Below is also the Engineered Krew shirt review. Both of these Kuhl clothing feature UPF technology built into the fabric, and BOTH are supremely comfortable.
The author received KUHL’s apparel for testing purposes, but the opinions in this review are 100% their own.
I’ve worn KUHL pants for almost the entirety of my 15+ year career in the outdoors. In the past, however, it used to seem like the only KUHL pants around were those burly, stiff ones. I think they call these the RYDR. But recently, I got to try the Kuhl RADIKL pants and Engineered Krew Shirt and review them.
Kuhl Rydr Pants
The RYDR, for one thing, these boys felt like two burlap sacks around your legs. And after a few months of wear, always had dozens of wrinkles and creases. While these hiking pants were quite rugged, which I appreciated, comfort was never a strong suit.
KUHL Renegade Pants
However, I’m happy to say that in recent years, KUHL’s pants style has dramatically changed. With new iterations like the RENEGADE, which has been my favorite outdoor pant for the past two years. In the past couple of years, I’ve hiked in the RENEGADE everywhere from Chilean Patagonia to the Guatemalan jungle.
I wore them on almost every 14,000-foot peak in Colorado. What’s more, I even crashed my motorcycle in the Peruvian Andes while wearing RENEGADE. After all that abuse, the pants came away with only a quarter-sized knick in the knee.
Then, a month back, I got the opportunity to write up a KUHL RADIKL pants review. The RADIKL is another newer KUHL creation, and I’m happy to say that I’m impressed. While the RADIKL isn’t perfect, its features almost all the same things I love about the RENEGADE pant. Not to mention, a few improvements have been added too.
I also got the opportunity to test out my first KUHL shirt (the ENGINEERED KREW Men’s Short Sleeve Shirt). Again, I’m impressed. Read on for reviews and feedback on both.
KUHL RADIKL Hiking Pants Review
The RADIKL pants are even more comfortable than the RENEGADE, and the polar opposite of the RYDR. These pants are made of stretch material with technical performance in mind. This is a flexible, form-fitting pair of pants that performs equally well whether I’m lounging on the couch playing Elden Ring, trucking through the backcountry, or taking a relaxing stroll along the beach.
KUHL’s Free Ryde Waist means the waist fits sit low and comfortable on these pants. In particular, they’re generally straight-legged and have a slight taper down the lower leg. This is to prevent that bulky “tubular” look that stiffer pants like the RYDR sometimes get.
One of the unique features of the Kuhl RADIKL is the lateral stretch panels that run from just below the knee up to the hip on either side. These aren’t just some gimmick. Functionality-wise, they really do enable increased movement and comfort (I often find myself doing a bit of light yoga in these pants in the morning).
There are also sizable stretch panels, running from both inner thighs up to the groin. Without a doubt, the panels provide added breathing room for the family jewels. Whether you’re squatting in a raft, crawling through a cave, or hanging in a climbing harness. No jammed junk here with the gusseted crotch, and no constantly having to reach down to readjust yourself, either.
What’s more, the panel adds about 1 ½” of stretch, so it really makes a difference if you need some extra wiggle room or flexibility.
One weird feature that I’m not a huge fan of (also present in the RENEGADE), is the double-closure crotch. This is known as a french fly. To clarify, a French fly is an extra hidden closure, with an inside button attached to keep the fly secured. This extra button makes the flap sit down smooth and flat instead of sticking up.
Zipper and Fastening
When you unzip and unbutton the RADIKL’s fly, you also have to unbutton a second, interior flap in order to get your pants down. This isn’t a huge deal because you can always just avoid buttoning the interior flap in the first place. But then the flap is loose inside your hiking pants. I assume this second closure is for added security or comfort. Or perhaps so you can take a leak without pulling your pants off (but then you could just undo the zipper on the fly, like normal, right?).
Anyways, it’s not a big deal. However, it feels like a superfluous feature. On several occasions when I’ve had to go to the bathroom ASAP, I’ve felt a bit frustrated having to fumble with this irritating second closure.
The RADIKL features KUHL’s abrasion-resistant ENDURO fabric, so it’s not just a stretchy pair of pants. That is, it holds up well, too. While I haven’t taken a major spill in these like I have while wearing my RENEGADE pants, the material on both pants feels quite similar. Overall, so I’m fairly confident they’ll hold up OK.
On the hikes I have taken the RADIKL pants on, they’ve weathered brambles and branches well. Surprisingly, scuffs from rocks haven’t left a mark.
In the world of outdoor apparel, you often have to choose between comfort and durability. So it’s nice to see a pair of hiking pants that bridges the gap.
Another cool feature here is the built-in UPF 50+ sun protection. This is equally important and makes these pants a great choice for hikes on the beach, desert backpacking trips, high-altitude hikes.
If I’m going on any mission where the sun is strong, then these pants are a must bring. I walked several miles along the beach here in Florida, the other day during the heat of noon. The breathability of the Radikl hiking pants kept me cool and sweat-free the entire time. It was probably the first time in my life I’ve felt comfortable wearing pants on the beach in 80-degree heat.
One drawback of the KUHL RADIKL is the storage space. I’m someone who prefers carrying valuables secured in my pants as opposed to a pack, particularly if I’m in a sketchy place. This Radikl pant doesn’t offer the spacious zippered side pockets that the RENEGADE does, which is slightly disappointing. I love zipping my passport or wallet into my pants when I’m in an airport, on public transit. Or in a rough area where pickpockets are a concern.
Also, zippered pockets also come in handy. Especially when I’m climbing, riding my motorcycle, or doing anything else where valuables could fly out of an open pocket.
The construction of two side pockets on the RADIKL men’s pants are just open-top pockets, so they don’t feel very secure. Also, they’re quite narrow, just barely fitting my iPhone 11. A bit of a bummer.
That said, the RADIKL still offers a total of seven pockets, so there’s more than enough storage. If you need a phone pocket, coin pocket, or ones for the usual keys, phone, wallet, and the like, then these pants have them. What’s more, the style of the hiking pants front and rear pockets remain spacious and easy to access. With this in mind, the most important thing is pockets for small essentials, so the lack of zippered pockets isn’t a deal-breaker for me.
|Check for Seller’s Best Prices on||Price|
KUHL ENGINEERED KREW SHIRT Review
I’d never worn a KUHL shirt before this review, and I was pleasantly surprised with its performance. Like the RADIKL pants, this t-shirt, the ENGINEERED KREW, is built with a focus on comfort, great fit, and sun protection, but with no compromise in durability or breathability, either.
The torso of this men’s hiking sun-protective shirt is made with a breathable, rugged mesh. It feels extremely strong, almost like a fabric version of chainmail, but remains lightweight and allows for great movement. I’ve worn it on probably a dozen hikes now, and haven’t seen any scuffing or degradation of the fabric.
The shirt sports 25+ UPF protection in high-sun areas (the shoulders and top of the upper arms), coupled with more breathable 20+ UPF open-knit fabric (that mesh stuff I was talking about) in high-sweat areas, such as the body and the underarms. I’ve worn it several times without washing it, and it hasn’t gotten stinky yet. This is normally a rare feat for a shirt of mine.
So, as far as a hiking t-shirt goes, it’s got everything you could want in clothing. It’s comfortable even with the pressure and rubbing from pack straps. Also, it does a great job of keeping you cool and sweat-free on a hot day.
The only downside is that at the end of the day it’s just a t-shirt. Basically, if you’re like me, you’ll shy away from any t-shirt with a $55 price tag.
That said, I’ve been surprised by how often I’ve found myself plucking the KREW out of my closet and throwing it on. Particularly here in Florida, it’s been the ultimate shirt.
I’ve been doing some scuba diving lately, and once I’m out of the water, I wear my KUHL Engineered Krew. It’s what I wear first while waiting for my surface interval to finish, so it basically has been out for days out on the water under the hot Gulf Coast Sun. While I wait to dive, the shirt’s UPF 25 sun protective fabric and breathability keep me cool.
If I hadn’t been given this sample for free, then I don’t know if I’d go seeking this shirt out. Mostly because t-shirts usually come and go for me. But if I was looking at a PCT or Appalachian Trail bid, or any long-haul mission, then I bring as little apparel as possible. I always want a single shirt that could do-it-all and hold up for an extended time in the backcountry.
In summary, I’m fairly certain the ENGINEERED KREW would be one of my top picks for a sun protection t-shirt.
About the Adventurer
Owen Clarke is a freelance American action sport and adventure travel journalist. He is an editor-at-large for Climbing magazine and the executive editor of Indoor Skydiving Source. His byline also appears in Backpacker, Outside, Travel+Leisure, Trail Runner, Rock & Ice, and The Outdoor Journal, among other publications.
Need More Advice on Gear and Footwear?
Here are some links to our most popular articles:
- 5 Best Plus Size Hiking Pants for Men- Big and Tall
- Camping Stoves, the Best of 2022 Guide
- 8 Best Long Sun Sleeve Sun Protection Shirts for Hiking in Hot Weather
- Best Women’s Hiking Shirts for Hot Weather
- 12 Best Double Sleeping Bags
- Best Backpacking Stoves: Camp Cooking Made Easy & Fun
- 10 Best Mountaineering Packs for Every Budget
- Bouldering Gear Essentials: What You Need for to Get Started