Keeping cool with Kuhl and their Renegade Stealth softshell pants.
Kuhl is a mountain-grown American clothing company that makes some excellent hiking pants. I hadn’t heard of this brand before, but they’ve been around for quite some time, starting life as a company that produced those funny hat beanie things people wore skiing in the 80s, a bit before my time, unfortunately, the company was then called Alfwear.
My usual hikes are through the Blue Mountains National Park as hard overnighters, the usual weekend warrior type stuff – go as hard and far as you or your hiking partners can stand, camp, then get back to the car next day home too late. To add some punishment while testing these pants, I used them for some off-track exploring, trying to find an easier entrance to a canyon, which involved a fair bit of scrub bashing and rock sliding, suitable punishment for pants that are meant to be made for this kind of thing.
In Australia, Kuhl’s Renegade Stealth pant prices vary from $119 to $130.
Design, Comfort & Durability (Rating: 90%)
The Renegade pants are a softshell pant with anti-abrasion and quick dry properties, the fabric is called Duralux (95% nylon and 5% elastane) feels a lot like cotton to the touch but dries quickly and can put up with a fair bit of punishment without any noticeable effects. As an example, I was sliding about on Blue Mountains sandstone for about an hour trying to find that canyon entrance, but these pants still look new.
The fit of the pants is more of a relaxed style, not everyone’s favourite but I found while scrambling around the scrub and sliding off rocks that this relaxed fit was excellent. The gusseted knee and two-way stretch fabric make the pants quite enjoyable to walk in, but this can be a personal preference as other hikers tend to like pants that are a tighter fit around the legs. The pockets are great and placed in the right spot on your legs. I did feel like I needed a belt with them, but that’s probably more due to my weird sizing, in between the standard sizes.
The pants moved where I did and didn’t get caught on branches which can be really irritating when going off track. I found them unrestrictive when having to make large leaps from boulder to ground or climbing / scrambling up a cliff face. Also, as they seemed to slide through anything that tried to get them, movement through the scrub was a breeze.
I prefer to wear long pants instead of band aids when out hiking so having a pant that breathes a little, means a lot. Most pants are able to prevent scratches but not all of them will have you feeling comfortable and moving about freely in the Australian scrub like these do.
Functionality & Ease of Use (Rating: 90%)
Kuhl’s claim that these dry quickly is almost an understatement. After using them to explore and wade through a section of the Macquarie River which was about knee deep, they dried rapidly on the walk back to the car. The thoughtful placement of the pockets and light feel of the material made them feel like I wasn’t wearing heavy duty pants. These pants can take a fair bit of beating, though. After my two forays, I’m yet to mark or get those strange baubles forming on them like I have with other clothing after exposing them to some highly abrasive work like sliding through canyons.
The fit isn’t quite like fitted jeans but it’s not baggy either. There’s a bit of freedom, so if you like that close or tight fit feeling then these probably aren’t the pants for you. I liked the looser fit as it made them feel quite cool compared to some of my other hiking pants, and didn’t restrict movement.
The Australian pricing for the Kuhl Stealth Renegade range starts from $119, some places asking up to $129.95. The pricing is similar to or slightly cheaper than other well-known outdoor brands, making the Kuhl Stealth Renegade good value considering their toughness.
What I Like
- Super quick drying.
- Allow free movement, especially when rock scrambling or hopping.
- Cool feel.
What I Don’t Like
- There aren’t many negatives to point out, but the look / fit might not be for everyone.
Kuhl’s Renegade Stealth pants are available most good outdoor stores or online from Wild Earth.
Disclaimer: The Wild Earth link above is an affiliate link, and Kuhl provided a pair of pants for review. None of this has any influence on the opinions presented in my review.
Have you tried Kuhl’s Renegade pants? Got any questions or comments? Let us know by commenting below.