How to Properly Wear BDU Pants

by Contributing Writer ; Updated September 28, 2017

Know how to size and wear BDU (battle dress uniform) pants. BDU pants are the vintage military pants and a continued favorite of police, fire and rescue. BDU pants combine comfort, function and durability; are made of tear-resistant Ripstop; and have roomy thigh and back pockets with hidden buttons and button fly, reinforced knees and saddle-cut seat, 1 3/4-inch-wide loops that allow for utility/rigger belt, waist tabs that provide for easy size adjustments, and drawstrings for boot blousing that are sewn into the bottom.

Step 1

Select the right length. Select Short if up to 5.5 feet tall, Regular length if up to 6 feet tall and Tall length if you are 6 feet or taller. As a rule, the BDU pant leg should be between the top of the ankle to just touching the floor. Proper length is necessary for blousing (see step 5).

Step 2

Select the right waist size to ensure best fit and function. Waist sizes have a range due to adjusting straps: S 27-31, M 31-35, L 35-39, XL 39-43, 2X 43-47, 3X 47-51. If you are in between two sizes, select the next larger size to allow for undergarment layers and shirt tucking.

Step 3

Fasten all buttons: fly, inside fly flap on summer-weight BDUs, two per each rear pocket and two per each side cargo pocket.

Step 4

Pull waist-adjusting tabs to fit. Push running end of tab back under adjuster, forming a quarter hitch to prevent slipping.

Step 5

Blouse at the top of boot by forming a left-over-right half hitch and then pulling the ends of the ribbon drawstring until the cuff is snug but not tight, then secure by adding a right-over-left half hitch to form a square knot, or finish with a bow knot. Tuck ends up under tied cuff and blouse pants over top of the boot.


  • Cuff should be tight enough to prevent slipping over boot, being careful not to cut off circulation.

Photo Credits

  • wikimedia commons