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Kuhl Radikl Review

Hiking pants with a unique construction that does best in dry climates.
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Price:  $89 List | $88.95 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Comfortable, durable
Cons:  Not water resistant, styling not for everyone, more casual than most hiking pants
Manufacturer:   Kuhl
By Ben Applebaum-Bauch ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 5, 2019
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67
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 12
  • Comfort and Mobility - 35% 8
  • Venting and Breathability - 20% 8
  • Versatility - 15% 5
  • Water Resistance - 15% 3
  • Features - 15% 7

Our Verdict

The KUHL Radikl pant is certainly unique. Strategically placed stretch fabric at the crotch, lower back, knee, and side leg makes for a comfortable pair of pants. They are also heartier than the average pair. They come equipped with a variety of pockets, and the interior secondary waist stay ensures that they will stay put all day long. On the downside, we learned quickly during testing that these pants are fairly absorbent, which really limits their versatility, and obviously, weather resistance. They have a somewhat unusual aesthetic, but if that turns out to be the look you are going for, then these dry-weather-friendly hiking pants will keep you comfortable on your next adventure.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

A lot is going on with the fabric of this model. The majority of it is a 68% cotton/29% nylon/3% spandex blend. The woven stretch fabric is 88% nylon, 12% spandex. What this amounts to is a pair of pants that comes with the comfort afforded by a cotton garment, but with the mobility of stretchier synthetic material. They don't come with the same minimalist style that we admire in other pairs, but there are still some pros to these pants.

Performance Comparison


These pants are a comfortable  cotton-based alternative to the typical synthetic pants in this review.
These pants are a comfortable, cotton-based alternative to the typical synthetic pants in this review.

Comfort and Mobility


The fabric blend is one approach that these pants use to increase comfort, but it takes advantage of other features as well. The gusseted crotch and articulated knees make for a roomier cut. The pants also sit slightly higher and hug the waist. Combined with the double waist stay, they remain secure, even without a belt.

Stretch panels are found in many places on these pants  including the interior of the legs.
Stretch panels are found in many places on these pants, including the interior of the legs.

Unlike some other models in this review, the fly is also sufficiently sized to be practical, and the waist button won't pop open after a big lunch.

Venting and Breathability


These pants have strong ventilation and breathability. The same stretch fabric panels that increase wearer mobility also increase ventilation. They are strategically placed in areas that tend to get the sweatiest the fastest (e.g., lower back and crotch), and their looser weave facilitates airflow. Despite the heft of the fabric, during testing, we were pleasantly surprised by how cool we stayed.

The handwarmer pocket liner is the same stretchy fabric that is found in multiple places on these pants.
The handwarmer pocket liner is the same stretchy fabric that is found in multiple places on these pants.

The cotton blend is also reasonably breathable. The primary detractor in this metric is that these pants don't dry particularly quickly once they do get sweaty.

Versatility


There are a couple of factors that limit the versatility of these pants. Their minimal water-resistance, discussed below, means they are primarily suited for dry climates. The open pockets don't give us confidence in the security of whatever we put in them, so scrambling and steep ascents aren't an ideal use either.

These pants have a burlier aesthetic that might not be for everyone  but just right for someone.
These pants have a burlier aesthetic that might not be for everyone, but just right for someone.

Less important for many people, but still a practical consideration is that their style is not for everyone. They have a lot of visible stitching and look cargo-esque, without actually being cargo pants. They are decent in a variety of temperatures, but we'd mostly stick to desert conditions in these.

Water Resistance


By design, these pants aren't meant to be water-resistant. The primary fabric blend is mostly cotton. The synthetic stretch panels have a comparatively loose weave that allows water to permeate through. Testing makes it plain that these pants just won't cut it in wet weather. In our spray test, water began seeping in immediately.

Because they are made with a high proportion of cotton and have no DWR coating  these pants absorb water immediately.
Because they are made with a high proportion of cotton and have no DWR coating, these pants absorb water immediately.

Their redeeming quality is that they are a little heavier and thicker than many other pairs in this review, so they can tolerate a small amount of precipitation before they absorb enough to reach your body. They are also decently wind resistant.

Features


These pants come with an array of features. There are two handwarmer pockets (plus one coin pocket on the righthand side) lined with the same stretch material in the woven panels described above. Two rear pockets, and two similar, but not identical narrow and deep pockets on the upper leg that seem to be designed to hold a smartphone or GPS. We like the options; our issue is that none of these options have zippers. We admit that we never had issues with items falling out, but somehow, we couldn't get past the psychological hurdle of our phones going tumbling down the mountain because we squatted just a little too deeply.

The regular snap and the interior button and fabric panel are a feature combination that keep these pants extra secure around your waist.
The regular snap and the interior button and fabric panel are a feature combination that keep these pants extra secure around your waist.

These pants come with traditional belt loops (without an integrated belt). We wore them with and without, but didn't find a meaningful difference one way or the other; assuming the waist fits to begin with, they will stay up, even without a belt.

Value


All things considered, these pants have solid value. Though we don't think that they excel all-around like some other pairs in this review, if their brand of contrarianism speaks to you, you can rest assured that they will hold up in the long run.

Conclusion


The KUHL Radikl is a comfortable model, if nothing else. Their atypical fabric blend and construction maintain stretch and wearer mobility, and the waist stays secure throughout the day. Though their style may not be for everyone, they are a solid pair of pants. If you are planning a trip into the mist, then we strongly recommend looking elsewhere, but for clear fall days, they do perform well.

We would take these comfortable pants on a dry-weather hike any day.
We would take these comfortable pants on a dry-weather hike any day.


Ben Applebaum-Bauch