Hiking pants are an essential part of any kit. I have tried several brands over the years and find that I generally like a pair of pants that are lightweight and comfortable, can stand up to abuse, and, most important to me, have a short inseam. I am 5’6” and have a 30 inch inseam which has meant that I end up needing to hem or roll most outdoor pants. Enter Mountain Khakis – they have a pant that seems like it will fit the bill – the Cruiser Pant. I will be using these pants over the next few months on my adventures and see if they earn a place in my gear closet.
The Mountain Khakis website describes the Cruiser pant as “Designed for trekking and trouting, the hybrid Cruiser Pant is equally stealth in the urban landscape. Our performance fabric is 4-way stretch, UPF 40+ (97.5% UV blockage), DWR (Durable Water Repellant), quick-dry, lightweight and packable. Low-profile zippered cargo pocket. Articulated knees. Diamond-shaped action gusset. “Mudflap” reinforced heel cuffs with snap adjust.” The pants consist of 91% nylon and 9% spandex fabric. In addition the pants feature MK’s signature angled pockets, a zippered cargo pocket on the right leg, and back pockets with Velcro type closures. The also feature reinforced heel cuffs with snap adjustments to make the cuff smaller.
The initial fit is very good. The 36 inch waist fits well, with room to expand if needed. I will definitely need a belt to hold them up at my current weight which fluctuates depending on where I am on my marathon and ultra-marathon training schedule. The inseam length is perfect. They just touch the floor when I am barefoot, and are just above the floor when wearing boots or shoes. The fabric has a little bit of stretch which gives me plenty of freedom of movement. The side pockets are a good size and easily hold an iPhone and the assorted essentials I normally carry. I like the zippered cargo pocket. I live in New Orleans which is a fairly safe city, but I like having the extra bit of protection when I am using the pants while walking through the city. I used the pants for a few short walks and I like how they feel. I also like the style of the pants. I received the black color and they look very clean. There is only one small MK logo on the back pocket, other than that there are no logos that scream, “Look at me I am wearing MK pants.”
In general, I look for three main criteria when evaluating pants. First and foremost is comfort. Do I want to wear the pants versus having to wear the pants? Do they breathe well or do I sweat to death? Do they dry quickly? Are there any spots where I would chafe? Second, are the pants able to stand up to abuse? Living in the southern United States the growing season never really stops, so some of my hikes usually require me to do some bushwhacking. Finally, the stink factor. Most of the time, I only take one pair of pants on a trip, and so they can get abused. Will they run off my hiking partners after a couple days or do they stay relatively smell free? I guess there is a fourth criteria – can they transition between the outdoors and urban environments without me looking like I am wearing hiking pants?
Update April 19, 2017
I have put over 60 miles hiking, backpacking, and trekking around the south on the Mountain Khakis Cruiser Pants and they have performed admirably. They are super comfortable, durable and look great in the outdoors and social situations.
Over the past couple of months I have used the pants while camping and hiking at Fountainbleau State Park in Louisiana; hiking at the Woodlands Conservancy in Louisiana; camping and hiking at the LongLeaf Horse Camp in the De Soto National Forest in Mississippi; while walking around Virginia Beach on a cold and damp weekend; while hiking the Mississippi River levy near my house; and while visiting the French Quarter in New Orleans. Basically, any situation that called for pants, I reached for the Cruiser Pants. I put over 60 miles in while wearing the pants and experienced all weather types except for snow. In Mississippi, the weather was in the low 40s and overcast with light showers, the weather in most of Louisiana has been warm with high humidity and no rain. The pants have performed great in all temperatures up until the 80s where it is just too hot to wear pants in my opinion.
My first and main criteria is comfort. If the pants are not comfortable, I won’t wear them. The comfort with these pants is top notch. The fabric is super soft and the stretch in the fabric means that the move nicely while hiking and lounging. Most of my camping was done while sleeping in a hammock instead of tent camping and instead of changing I slept in the pants. They are that comfortable. I did not experience any binding or lack of movement. Most importantly, I also did not experience any chaffing. These pants have quickly become my favorite pants because of how comfortable they are. The wide waist band fits well under a pack and never caused any issues even while carrying a heavy pack. The pockets are well thought out. The side pockets hold my phone and various items with ease. I generally use the zippered cargo pocket for valuables while walking in the city. Overall the highest possible rating for comfort I can give.
My second criteria is durability. Thus far durability has been top notch. I have hiked though brush and off trail through the swamp and have not had any issues with damage to the fabric of the pants. I have also gotten the pants muddy and the mud usually wipes off easily after it dries, and comes clean after every wash. There is no noticeable wear in heavy use areas like the crotch, seat and ankle cuffs
The third criteria is smell. To my wife’s dismay, I am able to wear the pants for multiple days without washing and there is no noticeable smell. I generally can go a week or longer before they have to be washed, and at this point it is more to get mud and dirt off of the pants so I can wear them in town than needing to wash them.
My last criteria is how well do they transition between the urban and outdoor environments. In my opinion they are a great casual option that look just as good in a social setting with a collared shirt as they do on the trail. In my opinion the black color really allows them to transition nicely between all settings. I also like that the MK logos are unobtrusive and don’t distract from the clean lines of the pants.
Overall, I could not be more pleased with these pants. They are pajama comfortable but tough enough to stand up to hard days on the trail and look good while grabbing a burger and brew with the crew in the city. I have another few weeks of hard wear to put on the pants. Check back for my final review.
Thanks to 4alloutdoors.org and Mountain Khakis for providing the pants for review.