Kuhl Radikl Review
Cons: Not water resistant, styling not for everyone, more casual than most hiking pants
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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.
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.
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 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 and Style
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
— Ben Applebaum-Bauch