For those looking for a single pair of pants with high versatility, we recommend the KUHL Renegade Cargo Convertible. This pair will get the job done on any day hike or extended backpacking trip, but we love it because it is also great for yard work, climbing, and traveling. When the midday sun gets too intense, the lower legs zip off, converting the pants into shorts. The dual, compartmentalized cargo pockets have plenty of room for trail snacks, a smartphone or other trail necessities. For thru-hikers or gearheads, if versatility is your primary concern, look no further than the Renegade Cargo Convertible.
KUHL Renegade Cargo Convertible Review
Cons: Convertible zipper rests across lower thigh, front button sometimes comes undone
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KUHL Renegade Cargo Convertible
|Price||$99.00 at REI||$59.93 at REI|
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|$59.96 at Backcountry|
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|$79.00 at REI|
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|Pros||Convertible option looks nice and is easy to use, durable stretchy nylon, tons of pockets||Airy fabric, very comfortable, maximum mobility||Comfortable fit and fabric, very versatile, perfectly functioning features||Supple and mobile, DWR coating works great, fair price||Comfortable, lots of pockets, integrated belt|
|Cons||Convertible zipper rests across lower thigh, front button sometimes comes undone||Waist fit is loose, not great in cool weather||Not much ventilation, fabric absorbs water in a heavy downpour||Not many pockets, slim fit may not be awesome for larger adults||Roll up snaps have limited versatility, baggy|
|Bottom Line||A fantastic versatile option because of its numerous, spacious pockets, and the ability to switch quickly into shorts.||For comfort and breathability, these pants can’t be beat.||A favorite pair of very comfortable hiking pants.||An awesome pant for 14er day hikes and chilling at the brewpub afterwards.||These comfortable, relaxed fit pants are an inexpensive option for day hikes and short backpacking trips.|
|Rating Categories||KUHL Renegade Cargo Converti...||Ferrosi Pants||Prana Stretch Zion||Patagonia Quandary||REI Co-op Sahara Roll-Up|
|Comfort And Mobility (35%)|
|Venting And Breathability (20%)|
|Water Resistance (15%)|
|Specs||KUHL Renegade...||Ferrosi Pants||Prana Stretch Zion||Patagonia Quandary||REI Co-op Sahara...|
|Weight (in oz)||17 oz||12.2 oz||13.6 oz||10 oz||9.5 oz|
|Material||DURALUX 95% Nylon, 5% Spandex||86% nylon / 14% spandex 90D stretch woven ripstop||97% Nylon / 3% Spandex||94% nylon (62% recycled) / 6% 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: 28", 30", 32", 34", 36"
|W: 28" - 38"||W: 28" - 42"
L: 28", 30", 32", 34", 36"
|W: 28" - 40"
L: 30", 32", 34"
|W: 30" - 42"
L: 28" - 36"
|Sun Protection||UPF 50||not specified||UPF 50||UPF 50||UPF 50|
|Convertible, or option available?||Yes||No, but convertible version available||No, but convertible version available||No||Yes|
|Pockets||2 front, 2 back, 2 side cargo||2 hand, 2 back, 1 thigh zip||2 hand, 2 back, one left side||2 hand, 2 back, 1 zippered thigh, 1 coin||2 hand, 2 back, 2 thigh zip|
|Waist Strap/Fasten||Snap and zip fly||Button and zip fly||Button and zip fly with waist cinch||Button and zip fly||Button and zip fly|
|Other Features||Articulated knees, gusseted crotch, mesh pockets for ventilation, compartment sections inside cargo pockets for organization, ankle zips and snaps for easy removal with boots||Drawcord cuff closures, side zip pocket||Ventilated inseam gusset, roll up leg snaps, adjustable waist tightening strap||Front and back knee articulation, gusseted crotch, slim straight fit||Legs roll up and snap in place, gusseted crotch, articulated knees, integrated belt, UPF 50|
|Warranty||Limited warranty against manufacturer defects - will repair or replace defective products||Lifetime||Full refund, credit, or exchange if you are dissatisfied||Lifetime||Limited warranty|
Our Analysis and Test Results
If you are looking to carry as little as possible without compromising safety or comfort, convertible pants - pants that have zippers that allow you to remove the bottom half of the legs to wear them as shorts - are a great option. They only weigh slightly more than regular hiking pants and save you from carrying an extra piece of clothing in your pack. The Renegade Cargo Convertible also features double cargo pockets that can hold snacks, a phone, a map, lip balm, and whatever other items you want close at hand while hiking. If versatility is one of your priorities, you should consider these pants.
Because of outstanding versatility and excellent water resistance, these pants are top contenders in this category.
Comfort and Mobility
With their gusseted crotch and articulated knees, the Renegade Cargo Convertible offers a more spacious fit than the handful of slim or straight-legged pants in this review. The waist and pelvis region also fit comfortably, without any hint of constriction. We were also pleasantly surprised by how soft the nylon fabric felt against skin.
The one strike against these pants in the comfort metric is that the convertible zipper seam, which encompasses the lower thigh, creates an obvious rub point against the skin as the wearer moves their legs. This situation is not uncommon for convertible pants, but we still think it detracts from the overall comfort.
Venting and Breathability
To facilitate ventilation, this model comes with mesh liners in both its two front handwarmer pockets, as well as the two rear pockets. Though it does not have mesh vents in the two cargo pockets on the side of each leg, the slightly looser fit made us feel cooler when the temperatures rose.
Of course, as a convertible model, these pants also feature the ultimate in breathability: the ability to remove the lower legs. Without undergoing the full conversion, though, we found that we could unzip the convertible zippers part way for added ventilation and that we could also wholly unzip the vertical lower leg zippers, designed to make it easy to take off the pants while still wearing boots or shoes. However, the predominantly nylon fabric was not super light or breathable in our testing. Though they go about it in different ways, these pants Patagonia Quandary and REI Sahara Roll-Up pants.
These pants excel at versatility. No pant in this review is as ideally suited for as many kinds of situations as the Renegade Cargo Convertible, and thus they receive a perfect score. While hiking or backpacking, these pants set you up for success with plenty of pockets for storing all of your necessities as well as the option to convert them into shorts. With their UPF 50 rating, they will protect you from high altitude sun, and their tight nylon weave and DWR coating will also keep you dry in a gentle rain. We also found them to be durable enough for heavy outdoor work, and we wore them with success many nights of camping in the dirt. They look good enough to wear around town as well. In our experience, they were a definite step above the Prana Stretch Zion, and way more versatile than most other models.
In our shower testing, these pants were effective enough at repelling a light spray for a short period, but it seemed as if much of the DWR coating had worn off during our three-month test period. Low-wear areas like the lower legs were doing a pretty good job of helping the water runoff without soaking in, but in the thighs and butt, water absorption started taking place almost immediately.
The good news is that the 95% Duralux nylon didn't absorb very much water, especially compared to the Mountain Hardwear Men's Hardwear AP Pant, or The North Face Paramount Active. This low absorption meant they dried out fairly quickly after being hung up to dry. By no means did this pant match the performance of the Patagonia Quandary, but we wouldn't call their performance a distinct liability.
Once again, this pant was the highest performer when it came to features, and ended up with a nearly perfect score. Not only did it have more features than any other model, but we were pleased to discover that they performed as advertised.
We have already mentioned most of the features included on this pant, including the vertical zippers at the bottom of the pant that allow it to fit over a pair of boots or shoes, and the snap buttons on the cuffs that will enable you to keep them closed with the zippers open for ventilation.
The dual cargo pockets, found on each side of the leg, each have different compartments within them to aid in organization and to keep small items from getting jostled. The only thing keeping this pant from receiving a perfect 10 is the fact that the front snap button sometimes came undone on us during activity. Where other KUHL pants have the "French flap" interior button that helps the waist fit well, this pant lacks that feature which made it easier for the snap to come undone. This minor complaint didn't keep it from scoring better than the Prana Stretch Zion.
The KUHL Renegade Cargo Convertible pants are optimal for hiking, backpacking, and thru-hiking, and for anyone who values the versatility they provide. Their convertibility means that they are good in both hot and cool climates and do a decent job of handling wet weather. We also found that they are well-suited for all sorts of other activities that require pants, like manual labor, traveling, camping, and walking around town.
These pants retail for $99, making them more expensive than many pairs that we have reviewed, but not nearly as expensive as the Fjallraven Vidda Pro. A solid pair of hiking pants and shorts typically cost at least that much, so we believe that this is a pretty good value. That said, if you are looking for the Best Bang for your Buck, we recommend checking out the Patagonia Quandary.
The KUHL Renegade Cargo Convertible pants are the best-suited pants for nearly any sort of outdoor adventure. We think they are especially intriguing for thru-hikers or backpackers who want to carry the minimum in clothing. They also had the best combination of useful features but weren't one of the most comfortable pairs that we tried on. Overall these were among the highest scorers in our review and are a pant we would recommend to most people.
— Andy Wellman