Blaklader pants are an interesting blend of style and function. While the Bantam work pants we reviewed some time ago might manage to blend in on job sites, the same can’t be said for the Blaklader X1600 Work Pants. Like the two-tone lovechild of a ménage å trois between cargo pants, chainsaw chaps, and your tool box, the X1600 defies convention. Not content to simply use these on home projects, I decided to field test these a little more radically – at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year, and at a couple other industry-related events. As flashy as Vegas and CES are, I still managed to raise a few eyebrows wearing these pants.
You know when you’re slightly hesitant about wearing a pair of pants in public, you’re going to be in for a good time. Within 15 minutes of hitting the show floor at CES, I must have had a half dozen “nice pants” comments. Some from women, some from men, and all of them surprisingly sincere. Although I was wearing these pants provided to me by Blaklader, I wasn’t wearing them in any official capacity. Despite that fact, I estimate it took me less than half an hour to sell my first pair. A guy came up to me and said, “I don’t usually ask other guys about their pants. . . but who makes those and where can I buy them. . . they’re bad-ass!” Sold! I wish I had worn a GoPro cam, because reactions walking down the Las Vegas strip were even more priceless!
Blaklader X1600 Work Pants Function
Ya, ya Marc. So you wore work pants at trade shows to satisfy your narcissistic urges (and need for lots of pockets for gear). Big deal! How do these pants actually function as WORK pants?! Like around sawdust and stuff? As with the other pair of Blaklader pants we reviewed, I was continually impressed which how much utility they packed into these two pant legs. A nice assortment of pockets can be found on the outer leg, capable of storing anything from screwdrivers and wrenches to a carpenter’s pencil and your cell phone. The rear pockets are so generously sized I could have slipped a copy of War and Peace into each pocket. I don’t recommend this as it makes sitting awkward.
The real pocket stars are the two tool belt-like pockets in the front, which actually have several sub-pockets in them. Whether you’re carrying nails, screws, and/or a small selection of compact hand tools, these pockets provide a lot of storage that’s super easy to access. I even managed to carry a 12v driver in one of the pockets in a pinch. What’s even more amazing, is these versatile storage units slip right into two openings just under the belt line when they are no longer needed. Assuming you didn’t leave anything in them, tucking the front pockets away is not only comfortable, but it leaves your Blaklader X1600 work pants looking a lot more like “normal” pants. Notice I said “more like” and not “like.” With all these pocket options, your biggest challenge might just be remembering what pocket you stashed something away in.
Blaklader Work Pants as a Tool Belt Alternative?
Unlike some other work pants we’ve tried, Blaklader thankfully included a hammer loop. Since the loop is basically attached to your leg and is made of a flexible strap, you won’t likely find it quite as quickdraw as some of the metal bar and new-fangled gate-style hammer loops on typical tool belts. Even so, if your hammer has a wood handle (or other relatively smooth material), drawing the hammer is no sweat. Aside from pro’s, I think Blaklader pants are a great option for home remodelers and DIY’ers that don’t have enough gear to warrant lugging around a massive tool belt. Even pro’s with more minimal onboard tool needs might like the light and nimble feel of wearing work pants rather than a bulky tool belt, particularly for more finessed interior finish work where a tool belt can get in the way. Numerous and beefy belt loops also help keep your pants up, even when they’re weighted down with gear.
Bow Down Before Blaklader X1600 Durability
Blaklader also equipped these bad boys with nice knee pad pockets, which just so happen to to be made of Cordura. While not quite bullet proof, I felt like I could kneeboard down an asphalt street minus the kneeboard (our lawyers say we don’t actually recommended this, as potential pant and knee damage might still ensue). For quick kneeling tasks, I felt the X1600’s Cordura armor provided plenty of protection. However, for longer tasks, slipping Blaklader’s cushy knee pads in made for a much more comfortable experience. One cool detail is that there are actually two levels you can slip the knee pads into, making it easy to fine-tune how high or low you want the pads. If you happen to be Catholic, you might be tempted to wear these to mass.
With all that Toughguy 13oz cotton and huge swaths of Cordura comes a lot of material. If you’re looking for a lightweight pair of pants to lay brick in mid-summer Phoenix, Arizona, I suggest you look elsewhere. The Blaklader X1600 is not a cool pant with tons of ventilation. All that armor does make it excellent for cooler weather though. Blaklader even put cordura around the ankles, a spot we’ve been known to fray rapidly on other pants. We’ll circle back to update this article if we ever manage to wear out these pants. My impression for now is that these are about as close as you’re going to get to indestructible for a pair of work pants.
Blaklader continues to impress us with the quality and versatility of their gear. The stitching on the X1600 pants looks more like embroidery than a typical narrow stitch. It’s almost like the boss said, “Verdibusch kommen Threadli, masch schwedli zucker gangnam”, or, in case you can’t translate my fake Swedish, “Don’t worry about the cost of thread, just stitch everything so it’s never going to fail.” With thoughtful details like a waterproof cell phone pocket (we didn’t test the waterproof aspect) and ankle cuffs (not the kinky kind, we’re talking drawstring-style to keep out debris), the Blaklader X1600 is a pair of pants we can enthusiastically recommend. Our only caveat is if you’re the type that likes to blend in rather than stand out, wearing these on a job site or anywhere else might result in a lot more attention than you’re used to. At just over $100, the Blaklader X1600 Work Pants aren’t the cheapest work pants, but they just might be the most full-featured and durable. Available in sexy two-tone grey/black via our advertiser Contractors-Solutions.net, where they offer a 10% discount on workwear purchases over $100 (or 15% if over $350)!