Duluth Trading Co. Fire Hose Work Pants Review

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Pants?  On a gadget review site?  Well, how else are you going to carry all your toys?  Today let’s look at a pair of tricky trousers, the Fire Hose Work Pants from the Duluth Trading Co.

A little background:  I wear “cargo” or “tactical” style pants every day.  I’m currently a Fire Prevention Officer and EMT, but I first got introduced to Royal Robbins pocketed pants when I was with the FBI.  A company called 5.11 Tactical out of Modesto, CA now carries the pants pattern. If Steve Jobs had a closet of jeans and black turtlenecks, then mine is full of 5.11 pants.  To get me to try something else is a big stretch.  Will these oddly-named Fire Hose Work Pants win me over?

92204 BRN

  • Tough yet soft 11.5-oz. Fire Hose cotton canvas
  • Prewashed for broken-in comfort
  • Treated for stain and water resistance
  • Comfortable crotch gusset lets you bend and crouch
  • Mid-leg and back pockets with exclusive tuckable capability
  • Deep 8-oz. Fire Hose pocket bags resist punctures from tools
  • Durable triple-stitched seams
  • Imported

Yes, fire hose cotton canvas.  This stuff is thick and durable.  Even at a distance, you can tell this is different.  It’s got a nice feel to it.

Fabric fire hose

Let’s take a closer look at the pants themselves.  At first, they just look like an ordinary pair of “cargo pants.”

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The main attraction:  The side pockets!  These are identical on both sides.  There are three pockets.  The smallest one is open to the outside at all times and large enough for most smartphones.  The new iPhone 5 (shown) will peek out slightly.  And no I would never carry my phone in this pocket.  I’d be afraid of losing it.

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Small pocket measures about 5″ tall.

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The medium sized pocket (under flap) measures under 7″; the largest pocket a little over  8″.

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A folding knife fits nicely in the smaller pouch.

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The pocket flaps are held down by hook and loop tape.  If you don’t want the flaps, you can tuck them inside where they’re held down by a matching set of hook and loop tape.

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Flap tucked in.

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There are two rear pockets with flaps.  The flaps on the right are tucked in to show the difference.

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I did notice one defect:  One of the hook and loop fasteners were missing (left).

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I was surprised to notice that the inside waist liner was nicely appointed with a pleasant contrasting color.

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And what’s this?  On the inside left leg at the waist, there’s a hidden pocket that closes with hook and loop fastener.  The iPhone 5 is peeking out for size reference.  (No, I’m not sure I’d carry my phone in there unless I had to.)

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And now a quick side by side shot of the popular 5.11 Tactical pants (Tac Lite Pro, left) and the Fire Hose Work Pants (right).

You’ll notice the main side cargo pockets are mounted at different heights.  They’re slightly lower on the 5.11 Tactical pants.

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Full side view.  The 5.11 Tactical feature rear “slit” pockets.  The Duluth pants have more traditional jean-style pockets with a flap that can be tucked in.  Notice the elastic waistband on the 5.11 pants.  The Duluth pair are fixed width.

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Another view of the cargo pockets.  The 5.11 Tactical pants feature a single upper thigh “magazine” pouch, but the Duluth pants have one small open pouch and two larger pouches under the flap.

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The photos don’t show it, but the Duluth Trading Co. Fire Hose Work pants are much, much heavier at 11.5 oz fabric.  The 5.11 Tactical cotton pants weigh in at 8.5 oz fabric, and the Tac-Lite Pro pants (pictured on left) are an even lighter 65% polyester and 35% poly cotton ripstop blend.

The Duluth Trading Co. Fire Hose Work pants feel as extremely comfortable as they are practical.  The 11.5 oz fabric will hold up to quite a bit.  If you prefer something lighter, this may not be for you.

They have them for Women too!

-Julie Strietelmeier

I wanted to jump in here and let you know that Duluth offers women’s pants too. They sent me their Flex Fire Hose Cargo Pants ($64.50 (2+ $59.50 ea)) and their Flex Fire Hose Utility Pants ($59.50 (2+ $54.50 ea)). I love love love the Cargo pants. They are soft and comfortable and fit very well. I hate pants that are really snug in the thighs. These pants aren’t that way. They feel so good that I could sleep in the cargo pants… ok not really, but they are soft and not overly thick. The material feels a little lighter weight than most jeans. The waist band sits below the belly button, so you don’t have to worry that they will look like mom jeans 😉 The front pockets are deep and roomy and the cargo pockets on the legs offer hidden dividers for a total of 9 pockets. The Utility pants are nice too, but the fit is a little too big for me, so by the middle of the day they were feeling a little loose and baggy. I may try washing them in hot water to shrink them a big. The Cargo pants feel perfect every time I put them on. I’ll be ordering more.

Updates 08/22/16

I don’t know about Andy, but I’m still wearing the pants that they sent me almost 4 years ago. In fact, I’m actually wearing a pair of them right now. It’s tough to find women’s pants with side pockets that can hold my EDC without looking too bulky or manly. The women’s pants from Duluth are just right (for me). I now have four pairs of the pants and they’ve held up well over the years and hopefully even more years to come.


Product Information

Price:$64.50 (regular), $69.50 (big/tall)
Manufacturer:Duluth Trading Co.
  • Heavy duty fabric
  • Lots of pockets, can go with or without flaps.
  • Hidden inside pocket is a plus.
  • Comes in 8 colors.
  • Feels heavier than your average jeans, if you prefer something lighter.

36 thoughts on “Duluth Trading Co. Fire Hose Work Pants Review”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. I have me one of these great pants but need to be broken in. for me, the pants do tend to chafe and do get warm after wearing it a bit. (i stay in an equatorial climate)
    but all in all they are tough, strong, and got tons of carrying space. i do feel that the back pocket is not very condusive for keeping the wallet tho. with this i keep it in my sidepocket.

    1. @Trudy I don’t think so. If they did it was so little that it’s not noticeable. I did notice that the material used on the newer ones I purchased aren’t as soft/brushed as the original sample pair they sent me. That’s not to say the new ones are worse. Just a little bit different.

  3. Thanks, Julie! I ordered the lined fire hose pants, it’s a “trim” cut rather than the full cut of the women’s fire hose work pants. If you’d like, I will fill you on on my impressions.

  4. Confirm the free shipping promo-codes with a live representative!?

    Twice I typed and applied the code on separate orders, received order conformation on the amount I agreed to pay, and twice my Visa was overcharged just before the orders shipped. Customer service attempted to convince me that I had blundered when finalizing the order – not true – I had the final conformation invoice on file a day before the overcharge was ever applied.

    DTC did credit my account, but funds are never returned so quickly as they are extracted and had I only enough money in checking to cover the agreed upon “confirmed” price; I would have been fined $35.00 dollars for insufficient funds from US Bank. This penalty fee is not compensated for in the DTC “No Hassle No Bull” guarantee.

  5. The tuck-in pocket flaps are a good design: What working man really want to fuss with flaps all day, I leave them tucked full time.

    The pockets are too deep: I need to bend at the waist to get anything near the bottom; after 25 years of shoeing horses for wages I do not care to bend more than what is absolutely necessary.

    The front pockets that traditionally hold keys and change have a smaller pocket inside the right front pocket that traps whatever is in there and often makes it a two handed operation to extract the contents.

    The security pocket on the inside of the left front is brilliant and big enough for a credit card and wad of cash.

    Water bounced off these pants up until the first and only washing with cool water and a small amount of detergent – tumble dry low heat, now they repel water at about 30% efficacy

  6. Hi Julie,

    I purchased both the women’s lined pants and the firehose, unlined. The lined pants have a slimmer fit and are tighter in the hips. With my build, this caused a mild (very mild) pinching and I prefer the fit of the firehose pants.

    The lined pants (brown color) have stood up to pretty rough treatment this winter, including a few nasty falls on ice when animal training without so much as a rip, tear or abrading on the fabric. The lining is fleece so it feels soft against the skin and kept my legs toasty. I wore these very often! The pockets are not as deep as the firehose women’s, but deep enough for my purposes. Overall, I am happy with the quality of these pants. I do wish that there was a touch more room in the hips.

    The firehose had more room in the hips and I could wear thermals underneath during the winter. I have worn them in the spring weather. The pockets are deep and I like the choice of closing the cargo pockets or keeping them open. These pants are rugged and built to last! I have worn them a number of times and they have not shown a hint of fading (brown and dark blue). The legs are nice and wide without being too wide, good to go over my workboots.

    The duluth pants fit me much better than the women’s carhartt’s I had been using and are more comfortable to work in.

    1. @Trudy I have a pair of the firehose cargo’s on right now. I ended up ordering 3 pairs after getting that first pair to review. 🙂

  7. I’ve gotten their catalog for years without ordering any of the clothes (not in my sizes 🙁 ) but recently visited their ‘flagship’ store in Mt. Horeb WI, just outside Madison.

    I’ve got to say the place is pretty darn cool! It was great to actually touch and feel the fabrics, and see the subtle colors they select. Even being able to smell their soaps and such was pretty neat.

    Stop buy when you have a chance and I bet you’ll leave with a big bag o’ clothes!

  8. Just curious, how does the sizing compare to the 511 sizes? I like my pants loose and wear a 33×30 jeans, but in all 511 styles of pants, I am a 32×32. Did you order the same size Duluth pant that you order your 511 pants in?

  9. That’s a tough call in sizes. The legacy 5.11 pant has elastic, as do many in their lineup. And I’ve lost 40 lbs since that review was written so I have no clue what size I am now. 🙂

  10. I have 5 sets of these pants and everyone of them have ripped on the side where the pocket is riveted. They are comfortable and I like the pants but they just will not hold up.

  11. One can’t go wrong with the Duluth Fire Hose pants or anything Duluth for that matter. I am extremely hard on pants and recently sent back four pairs that I had worn out (hey, they dared me to 🙂 By worn out I don’t mean a little rip in the leg or a broken side loop. By the time I was done with them they had holes in the knees the size of softballs, one leg was ripped knee to cuff from catching it on a piece of sharp metal, and were covered in paint, polyurethane, and who knows what else. Four pairs worn 5 days a week for 2 years. As per their guarantee, Duluth shipped me four brand new pairs a week after sending the old ones out. They are true to their word about a no hassle no questions asked return policy. I won’t say that they are THE best pants out there, but as far as the different brands I have tried, they have by far lasted the longest.

  12. I’ve been wearing Duluth clothing for a few years, now. I have 2 pairs of the original fire hose cargoes…I save them for winter when gets really cold. I wear the Flex Fire hose pants with the Everyday Work Shirt….every day. Someone mentioned that the front pockets were too deep for them. I’ve been wearing them so long that, when I put on a pair of jeans, I end up jamming my fingers on the bottom of the pockets. While they aren’t cheap, they are awesome clothes. Also, they have their No BS Guarantee. They will replace or refund just about anything. Best advise I have for you is wait for a sale.

    1. Agreed, that’s what I did for the 2 pairs that I bought. I do like the original ones better than the newer ones… although those are a couple years old so I don’t know what their latest ones are like.

  13. I have two pair, I loved them until I didnt. They are definitely heavy duty and strong, but I had one pair rip in the crotch after about 6 months, and my second pair is starting to tear in the same place (about a year and a half old). No other area of the pants show any wear, which really speaks highly of them. They wont rip at the seam…the seams are too sturdy, it seems the fabric just doesnt hold up near this hard working area. its a shame really, but for the price, I expect them to either last, or be taken back. No one likes paying good money for a tool only to have it fail.

  14. A couple comments –

    I hate hook – and loop, they wear out too quickly.

    Check out the Wrangler Riggs Ranger Pants. Heavy, long-lasting, and cheaper.

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