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Military style battle dress uniform, or BDU, pants are a tremendously versatile part of any wardrobe. Their basic, casual style can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion, as they can be part of function or fashion as needed. That need will be the deciding factor in determining just how loose your BDU pants should be.
While some people wear BDU pants as a cool fashion statement, others wear them for more practical reasons. They are tremendously durable for outdoor activities and are made to withstand the toughest hikes or camping trips -- after all, they were originally intended to be worn into battle. If you are wearing yours for functional reasons, then you need them to be loose enough to enable you to move correctly for your activity. But watch out for BDUs that are too loose. They can become a tripping hazard for hikers or climbers or get caught in a mountain biker's chain with disastrous results.
In these times of flash and glitz, BDU pants can counter with the look of strength and purpose. BDU pants create that "soldier in waiting" look, both powerful and exciting. However, to get a sharp silhouette that shouts "danger" and not "potential tent," you need to take a close look at the overall shape of the pants. They should be snug through the waist and hips, not at all sloppy or excessive. The straight legs should lightly skim the length of the leg but not cling at any point. They should fit loosely around the ankle to allow freedom of stride and comfort when sitting, but not be baggy.
When properly fitted, your BDU pants should be able to go from function to fashion without major difficulty. The need for freedom of movement associated with outdoor activities makes for a shape that provides an interesting departure from skinny jeans. The necessary safety restrictions require a shape the opposite of the extremely loose options that abound. BDUs are in a class of their own and are provide great crossover potential.
A word of caution: Watch out for shrinkage in BDU pants. They often have a high percentage of cotton fiber in the fabric, which can shrink drastically if laundered in hot water and dried at high temperatures. Sadly, the direction of shrinkage is not always predictable, so instead of becoming a bit shorter to fit your leg properly, they are just as likely to become distinctly narrower, giving that unwanted spray-painted-on look.