The Kuhl Renegade shorts are made for carrying capacity. They have a ton of pocket options and are durable enough to withstand repeated heavy use. Testing proved they have solid weather resistance and can repel water very well. On the whole, we think that their design needs to be a little more focused to take their performance to the next level. For example, while the storage space is nice, there are some pockets that we just wouldn't use while hiking. However, they are well-made, and if you have your mind made up, we don't think you will be disappointed.
Kuhl Renegade Short Review
Cons: Snap is very difficult to undo, not super versatile, heavy
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Our Analysis and Test Results
These shorts came with us on day and distance hikes. We found that their features were beneficial a lot of the time, but that there are also some extra, unnecessary components that, to be honest, leave us wanting something a little bit less.
The Kuhl Renegade shorts have decent weather resistance and comfort, but they are up against some strong contenders in this category.
Comfort and Mobility
These shorts are reasonably comfortable, but also come with some drawbacks. The 95%/5% nylon/spandex fabric is horizontally stretchy. Between that, the gusseted crotch and the looser fit, our testing showed us that user mobility is fluid. On the other hand, the 12" inseam is long, combined with a fabric that is bulkier to begin with and we noticed the added weight over pairs like The North Face Paramount Active and the Patagonia Nine Trails.
The soft waist liner is nice for reducing abrasion, especially if you are wearing a backpack. The waist is relatively true to size, but it only comes with traditional belt loops with no built-in way to tighten or expand the waist, meaning that you can't fine-tune the fit if your waist size fluctuates during a trip.
The Renegade is loaded with pockets. Eight in total; two front, two rear with velcro closure, one on each thigh with vertical zip, and an additional long, skinny open pocket on the outside of each hamstring. The rear pockets have a rectangle of Velcro, which we found more challenging and uncomfortable to open than a flap or a zipper.
The side leg pockets are solid; they can fit a smartphone or snack bars. We also like that they are sewn to the leg of the shorts on all sides so that they don't flop around if you have something heavy in them. We aren't really sold on the fourth pair of pockets though. They can fit a handheld GPS, emergency beacon, or a tube of nuts/trail mix, but so could any of the other pockets.
Versatility and Style
Between the eight colors, three inseam lengths, and eleven waist sizes, these shorts have the most possible combinations of fit and appearance. With any single pair though, we would say that their versatility is average. They could serve you on a day hike, but even then we would have some concerns with the fit. They are great for car camping, where the vibe is more about hanging out at the site and maybe going for a swim rather than taking on the next big adventure.
Our testers think that they are one of the bulkier looking models and wouldn't opt for them as a first choice if we needed a pair to go straight from trail to town. For that, we would look at the Prana Brion or Patagonia Quandary.
Weather Resistance and Dry Time
These shorts do best in this metric. Moisture beads up very well and continues to roll off long after the skies open up. The thicker material also cuts the wind nicely, and if you opt for a longer inseam like the version that we tested (12"), there is additional coverage from the UPF 50 rated fabric.
Venting and Breathability
Because of the thicker fabric, these shorts can be kind of warm. On the plus side, there are a handful of lighter colors to choose from, so if you know you will primarily use them somewhere warm, we would recommend taking that into consideration.
As with almost all of the other shorts in this category, each of the pockets in the model are at least partially mesh-lined.
The Renegade shorts are best used for outdoor work and day hikes. They would also be a good option for water sports like canoeing and boating or activities where you would need more sun protection. Because of their water resistance, we could also envision them as a substitute for board shorts.
Available for $75, we believe this price represents fair value. These shorts seem durable, and we think that their longevity under regular use would be formidable. On the other hand, there is a different, better-performing, or less expensive pair of shorts for each metric in this category that we think would offer a better value.
The Kuhl Renegade are durable. They are reasonably comfortable and offer good weather resistance. There are some details in the features that we found to be slightly annoying, and this model's scores in each metric reflect that. However, if you are a fan of the brand or have a reason to really want these shorts, we think that they will do you good for a long time to come.
— Ben Applebaum-Bauch