We recently received some hiking gear from KÜHL, an American outdoor clothing company based in Salt Lake City, Utah. To test it out, we hit one of our hometown favorite trails: Bellingham’s own Rock Trail. We wound up on the Rock Trail on a lovely summer day. Perfect weather to test out our new convertible pants!
Our first exposure to the KÜHL brand was likely at REI — where shelf space is a hot commodity for outdoor gear companies. But it wasn’t until we visited STRUB Activewear on Granville Island in Vancouver that KÜHL made an impression on us. The store was packed with their hiking pants, and they were nice. So when our friends Pacific North Wanderers reviewed some men’s hiking pants from KÜHL, we were more than a little intrigued.
Brandon’s KÜHL Take
Convertible Hiking Pants
I’ve never been satisfied with a pair of hiking pants. They’ve either been too baggy (balloon pants!) or too thin — as evidenced by the hole in my previous pair of convertible hiking pants. Usually I’ll just wear shorts when hiking. But sometimes you need pants — in the cooler months, for example, or when summer bugs threaten to chew up those calves. Problem is, I’m rather budget-minded when it comes to gear. I might never have tried KÜHL’s Liberator Convertible Pant due to the $95 MSRP. But now that I have, there’s no going back.
First of all, these bad boys are durable. With features like built-in “scuff guards” to protect high-wear areas, I’m willing to bet they’re going to last a lot longer than my previous pair of convertibles. They have way more pockets than I’ll ever know what to do with (I counted nine), and the zipper system is actually pretty cool. Per the website, “Zippers disappear into zipper garages for silence”. I mean, zipper garages? That’s some creative marketing copy for sure, but I’ll bite: the zippers are well hidden.
Men’s Short Sleeve
The good folks at KÜHL also sent along a second surprise: the Razr men’s short sleeve shirt. At first glance on the website, this shirt appears to be a solid color. But zoom in, and you’ll notice the fine striping. I’m all for stripes, but my niece evidently is not: “Brandon,” she says, “why does your shirt have stripes?” I can’t answer for certain. But I’m of the opinion that this shirt is decidedly fashion-forward (unless you’re a three-year-old).
As an added bonus, KÜHL’s polo shirt is made from an organic cotton/polyester blend. That means both the comfort of cotton and the quick-dry breathability of synthetic materials. I tested it from trail to taproom, and I must say that it performed quite well in both situations. While I wouldn’t wear it on a 3-day backpacking trip (cotton kills!), this shirt is perfect for casual day hikes followed by a trip to the nearest watering hole.
Rachel’s KÜHL Take
Women’s Hiking Pants
I am about to admit to something: I over anticipate the number of layers I need when hiking. I don’t like starting cold and then hiking to warm up. I like to be warm from the get-go. But that means, once we hit that half-mile mark, I am most likely overheated.
Convertible pants were designed for goofball hikers like me.
Kühl’s Anika Convertible pants offered everything that I could want in a convertible pant. They fit fantastically in the rear, have plenty of stretch to the fabric, the zipper doesn’t restrict or cut into my thighs, and the bell on the lower part of the pant leg is big enough that I don’t *have* to take my hiking boots off to convert to shorts. The sage color is really lovely and has a very PNW vibe to it.
Rock Trail is actually a perfect trail to test these pants out on. Since the trail descends down Lost Lake, I stayed relatively cool on the hike down, especially with the abundant shade. Time for a full pant! Once we were on the hike back up, it was so nice to be able to literally change into shorts on the fly. I also really loved how flexible the pants were (even in the rigid zipper section!) taking on all those stairs the Rock Trail is known for.
I also got to test out the Lena Trench. I love the design — it’s pretty stylish for an outdoorsy rain trench! I especially enjoyed having it on our book tour when we got caught up in a light summer rain while in Portland. The Lena trench was also great around the campground — it was a bit windy at the campsite and I loved how this trench provided a great wind shield. I was looking good at that campsite!
The only drawback to both products for me, was they were both a bit too long. The pants fit everywhere, but the smaller 32” inseam was a bit too long for me. And the sleeves on the trench were also a bit long for me. Rolling things up isn’t a big issue, but it is something to keep in mind for the petite ladies out there.
We both agree that KÜHL convertible pants are excellent for year-round hiking. Brandon's short sleeve polo is best for quick day hikes and wearing around town during warmer months. And Rachel's trench will come in very handy this fall, winter, and spring -- wet season in the Pacific Northwest!
Note: We received product in exchange for this review. As always, all opinions and photos are our own.