This is the no BS outdoor active clothing for men
We were introduced to Kühl outdoor travel clothes roughly 7 years ago by a USA motorcycling overland friend. He swore to the durability, comfort, performance and ability to deal with the abuse that travelling can throw at clothing worn daily. Hank told us about Kühl’ comfort, hardwearing and attractive features, and at first, we thought, yeah right, like some of the other famous brands that over promise and under deliver.
To most outdoor folks whether backpacking, hiking, camping or #Vanlife to Starbucks, the pants have to look the part and at least have some basic properties for the intended use. For motorcycle and bicycle overlanding, and serious adventure activities, while travelling, there are a few more challenges and demands on outdoor travel clothes.
We are limited on the space and weight we have on the motorcycles or bicycles. In addition, most alfresco aficionados use one pair of long and one pair of short pants, a jacket, or a shirt almost daily over years of travel.
With trepidation standing at the cashier in REI years ago we handed over the cash. It was in the price range that we, like most South Africans, do not pay for any type of clothing. Our currency exchange made it even worse. We never mentioned these purchases to our friends back home. They would have taken us apart with ridicule spending that on clothes.
Nevertheless, this was not our first rodeo with gear, technical clothes and equipment failing us through our long years of travel, taught us a lot. We learned the hard way that proper quality stuff is worth the premium. We trusted our friend’ recommendation as he played the same game as us and had experience with Kühl outdoor travel gear.
It has now been 7 years since we paid for the first Kühl clothing and we got exactly what we hoped for and more out of it. Now, being back in the USA, we decided to replace our well worn and weathered travel clothes.
Now 7 years later I can understand why this brand gets so much respect and love from true authentic users
So, what does it take to make travel-active clothes for the more demanding market?
Read to the end to learn where Kühl come from and how they stayed 40 years in the outdoor apparel game. But, first, what makes for good travel or outdoor-activity clothes?
Shitty glue does not fix a punctured motorcycle tube. Crappy tools will round off a nut in the blink of an eye. A cheap tent will not keep the rain out. Rubbish gear can make terrible trips and experiences. This is the same for your travel clothing. When on a bike trip or extended expidition you are not going to use equipment or gear that might fail.
Outdoor active apparel should be:
● Especially hard wearing
● Technical performance minded
● Comfortable, with ease of movement
Most of the current, old famous brands cover one or two of the above but very few actually still stick to the core values and attributes and can offer all 4 or more. Kühl have more attributes, as in, functional features and style. Which is incredibly important.
Even more demands for travel and overlanding
The one thing I really admire about Kühl’ clothing is the elegant understated look and style. Ask any long term overlander or experienced traveller, it is important to be able to move around destinations without screaming ‘gringo’-tourist-walking-wallet. Having clothes that can do duty as casual smart and even sometimes double as office clothes are a bonus.
The idea is to blend in, look normal, a bit like Men in Black. Fit in anywhere, from Africa to Europe.
This makes life as a traveller easier to go about your business without being seen as an obvious foreigner or tourist. The Kühl range is classic and does not chase fashion styles that will be out of date rather quickly. Their gear looks as good today as it did 7 years ago with the added bonus of enough pockets for secret cash or cards.
Travel-overland clothing have to go the distance
Outdoor active clothes have to last, period! Especially for us as we wear them daily, a few years at a time. We just can not go and buy new ones when they fail, especially, in places where you can not even find a proper pair of jeans. Not to mention finding ones that tick all the above boxes. People that say they will buy proper travel-outdoor technical clothes when overseas have probably never travelled to any non-1st world country.
Overlander travellers use their clothes to hike, work on their vehicles, go to groovy bars, fancy restaurants, backpack to remote places and everything else. Finding clothes that do all of this is an absolute gem. There are just not many such brands and apparel on offer.
My humble advice, make darn sure, whatever is on your backside, is built to go the distance. Kühl for sure have the right stuff for all your outdoor adventures.
I replaced my old pants with these new Renegade pants for a few reasons. It has all the attributes I am looking for in a pair of pants. They are understated, the fabric can handle some roughness and is great for hiking and even when working on the bike. They offer proper freedom of movement and are not too hot when worn in hotter climates.
- They have a classic understated look and style.
- Clip closures, so no buttons that can break off.
- The fancy easy-care fabric is soft to the touch but still looks tough and breathable. Kühl mentions these pants have excellent anti-abrasion and quick-drying properties, with sun protection up to (UPF 50+).
- Quick-drying is darn important as we wash our clothes mostly at night or when caught in a rainstorm they have to be dry by the morning.
- Articulated knees, gusseted crotch, and some natural stretch without squeezing the balls.
- Lightweight and exactly what is needed.
- Eight pockets! Enough for all the nonsense and camera batteries.
Fabric: DURALUX™ 95% Nylon, 5% Spandex with Water Resistant Finish | 5.0 oz/sq. yd; 170 GSM
The best way, we found, was to dress in layers instead of one thick jacket which can be heavy, cumbersome to pack and not used often. For many years we have used the dress in layers philosophy. As it gets colder we add another layer. So, basically, we start with a t-shirt, then a long sleeve shirt or a lightweight jacket. If still cold, we add another t-shirt or long sleeve base layer.
My last choice was a merino wool pullover. Now I decided on a lightweight jacket that packs compact, are understated and can work over a shirt or with other layers and additional baselayers. The Kühl Silencr jacket is great with wind and water-resistant fabric, good motion ability, and just the right type to not be too hot but can handle the cold quite well.
● Lightweight tough and durable fabrics.
● Stretch and sleeve articulation add to a range of motion.
● Water-resistant finish sun protection (UPF 50+)
● Fabric 1: REFLEX™ 100% Polyester | 175 GSM
● Fabric 2: (Lining) 88% Nylon, 12% Spandex | 175 GSM
● Fabric 3: 89% Polyester, 11% Spandex | 195 GSM
I am one of those guys who will wear shorts I like every day and when I get one that just fits like a glove, feels great and work, well then it will be worn until the damn thing falls off my ass. Same for a good pair of shoes, jeans, Leatherman tool, and motorcycle gloves.
Shorts for me personally has to fit and sit properly, have enough pockets, good range of motion, be lightweight and not have fabric that stretches out to make it look like you’re smuggling stuff in the ass.
The old pair was FahlRaven Ambisco summer pants are bulletproof, but I opted to use Ambus instead as it is just a better fit and is pretty tough and hard-wearing. Scraping down on a rock surface and such activities will not easily kill these.
● Innovative venting system to stay cool, comfortable.
● Constructed from the lightweight and quick-drying ÜberKÜHL® STRETCH fabric.
● Max sun protection (UPF 50).
● Nine-pocket design
● Clip closure, so no buttons to break off.
More thoughts on Kühl’ stuff
The things I like:
- The no BS, the fit and cut of the Kühl clothing overall are the best from any brand I have owned so far. They are close to tailered and the sizes are darn close to general spec.
- The breathable, soft feel, sweat wicking fabric they use are comfortable in both the shirts and shorts. Great from the heat of Central America all the way down to the colder Patagonia. Whatever sorcery for fabric they used, the stuff is pretty bloody impressive.
- It is obvious Kühl listened to customers when it came to functionaltiy. Their garments have enough pockets but are still styled and functional, placed with the correct reach and use.
- The combination of stretch and durable bombproof fabric with double pannel knees are what makes these outdoor, camping, 4×4, motocycling gear the reason we stick with them. You can work in them as easily hike a glazier. Bottom line the stuff will last even everyday use for years on end.
- Kühl’ innovation on the fabric and research on technical travel outdoor apparel are a big plus for me. When I ask for proper technical outdoor travel pants, shirts or jackets I want gear that encompasses all the above mentioned attributes and characteristic. Not some fashion hipster look-a-like thing.
- Love the cool understated, clean, minimalist, style and look. This clothing will still look good in the future and not start to look like you are from a 90′ dance album. I will never be hip and in fashion, being comfortable, presentable and having durablity clothing are more important.
What is not having me smile …
- Seriously, one thing I wish Kühl can look at is the pricing of their clothes. Yes, the stuff is next level good, it is propably one of the top 3 brand when it comes to quality, fit, design, and fabrics.
Nevertheless the prices are on the very top limit of what I would pay for clothes. Sure, I am a South African and our currency and buying power are not that of the USA or Eu, but still, I think it is can be better priced.
My theory, and this is just a hunch and a bbq-with-a-beer-in-the-hand chat type guess, is that retailers like REI are choking brands like Kühl so brutally for margin that we as customers get the hiding on it.
Be that as it may, the Kühl outdoor gear is still my 1st choice.
- Maybe for some people they would want more fashionable designs and patterns. I, however, do not mind as I prefer the more clean classic designs.
Who is Kühl?
Kevin Boyle is the founder of Kühl and started around 40 years ago in the basement of his house. In 1983, the Boyle brothers and Conrad Anker decided to buy into a little ski hat company called Alfwear, founded by John “Alf” Engwall. The Alf hat, a Peruvian-inspired design sported by ski bums in the mid-80s. The company is still privately owned and currently employs around 110 people.
Lastly, Why trust my opinion? I remember the first time they had to pry the money out of my cold hands for my 1st branded BMW motorcycle riding jacket. I was shocked numb to my core. Now decades later, covered over 45 countries with bucket loads of camping, traveling and riding, I am a firm believer in the value that proven tough durable technical quality clothing offer.
We have no affiliation or sponsorship agreements with Kühl