A while back we tested Duluth’s signature Firehose work pants, reportedly strong enough to serve as body armor in a wild boar attack. Duluth recently sent us a pair of their Firehose cargo pants (a cargo variety of their work pants), and a key accessory: removable knee pads. Being a tradesperson or DIY’er can be like attending a Catholic mass – there’s a lot of standing up, sitting down and, in particular, kneeling. That, and maybe a little napping too. OK, aside from those details, it’s nothing like Catholic mass. Questionable religious analogies aside, Duluth’s Firehose Cargo Pants make for a versatile and comfortable piece of gear, with or without optional knee pad inserts.As far as cargo pants go, Duluth’s version appear pretty typical at first glance. The pants are comfy, and have what appear to be the usual roomy leg pockets. The typicality ends when you consider the ultra-durable Firehose material. Like the Firehose work pants we tested, these feel like they might thwart a chainsaw to the leg (please note, HomeFixated lawyers emphatically declare we under no circumstances recommend applying a chainsaw to anyone’s leg, arms or any other body parts). With that legal disclaimers out of the way, this material is definitely stronger and more protective than your average, run of the mill cargo pants. The cargo pockets are also unique. They have a large and roomy outer pocket as well as a separated inner security pocket. It’s a great feature if you’d like to separate your precious smartphone from nails, screws, machetes, jack-hammers and whatever else you might carry in the main cargo hold. The security pockets might also thwart those gangs of vertically-challenged pickpocketers that so often roam the job site or home improvement project.
Your basic cargo pants are definitely missing a key feature of this Duluth Trading model – knee pads. Even without the pads inserted, you get extra knee and leg protection thanks to the double thick pocket for the pads. The knee pads simply slide up and into the pants through a velcro closure around shin level. I sized my pants a little long, which meant the pads rode a little lower than ideal, something to keep in mind when you’re deciding on sizing. Once inserted, the knee pads were barely noticeable. Much more comfortable than the steamy, binding experience with most traditional knee pads. I did find after several hours of wear the pads were rubbing my knees a bit more than I’d like (although that may have again been a sizing issue since my pads rode a little too low). Even so, I wouldn’t even dream of wearing conventional knee pads for as long as I had these on. The knee pads also have notches cut out in key spots to make for an even more flexible and comfortable fit. You can find the pads at Duluth for under $10.The back pockets on the Firehose cargo pants use buttons, which makes them secure, but also more annoying to pull a wallet out of. The cargo pockets use velcro and we would have liked to have seen that on the back pockets too. Having to monkey-around with a button on the back pocket was the only real annoyance I found with these cargo pants. Duluth also added in some serious belt loops. The two on each side feature extra flaps of velcro to help you secure DTPro pouches (essentially portable tool pouches). If you don’t plan on using the pouches, you may find those two belt loops a little on the bulky side. If do you opt for the extra storage, you can pick up the DTPro Handy Pack (which includes hammer loop, a couple tool pouches and the knee pads) for around $25. As you can see from the photo to the left, I outsource all my tool related stunts. While they’re not actually available in plush pink, you might feel like you’re ready to take on a few stunts yourself when wearing these armor-like pants. You can find Duluth Trading Firehose Cargo Pants for just over $60. Try to steer clear of the wild boars (and the chainsaws), just in case though.