly brings with it a lot of baggage.
Some people swear by the relatively expensive items they produce, others recoil from the idea of spending a couple of hundred quid on a pair of combats. Who is right? Well neither and both… Cost is relative, Affordability is a far more appropriate way of looking at things. Why buy a £40k Audi when a £10k Hyundai will still get you to work?
There’s logic and often genuine reasons for any argument about how much to spend on a given item, one of my guiding principles is buying the right tool for the job. Cost certainly comes into play, but if the cheaper options don’t effectively do as you ask… Why bother?
So… The Crye Precision 3rd Generation Combat Pant, Now superseded by the love it or hate it Gen 4 Pants. It’s a brand in the middle of many a debate about the haves vs the have nots, the guys who spend all their money on tactical gear vs the guys who don’t and more often than not it’s simply “The Fanboy” vs “The Reverse Snob”.
The raison d’etre of the Crye G3 Combat Pant are that they provide a flexible, breathable and durable combat clothing system that enable the modern shooter to better carry out their job in relative comfort. The built in knee pads are what you generally see first and certainly one of the more useful additions but there’s a lot more to the Crye’s than simply knee pads and a hefty price tag.
We’ve all heard that Gucci gear doesn’t make you a better player, But in my experience with the right mindset it helps you achieve your potential. Choosing the right tool for the job is often fraught with pitfalls, only experience and an understanding of what will negate your weaknesses and increase your strengths will lead to making perhaps not the best choice but certainly an informed one.
I, like many others bought a set of Cryes on a whim… I was cash rich and without any real responsibilities at the time. I purchased my G3 Combat Pants purely to fit in with the cool kids, I didn’t even realise at the time that there are tiers of Crye ownership… the bottom rung being G3 (Or possibly G4 now) with a step up for AC/NC in certain patterns (M81 MasterRace) and the top point in the “Cryeangle” being Gen 1 cryes… preferably whilst roleplaying as Bane.
“No one even cared who I was until I put on the pants…”
So what do you get for your money? The best pair of trousers in the world or something that overpriced and easily replicated at a tenth of the cost by Chinese clones? Neither and both… That’s the long and short if it.
The cost is understandable to a point, R&D isn’t cheap and neither is tendering for government and civil contracts. Crye might be mainstream now but fifteen years ago they barely existed. Now that every man and his dog wants a piece it stands to reason that they’re able to charge a pretty penny for their stuff. The clones vary to such a big degree that it’s a whole series of articles in their own right, the price tag varies too… TMC and Emerson offer G3 clones for £40 or thereabouts and Flash Force Industries for £100. The top end used to be Semapo but since their QC went down the drain the best port of call for truly custom Crye clones is Roman Kurmaz, if you want it crye shaped but in Multidoge or Rhodesian Brushstroke then he’s the guy to see…
Back on point… The Crye pants come with 5 pockets on each side, perfectly mirrored to allow a multitude of storage options. The arrangement is exactly the same as the G3 Field Pant with a few minor tweaks on the closures etc.
Starting at the bottom of the Combat Pants you have the ankle “breacher” pouches which are perfectly sized to accommodate a filed dressing, CAT Tourniquet or as the name suggests, a small breaching charge.
Used on screen in Zero Dark Thirty (albeit G2/Navy Customs In AOR1) and more recently in SEAL Team… This pocket can feel a little odd if you put any weight in it, but it is handy should you need that additional space for Haribo.
Next up, the main “Cargo” pocket that’s synonymous with combat pants. Placed at a slight forward cant on the side of each thigh, these pockets are pretty damn big. The internal space is large enough that I’ve actually been using it as a dump pouch for the last year or so, certainly it’s large enough for half a dozen mags with room to spare.
The main Cargo pocket also has an elastic retainer built in, sized for a 5.56 STANAG Magazine or small water bottle. I’ve used it for both and it offers a good degree of stability. Probably the one pocket that you see on all combats and the one that never lives up to its potential… Crye got it pretty right on these though. there’s also a slot to clip in a folding knife or similar to the top of the cargo pocket, this feeds into the main carriage area of the pocket and can be used to carry long thin items such as Breach Pens or flashlights.
The pocket is also designed with a bellows type expansion, allowing for a massive amount of storage. Finally there is a drainage hole sewn in on the bottom should you decide to wear these whilst swimming.
The front “Dip” pocket, so called because a small tin of chewing tobacco is able to be conveniently stored there. DEVGRU has at one stage an overwhelming fascination with Copenhagen Dip/Chewing Tobacco, it’s even referenced in Zero Dark Thirty;
“Quite frankly, I didn’t even want to use you guys, with your dip and your velcro and all your gear bullshit. I wanted to drop a bomb.”
These same pockets also house the knee height adjustments, you’d assume by their co-location that they’re a pain in the arse but after you get used to it they don’t cause any issues with comfort or utility.
They do offer a usable storage solution should your belt line become full, also being in the front of your body they are easily accessed whilst seated.
The standard slanted “handwarmer” pockets are low profile in outer design but internally are deep as hell. They are fitted close to the shape of the pants so don’t expect masses of storage if the pants are anything but loose on you, I regularly carry my car keys out and about in them and I’ve yet to lose anything out of them.
Above each of these pockets is a key ring loop built into the nearest belt loop, not something you be ever used but you could use it to secure a lanyard for essential gear such as a knife or compass.
The arse pockets are closed via a low profile zipper, I’m sure they’re great (they’re large enough for a passport etc) but I never stick anything near my arse… I’m not homophobic, just anything that travels in that area gets broken beyond repair… Phones, Fags and your mums Rampant Rabbit… all broken.
Quality, the trousers are pretty well made. This should be the case with anything that costs several hundred pounds though. I can understand the cheap repros when they fall apart but if your buying the real deal it should be flawless. I’m not going to say they’re perfect, I know people who own Cryes that have had seams go and threads pull… But I’m happy to say that I’m not one of them. I take relatively good care of them but when I do wear them I’m not concerned with skidding down rocky banks or scraping my sides against an AFV or WMIK, if they rip they rip.
The front zipper is closed at the top by a Velcro tab, not everyone’s first choice but I prefer it to the button design of the field pants.
As for comfort, they’re pretty good. Sizing is exactly on point. I’m a 38″ waist 31″ inside leg and the 38R gives me leeway each side to fit in.
I’ve managed to squeeze myself into these when I was a 42″ a few years ago (never again, neither the size or the squeezing…) and I’ve got a bit of adjustment free for later on when I get down to a 34″ (although I’ll probably sell these on and re-buy at that stage).
Colour matched 2 way stretch tweave in key areas (Knees, Arse and crotch) allows for movement and breathability from the pants, a godsend personally as I find nothing more annoying that pants without a good range of motion. The colour match is good but not perfect, a lot of people don’t like it as you lose that iconic Crye plain stretch panel but from a tactical perspective it’s got to be that bit better.
The waist is slightly padded, this definitely helps “shooters belts” such as the Crye MRB or LBX Assaulters Belt stay in place without affecting your comfort.
The sides are adjustable so you can tailor its exact fit to your needs, once set you can leave them as they are and they won’t budge. Hypalon type material pull tabs keep the Velcro in place.
The knee height adjustment is fantastic, the toggle allows the knee height to be set and by cinching up the Velcro strap to the rear of the knee you can hold the pad exactly where it’s needed without restricting comfort.
The pads don’t come with it, A bit disappointing but as a replacable/semi-consumable item it’s not unexpected. The Airflex pads work well, light and durable… I’m still on my first set and I’ve had these on whilst digging wall footings, post holes, gardening, brick laying and obviously airsoft. It’s one thing that I struggle to be without at a game now, my last game was with just DPM CS95s and the only item I missed was those built in pads.
These are not the cheapest pants by a long way at £200 plus £35 for the pads, if your lucky you could nab a pair second hand for about a £100 but your less likely to find cheaper ones the bigger you go. Crye make them up to a 50″ waist for the MegaChonk operators but off the shelf outside the US your looking at 36″ or below for standard availability.
The overall cut is often overlooked outside of fit and sizing but each panel and seam is carefully designed to allow movement whilst keeping the pants in one piece, the stretch panels in particular are exactly where you need them and despite my initial feeling that they’d rip after a few months they have held up remarkably well.
Overall I have to say it’s a bit of gear that lives up to a lot of the hype that is put on it, sure… there are great alternatives from Clawgear, 5.11 and Arc’Teryx amongst others but Crye are the standard that all are judged by, and there’s a good reason for that… DEVGRU, UKSF, CAG… All the acronyms use or have used Crye extensively for the last decade or so. Theres a lot of repros out there ranging from exceptional to piss poor, but I’d suggest that if your budget allows it then buy the genuine article.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that they’re gamechangers though… They’re a godsend for your knees and even pass the Lego test but it won’t make you a better player on its own, just a more ally looking one. And never, ever take yourself too seriously…