“Modern Dive Short” or “My Dick’s Showing”? Full Review of the Magpul MDS Short [Probably NSFW]

“Modern Dive Short” or “My Dick’s Showing”? Full Review of the Magpul MDS Short [Probably NSFW]

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Here’s the article that no one asked for – the Magpul MDS review.

You might be asking yourself – “Why?” And there certainly are a lot of questions raised by this article: Why did Magpul start making shorts? And why are they so short? Why Is TFB covering them? We’ll answer those questions in this article, one way or another. (Answer to the last question: Because I wanted to and I’ve been here long enough that the editors begrudgingly permitted it. Plus, it’s summertime, c’mon. Have some fun.)

“What?” will help us get to the “why?”: What are the Magpul MDS? MDS stands for “modern dive short.” Note that Magpul refers to the MDS as “the MDS Short”. Expanded, that’s “the Modern Dive Short Short.” Although this is a redundancy (e.g., “ATM Machine”, “PIN Number”), “the Modern Dive Short Short” may be an accurate and proper title.

Why do mine look way shorter?

Magpul hoists the MDS as the “foundation piece” of their island-inspired AKA KOA summer line of “Serious Leisure” gear. Most of you have already given me your opinions on short shorts and/or Magpul’s dad-core dynamic-metro-perator apparel line, but while you’re wrapping your fists for the Disqus thread below, note first that a portion of the proceeds from each MDS sold will go to the USMC Reconnaissance Foundation, which provides assistance to wounded Reconnaissance Marines and their families.

Magpul summarizes the MDS as: [A] modernized version of the 1940’s twill island short believed to have influenced original designs of the iconic UDT shorts worn by military frogmen. (Emphasis added.)

I don’t know if the readership is familiar with the “iconic” Underwater Demolition Team short, which UDT short is apparently still issued to the SEALS, but the UDT makes even those ribald Soffe Silkies – also known as “Ranger Panties” – look like basketball shorts in comparison:

Wowza. The “iconic” UDT.

The top review for the UDT on Amazon.com says “If you wouldn’t wear a speedo, don’t bother with these.” So why is the skimpy UDT issued to and worn by the most capable warriors to ever walk the earth?

A GIS for “UDT Shorts” produces fantastic results.

A correspondent from navyseals.com (I’m not familiar with this site, so, caveat emptor) asked the same question of the Navy SEAL Museum’s curator, and reportedly received about as indirect a response as you might expect:

[T]he shorts were issued by the Navy to all UDT members, varying slightly in fabric texture and color according to the unique manufacturer. More interesting was the fact that UDT shorts were issued only to Frogmen. Servicemen from no other warfare community received the garment in their sea bags.

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So, kind of a vague answer. After all, it is unlikely that the person(s) responsible for the UDT design memorialized their thought process in choosing the leg length.  When these were introduced a half-century ago or more, shorts were just shorter, and no explanation was necessary.  Times have indeed changed.

The Selous Scouts were battle-hardened proponents of the tactical short.

And I noticed that the navyseals.com article also refers to the UDT as “iconic.”

Note that these were/are issued to the SEALS. This is work wear.  Office (pool?) duty, primarily or exclusively.  I doubt they were ever intended to be socially integrated; worn under a brass-buttoned navy blazer on casual Friday, or to ride the bleachers at your daughter’s soccer game (I’ll send a box of gun swag to anyone who does this and provides proof, however).  I’ve never seen UDTs in the wild, and I’d honestly be shocked if even the roughest DEVGRU doorkicker had the courage to wear his UDTs off-base.

Before we switch gears back to the MDS, I found a quotable excerpt about the UDT in a discussion forum topic appropriately entitled “Are UDT Shorts Offensive?”

They ARE awfully short, however. Be careful with them, its [sic] easy to let your junk hang out with them if you are not careful in the civilian world. It might be sorta, kinda of a joke in BUD/S with a bunch of gung ho SEAL trainees around, but if you are at a civilian facility that has nothing to do with SEALs, and your junk is hanging, you could get in legal trouble. Wear underwear with those things, they are short shorts, basically.

Thus, the MDS has its pedigree in the socially-and-perhaps-legally-unsuitable UDT. Magpul, habitual line-steppers that they are, are updating the UDT for “serious leisure” end users, exploring the (pasty-white) gray area from the ankle to the…you know.  Testing the waters of fashion and social propriety in order to determine the magic number when it comes to men’s shorts: The inseam.

What number represents a fair compromise of wearability, utility, fashionability, and acceptability, while still capturing the spirit of the original, “iconic” UDT? According to Magpul, that number is 5.5.  The 5” inseam is typically the maximum amount of man-thigh allowable without being a literal joke. Patagonia and Bonobos both offer 5” inseams as their shortest length, with 7” inseams being the next step down.

In my professional opinion, I think 5.5-6” is the Goldilocks “sky’s out, thighs out” sweet spot that usually gets skipped over in favor of 5”-7”-9” inseam offerings.

The TFBTV viewers among you know that I prefer regular, normal shorts. Old and new viewers alike enjoy an observational YouTube comment from time to time about the fact that I prefer regular, normal shorts over the cargo-pocket, carpenter-strapped, knee-length skorts that are the norm for the tactical set nowadays. Lately, I’ve been wearing more of my Blackhawk! Short Athletic Shorts as seen here, showing the tactical soundness of the waistband elastic:

(Full disclosure: The company that owns Blackhawk! is now a TFBTV sponsor, but only recently. Moreover, they do not make this short anymore. Unfortunately.)

I have a collection of Patagonia 5” Baggies, Blackhawk Warrior Wear Short Shorts, Soffe Silkies, and more regular, normalshorts. So your author couldn’t wait to get his hands on a size 30 for review, and he ordered them on Day One of the AKA KOA line’s release:

So what do I think of them?

The Review:

In short, the MDS is a great product, but the fit is so slightly more “iconic UDT” than it is “serious leisure.”

The 99% cotton, 1% spandex stretch twill material and the notched outseam make it light, breathable, and flexible. It’s also got a gusset crotch, which, despite the sound of it, is not a birth defect. It’s a (funny-looking) diamond of fabric sewn into the crotch.

A gusset crotch. Not the author.

This offers you more mobility than you would get with the traditional X-crotch, and its inclusion shows that Magpul really thought about this short being used rather than simply worn.

Magpul says that the MDS is “great for PT, pool or an ocean swim.”  Without question, Magpul did a good job of making the MDS work as an active garment while using a traditionally heavy and stiff organic fabric (cotton) usually unsuitable for athletic gear. And I have indeed tested it out in the pool:

Unfortunately, cotton sucks – literally – for water-retention, in that it absorbs water like a sponge, gets very heavy, loses insulation capability, and takes a long time to dry. That said, that shouldn’t deter you from using this as a swimsuit if you like the way the MDS looks, but the MDS does not have a swim brief insert, so either supply your own underwear (more cotton, more water, more weight), or risk the consequences. I take the opportunity to re-emphasize that this is a very lightweight cotton with no front pockets.  It does, however, have a handy back pocket with a tiny scupper to drain water.

It also has a two button fly. Well, Magpul calls it “two-button”, but there are two buttons on the fly plus the waistband button for a total of three. I think this was the right call. Too much bulk in the fly area leads to an adult-diaper effect, but Magpul gives you some convenience and avoids this undesirable visual with the svelte fly on the MDS. The MDS also includes a “drawcord through front of waistband for security”. This might be belt-and-suspenders overkill, but it doesn’t really take away from the design and will help to prevent any wardrobe malfunctions if you decide to go into a headfirst cliff dive this summer. So I’ll say this is a plus.

All told, I think the MDS is kind of a bargain at $35 dollars. I must not be alone, because Magpul introduced the MDS a couple of weeks ago, and it’s already sold out of most sizes at the time of writing.

Why do I say “kind of” a bargain? Because you don’t really get what’s advertised. Magpul says:

The MDS Short, although nowhere near as short as its UDT relative, has a 5 1/2” inseam.

Unfortunately, not completely true.

Against my starting lineup of shorts; Patagonia Baggies, Blackhawk! Warrior Wear Short Shorts, and Bonobos “B’s Knees” khakis, all of the shorts have a 4.5” inseam, except for the exact, as advertised, 5” inseam on the Bonobos.

The precise 5″ inseam on the Bonobos B’s Knees shorts.

Patagonia 5″ Baggies. Although these have a shorter-than-five-inch inseam, their longer outseam makes them, well, baggier than the others.

The author’s favorite gym shorts – the Warrior Wear ripstop Short Athletic Short.

Magpul sits on a throne of lies, as at least my pair was a full inch shorter than advertised.

Magpul MDS’s ~4.5″ inseam (it is advertised as 5.5″).

And gosh darn, it shows. Here’s the very short Bonobos (lighter khaki) versus the MDS:

But the inseam isn’t the only important number: the outseam matters, too. In gun terms, the outseam is the OAL of the short. It’s the length of the short from top to bottom, more or less. By way of illustration, this tragic mess is what a short looks like with a much longer outseam and a very short inseam:

So while inseam matters, this photo shows you what happens when you have 4 pairs of shorts with virtually the same inseam, but different outseams:

L to R: Magpul MDS; Bonobos B’s Knees, 5″; Blackhawk! Warrior Wear Short Shorts, 5″; Patagonia 5″ Baggies. Each pair is resting on top of  the pair(s) beneath it which gives the appearance that the shorts are unevenly stacked, but the waistlines are indeed aligned evenly in this photo.

The Patagonia has a shorter inseam and longer outseam than the Bonobos, but it looks much longer (and gives more room in the crotch).  Here’s your author hiking the Narrows of Zion with his trusty Patagonia 5″ Baggies:

So, the catch with the MDS is not only does it have a shorter inseam than advertised, but its outseam is pretty skimpy, too – in fact, it has the shortest length of all of the shorts I own (minus the Silkies, of course).

In conclusion, the Magpul short should be an excellent and reasonably priced product, on paper at least. It packs huge features into a tiny short and is truly versatile and technically capable. It does faithfully doff its cap to the “iconic” UDT, and I applaud Magpul for its using SpecOps haute couture as a source of inspiration – very creative. However, while the MDS is long on value and features, it’s short on…length.  I couldn’t help but feel a little misled by the promised 5.5” (but actually 4.5”) inseam and the apparent proper length on Magpul’s ad, sporting a male model effusing that laid back “just got done with a ten mile swim so I’m gonna go let my MDS Shorts dry with a Pacifico at that little tiki bar on Coronado while the sun sets and no one is going to think I’m a creeper for showing too much thigh” vibe:

This is an outstanding short that would have been almost perfect – possibly perfect – if it was to spec, but, as built, Magpul seems to be just barely on the north side of the line of social propriety. Maybe a half inch from ideal. It’s a shame, because these are really, really nice – and inexpensive – shorts, and I would have loved to see the MDS introduced as a repeat run item in different colors if they can stretch those legs just a smidge.

While this is a purely subjective assessment, when the shortest short offered by notorious prep outlet, Bonobos, is longer than your khaki twill offering, you may be leaving “serious leisure” and entering “semi-humorous leisure”. I’ll probably still wear them pretty often, but maybe not in most social settings. While I won’t ever judge you for wearing these shorts, as soon as you slip them on, the cool Kauai evening breeze kissing your upper thighs will let you know that you are going to draw a scrutinizing glance at the luau.


P.S. – Thanks for reading this apparel article from a gun blog. Especially if you are a long-short guy, but you read it anyways. And if this article upsets you, hey…let’s at least be allies until the male romper is destroyed? – James

 

Hunting

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June 14, 2017 at 10:00AM

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