Review: Force 10 RS Cargo Shorts

As I took the Force 10 RS Cargo Shorts out of the box my first thought was that they felt heavier than I expected. After a quick glance over them it became clear this was due to the multiple layers of fabric involved in creating all the features. I knew that for these shorts to be worth their weight, each element would have to be essential. Here’s what I decided…

Welt Pockets:
One of the first features that catches your eye are the front welt pockets. They are very accommodating and work particularly well for quickly dumping items. Their positioning is quite high on the garment which makes them accessible whilst stood up. However, when seated the contents are tucked closely into your body which makes items a little harder to retrieve, which is a bit of a negative for easy access. Hanging from the bottom of the belt loops above these welts are two D-Rings that allow items to be clipped up before tucking them into these pockets, keeping them secure.

The 5.11, Condor and Helikon brands all include some form welt pockets on some of their products, but they are accompanied by a multitude of other pockets, giving a super tactical look. Triple Aught Design (TAD) aims to blend the functionality and ruggedness of military equipment with well designed outdoor gear and this really comes across in these welt pockets.

Thigh Pockets:
This objective is also evident in the construction of the thigh pockets. These are streamlined at the front so they do not look bulky even when empty and the capacity at the back allows them to expand to fit a variety of items. Another feature that I hadn’t realised existed, is the small opening at the top of the pockets flap to enable longer items to be stowed away. The examples TAD give are storing rulers or long flashlights, however I imagine the possibilities are endless. I also found this slot great for quickly depositing items without having to unbutton the flap.

Each flap has two buttons that are threaded through a stretch of nylon button lace (very similar to a paracord sheath) and fastened with bartack stitching either side. This allows the buttons a little more room to slide around than a traditional button attachment, reducing the stress on the thread. The buttons are concealed by an extra outer flap to stop them catching on anything.

The shorts come with a replacement button that can be slotted onto the lace in case of a breakage, showing their confidence in the stitching. It’s also a hint that the actual button would have to snap for a replacement to be needed. There is also a strip of material hanging down on the inside of the flap with a D-Ring attached to the end for securing items.

The front of the right side has a 1 inch square patch of loop velcro for attaching ranger eyes and comes with a glow-in-the-dark Triple Aught Design logo patch. This is a nice option for customising your shorts, but I would be cautious of putting a rare patch there as it could easily snag on something.

Rear Pockets:
The rear pockets fasten with the same threaded nylon technique as used in the thigh pocket. The opening is a little too tight to slip even my slim wallet in and out without unbuttoning. This is perhaps another case of choosing security over ease of access (similar to the welt pocket design), which I don’t particularly feel is a negative. It does highlight how great these shorts are for travelling and urban environments where you’d want your gear to be well protected.

There are two internal slip pockets behind these rear pockets designed to safely stow away your passport or other documents whilst travelling. This is a great alternative to some of the other document carriers out there, but it does add to the overall weight of the garment. A lighter weight fabric here could be an improvement; especially as it wouldn’t face much wear and tear.

Main Pockets:
The main pockets also surprised me. Inside each is a small coin pouch, positioned around 2 inches above the bottom. I had no idea these were here and they quickly became one of my favourite features. Its width is enough to snugly fit an iPhone 5, which I love as it keeps my phone separate and secure. I keep my EDC flashlight, a FourSevens Tactical, in the other coin pouch, as I opted for the clip-less model. It also kept a whole bunch of coins secure during a brisk roadside walk without any jingling.

By utilising these for my EDC, the main pockets become a capable dumping ground for that occasional extra item, whilst remaining discreet the rest of the time. These pockets have reinforced corners which is a relief to anyone who regularly carries a knife, flashlight or pen via a pocket clip. All in all a very versatile pocket.

Material & Fit:
The material used is a Ripstop Nylon Cotton (or NYCO), which boasts breathability and durability. The material is also treated with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) which is brilliant. I first noticed it while bathing my son. I got majorly splashed and the water beaded up and brushed right off!

In the past I’ve found that purely cotton ripstop is often quite heavy and, even in shorts, can lead to overheating during any physical activity. However this NYCO seems to work really well in keeping me cool. In addition to the material properties, the relaxed fit and gusseted crotch aids in keeping you well air-conditioned. It also gives you a large amount of leg reach for climbing and stretching.

This was put to the test in our garden while I was stepping in and out of our large recycling bin to compress down all the brambles I was clearing. The shorts also withstood some accidental puncture and friction tests and faired far better than my skin did! I find some of the tighter fits often ride up when performing lunging style movement and in general feel somewhat restricting. These shorts give your legs room to breathe.

In conclusion these shorts are truly packed with the kind of resourceful and innovative features that you’d expect from Triple Aught Design. The extra material required for these features is balanced out by the cleverly streamlined design and relaxed fit. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this product, especially if you’re looking for a pair of shorts that will perform well in whatever situation you throw at them. Furthermore, as one of the companies cheaper garments, they are a great introduction to a level of quality you should expect from all your gear.

Many thanks to Skylar at TAD for making this possible. Also thanks to The New Artemis for agreeing to publish this review here. Massive thanks to my wife for putting up with me wearing the same pair of shorts for over 2 weeks and finally my son for help with the testing.

Nat Wagstaff Editor-in-Chief

While I was researching packs for a 100km endurance hiking challenge, my interest in how we organise our gear gave birth to Pack Config, a place that inspires its readers to improve their own packs. What I carry, either daily or out on a hike, is constantly being refined as I discover new methods and products. More…


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