The KUHL Deceptr is a pair of pants that seem to be intended to go fluidly between backcountry travel and frontcountry style. Their tapered legs offer a slim fit with stretch fabric that still provides for a decent amount of wearer mobility. The objective is noble, but their comfort is lacking. We also think that the feature set moves a little too far in the direction of casual style without enough consideration for the utility that hiking pants require. This model may be best for someone who wants versatility in an everyday pair of frontcountry pants rather than a true technical wilderness trek.Editor's Note: We updated this review on August 9, 2022, with info on the new version of the Kuhl Deceptr.
Kuhl Deceptr Review
Cons: Abrasive fabric, no pocket closures
Compare to Similar Products
$99.00 at REI
|$88.95 at Amazon|
Compare at 2 sellers
Check Price at REI
|$85 List||$60 List|
|Pros||Comfortable waist, casual look||Airy fabric, very comfortable, maximum mobility||Supple and mobile, DWR coating works great, fair price||Look good, don't stretch, cinch cords in ankles||Comfortable, lots of pockets, integrated belt|
|Cons||Abrasive fabric, no pocket closures||Waist fit is loose, not great in cool weather||Not many pockets, slim fit may not be awesome for larger adults||Stiff, most pockets don't have zips||Roll up snaps have limited versatility, baggy|
|Bottom Line||A heavily tapered, casual pant with decent mobility, but issues with comfort||Our favorite pant and the most comfortable and breathable pair that we tested||An awesome pant for 14er day hikes and chilling at the brewpub afterwards||A true enigma, these pants look great whether you find yourself in the wilderness or at the office||These comfortable, relaxed fit pants are an inexpensive option for day hikes and short backpacking trips|
|Rating Categories||Kuhl Deceptr||Outdoor Research Fe...||Patagonia Quandary...||Royal Robbins Alpin...||REI Co-op Sahara Ro...|
|Comfort and Mobility (35%)|
|Venting and Breathability (20%)|
|Versatility and Style (15%)|
|Weather Resistance (15%)|
|Specs||Kuhl Deceptr||Outdoor Research Fe...||Patagonia Quandary...||Royal Robbins Alpin...||REI Co-op Sahara Ro...|
|Weight (in oz)||10.4 oz||12.2 oz||10.0 oz||13.8 oz||9.5 oz|
|Material||75% nylon, 10% polyester, 15% spandex||86% nylon, 14% spandex; 90D stretch woven ripstop||94% nylon (62% recycled), 6% spandex||66% nylon, 31% polyester, 3% spandex||94% nylon, 6% spandex|
|Water Resistance||DWR finish||DWR finish||DWR finish||DWR finish||DWR finish|
|Sizing (waist, length options)||W: 28" - 42" L: 30" - 36"||W: 28" - 38"||W: 28" - 40"
L: 30", 32", 34"
|W: 30" - 40" L: 30" - 34"||W: 30" - 42"
L: 28" - 36"
|Sun Protection||UPF 50||not specified||UPF 50||UPF 50||UPF 50|
|Convertible, or option available?||No||No, but convertible version available||No||No||Yes|
|Pockets||2 front, 2 rear||2 hand, 2 back, 1 thigh zip||2 hand, 2 back, 1 zippered thigh, 1 coin||2 front, 2 rear, 1 cargo||2 hand, 2 back, 2 thigh zip|
|Waist Strap/Fasten||Button and zip fly||Button and zip fly||Button and zip fly||Button and zip fly||Button and zip fly|
|Other Features||Suede lined waistband for comfort||Drawcord cuff closures, side zip pocket||Front and back knee articulation, gusseted crotch, slim straight fit||Gussetted crotch, tapered leg, cinch cord at cuff||Legs roll up and snap in place, gusseted crotch, articulated knees, integrated belt, UPF 50|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Product Update Note — August 2022
Kuhl updated the Deceptr pants since our last test cycle. The photos above show the old Deceptr we tested (left) and the new version (right). Kuhl re-designed the front pockets, added a zippered "security pocket" inside the right rear pocket, and included an additional drop-in pocket on the left side. The pants now have a front button closure instead of a snap, and designers loosened the taper purportedly to offer a more comfortable fit. Lastly, there is a slight adjustment to the material, replacing some polyester with nylon for a new blend of 76% nylon, 9% polyester, and 15% spandex. While our review still pertains to the old version, we are now linking to the updated Deceptr pant.
This model has the versatility required for a variety of social settings. They dress up or down and have decent weather resistance. Their biggest issue is in the comfort metric, which is a hard factor to overcome.
Comfort & Mobility
These pants offer decent mobility but are lacking in comfort. The legs are very tapered, which makes them a better fit for hikers with skinnier legs. Typically, this would limit mobility, but the 76% nylon, 9% polyester, 15% spandex fabric blend is stretchy enough to overcome the tighter fit. In addition, the crotch is gusseted, so there is plenty of room at the top as well. The waist is lined with a different, softer fabric that reduces abrasion, especially with a backpack hip belt.
The primary drawback of this model is that the interior face of the fabric is quite abrasive. It seems to have a somewhat raised thread pattern, which feels rough and becomes fairly uncomfortable fairly quickly. During testing, we noticed it immediately and the feeling became increasingly annoying as the days went on.
Venting & Breathability
These pants offer a midweight fabric with a small amount of polyester. What this means in practice is that they are more breathable than they initially appear.
Though they don't have any notable ventilation points, the stretch of the fabric actually facilitates heat dispersion. During testing, we got hot rather quickly but cooled down equally fast.
Versatility & Style
These pants have an admirable versatility. We like them best for short day hikes, and could easily see them as frontcountry athletic pants for activities like golfing. They also make for a decent pair of travel pants.
They have the mobility of jersey knit lounge pants with a style at the intersection of athletic and dressy casual. They can just as easily go with a collared shirt as they can with a hiking tee.
The tradeoff with breathability and stretch is that these pants don't hold up in the rain as well as some others. They soak through with about 20 minutes of hiking in moderate rain. They do dry quickly, but we'd rather stay dryer longer on the front end.
Just like many other models, they have a UPF 50 rating for sun protection. Their wind resistance is above average, especially given their breathability, though they don't offer much in the way of insulation on cooler days.
These pants go for a robust minimalism with their feature set. There are six pockets including two front handwarmers with one coin pocket on the right side; two rear pockets; and a deep, narrow pocket on the right quad. They are all comparatively deep, but importantly, none of them have any zip or snap closures, leaving items susceptible to falling out.
This model also comes with standard belt loops (belt is not included), and a "donut" snap closure. They do not have any sort of ankle cinch cord like many other models in this review, however, the legs are tapered enough that they roll up and stay up without them.
The bottom line for value is that there are better options out there. While they have some versatility, we don't think that they are crafted particularly well for the long haul. Unless you can find them for a real steal, the short and long terms values just aren't quite there.
The KUHL Deceptr has a few things going for it. Namely, the pants can flex between front and backcountry utility decently well. They have a tapered, slim fit, which means they stay out of your way on trail, and they maintain solid wearer mobility. However, the comfort issue is enough to keep us somewhat cool on these pants.
— Ben Applebaum-Bauch
Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.
GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.Learn More