We keep finding ourselves in these worst-case scenarios where we need a tool, trick or hack to help potentially save our life. And here we are again, this time in a water emergency. Whether your ship is going down or you’ve fallen overboard, you need to stay afloat and there’s not a flotation device nearby. Employ the dead-man float, right? Not necessarily.

What if we said you could save your life by taking off your pants? It may sound crazy, but that’s exactly what U.S. Marines, Navy SEALs and other military professionals are taught to do in these situations.

5 Steps to Making Your Pants Into a Life Jacket
This water survival hack is really simple, yet very effective and for years have saved men and women trapped in the water. In our latest “How To” video, Tim Kennedy demonstrates how you can use a pair of pants as a life preserver ring if you’re ever stuck in open water without a flotation device. Watch the video and follow these simple steps to stay afloat until help arrives.

  1. Once you’re in the water, take off your pants.
  2. Tie a simple, square knot with the pant legs.
  3. Put air into the pants.
  4. Hold onto the large opening where your waist should be and place it over your head, with the waist of the pants in front of you and the knot behind your head.
  5. Wait for help to arrive.

Putting air into the pants can be the tricky part. There are two ways to do it. First, hold the pants and slap air into them; or more commonly utilized, whip the pants over your head and smash them into the water which will trap the air inside them. It may take a couple of tries to get this right, so don’t panic and keep going. In fact, you should practice this in a pool or shallow water so you’re ready to use it if the time comes.

Once you’ve got the improvised flotation device (aka your pants life jacket) over your head and around your neck, use your hand to keep the pant legs wet which will help them retain the air inside longer. Depending on how long you’re out there, the pants may deflate. If this happens, simply employ the steps again to inflate. Remember, our goal here is to use less energy in the water as we wait for reinforcements to arrive.

Shop 5.11 Tactical Pants
Fortunately, 5.11 stocks a full line of strong, durable pants that just might save your life someday. Check out our collection of tactical pants, including popular options like the 5.11 Stryke® Pant, Apex™ Pant and of course, the O.G. of pants, our original 5.11 Tactical® Pant, constructed of tough, 100% cotton canvas and ready for flotation device duty anytime.