As is generally the norm here, this post is simply a closer look at the design and construction of the garment in question than is provided by the manufacturer.
Straight off – the biggest change from Gen 3 to 4? The VTX 2-way stretch NYCO fabric that the whole garment is made of. It took a generational material change for Crye to actually move on from the G3 set, which really isn’t surprising overall. I think I said here some years ago than short of a new material there really wasn’t anywhere else worthwhile to go with the G3 design and it seems that the company agreed.
Packaging wise it’s the standard plastic bag with white label that has basically remained the same since at least the gen 2 era. The bags and the folding of the garments have changed very, very slightly but end of the day this method is just enough to keep the garment protected during transport and storage but nothing extra. While Crye products are expensive, they are still explicitly designed to see harsh environments and eventually used to destruction. You don’t get an unboxing experience, thankfully.
For more details on the many extra labels that are have been/are attached to a lot of commercial G4s, see my earlier post below about the standard model G4 combat shirt, my example of which was manufactured right around the same time as these trousers:
Labelling system and method are essentially unchanged from the G3 trousers. As per later production G3 items the white square outline is gone and the size info is right at the bottom. While not specific to the G4 combats I will reiterate here that these labels did vary in layout and content somewhat over the course of the production of Generation 3, so don’t think that just because the text is in a different order it means that your item is a chinese fake.
A nice improvement over the G3 combat pants can be found in the fly area, where the velcro closure has been enlarged by a fairly significant margin. Given how velcro can struggle to stay together when wet or clogged with sand/dirt/plant detritus/loose threads; more surface area is just better overall. Most people will probably only open this piece when removing the trousers, so noise and excessive tenacity aren’t a concern in the same way they would be on a pocket closure.
Pockets wise on the upper right leg you get the regular slash/slant pocket containing your typical smaller inner pocket that’s generally good for a small folding knife with a clip. In order to get a nice sharp edge on the fabric fold and keep it solid Crye has used fabric welding, rather than edging a single layer of NYCO with webbing or grosgrain. That just means it’s quicker and easier to make the piece, but this pocket opening won’t ever bow or sag when you try and stash your knife or light that features a clip.
Moving down there’s the zipped front thigh pocket and a small pass-through to the main cargo, again with a welded edge. Plenty of bartacks on show in the places you would expect them and that remains the case throughout the entire rest of the sew work on the trousers.
Inside the slant pockets we see that the interiors are now a mixture of the VTX NYCO and a mesh fabric, which is good for drainage and venting, you should also get slightly less accumulation of dirt and sand. In this instance the mesh is away from the body but this varies throughout the garment depending on the pocket in question. What the long term durability is here I can’t say, so if you like to always keep something with a rough exterior in your pockets there is a small chance you will run in to a problem further down the line.
A slightly different material has been used for the hook portion of the waistband adjustment system when compared to the predecessor design. The black tab looks very similar to the old style at first glance, but on the G3s this is more evidently made up of a rubber-like material adhered to some velcro hook, whereas now the whole piece almost seems to be blended in to one. I don’t quite think the hooks themselves are extruded directly from the base material, but the bond is certainly strong and thoroughly integrated to prevent any delamination through use, heat and wash cycles.
Overall adjustment tolerance of the waist should also be greater now as the grosgrain linking the elastic to the velcro tab is as short as it can practically be, whereas on the G3 design said ribbon piece was many times greater in length and the actual elastic section was shorter.
Gone are the Tweave Durastretch softshell panels that allowed for stretch and extra range of motion in the G3s, the entire trouser is now made from the VTX fabric. Being only a 2-way stretch unlike the 4-way Tweave, the small amount of stretch available runs in line with most of the longer shapes in the camo pattern, hence why the Multicam looks to be set at 90 degrees here in the lower back area as compared to the rest of the garment.
Not pictured here but an interesting addition for Gen 4 is a soft pile comfort linger running around the inside of the waistband. A few NC 2.0 prototypes in the Gen 3 family used this material in place of waist padding and seemingly it was successful in whatever trial use it saw since it is now incorporated in every standard G4 trouser.
After the G3s featured zips for the rear pockets for so long we are now back to velcro closure here as per Gen 2. Neither option is ‘the best’ overall of course, the zips are great for 100% guaranteed retention of very small items but are more fragile, they were also unusually exposed to the environment on the G3s. When a coil zip such as those on the G3s breaks you can end up with a pocket that’s potentially either stuck shut so you can’t access your items, or stuck open so you can’t reliably retain anything; or maybe stuck in the middle and just awkward.
As mentioned earlier velcro can give up if clogged with foreign material or fully soaked in water, but the flap on the pocket will tend to prefer to stay down and shut in all but the most unusual and energetic circumstances. While the shaping of the hook and loop fields may seem a pointless aesthetic flourish, it will help (very slightly anyway) to peel open the pocket flap when desired by the wearer. Ending at a sharp pointed shape rather than a flat end is better in this regard.
Again replacing the Tweave stretch there is a VTX gusseted groin panel which in itself will help with kneeling and squatting, but the fabric here is also oriented visibly differently to the rest in order to best move and expand with the wearer’s movement. That said, the VTX does not have as much stretch available to it as the Tweave did. There is a fairly significant difference in fact.
An interesting addition is this pair of NYCO loops above the left side cargo pocket. Primarily these are for the stowage of some stick shaped breaching charges with the cargo pocket flap tucked in. Apparently this feature is so popular with military customers that Crye decided to incorporate it in to every single pair of G4 combat pants they make.
There were some factory produced ‘breacher’ combat pants in the G2/AC era that had ankle pockets specifically for charges and I have heard of mods being done to G3s to facilitate this, but it is an unusual inclusion for all production as I would wager the majority of owners of these trousers won’t actually require the loops. Presumably a decision was made to just add these anyway and up the price, rather than make smaller variant batches specifically for contracts to those personnel who often need quickly accessible explosives.
Those loops mentioned above are continued as it were by the elastic loops inside the left leg main cargo pocket. No longer sized for a magazine or water bottle as seen in the G3s, but with smaller loops and using a narrower elastic. Again this is just on the left leg.
Smaller pockets on the front of the thighs have moved to be internally mounted using the mesh inners and with zip closure rather than the velcro flaps of Gen 2 and 3. Better for securely stowing small items, but not as good for quickly grabbing things like tools and small mags or for folding in the flap as an impromptu mini dump pocket.
There remains just the one cinch tab around the legs to control the knee pads as per all previous designs. Patagonia and Platatac went to a double tab on both their equivalent products and many seem to like this, but Crye seems to have remained staunch on the need for just the one. The range of adjustment here also is not particularly wide.
Unlike the G3s, we see a surprisingly asymmetrical layout on the G4 combat trousers. While the left leg has the breaching charge facilities as mentioned earlier, the right leg is much plainer and more traditional.
Main cargo pockets are a similar size to those on G3s but rather than being fully externally mounted they are now somewhere inbetween internal and external, though leaning more towards the former. Front edges run internally which is nice in terms of snag prevention (if a very minor concern) and the closure flaps are also welded to stay thin. They are kept closed via two hook and loop fields.
Where the elastic inside the left leg main cargo pocket is designed to secure those aforementioned charges, the right is much like the setup seen with the G3s. Again the inside stowage of the pocket is a mesh fabric.
Some gusseting is present on the rear edges of the main cargo pockets which keeps them very sleek, though you won’t be able to over-stuff them with large amounts of puffy items as in the past.
Gone are the cover flaps stitched to the bottom edge of the openings on the G3 combat pants, which I think is somewhat surprising since those flaps were a big hit with a lot of military folks and allowed the use of the field knee pads rather than the combat/airflex; that facility is now gone. The G4 pads feature more hook velcro to help them stay in place and it does help in that respect for sure, but I expect a sturdy enough piece of plant life or rocky edge could still pull them out of place under rapid movement.
Knee pad compatibility is standard of course across all generations with a low profile velcro loop running around the inner edges of the G4 knee pad pockets. Picking up the Gen 4 combat pads to upgrade over the Gen 3 is highly recommended as they are both far more cushioning for the knee and better retained in any generation of combat trouser via the extra hook velcro.
Height adjustment of the knee pads has moved yet again. For Gen 2 it was in the slant pockets, Gen 3 the smaller thigh front pockets, now it’s even further down inside the main cargo pockets, up near the flap and inboard towards the front of the leg.
For me this makes a lot of sense overall as unless you have a trouser that is multiple length sizes off of what you should be wearing, then at most any wearer will only ever need to adjust their pads by a couple of inches. Having the adjustment hardware far away from the top of the knee pads with a foot or more of ribbon or cord running down simply isn’t needed and never made much sense on previous generations. The system comprises a simple piece of bungee cord running through a buttonhole stitched round hole in to a cordloc which is itself retained with grosgrain.
Each ankle pocket is largely a copy of the upper front-of-leg pockets, being internally mounted with a YKK reverse coil zip that is protected by a welded double layer flap of the VTX N YCO. Though there is no mesh inside with these pockets, which makes sense as ventilation and drainage matter less down at the ankles but more durability is probably desirable.
Adjustment at the ankle cuffs is functionally the same as ever with hook and loop, it’s just been neatened up a bit with some aesthetic flair and a welded NYCO adjustment tab.
Overall when you add up the small improvements, lighter weight and modernized materials and manufacturing processes I believe the design is a worthy successor.
All design considerations aside however, the biggest controversy with the G4 line has been the durability of the VTX Nylon/Cotton stretch blend. The first batches to be sold commercially and see use by the general public were notorious for showing heavily bobbling under far less abrasion than would cause bobbling on classic 50/50 NYCO fabric. This has been particularly evidenced on the G4 trousers that have been either issued out to US and UK forces or privately purchased by frontline troops and then put through training exercises.
I was assured a few years back by a Crye employee that the bobbling and fraying was an issue they were well on top of, but the reports I get via DMs and posts I see from serving soldiers and marines still seem to indicate the issue has probably not been remedied as of 2022 at least. There is always the possibility of older stocks of fabric still being used depending on how much of a reserve was built up initially. I also do not know if the fabrics in NSPA items are brought over from the mill/s in the US, so there could also be differences there.
Being issued these is fine of course IF replacements are easily available. Private purchase is fine for light and occasional use to in my personal opinion. But I think 2nd hand G3s remain the best value at the moment for a durable uniform item from Crye; at the time of publishing anyway. More information will likely come in and change over time.
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