MOUNTAIN KHAKIS CRUISER PANTS
TEST SERIES BY STEVEN M. KIDD
October 18, 2015
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Steven M. Kidd
5' 11" (1.80 m)
185 lb (83.90 kg)
Backpacking Background: I've been a backpacker on and off for over 30 years. I backpacked as a Boy Scout, and then again almost every month in my twenties, while packing an average weight of 50+ lb (23+ kg). In the last several years I have become a hammock camping enthusiast. I generally go on one or two night outings that cover between 5 to 20 mi (8 - 32 km) distances. I also do several annual outings lasting four to five days covering distances between 15 to 20 mi (24 - 32 km) per day. I try to keep the all-inclusive weight of my pack under 20 lb (9 kg) even in the winter.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Mountain Khakis
|Mountain Khakis Cruiser Pants|
Year of Manufacture: 2015
Manufacturer's Website: http://mountainkhakis.com
MSRP: US $94.95
Listed Weight: N/A
Measured Weight: 12.1 oz (343 g)
Sizes Available: Men's 30 - 44 in (76 - 112 cm) Waist x 30 - 34 in (76 - 86 cm) Inseam
Size Tested: 36x30 in (76x91 cm)
Colors Available: Freestone & Truffle
Color Tested: Truffle
Materials: 91% Nylon, 9% Spandex
The Mountain Khakis Cruiser pants are designed for both the backcountry and urban comfort. They have a four-way stretch material and that offer a sun protection rating of UVA-UVB 40+ (98% blockage). The pants are coated with a durable water repellent (DWR) and are designed to dry quickly. The nylon is weighted at 6.2 oz per sq yd. The inner material is brushed for skin comfort.
The knees of the pants are articulated, the crotch has an "inseam action gusset" and there are adjustable snaps on the cuffs. There are five pockets on the pants; two front pockets and two rear as well as a gusseted cargo pocket with a zippered closure on the right leg. Mountain Khakis offers a variety of sizing options. Waist sizes are offered in 1 in (2.5 cm) increments from size 30 - 36 in (76 - 91 cm) and 2 in (5 cm) increments from 38 - 44 in (97 - 112 cm). Inseam sizes are in 2 in (5 cm) increments ranging from 30 - 34 in (76 - 86 cm).
The Cruisers are offered in two variations of khaki, Freestone being the lighter version hue and Truffle the darker of the two.
INITIAL IMPRESSIONS & SUMMARY
The Cruiser pants are made of a stretchy nylon material that I find very comfortable. Most technical items I've worn in the past made with a similar material have been more fitted than these which are a relaxed fit that is even a little loose. I actually went up 2 in (5 cm) in the waist compared to my typical sizing. I own another style of Mountain Khakis pants and felt pretty sure I'd need the size I requested. These fit very comfortably in the waist and through the crotch area. I suppose that is what they call the inseam action gusset, which I believe will make for comfortable wear while backpacking.
|Side Cargo Pocket|
These pants also have belt loops which is a preference for me. Many technical backcountry style trousers employ and integrated belt system. I prefer to choose my own belt and appreciate this feature. The inner hems of the waist are reinforced which should minimize rolling and appear to be designed to keep a shirt from coming untucked. I own higher end dress trousers that are designed similarly to this.
The front pockets are designed on an angle that is easy to slip my hands into and the rear pockets are deep. The rear pockets have hook-and-loop closure to keep items secure. Finally the side pocket is big enough to easily fit an iPhone 6 in and zip closed. I like that it is not so large that I can't overfill it and weigh down my leg.
|Relaxed 'Casual' Fit|
The pants also have snaps on the cuffs feature two varying fits for snugging up the ankles. I'd originally question the purpose of these, but as I already have another style that also have the cuff snaps I know I will utilize them. In fact, shortly after the pants arrived the family left for a minor league baseball game and I decided to wear them with a pair of barefoot style shoes. With the minimalist approach and zero heel-to-toe drop on the shoes I noticed the pants were dragging a little bit in the rear so I snapped the cuff and it immediately relieved this issue.
I've included an image showing the relaxed/loose fit of the pants. In the picture I'm wearing them with a pair of Keen Targhee II Mid Boots that I also happen to be testing and invite the reader to review. The pants gather around the ankles but I don't find any need to use the cuff snaps with them. I immediately tried on the two products together as the majority of my trail wear over the course of the next several months will employ both these items.
Mountain Khakis boasts their Jackson Hole, Wyoming headquarters in their literature hang tags and advertising, but these pants are made in China. That stated the pants appear well made, functional and comfortable. I found no loose threads or poor stitching. At the outset of this test series I have only roses to report and no thorns. I did select the darker of the two colors offered as I tend to get pretty dirty in the backcountry. I find it pleasing.
They are very comfortable and fit loose enough that I believe they will wear well on the trail. As the summer ensues I hope they will breathe well enough so that I don't perspire profusely while I'm trekking. I can average up to 17 - 20 mi (27 - 32 km) per day which can lead to a sweaty day when wearing shorts. I hope the pants offer a cool enough experience in the heat of the summer.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
30 - 31 May, 2015; Camp Gnawbone, Gnawbone, Indiana. I wore the pants on an overnight trip with my children in southern Indiana. We take two outings a year with a Dad's group that I'm involved with, but no hiking is involved. There was plenty of rain throughout the afternoon and evening and temperatures ranged from 70 - 85 F (21 - 29 C).
|Charles C. Deam Wilderness Area|
18 - 19 July, 2015; Hoosier National Forest, Charles C. Deam Wilderness Area, near Bloomington, Indiana. My 6-1/2 year old son and I went on this overnight trip to the local National Forest and met up with another BackpackGearTest.org tester who I recently learned lives just miles away from me. We hiked a little over 3 mi (5 km) each day in hot and dry conditions. Heat indexes were around 105 F (40.5 C) during the day and I believe the overnight low was well above 75 F (24 C). My little one was a trooper in these miserable conditions and the trail we followed also happened to be open to horses. Intense and record-setting rain in the area over the previous three weeks in conjunction with the horse traffic created a soupy mess on the trail! We bushwhacked straight downhill the final 0.25 mi (0.40 km) so we could camp directly on the reservoir. That made for a tough start to our exit on the following morning, specifically since I carried two packs back up to the trail. Elevations on the trail were roughly 850 ft (260 m) and the elevation drop to the water was likely 200 ft (60 m) creating an impressive grade for the three of us to traverse off-trail.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I've worn the Cruiser pants specifically two outings, but I also wore them multiple times throughout the spring and summer for casual wear around town. They are very comfortable, but a little loose or baggy in my opinion. The material, which is 9% Spandex, has stretchiness to it, but the fit is certainly what I'd refer to as 'relaxed'. I mentioned in my Initial Report that although I typically wear a size 34 in (86 cm) waist I ended up requesting a pair in with a 36 in (91 cm) waist because the other pair of Mountain Khakis I own required a larger size. With the stretchy and relaxed nature of these pants I very well could have went with my natural size, or at a minimum a size 35 in (89 cm) waist. That stated I certainly must wear a belt with these trousers.
Baggy or not, they are extremely comfortable. I wore them on my annual spring outing with a Dad's group to which my kids and I belong before I even had an opportunity to post my Initial Report and several folks mentioned the material. It rained considerably on that trip and many thought I was actually wearing a soft shell material pant. It has that look, and although not truly a soft shell it had enough DWR to allow water to bead up and roll down the pants when I would run from one tent area to another. I didn't spend enormous amounts of time in the open rain on this relaxing 'field/car camping' event, but I'm confident they would hold up well on a trail with a light rain where overhead canopy protects me from the elements.
How do these pants feel in warm temperatures? I feel confident I can answer that question without hesitation. The trip I took with my son wasn't extremely long in distance, but it was the hottest day we've experienced in Indiana this entire year. With heat indexes measuring 105 F (40.5 C) I surprised I was even able to wear pants at all. Was I hot in the Cruisers? Certainly, but I'd have been hot in anything that day. I was not miserable and I didn't perspire any more than I would have in a pair of shorts. It felt as if the material adequately allowed heat to escape on this brutally warm afternoon. Since we were dealing with some very sloppy and muddy trails we often had to hop off the trail and walk around the spots that were just too messy to deal with. These stretches next to the trail were often thick with briars and brambles. I didn't realize this was the case until that evening when I had to attend to my son's legs. He'd worn shorts that day and his legs were all cut up with briar scratches. I had one scratch...and that came after I'd set camp and changed into a pair of shorts.
I learned another thing from this trip. The pants clean up very well. They were absolutely filthy and mud-stained, but came out of the washing machine like new. I'd like to think I left my gaiters at home in the spirit of testing, but in all honesty it was so dry I decided I didn't need them. It was a minimal oversight on my part that I was hiking a shared-use trail, but I can clearly affirm these pants held no stains with a routine wash using our normal detergent. I dried them per the label and they appear like new.
The cuff snaps are a nice feature, but I've found myself using them more around town when I wear the pants with a pair of barefoot runner shoes. It keeps them from dragging the ground. I haven't found them necessary on the trail. The deep back pockets are nice. I wore my wallet in one and had a map in the other. Finally the zippered leg pocket is the perfect size for my cell phone and wasn't awkwardly heavy on my leg as I walked the trail.
|'Monkey-Boy' and I after 2 Hot Trail Days|
That fairly well summarizes how the pants have worked for me over the last few months. I haven't had extensive backcountry wear over the summer, and I certainly pant to remedy that as the fall ensues. However, I truly put them to the test on two very hot summer days.
The pants are comfortable, handle light rain moderately well, they handle heat well and even after bushwhacking have no noticeable abrasions to date.
My primary protest is their bagginess. I believe a different size would remedy some of this issue, but I don't believe it would completely rectify the problem.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
21 - 23 August, 2015; Brown County, Indiana. This was a solo weekend outing covering a 15 mi (24 km) loop. Weather was around 80 F (29 C) during the day and dropped to around 70 F (21 C) in the evening. Conditions were dry and hot, but it was nice to get into the woods alone. Loaded pack weight 19 lb (8.5 kg).
12 - 13 September, 2015; Camp Gnawbone, Gnawbone, Indiana. This is the outing that embarks the fall season with the Dad's group that I'm involved with, again no serious hiking. It rained in the afternoon just enough to be annoying and get the tarp damp. Temperatures had been considerably warming in the previous weeks, but the high this day was 67 F (19 C) and it dropped to 48 F (9 C) that night. The weather was much cooler than the summer-like temperatures everyone had been accustomed to so jackets were and long pants were very common.
25 - 27 September, 2015; Mounds State Park, Anderson, Indiana. This was a three-day and two-night outing with our church at a local state park. High temperatures were 67 F (19 C) and lows in the evening dropped to 49 F (9 C). It was mostly cloudy, but there were some intermittent sprinkles on Saturday. The rain was annoying enough to require a rain shell but not miserable. Loaded pack weight 44 lb (20 kg).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD & SUMMARY
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.
I've continued to wear the Cruiser pants on several more outings, a few day hikes and in a casual setting over the last several months. My primary viewpoints concerning them haven't changed from the Field Report. The pants are very comfortable; the fabric is smooth and soft on the skin, but durable enough to withstand field use without staining, abrasions or other general wear-and-tear.
|A lttle 'Baggy' per my Wife|
The 9% Spandex in the material really allows the trousers to 'give' and makes them quite comfortable on the trail. That stated they also tend to be fairly baggy. I've noticed that design aspect since my Initial Report, but it has become more prominent throughout the series. Over the summer I did lose a few pounds I'd picked up over the previous winter and before acquiring the pants. As previously mentioned I do typically wear a 34 in (86 cm) waist, but based on another pair of Mountain Khaki pants I own I had chosen to go a size up in these trousers as well. Even after having lost a few pounds that other pair of Mountain Khakis still fit me well, but the Cruiser pants are a little loose in the waist and noticeably baggy when worn. The bagginess is prominent enough that my wife made the firm suggestion that I no longer wear them if we are running errands around town. The pants are comfortable and aesthetically pleasing, but they are clearly only to be used in the backcountry now.
With a low of 48 F (9 C) I personally never was able to wear the pants in very cool weather although I would have enjoyed reporting on their performance in those conditions. That unfortunately is the nature of testing; one must take what he or she is given during the series. Earlier on I was able to backpack in extremely hot temperatures and the pants allowed my legs to breathe well enough to wear without rolling them up, thus protecting my legs on the trail. I found that an important feature that I benefited from.
The gusseted crotch made them very comfortable and the deep back pockets are well designed for comfort as I see it. The four-way stretch material allows the pants to practically go unnoticed on the trail and I enjoy that. The manufacturer promoted them to be "designed for both the backcountry and urban comfort" and I can affirm they are comfortable. Urban wear is certainly out for future considerations for me based on the comments I just explained. I would be interested to know if a smaller size would continue to be comfortable in the waist and crotch area yet be a little less baggy in the visual aspect. They wear a little droopy from the outset, so my hypothesis is that they would continue to be loose-fitting.
I have enjoyed testing the Mountain Khaki Cruiser pants and I will continue to wear them for backcountry use. They are durable, well made and comfortable. The Spandex material allows for mobility on the trail and makes them comfortable enough that the bagginess goes unnoticed.
I'd like to thank BackpackGearTest.org and to Mountain Khakis for the opportunity to test the Cruiser Pants.
Read more gear reviews by Steven M Kidd