“Crossover” wear, clothing that can be worn in the wilderness, at home, at work and on social occasions is the rage these days. High-end brands such as Kuhl have become popular with everyone from hikers to secret service personnel. This style of wear is better tailored and more durable than run of the mill “tactical” clothing. They are also more expensive.
In this post, I update on two pair of Kuhl pants after eight months of constant wear. During those months, I kept asking two questions of the pants: Is design-for-flexibility worth the extra cost? How well do the pants really hold up?
The fabric on this pant at first felt heavier and thicker than my climate-matches-clothes mantra might allow. These pants are soft, durable feeling and especially suited for cooler climes. But, because they are black, flexible with stylish seams, I wear them out at night.
Over the last 8 months, I’ve danced up a storm at popular Honolulu night spots, such as Ong King, Downbeat Diner or Bar35. Yet these pants keep the chill at bay sitting quietly in a café with my book, outdoors on cool evening walks or, at the theater paired with an attractive aloha shirt and some 3-d printed shoes (more about those in another article). The slanted seams and knee gussets say, these are not just any kool jeans—these are Kuhl threads.
When it rains in Honolulu, the Disruptr’s unique blend wicks moisture, keeping me cool and dry. Don’t get them soaking wet though, they still absorb a bunch of water. While it’s clear this is a denim, its not stiff and heavy. Because of the designed in 360-degree flexibility, when you put them on, they adapt to your function and form. Flexibility comes from spiral yarns that provide strength and when stretched, recover quickly by bouncing back to original shape.
I found they also work for more formal settings such as Meet-ups or cocktail hour at the Pacific club. Indoors, the Disrupter pants also kept me warm in frigid air conditioning and were a welcome buffer between cold hard seats and my body. One day I’d like to test if they are flexible enough for parkour.
Other unique features of these pants are the cinchable leg hem, just in case you were riding a horse or bicycle, and the mid-leg hard-to-see cell phone pocket. It’s conveniently out of your way by being holstered on the side of the leg between the hip and the knee. You won’t be able to quickly pull your cell out of the pocket, but that is also a benefit when jogging or walking quickly, as you will find you may comfortably do in these pants.
How well have the Disruptr pants held up? Well, I’ve washed them more than 20x during that 8-months and they just keep getting more and more comfortable. There is no sign of wear on the pants, except at the heel hem where the length has been chaffing against the ground or my shoes. Even that is not significant though I expect much more intensive wear in the coming rain-soggy months.
More good news, for those who like to iron, the pants will hold an ironed seam. Because I wear them for social occasions, I’ve not tried them as outdoor work pants, in the fields, in mud, or water. I suspect the Disruptr in water would be quite heavy, given the denim base fabric.
For urban wear these pants surprise with their comfort and durability. If you can afford multiple pairs, then you could also rationalize using them as work pants in colder climes such as scrambling over a glacier, flying bush in Alaska, or winter ultimate frisbee.
The second set of pants I’ve been wearing, is the Radikl from Kuhl. This is the most comfortable pair of hiking/walking pair of pants I own.
The two pants, Radikl and Disruptr, share common design features, such as crotch gussets, flexible fabrics, button and snap waist latch, and articulated knee panels. However, as crossover wear, they are quite different from each other.
While the Disruptr is a durable denim fabric for cooler climes, the Radikl is a lightweight exo-skeleton frame, fleshed out with combinations of woven cloth, connected to flexible, strategically placed knit panels. What you get is a super comfortable lightweight pant with ultra-flexibility, durability and comfort, especially in hot or humid weather.
The Radikl is perfect for walking or biking to work followed by a Friday night in Chinatown or Waikiki.
Like the Disruptr, I wear them socially, to lunches or midday events when the outside temperature is tropical, but the inside temperatures are arctic, as so many business spaces are unnecessarily kept frigid by building managers.
I’ve been wearing the Radikl on hikes, bikes or on cool mountain pau hana gatherings. Climbing over rocks or up-hills, I’ve never felt a restriction of my movement. I wore them to yoga once and was happy with how cool and flexible I felt. These pants are so lightweight you definitely will be surprised.
Located at key points of contact and flexion – crotch, yoke, front pockets, and side panel from waistband to just below the knee – the knit panels create the feel and freedom of movement of shorts, yet its an ankle pant. While moisture has few places to form anyway, the rest wicks away from your skin. Natural movement circulation and evaporative wicking cool your skin, leaving you feeling refreshed and comfortable.
While these pants are great at wicking, getting them entirely wet will disappoint you. While they would be lighter wet than the Disruptr would be, the Radikl still holds a significant amount of water. Another tip, scraping and sharp edges can puncture the knit fabric or exo-skeleton of the Radikl. While I’ve noticed chafe marks on the material near the knees and on the sides of the pants in addition to some hem fraying, at 8 months, no holes or significant wear in either pant.
Between the two, the Radikl are my favorite pants to wear to volunteer with the Hogan Entrepreneurial program. The Disruptr is my favorite pant to wear to Honolulu Symphony, Sierra Club pau hana, or GreenBiz.
Rob Kay contributed to this article.