5 Best Pants for Concealed Carry [2024 Guide] Home / Pistol 101 / Pants for Everyday Carry

5 Best Pants for Concealed Carry [2024 Guide]

Image of Bryan Hill, Founder of Pistol Wizard Bryan Hill / March 21 2024

A concealed carrier lifting up their shirt with one hand, the other hand on their pistol. The belt holds firm as they lift the pistol from its holster.

I've been conceal carrying regularly since 2010. For over half that time it was in non-permissive environments. And most of that time, I carried a CZ 75 SP-01 in casual, business casual, and formal clothing. I made that full-size gun disappear by choosing the right clothes.

I've gone through a lot of trial and error over the years with holsters, belts, shoes, and pants.

Here's what I've found in my quest for the best concealed carry pants. It may make yours easier.

On this Page:

  1. What Makes Good Conceal Carry Pants?
  2. 2 Best EDC Pants
  3. Best EDC Shorts
  4. What if I'm Wearing a Suit?
  5. References

What Makes Good Conceal Carry Pants?

No matter what pants you choose, here are some things I've found all the best ones have in common:

  • Elastic waistband, for comfort and fit while carrying
  • 4-way stretch fabric, so you can squat, run, etc.
  • Durable, so the cost per wear is very low even if the price is high
  • A style that is "you" and that fits your workplace
  • Enough pockets of the right size and position for your gear:
    • Keys
    • Phone
    • Wallet
    • Flashlight
    • Pepper spray
    • Pocket pistol holster
    • 1 or 2 extra items (earplugs, tissue, a second flashlight, knife, SWAT-T tourniquet, etc.)
Why do these things matter? Let's delve into each.

Elastic Waistband

Demonstration of an elastic waistband stretching.

When carrying a pistol inside the waistband (IWB), pants need to be 1-2" larger than normal. The pistol needs room between you and your pants. If you have pants that fit snug, carry IWB and you'll enter a world of pain.

An elastic waistband sidesteps the whole issue. When your waistband can stretch, your pants can fit right and be comfortable whether you carry IWB or not.

Would you rather get your needs met by 2 pairs of pants, or just 1?
That's the value of an elastic waistband.

4-way Stretch Fabric

Demonstration of Durastretch fabric

If you wear normal pants, try squatting down so your butt touches your ankles. Can you do it? Unless your pants are straight out of the 90's, you probably can't.

4-way stretch fabric gives you pants that fit great, look great, and let you move as though you were in athletic wear.

The downside? Stretch pants hate heat. When you wash them, use the delicate cycle (or cool water only). Air dry them on a flat surface. Otherwise, the pants can stretch and expand, and you can't undo it. They'll still stretch and be comfortable, but they won't fit you well.

Durability and Cost per Wear

Warren Buffet quote on price vs. value

Imagine you could pick 3 pants:

  1. Pants 1 costs $40, but will wear out in 1 year or less of daily wear.
  2. Pants 2 costs $120, but will last 3 or more years with better design.
  3. Pants 3 costs $300, but will last 6 or more years with the best design.

I can see a case for picking the $120 pants or the $300 pants. Why?

The $40 pants are a waste of money when you think ahead 3 years or longer: You'll pay the same as the $120 pants, but you lose the better features.

And if you get your pants tailored? That's $30-70 per pant. The more you replace them, the more you pay that cost. Over 6 years, the $300 pants might cost about the same as the $120.

This is how I've seen things play out in 13 years of wearing pants like this at work, at the gym, and outdoors.

If the stitching breaks down, your local tailor can repair that for cheap. What matters is the fabric. When it wears out, it's time for new pants. I found that:

  • Cotton pants lasted a year or less.
  • Non-stretch nylon lasted up to 2 years.
  • Nylon-cotton (NYCO) lasted up to 3 years.
  • Versastretch lasted 3 years or more.
  • Tweave® Durastretch lasted 6 years or more.

Fabric drives the price and durability, so check it when you buy. And buy with the lifetime of the pants in mind, not just the price.

Style that Fits in

People in a workplace check out a pizza from a coworker.

There's a range of casual to formal wear:

  • Casual
  • Smart casual / dressy casual
  • Business casual
  • Semi-formal / Business formal
  • Black tie
  • White tie
Dress code examples.

No matter what your environment calls for, you still need to carry your gear, be comfortable, and look good.

With dress clothes this might seem tough. But 4-way stretch unlocks design that's functional and looks good.

Your local tailor can taper tactical pants so they look like dress pants at a distance. When you're up close with people, you won't look like a mall ninja unless you stuff your pants full of gear.

What if you have to wear a 3-piece suit? There are solutions that let you look great, feel great, and carry all your gear. More on that below.


Take stock of the gear you need to carry.

You have a few ways to carry it for EDC:

  • Purse or laptop bag
  • EDC Organizer (good with a jacket)
  • Pants or jacket
A purse or laptop bag is off-body carry: Any gear in there is easy to lose, slow to draw, and if you're the sole target of a robber, they'll want that bag right away. So it's only good for medical gear or a last resort.

An EDC Organizer stores a few items outside the waistband. You'll need a jacket if you want those items concealed. A suit needs a jacket, so an EDC Organizer is a great choice there. If you can't always wear a jacket, don't depend on it or an EDC organizer to carry your gear.

That leaves your pants. You may not carry all your gear in your pants all the time, but you should be able to in a pinch. For example, you can clip your flashlight and pepper spray to your gun belt or inside your waistband instead of in a pocket. It's not ideal, but it frees up pocket space for your wallet, phone, keys, etc.

I don't use back pockets, as they cause issues when sitting or squatting. So I've found that I need side cargo pockets to carry all my gear. Those pockets stand out...unless they're designed right and use 4-way stretch.

That brings me to the only 2 pants that have met all my EDC needs.

2 Best EDC Pants

With the above in mind, I've found what works best for me are the Arc'teryx LEAF Combat Pant Gen 2 and the Helikon-Tex OTP Outdoor Tactical Pants.

Arc'teryx LEAF Combat Pant Gen 2

Arc'teryx LEAF Patrol Pant AR Grey Arc'teryx LEAF Patrol Pant AR Black and Crocidile

The Arc'teryx LEAF Combat Pant Gen 2 has the best material quality, design, and pocket layout.

Fabric: Tweave® Durastretch

Dress code: Casual, business casual, business formal (with tailoring and a good blazer in more open-minded cultures)

I have two pairs. After 6 years of wear, one of them needs a repair on the stitching and the button snap. The fabric is holding up great.

Some concerns:

  • They cost around $300 each.
  • Consult their size chart to find the right size for you.
  • If there isn't an exact size match, you'll have to have them tailored. It's easier to alter pants that are too long than too wide in the hips.
  • Follow the care instructions exactly or you'll blow out the stretch.
  • They're discontinued! They've been replaced by the LEAF Patrol Pant AR, which has minor changes.

These are my go-to for when I want to look good and a suit isn't the right choice. I often get compliments on them, even when I'm carrying all my gear.

Helikon-Tex OTP Outdoor Tactical Pants

Helikon OTP pants in Khaki Helikon OTP pants in Grey Helikon OTP pants in Navy Helikon OTP pants in Adaptive Green

The Helikon-Tex OTP Outdoor Tactical Pants are a close 2nd to the Arc'teryx.

Dress code: Casual, business casual (with tailoring and a good button-up shirt)

They have some advantages:

  • More colors and precise size options.
    Khaki, shadow grey, and navy blue are the most versatile colors. Adaptive green is good with a purple or red tone shirt.
  • Costs around $120.
The downsides?
  • They use Versastretch, which isn't as durable as Tweave® Durastretch.
  • It's easier to damage the stretch if you don't wash them right.
  • The stretch starts wearing out on its own after a few years.
  • Not as stylish as the Arc-teryx. More tactical.
  • Front pocket openings are small for carrying a pocket pistol, but doable.
  • The front opening is Velcro above the zipper instead of a snap button.
  • The knee protector pockets inside the pants can catch your toe as you put them on. Point your toe down to prevent that.

If the Arc'teryx pants are out of your budget, give these a try. I wear these in casual settings. They're comfortable and do everything I need them to. I don't get compliments on them nearly as much as with the Arc'teryx.

Best EDC Shorts

Helikon OTP shorts in Khaki Helikon OTP shorts in Grey

The Helikon-Tex Outdoor Tactical Shorts are a short version of their Outdoor Tactical Pants. All the pros and cons of the pants apply here.

Pay attention while selecting the color, as it can be Urban style or Outdoor style. I recommend the Outdoor style, as the pockets and fabric are better. They cost like $5 more, but you get way more in value.

What if I'm Wearing a Suit?

Man donning a suit.

If detectives, FBI agents, Secret Service agents, and others can make it work, so can you. Here's what I've found makes it work for me.

Stretch Suits for Mobility

A custom-tailored suit can offer mobility and look great, but it will cost thousands. I've found a suit with stretch fabric does that for much less. Calvin Klein makes wool stretch suits for under $300. Just make sure it says the fabric is 95-96% Wool with 5-6% Elastine or Spandex.

I got one that matched my measurements, then took it to a tailor for fitting for $50-100.
To most people, this outfit looks like it costs $1000 or more.

EDC in a Suit

I've carried all my gear in a suit. It's awkward - some suit pockets can fit items, but the opening is too small to draw them quickly. Other pockets are big enough, but buldge. I wouldn't call it printing, but it doesn't look great.

One solution is an EDC Organizer. I've tried the 1791 EDC Easy-Slide with Large Flex and liked it:
1791 EDC Organizer in Oxblood
It goes on your belt and can hold 2-3 small items, like a flashlight, OC spray, knife, or spare magazine. Here's what I put on it:

  • A Streamlight Macrostream
  • POM OC Spray
  • A spare single-stack mag or a Leatherman multi-tool
  • My keys (with a quick detach clip).

I found that carrying it at 9:00 (as a right-handed shooter) worked well: Overhead diagram of man with clock facing. The 12:00 is at the man's face, while the 6:00 is at his rear.

  • My suit jacket conceals the EDC Organizer so I don't look like a tacticool guy.
  • It doesn't get in the way of my front pants pocket.
  • Putting it further back (like 7:00) makes it awkward and slow to use.

It's quality leather, so there's a break-in period. Items will fit tight at first. Practice drawing from it to loosen it up and get a feel for how quickly you can use your gear.

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