Valken Zulu pro pants
These were waiting for me on my porch today. Two day priority shipping from forlai sports on eBay, $99.95.
The pants seem well put together with durable ripstop fabric and no sign of wayward threads or stitching. The black vcam pattern is cool, and consists of a mix of black, slate, gun metal and dark earth drab.
Sizing seems spot on. I’m 6’2, 200lbs with a 36 waist. I ordered the xl’s. Plenty of room to take in should I stop eating and waste away, but if I should fail the universe and spiral into a pizza and beer filled binge with my alien friends in New Asgard I’m gonna need to go up a size. Lengthwise 33” inseam seems to be the Valken standard. As people grow up and not just out, I’d like to see a longer inseam. 34” would be right on, but 33” gets to my boots and will probably be sufficient. Paintball big and tall...I’ll keep dreaming. The fly is Valken’s usual padded crotch with buttons over an inner zip fly.
Speaking of padding, that’s a generous use of the term. Counting the fabric containing it, there’s maybe an 1/8” there. A shot up the middle will probably result in a nut tap. The padding on the knees is...interesting. It’s the same thin stuff from the crotch, but with the addition of large, spine-like bumps running down the middle. These bumps are a combination of soft and dense and honestly, it’s weird. They provide some cushion when kneeling, but because they are narrow up the middle, the chances of you landing on them underfire instead of the thinner side bits is definitely not 100%.
The stretch panels seem to do their job just fine. But with the stiffness of the leg spines, the thigh panels only stretch from a crouch. Paired with the slightly short inseam for tall folks, this makes for a high-water effect on the run.
The pockets are generous. Each hip pocket is deep, with a second, zippered pocket of equal size within. There are two cargo pockets as well, each with a squeegee hole.
There is mesh on the back of the calves for staying cool. But even just standing around my kitchen, the pants were warm.
A close look at the tag says these are available in vcam, black v-cam, and tiger. But take a trip to valken.com, and tiger is noticeably missing from available options. Something to look forward to perhaps.
First impression conclusion:
The pants seem well made and fit appropriately. The pockets are generous, the Velcro cuff is much more user friendly than the old ties. But the new knee padding is odd.
Post Play Revision
On Saturday I ran these through a hard day of Stock-Class play. They survived without a single rip, tear or split seam. As expected, the knee pads didn’t always lineup with my knee when dropping to kneel. Most of the time they did, and when they did, the cushion was plenty. I’ll have to try them when it’s drier, because most of the bunkers had 2” of mud behind them which provides plenty of cushion in itself. Had I been dropping to sticks or stones, might be singing a different song.
The pants were comfortable enough, though slightly warm. The high-water effect previously mentioned wore off as the pants began their life of motion. The stretch panels all stretched as intended. The squeegee pocket held strong despite lots of running and crawling. And the zippered inner pocket was great for holding my Revolution’s velocity adjustment tool.
I had many bounces off the pants, though this could be a fluke, as the paint was some of the bounciest I’ve ever shot. No joke, I got a bounce off my lens.
Over all, they performed as paintball pants should. Kept me covered, didn’t rip, and had some bounces to boot. Are they 100% awesome, stop what you’re doing and buy these pants? No. But if you do buy them, I believe you’ll be reasonably satisfied. I am.
Nice initial review! Thank you for this. I look forward to your follow up.
Thanks for the review - it was very informative. For $99 I'd like pants to check off every requirement I have, the padding and sizing issues are negatives in my book. I'm 6 foot but skinny, so I have trouble finding pants that fit too. If the price ever comes down, or I can find a used pair, I might try these out. For now I'll stick to my 2011 BT's.
Nice review. The knee pads totally ruin it for me. Either actual knee pads or straight padding.
However I play on roots and rocks, so these bump looking pads might be much better on a speedball course rather than woods.
These definitely survived Saturday’s play, I’ll post up tonight
Just received a pair of the black vcam Zulu Pro pants this evening. Some initial thoughts...
I tried them on and they fit as expected. Sizing seems to be right on as advertised.
For me, the jury is still out on the knee pads. There if a very small amount of padding besides the obvious padded "bumps" so visible in the pics. However, it is a very small amount. I will have to try them on the field before I can say for sure what I think. I believe it was probably done for the sake of flexibility when bending.
I was a bit disappointed on the bellows pockets on the sides. They are noticeably smaller than standard BDU pockets. A small thing but something I noticed. The zipper pockets are a nice touch you will never find in a BDU.
I love the color of the black vcam...looks better in person than any pic I have seen so far.
Crotch padding, as noted above, is essentially nonexistent. Don't expect much padding for the family jewels with these pants.
I noticed no poor stitching...it looks like they are made pretty well.
I will give them a good test in a couple of weeks at the Fort Knox Fallout game.
Following, I've blown through my spare pants and my main pants are on their second half of their life so looks like I'm in the market for some pants..... Nice review I look forward to hearing what you have to say about them in a week or two
Thanks for the interest in my review guys. I added a revision to the end of my first post.
Thanks again AnarchicArctic for an excellent review!
One thing I noted regarding the pants is that it is recommended to hand wash. Maybe that is common with paintball pants...not sure as my experience with anything other than BDUs is limited. However, it is a giant pain to consider hand washing.
I washed mine in a gentle cycle with warm water and hung them to dry. I know a dryer would be a bad thing for sure but I can't think that washing in a gentle cycle would do much harm. I guess time will tell.
Another thing related to the topic of washing - the pants stunk...big time. Right out of the bag, mine had a very strong odor...sort of a chemical smell. After washing, it went away.
I also have been asking what is it with makers not wanting decent built in knee padding
as people get tired of banged up knees, injuries and (as in my case) getting older where the knees just aint like they used to want to protect them.
I know you can get/wear pads but I never found any that fit my knees well and were not hot, chaffing and just pain to put on/off.
now add the fact people want more durability for people who are not speedballers but woodsballers.
I started out with jeans (hey it was 1986 when I started, bdu, british made DMP then finally some 5.11 that were durable , had small knee pockets that held 5.11 pads. thin but very effective.
while still in good shape I have grown out and they dont make it anymore
Then got a pair of valken tango pants after years of not finding any paintball pants for woodsball.
they are an improvement but not perfect. the knee straps to make padding tighter fitting aint great, one of my zipper pockets zipper blew out.
but overall a step up.
now valken seems to have heard the requests and improved the pants. Combining the zulu features (except the hip padding) with a version of the tango knee system.
It may look thin (have not seen one in person yet) but it appears to go long up and down the leg . if its wide enough any way you go to a knee covered. Nice.
look good paintball pants are EXPENSIVE and I dont have 100 to just throw down the crapper for one season of play (or less) in woodsball.
but I am willing to pay that for a good set that will protect me.
I want to get a pair if its as good as your practical review states.
again thanks and shoutout to AnarchicArctic for trying and review
the only thing just looking at them is widen the knee protection strip (?) maybe another inch or two (not much), put velcro with the buttons on the side pockets and include the hip padding and you may have achieved perfection for us woodsballers and old guy woodsballers .
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