Hands-on Gear Review

KUHL Renegade Cargo Convertible Review

Top Pick Award
Price:  $99 List | $99.00 at REI
Pros:  Convertible option looks nice and is easy to use, durable stretchy nylon, tons of pockets for storage
Cons:  Convertible zipper rests across lower thigh, front button sometimes comes undone
Bottom line:  Our Top Pick for Versatility due to its spacious and plentiful pockets, and the ability to switch quickly into shorts.
Editors' Rating:   
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Material:  DURALUX 95% Nylon, 5% Spandex with a DWR finish
Water Resistance:  DWR finish
Sizing (waist, length options):  W: 28" - 42", , L: 28", 30", 32", 34", 36" , Shorts: 10"
Manufacturer:   KÜHL

Our Verdict

Some people aren't big on having an entire closet full of clothes; they would rather have one single pair of pants that is an excellent choice for everything. For those people, we recommend the KUHL Renegade Cargo Convertible, the most versatile hiking pant we have ever worn. Not only will this pant be your new best friend while hiking, but it is also great for working in the yard, going climbing, or traveling around the world. The mid-day sun starting to make you sweat? Just unzip the lower legs, and you are suddenly wearing an airy pair of shorts. Need to carry a couple of bonk-prevention snacks in your pocket, but also want to balance it out with your smartphone on the opposite side? The dual, compartmentalized cargo pockets have plenty of room for trail necessities, but won't make you look like Napolean Dynamite with a pocket full of tots. For thru-hikers or gearheads, if versatility is your primary concern, look no further than the Renegade Cargo Convertible.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Hiking Pants for Men


Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Andy Wellman

Last Updated:
Friday
November 17, 2017

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When thru-hiking or simply backpacking, a primary goal is to carry as little as possible without compromising safety or comfort. In such cases, convertible pants, meaning pants that have zippers that allow you to remove the bottom half of the legs to wear them as shorts, are the most efficient system. They only weigh a smidge more than regular hiking pants and save you from carrying an extra piece of clothing in your pack. The Renegade Cargo Convertibles add to this versatile trait by also featuring double cargo pockets that can hold snacks, a phone, a map, lip balm, and whatever other items you want close at hand while hiking. While they have a couple of downsides compared to the two pairs of pants ranked more highly, these pants are a must-look if versatility is one of your priorities.

It wouldn't be fair to compliment this pant for its convertible option without also pointing out the other pants in this review that are also available as convertibles. If unzipping into shorts is a feature you want, then we recommend you also look into the Prana Stretch Zion Convertible, as well as The North Face Paramount Convertible 3.0. We have reviewed both of these pants in their standard versions, and they were among the top scorers. Likewise, if you like KUHL pants but don't like convertible zippers, then check out the KUHL Renegade Stealth Pant, which retains the dual cargo pockets in a standard pant design.

Performance Comparison


With the most features and an incredible range of use  we honored the Renegade Cargo Convertible as our Top Pick for Versatility. From any season to any activity  this pant is an optimal choice.
With the most features and an incredible range of use, we honored the Renegade Cargo Convertible as our Top Pick for Versatility. From any season to any activity, this pant is an optimal choice.

Comfort and Mobility


With their gusseted crotch and articulated knees, the Renegade Cargo Convertible's fit more spaciously than the host of trim fitting, straight legged pants in this review. The waist and pelvis region also fit comfortably, without any hint of constriction. We also liked how surprisingly soft the nylon fabric felt against our skin.


If we had to make a complaint, it would be that the convertible zipper seam, which encircles the lower thigh, creates an obvious rub point against the skin as one moves their legs. This is a relatively small complaint, but one that helps differentiate the levels of comfort between the different pairs of pants. As such, we graded this pant the same as the Arc'teryx Perimeter Pant and the Fjallraven Vidda Pro, which also had minor annoyances to our comfort. They received 6 out of 10 points.

The Renegade Cargo Convertible pants had one of the loosest and most spacious fits of any we tested  which allowed for great mobility and comfort. Our only complaint was the convertible zipper seam  which you can see here on the lower thigh  would rub a bit when walking.
The Renegade Cargo Convertible pants had one of the loosest and most spacious fits of any we tested, which allowed for great mobility and comfort. Our only complaint was the convertible zipper seam, which you can see here on the lower thigh, would rub a bit when walking.

Venting and Breathability


To accommodate venting, this pant comes with mesh liners in both its two front handwarmer pockets, as well as the two rear pockets. It does not have mesh vents in the two cargo pockets found on the side of each leg. Additionally, the slightly more large fit made us feel cooler when the temperatures rose.


Of course, these pants also feature the ultimate in breathability, the ability to simply convert in a minute to shorts. 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 get them off while still wearing boots or shoes, to even gain needed ventilation. However, the predominantly nylon fabric was not super light or breathable in our testing. While they accomplished it by different means, these pants scored roughly the same as The North Face Paramount 3.0 and the Patagonia Quandary when considering both venting and breathability.

While this vertical zipper and button at the ankle makes it easier to remove the lower pant to convert to shorts  we also thought it was great for ventilation purposes. Worn with the button closed but the zipper open  it allows for a lot of welcome airflow if you are getting hot but don't want to switch to shorts.
While this vertical zipper and button at the ankle makes it easier to remove the lower pant to convert to shorts, we also thought it was great for ventilation purposes. Worn with the button closed but the zipper open, it allows for a lot of welcome airflow if you are getting hot but don't want to switch to shorts.

Versatility


We wouldn't have named these pants our Top Pick for Versatility if they weren't exactly that. No pant in this review is as ideally suited for every kind of situation as the Renegade Cargo Convertible, and thus they received a perfect score.


For use, while hiking or backpacking, these pants set you up for success with plenty of pockets for storing all your necessities at hand, 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 working it and used them with success many nights of camping in the dirt. They look good enough for wearing around town as well. In our experience, they were a a definite notch above the Prana Stretch Zion, and leaps and bounds more versatile than the rest, including the Paramount 3.0 or KUHL Kontra Air.

The Renegade Cargo Convertible pants were the most versatile in our review  in large part due to the fact that if you are too warm  you can simply unzip the lower leg and you are left with shorts.
The Renegade Cargo Convertible pants were the most versatile in our review, in large part due to the fact that if you are too warm, you can simply unzip the lower leg and you are left with shorts.

Water Resistance


In our shower testing, these pants were effective enough at repelling a light rain 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 KUHL Kontra Air. Thus, they dried out fairly quickly after being hung up to dry. By no means did this pant match the performance of our Top Pick for Wet Climates, the Arc'teryx Perimeter Pant, but we wouldn't call their performance an obvious liability. 6 out of 10.

Testing the DWR coating in a simulated "light rain" before jumping in the shower and soaking them completely. Although they came with a DWR coating  we found it to be less effective than most of the others.
Testing the DWR coating in a simulated "light rain" before jumping in the shower and soaking them completely. Although they came with a DWR coating, we found it to be less effective than most of the others.

Features


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 pant, but we found that they performed as advertised as well. Only the KUHL Kontra Air, which had an entirely different arrangement of pockets, ended up performing as well.


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 be easily removed 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.

This metal snap button keeps the front of these KUHL pants closed  but for us had the silly habit of popping open whenever we moved in a certain way.
This metal snap button keeps the front of these KUHL pants closed, but for us had the silly habit of popping open whenever we moved in a certain way.

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 tossing about. However, the only thing keeping this pant from receiving a perfect 10 is the fact that the front snap button has come un-snapped on us as we moved about many times. Where other KUHL pants have the "French flap" interior button that helps the waist fit optimally, this pant is lacking that feature and thus, in our case, liked to come unbuttoned. This minor complaint didn't keep it from scoring better than the Prana Stretch Zion, and we gave it 9 out of 10.

For those who like a lot of storage easily at hand  the dual cargo pockets on this pant were each divided up on the inside to offer better organization and security of precious goods.
For those who like a lot of storage easily at hand, the dual cargo pockets on this pant were each divided up on the inside to offer better organization and security of precious goods.

Best Applications


The KUHL Renegade Cargo Convertible pants are optimal for hiking, backpacking, and thru-hiking for enthusiasts who value the versatility they provide. Due to their convertible option, they are good in both hot and colder climates and do a decent job of handling wet weather. We also found them to be perfect for all sorts of other activities that require pants, like manual labor, traveling, camping, and around town.

As the most versatile pant in our review  we feel that there is not a season  climate  or activity that is not appropriate for the Renegade Cargo Convertible. Here checking out the water temperatures in the Crooked River.
As the most versatile pant in our review, we feel that there is not a season, climate, or activity that is not appropriate for the Renegade Cargo Convertible. Here checking out the water temperatures in the Crooked River.

Value


These pants retail for $99, making them more expensive than many pairs that we have reviewed here, but not nearly as expensive as the Fjallraven Vidda Pro. Since you probably can't buy a solid pair of hiking pants and shorts for any cheaper, 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.

Taking in the great wide open sky in the desert near Moab  Utah. Although they are slightly more expensive than most  the Renegade Cargo Convertible pants are durable and versatile and provide great value.
Taking in the great wide open sky in the desert near Moab, Utah. Although they are slightly more expensive than most, the Renegade Cargo Convertible pants are durable and versatile and provide great value.

Conclusion


The KUHL Renegade Cargo Convertible pants win our Top Pick for Versatility because they are the best-suited pants in this review for nearly any sort of circumstances you might find yourself in. We think they are especially intriguing for thru-hikers or backpackers who want to only 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.

The Renegade Cargo Convertible is an awesome hiking pant that can be used in any type of situation. Here we are on an evening hike on the backside of Smith Rock in Oregon  with a mighty Cascade volcano in the background.
The Renegade Cargo Convertible is an awesome hiking pant that can be used in any type of situation. Here we are on an evening hike on the backside of Smith Rock in Oregon, with a mighty Cascade volcano in the background.
Andy Wellman

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Most recent review: November 17, 2017
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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