The American outdoor brand Kuhl is known for their high-quality performance wear, and especially pants and bottoms. Therefore, I was very excited when I got the opportunity to test a pair of the brand’s hiking shorts of my choice in return for an unbiased review.
I chose the popular Kuhl Trekr 11’’ shorts as I prefer shorts to be a bit longer for hiking. I received the shorts in August and have been wearing them at every chance the weather gave me, both for hiking trips and everyday life. Below is what I discovered.
Material and Cut
The Kuhl Trekr shorts are made of the brand’s REKOIL fabric (57% Polyester, 43% Nylon) with built-in stretch and woven brushed surface. The fabric is used for the entire Trekr line consisting of pants, capri pants and shorts with three different inseam lengths. The REKOIL fabric has a density of just 169 g/m2, yet it doesn’t have that slightly “crunchy” feel that other hiking pants of a similar density have (for example the Montane Terra Pack or CimAlp Interstice hiking pants). Instead, the fabric feels smooth and supple to the touch. Freedom of movement is not only provided by the somewhat elastic fabric but also by the augmented tailoring down the sides and the gusseted crotch which extends all the way down to the bottom hem. The Trekr shorts feature the so-called KuhlKurve, which means that the shorts hug closer in the back, while the front is a mid-rise waist.
Sizing and Fit
I often have trouble finding pants and shorts which fit well because I have relatively wide hips to a narrow waist, and many manufacturers design bottoms for women with a more straight-up-and-down body type. As Kuhl was to ship the shorts from the States to Europe with customs fees and all the other hassle, I was particularly keen to get the size right since I couldn’t simply return the shorts if they didn’t fit me. Alas, according to Kuhl’s size guide, my waist qualifies for a size 10, while my hips were a bit fuller than their size 12. Which size to choose for these relatively fitted hiking shorts?
Fortunately, Kuhl was gracious enough to send me all three sizes! I found that size 10 was the most proper fitting and flattering, and actually did have enough room for my hips although they are two inches too wide for this size according to the size guide. Size 12 had a more relaxed fit on me, while size 14 was way too baggy. Washing does not change the fit or size of the shorts, but you can tighten the waist with the internal drawcord. I love the length of the Kuhl Trekr shorts with an 11 inch inseam, which ends just above the knee, but they are also available in two shorter versions – 5’’ and 8’’.
The Kuhl Trekr 11’’ shorts are equipped with six pockets. The two front pockets have pocket bags made of a thinner fabric to decrease drying time, while the patch pockets on the back feature internal snap fastener buttons. This means that although the back pockets are essentially open, the buttons will help to keep medium-sized objects like a wallet, folded map, compass etc. in place. For smaller essentials and/or valuables, you might want to use the zippered thigh pockets, which are longer and narrower (8.5 x 15 cm/3.75’’ x 7.5’’). The zipper openings are, however, only 11 cm (4.3’’) long, so I can’t get my big and bulky (and indestructible) Cat S42 phone in there, but I believe that most standard smartphones will fit into the thigh pockets.
I really appreciate that the thigh pockets are so discrete, as it helps to make the shorts look sleeker and more elegant. Note that only the Kuhl Trekr shorts with an 11-inch inseam feature the zippered thigh pockets; the shorter versions “only” have the other four pockets mentioned above. Besides the internal drawcord waist band, the shorts also feature belt loops, so you can use a belt of your own choice if needed. The only feature of the Kuhl shorts, which I’m not completely satisfied with, is the front button. While the size 10 shorts do fit me comfortably, the front button sometimes unsnaps if I sit down or squat. I would much prefer a regular button or a hook and bar closure which doesn’t unsnap so easily.
Washing and Drying
The Kuhl Trekr shorts should be washed on a cold, delicate cycle like most outdoor apparel. You can tumble-dry them on a low setting, but as they don’t take long to dry and tumble-drying does decrease the lifespan of most, if not all clothing, there is not much point. If you want them to look extra crisp, you can iron them on the low setting.
I would absolutely recommend the Kuhl Trekr shorts for every woman looking for a pair of sleek yet high-performing hiking shorts. They look great and move with you due to the comfortable fabric and the augmented tailoring and gusseted crotch. The only improvement I could suggest would be to replace the front button with a proper button or hook and bar closure.
If you have any questions about this product, drop me a line in the comments below.
We field tested this product. The rating shows its overall performance.About Rating
- Light, durable and slightly elastic fabric
- Flattering cut – also for curvier silhouettes
- Augmented tailoring and gusseted crotch
- Good pockets
- Front button has tendency to unsnap.
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