This is a review update* of the KUHL Renegade Pants. If unfamiliar with KÜHL, they’re renowned as a manufacturer of some of the best pants for hiking, travel, and work. They also offer a whole range of performance and casual style clothing suitable for a variety of activities from spending a great time outdoors to working in the workshop.
The Renegade is among the most popular pants for all kinds of outdoor pursuits as well as everyday use or work. But why? We tested these pants in different environments, conditions, and seasons to try to answer this question and all the other questions you may have about them. Moreover, in this review, you will find everything we’ve found about the design, features, characteristics, pros, cons, and best use of the Renegade pant.
Table of Contents
Quick specs: KÜHL Renegade Men’s Pant (Klassik Fit)
Weight: 170 GSM (5.0 oz./sq. yd.); 397 g (14 oz) for the reviewed size: 38×32 or W38-L32
Inseam: 28, 30, 32, 34, 36
Material: 95% Nylon, 5% spandex
- Abrasion-resistant and fast-drying two-way stretch DURALUX fabric with DWR and UPF 50+ sun protection is soft to the touch but strong enough to withstand rough terrain and high temperatures.
- Articulated patterning following the natural contour of the human body ensures a better fit and extends the range of the wearer. Moreover, the waist is peached for increased wicking performance.
- A smart pocket configuration with eight pockets allows the distribution of the load close to the center mass and around the hips and waist.
- Versatile – the style (unlike the tapered models, the ‘Klassik fit’ has a slight taper through the lower leg; if looking for a slimmer fit, the Renegade is also offered in ‘Tapered fit‘), look, and fit make it an excellent choice for various activities. They’re among those rare exceptions suitable for everyday use or walking around cities.
- KUHL Renegade pants have a casual design and lightweight construction. They regulate temperature well and have excellent quick-drying abilities.
- The abrasion-resistant fabric is tough enough to handle rugged hiking and provides excellent sun protection with a UPF 50+ rating. Moreover, it is treated with a DWR finish for added rain and wind protection.
- The peached waistband absorbs moisture and adds extra comfort in both cooler and warmer conditions.
- The storage space, divided among eight pockets, is just enough for most days on and off the trail.
- No adequately sized wallet pocket. There are many pockets but none of the available options feels good for storing a wallet comfortably.
- A bit more stretch in the fabric, added to the contoured waist, would make them perfect for maximum mobility to maneuver comfortably when engaged in activities such as hopping from rock to rock and bouldering.
- The fabric breathes reasonably well most of the time, but falls short in providing sufficient airflow during the heat of the day and during more strenuous activities such as dynamic movement in warm weather, etc.
These lightweight trousers have been worn for about a year and a half so we’ve had plenty of opportunities to test them in various conditions, including:
- Changing temperatures – from below 0°C to 32°C (approximately 32°F to 90°F) throughout spring, summer, fall, and winter.
- Various terrains and styles, such as hiking through rocky slopes, rough and steep forest areas, not-so-rugged terrain, and casual (and not so casual) city walking.
Our initial impression of the Renegade pants was that they were solid and of high quality. It turned out that it is 100 percent true as the positives outnumber the negatives by a large margin. These trousers are great for hiking and a wide range of outdoor activities. They are lightweight, functional, and comfortable, performing well in various conditions and across a variety of terrains.
Material and construction
The two-way stretch synthetic softshell fabric is a blend of nylon (95%) and spandex/elastane (5%). It is relatively thin and feels soft to the touch. The material is treated with a durable water-repellent (DWR) finish for added protection against wind and water (it also facilitates easier cleanup). The fabric offers good protection against moderate to strong winds and light rain. The UPF 50+ sun protection is a nice bonus for when walking in high temperatures. It seems that this material can do a good job in most conditions and will keep the user cool, dry, and comfortable during a wide range of outdoor activities.
The fabric is tough and fairly abrasion-resistant but not very flexible or not as flexible as we’d want it to be. It seems that the guys from Kuhl traded some flexibility for durability and greater longevity.
These men’s pants feature a casual design. They are well-made, the construction is streamlined, and the fabric holds up well under most conditions. After a year and a half of frequent use, we’ve never encountered any durability issues. The only problem we’ve come across is some minor discoloration caused by repeated washings.
With a weight of 397 g (14 oz) for the reviewed size (38×32 or W38-L32), we would place the KÜHL Renegade pants among the mid to lightweight models for an active lifestyle. They’re a bit heavier than models such as the Outdoor Research Ferrosi, Patagonia Quandary or another great model we wrote a review about – the Helikon VersaStretch Lite but comparable to Prana Stretch Zion II and lighter than Fjallraven Abisko Lite. The low weight enhances both functionality and comfort so the Renegade pant wears very well.
Fit & Comfort
The size shown in the picture is W38-L32. With a height of 186 cm (6’1″), the individual wearing it weighed between 97 and 102 kg (214-225 lbs) during the reviewed period. The color shown is ‘Burnt Olive’, which is a really beautiful brownish-greenish color. There are six more colors available – ‘Nocturnal Blue’, ‘Koal’, ‘Teak’, ‘Khaki’, ‘Buckskin Khaki’, and ‘Pewter’. The trousers seem true to size. They’re relatively stretchy, which helps a lot with getting a good fit without being too stretchy. We’ve noticed that the fabric will stretch horizontally rather than in a vertical direction. It seems that like most 2-way stretch fabrics, the DURALUX material has stretch horizontally. While the contoured waist is comfortable, we’d still recommend wearing a belt.
There is a slight taper in the knee and leg opening, which means that fitting the pant legs over boots is possible but won’t be that easy.
No doubt, the Renegade are comfortable pants. Very comfortable. That’s why they would easily become your go-to pants for three-season hiking and backpacking, and anything else. We consider them to be one of the best options suitable for most of the year, including spring, summer, and fall. They can also be worn on mild winter days in combination with merino baselayer pants. It is because they are comfortable to wear on all-day hiking trips in different conditions. Moreover, you can wear these for traveling, work, and all kinds of outdoor activities. These are among the most versatile outdoor pants on the market today.
If you’re looking for functional pants, the Renegade won’t disappoint you unless you intend to use them for bouldering or climbing. Additionally, these are constructed in such a way that they could hold up over time without losing their functionality and comfort.
Here’s a bit more about the most important technical features of the Renegade pants:
The Renegade pants have eight pockets and seven of them are mesh-lined for added ventilation. The only non-mesh-lined pocket is the 3D wallet/phone pocket. About the pocket configuration: there are two open hand pockets, two back pockets with hook-and-loop closure, two zippered thigh pockets, one stealth pocket for a smartphone, and one 3D wallet/cell phone pocket. There’s enough space for storage of small accessories and essentials.
The pocket configuration is good but we would prefer slightly deeper pockets, especially the wallet pocket (whichever you decide to use) and there are plenty of candidates. None of them, alas, feels good for storing a wallet. This may not be a problem on the trail but can be a certain disadvantage when wearing these pants in town or when traveling.
The front and back pockets are convenient but just short of being deep and/or spacious enough for bulkier objects. We see the hook-and-loop closure of the rear pockets as both a positive and a negative. The closure allows for securely storing valuables but also takes up an inch or so of the potentially usable space of the pocket. Additionally, it’s a bit difficult to operate with the hook-and-loop closure with one hand only.
The two zippered thigh pockets come with YKK zippers. The best use of these pockets is for storing small and lighter objects such as a passport. You can accommodate a wallet inside but the pocket bulges, which makes carrying a wallet this way not very comfortable.
There is one phone sleeve pocket on the left side (called “stealth cell phone pocket”) and another 3D pocket on the right side. Both can fit a big smartphone or something similar in size. However, we don’t recommend carrying a wallet in any of them.
The peached waistband absorbs moisture in warmer conditions and keeps your waist warm in cooler temps. This is one of the features of the Kuhl Renegade pants we like the most as it adds extra comfort in both cooler and warmer weather.
The waistband snap (Fiocchi Snap) lays flat against the body for more comfort and does its job but requires a learning curve to use it properly. Once you have more training, it is way easier to operate the Italian-made snap fastener. The five belt loops are good for belts with up to 50 mm or 2” width. Just below the triple-wide back belt loop, there’s a waistband loop for carabiners or other attachments. An interesting detail is that you will find a small but very cool Kuhl logo embroidered on the back belt loop.
The cut is articulated, with a gusseted crotch, pre-shaped knees, and a profiled back of the knee. This promotes mobility and allows for freedom of movement. The fabric is neither too flexible nor too stiff. This helps make the pants move with the wearer though we would prefer the fabric to be a bit more flexible. It will promote easier movement and mobility on an even wider range of terrain.
Breathability and ventilation
We tested the Renegade pant in temps up to around 32°C (90°F) and we can say that, when walking for hours, they’re cool enough for use in warm weather. However, there’s a huge difference in the feeling between hiking uphill in direct sunlight and hiking through places where shade is available. Especially when doing it in the mountains on a sunny summer day. Our conviction is that these pants work much better when shade is available and not so well when there’s no shade around.
The image below is from a summer hike where lightweight hiking shorts would have been a much better choice than trousers. After several hours of walking uphill and downhill in temps between 23°C and 30°C (and scarce shades), I was forced to take off the pants and put on a pair of shorts. The reason – it felt too hot wearing the KÜHL Renegade. It seems that, in higher temperatures, they work much better for casual hiking and/or when there’s plenty of shade available. It’s no surprise that so many people use the Renegade Convertible style for warm weather.
We definitely prefer wearing these pants in cooler weather as we found out that they work best (for us!) in the range of 5-20°C (41°F to 68°F). Initially, you may feel a bit cooler when walking at temps below 10°C but in 10-15 minutes you will feel warmer and more comfortable because they help regulate temperature quite well. The DWR coating does its job well so there’s no reason to worry in light rain or windy weather.
Moisture management and drying speed
It isn’t enough for a pair of pants to be well-ventilated to be deemed suitable for dynamic movement in summer and warm weather. It needs also to have the ability to wick moisture away from the skin during some intense work. Luckily, the KÜHL Renegade pants offer great wicking ability combined with lightning-fast drying properties.
We did a little experiment to find the average drying time. It’s fast. But how fast? Typically, the average drying time after washing these trousers is somewhere between 40 minutes and 80 minutes (in warm and dry weather), which is really impressive. Apparently, the excellent drying speed is due to the DURALUX fabric as it “dries faster than standard nylon” according to Kuhl. It is true and we confirm that our observations suggest that this is the case. This allows using the Renegade trousers in a range of conditions and environments without worrying that they can feel damp for hours. They won’t.
The KUHL Renegade Pants are lightweight and comfortable, with a nice style. They are high-quality trousers that combine solid construction with thin but durable fabric that provides a good range of movement in a variety of conditions and environments.
As their name suggests, they’re anything but conventional and we highly recommend them to everyone who wants a versatile pair of pants for their adventures on the trail and in town.
* The original post was published in December 2022
Disclaimer: KÜHL provided Valentin Shekerov (Camotrek.com) with a pair of pants for this review.
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