Note: I originally posted this on Reddit's Techwear forum.
Techwear is huge and just getting bigger. Cost and scarcity, just like basically every other clothing-based money pit, are the only two factors that keep it from being absolutely everywhere. Brands like ACRONYM and Stone Island Shadow Project are crazy and amazing, but also sport sticker prices that easily/often range between $600-$2,000.
Riot Division is one of the few companies that I've come across that has a sharp site, really clean videos, and appears to not cut corners while also keeping their price points south of $1,000. In fact, these pants clocked in at an even $100 (plus shipping from Ukraine).
Let's dig in.
Overall look: These look really nice. When I pulled them out of the package, I was surprised at just how lightweight they were. The four-way nylon construct really allowed for an extremely light garment. Into it. I was definitely concerned that these weren't going to fit me. I'm a big dude and I do A LOT of leg workout stuff. I had to go straight to the XXL size. Before ordering I contacted Riot Division and they responded almost immediately with a size chart and recommendation. The size chart had not been added to their site yet. In raw denim, I usually wear either a 36 or 38, but I figured I should err on the bigger size for a product I had never seen in person. But, like I said, they looked like they were going to be a really tight fit when I first unfolded them. They looked great, but like it was going to be a squeeze. Here's what Riot Division said to me when I was inquiring:
"We'll have our sizing chart updated very soon at the site Roughly 36 goes for XL, 38 waist stands for XXL."
Front: The front placement of the cargo pocket is both brilliant and presumably challenging to pull off. When I first put the pants on, I was surprised they made it all the way on. So I was wrong, they looked small but ended up doing the trick. At first, there was a lot of restriction through the upper thigh and into the hip. If you've got anything other than thin legs, you might feel some of what I felt right off the bat. I assume that the front cargo pocket construction, combined with necessary cut and sew for the overall articulated fit of the garment caused the initial restriction I felt. The stitch cuts diagonal across the front of the quad and that's what I attribute the pull to. It only took me about 10 minutes and a one block walk over to my friend's apartment to feel much more comfortable. I was really surprised as just how much room is afforded to the cargo pocket. I didn't like having my Pixel 2 in the cargo pocket, but a smaller smart phone felt fine (iPhone 6S). Dropped my wallet into the other pocket and it was fantastic. Didn't feel clunky, uncomfortable or jostle when I walked. Tucked in nicely. The traditional front pockets at the waist are still a little tight on me, but I still can put my Pixel 2 in one of them and not feel uncomfortable. The four-way nylon really coming through comfortable and with enough give that this isn't going to be an issue for me.
Seat: Seat was tight for me, but if you're running an XXL, you should probably expect that. The back pockets are zippered, which is a nice touch. The zipper itself is "protected" by whatever material it is, I didn't check and the name for it doesn't come to mind, but the zipper isn't directly exposed. It's also nice because you don't have the worry of catching snags because of that zip protection. The waist didn't push for me, but I wasn't surprised by that. When I've had to get a suit tailored, it was the same situation so a form-fitted garment feeling that way isn't surprising to me. The Riot "R" is a subtle touch, not overly visible or distracting, which falls in line with the more "stealth" approach of functional/technical wear.
Joint/Articulation: My take is always that an articulated fit needs to have a really good fit through the joint because that's the entire reason for that fit in the first place. I'm not sure what kind of nighttime missions you're all conducting that require maximum mobility, but these pants have it. The front of the knee features three stitch lines, the back of the knee has one. Once you clear the knee, it has a front stitch down the shin. The fit is just loose enough that I have no restrictions, which is remarkable because I have LARGE calves that prohibit me from even fitting into a "skinny" pant. Seriously, my calves are pretty snug in an adidas Tiro 17 track pant and the Riot Division pant leg gives me just a little more room to move and I feel no restriction or tightness, but the pant is also not baggy. The stitching is well placed to prevent that. At the bottom of the shin, the taper on the leg closes to a more restricted opening. It doesn't constrict, but when removing the pant, I have to pull over the heel - which is exactly what I would expect/hope for from a well-articulated pant that I expect to be able to wear while performing any type of activity.
I know all of this sounds really positive, but that's my honest take through one day of wear. I'm not sure how they'll hold up or handle a longer day of activity/wear, but this is a great start. If I had the budget, I'd probably order up the green pair to go with these right now.
If you think I got something wrong, let me know. This isn't typically a topic that I write about and I don't think I'll probably have many posts like this because I don't have the budget to grab a lot of this stuff, but at $100 I have no regrets on giving this a shot.
I also grabbed the Riot Division Stealth Hoodie Black for my friend as a birthday gift. He's a more slim build than I am and it fit him extremely well. Nice material, looked great and the length was good. The waist cut was done well and the bottom zipper to allow mobility while the hoodie is zipped up was done exactly right. A simple addition that could have easily been overlooked. My buddy loved the hoodie so much that after he tried it on, he kept it on to go have dinner with his wife and her parents.
by Daniel Coughlin