It’s remarkable how you can never hear about a company, and then are practically tripping over them no matter where you turn.  I’d never heard of Rail Riders and then in the course of one week, received their catalog in the mail, saw a reference to their EcoMesh baselayer shirt in Lightweight Backpacking and Camping, and stumbled across a review of their Adventure Pants in “Field & Stream.”

Intrigued, I ordered a couple of shirts and got my hands on a pair of their tough “VersaTac” midweight nylon cargo pants.

Made of 6.6 oz canvas weave nylon, they’re tough as nails and feature a unique pocket system that’s super secure.  What’s more, they’re reinforced in all critical wear areas, so they’ll last.


  • 6.6oz Canvas Weave Nylon
  • Reinforced Seat and Knees
  • Engineered side cargo pockets with internal pockets to hold flashlight, mag clips, with additional space.
  • Vertical zippers on front cargo pockets allow access while sitting, kneeling or driving a vehicle
  • Reinforced pocket openings for abrasion against knife clip chafe
  • Pockets close with choice of both Velcro and double button closures
  • 2 back pockets with flaps and Velcro and button closure

A quick tour…

These photos are of the mid-weight VersaTac in the “stone” color.  The pants come in light, mid, and heavy weights; the mid weight pants have surprising heft.  The quality of stitching throughout was impressive.

Above:  both the rear pockets and the front cargo pockets feature the same dual closure system:  hook & loop closure for quick access, or for extra security, a two button closure hidden beneath the pocket flap.

Pictured above:  one of the features I really love — the front cargo pockets also feature a vertical zipper, for easy access even when you’re seated or kneeling.  I can retrieve a small digital camera from one, even while driving!

A view of the right rear pocket, closed, and the Rail Riders logo above it.

Developed through input from military personnel and experienced outdoorsmen, the VersaTacs are tough yet super comfortable.  The conventional front  pockets are roomy and easy to access, and also feature a reinforcement to prevent chafing from a knife or pen clip.  Thoughtful features like this abound.

As for the company, it’s been around for 20 years, and the story of its inception is eerily similar to that of  Tilley Endurables:   a passionate yachtsman named John d’Arbeloff recognizes the need for “lightweight shorts and pants (made) from durable, quick-drying, water-resistant fabric that was also stylish,” gets some samples made and sells them via tiny direct response ads in outdoors and adventure type publications, and a cult-like following develops.  Over the years, the company grows, as does its product line.

Shortly after that catalog arrived, I placed my first order, and have been a satisfied customer since.  The company’s been a delight to deal with:  trying to get the absolute right color in one of the firm’s shirts, I’ve run their Customer Service team through some hurdles, and can report that they’ve responded in excellent fashion.   (Pun intended.)

You can see their entire line at, where else,

The VersaTac Pants are available directly from Rail Riders; use the link above.   Check out Rail Riders – though their origins relate to sailing, many of their products are well suited to lightweight travel.

The Fine Print:  I have no connection to Rail Riders, and am a paying customer; having said that, I did request a sample of the VersaTac pants to assist in the writing of this review.

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2 Comments on VersaTac Mid-Pant from Rail Riders: tough, versatile cargo pants

  1. Richard J Laue says:

    Are those security buttons on the rear pockets metal or plastic?

    And if they ARE metal, do you think they, plus the extra zippers on the front pockets, would be enough to cause problems going through airport security by setting off the metal detectors?

    Cheers –


    Kevin Reply:

    RJ –

    They’re plastic.


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