Review: A Propper Uniform

Jan. 12, 2017
Uniform design features continue to evolve, dictated as much by the needs of the street as the apparel designer's creativity. I wear tested a Propper uniform set (BDU trouser w/ tactical dress shirt) and was impressed, especially given the low cost.

Anyone who has been in a uniformed industry long enough… I’m talking military, law enforcement, fire fighters, EMS personnel, etc. – has heard of Propper. There’s a reason for that. Propper has been around almost fifty years in the industry and must be doing something right to stay viable.  What’s the “right”?  It’s evolving as the industry does; changing designs to suit the needs voiced by those who wear the apparel to do the work. It’s staying in touch with their roots and the foundation of the industries they serve.

I recently had opportunity to wear test a couple items manufactured by Propper that included a pair of pants and a long sleeve shirt.  Essentially I was testing a full uniform set. The pants were BDU style with Propper’s unique take on the design and the shirt was a long sleeve uniform shirt, again with Propper’s unique design influences.

Propper BDU Trouser – Button Fly

The Propper website states that the BDU Trouser is “authentic in every way… sewn to military specification(s).” BDUs have evolved very little over the years (since I was in during the ‘80s and ‘90s) but I’d swear these Propper BDU trousers were more comfortable than the woodland camo BDUs I used to wear for Uncle Sam.  Maybe it’s just because I’m not wearing them for Uncle Sam anymore?

Like I used to do with my issued BDU pants, I immediately removed the drawstring leg closures at the cuff of the pants legs. I always felt they were more of a nuisance than anything else.  They are specified in the military requirements but nobody I knew ever used them. Everyone I knew (including myself) either tucked their BDUs into their boot tops OR they used blousing garters for a neater look.  That’s not to discount the value of having the drawstrings. They are quite convenient and handy for closing the cluffs on or above your boot if the tighter material look isn’t required for your duty use.

The Propper BDU Trousers have the “standard” six pockets you’d expect: two back, two front and two cargo.  The cargo pockets are bellowed and have the drain holes you’d expect. The two back pockets (and the two cargo pockets) have the buttoned flaps to protect and contain whatever you’ve put into them.  The Trousers have the adjustable waist you’d expect, tightened or loosened to maximum waist size by the use of pull taps just above either hip.

Without the leg cuff drawstrings and in dark navy blue, if pressed, the BDU trousers present a fairly clean look.  The design itself has proven durable and serviceable for several decades now and Propper doesn’t cut corners in the manufacturing process. The most surprising feature of these pants is the price.  With an MSRP under $30 they are one of the most (if not THE most) cost effective uniform pant options on the market today. For more information or to order your pair, visit the webpage linked below.

Propper Tactical Dress Shirt – Long Sleeve

Now we all know that BDU Trousers were worn with a BDU blouse that didn’t tuck into the pants.  We also all know (if we’re in a public safety profession and NOT in special operations) that an untucked uniform shirt is NOT acceptable.  So, being smart, Propper sent me a uniform dress shirt, long sleeve, that was designed to be tucked in.  The Propper Tactical Dress shirt in dark navy blue has all of the design features you’d expect from a premium uniform shirt.

Made from “Battle Rip” fabric, the shirt is comfortable and I’ve seen no signs of fade or wear in spite of the use I’ve put it through and the number of times it’s been through the laundry. It holds a press well and without having to use an overabundance of starch. The collar resists curling and flapping through the use of sewn in collar stays. Something you don’t see very often on uniform shirts (at least in the mid-Atlantic area), the shirt has shoulder epaulets with buttons, which permits for securing items around the shoulder under the epaulet OR putting rank indicators on the epaulets without having to sew them on.

A few uniform shirt designs today have done away with the pen pocket in the left breast pocket of the shirts. That aggravates me and I was happy to see Propper kept the pen pocket in their design. With roughly 92% of the population being right handed, it’s just common sense (to me) to have a pen pocket in the left breast pocket because virtually every uniform law enforcement professional SHOULD be carrying a pen (or two). And speaking of the left breast, the shirt comes with an optional badge tab. If you need it you have to sew it in (or have it sewn in) but that option gives you full control over placement – and you’d never believe how many different locations badges seem to go depending on the agency.

Matching the BDU Trousers with an MSRP under $30, the combined set comes in under $60 – which is what you can pay (and more) for just a pair of pants from some other manufacturers.  More information about the Propper Tactical Dress shirt is available on webpage linked below.


I wasn’t disappointed in any way with this uniform set. I’ve worn them together and paired with other clothing items.  Stripped of agency identifications, patches, badges, etc. the shirt can be worn as just another dress shirt (although if you have the badge tab sewn on it looks a little strange). The pants look like any other pair of pants with cargo pockets unless you blouse them above your boots or otherwise adapt them to make them look “uniform.” Propper’s design is spot on and you can’t beat the price point!

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