If you like to adventure outdoors, you likely have come across Kühl brand clothing. I got my first pair of Kühl pants almost 20 years ago and have purchased multiple Kühl clothing items since then. They have become my go-to brand for my outdoor clothing needs. Why, might you ask? Well, it’s because they are some of the most durable, comfortable, and stylish outdoor clothing items I own.
This past summer, I picked up a pair of Kühl Radikl shorts to give them a try, and I have been equally impressed with them as I have been with my other Kuhl purchases. With a casual style, unmatched durability, and exceptional performance, there’s nothing not to love about these shorts. Let’s take a closer look at what makes them stand out from the competition.
One of my favorite things about Kühl clothing is the fit. They’re designed for outdoor activities, so you’ll appreciate the details in the design that allow you to be active and move around without them feeling too bulky or oversized. They have a relaxed fit with plenty of pockets that won’t bother you when used. You know what I mean if you’ve ever carried a cell phone in your pocket and could feel it rubbing against your thigh with every step.
While the shorts don’t have a true elastic waistband, they have some stretchy material incorporated into them that provides just enough flexibility without making them feel like gym shorts. When selecting your waist size, it is important to get close to what you typically wear, but know that there’s a little extra stretch when you finish eating that overstuffed burrito,
The Radikl shorts boast a strategic placement of knit stretch panels around the waist, hips, and back yoke, offering above-average freedom of motion. This stretchy material is also great for ventilation, which can be a necessity in the middle of the summer. Speaking of summer, it’s also nice to know they are built with UPF 50+ sun protection.
The shorts come in 8-inch, 10-inch, and 12″ inseam lengths, allowing you to dial in the fit for your specific needs or style. I opted for the 10-inch inseam, even though I’m a little shorter at 5’6″. This was more of a personal preference, as I tend to wear longer shorts. However, the extra length doesn’t impede the motion of movement and is the perfect length for me. I suggest choosing whatever option works best for you, choosing the longer or shorter length if that’s your style.
Many shorts geared toward outdoor activities tend to focus more on look and style than performance. One of the things that I love about Kühl is their focus on the fabric. The Kühl Radikl shorts are engineered with a unique hybrid design for superior performance and action-ready functionality. The shorts are constructed from a lightweight, quick-dry, durable fabric called Enduro, a blend of 68% Cotton, 29% Nylon, and 3% Spandex. This material provides not only comfort but also high abrasion resistance, making the shorts exceptionally durable.
Finding the right balance of quick-dry and durability in clothing is sometimes challenging. Too often, the fabric is either very thick but stays wet for hours or drys quickly but will get damaged from more adventurous uses. As expected, the Radikl shorts held up exceptionally well when put to the test on a long “hot” hiking trip that involved sweating, a rain storm, and some scrambling up and down rock ledges. After a wash, the shorts cleaned up very well and were ready to wear out for dinner.
The Kühl Radikl shorts are designed to stretch. It’s made of stretchy fabric panels placed throughout the garment that allow for movement and durability for hiking, climbing, or simply enjoying the dog days of summer. I particularly like this stretchiness. It’s subtle yet functional. It’s hard to explain in words, but you don’t really notice the stretchiness until you need it. It’s a feature that I’ve grown to love with a lot of the fabric used in Kühl clothing.
The Kühl Radikl shorts fit pretty true to size. Since they’re designed for active use, they’ll adjust to your movements when needed. That said, if you are on the cusp of two different sizes, it may be better to size up to the larger one. When ordering, start with your true size, and if you don’t like to fit and feel, then return them for an even swap before taking them out for an adventure. It’s easy to get a feel for the fit by trying them on.
I tend to emphasize function over style, but I must say that these are some nice-looking shorts. I tend to rock the outdoor look, primarily because that makes up most of the clothing I own, and these fit nicely into that style. They’re not flashy, but also not boring. The well-defined seams outlining the pockets, waist, and areas where the more flexible material is placed add a nice contrast to the straight fabric. The buttons and logo also complement the shorts very well. While I may not be the best style critic, they look pretty good.
Performance is where the shorts shine. While ready for outdoor adventures or everyday wear, these shorts are built to perform. Whether going on day hikes or out to dinner, these are my new go-to shorts. First and foremost, the comfortable fit combined with adventure-ready build quality makes these an all-around great option for almost any activity. I especially appreciate wearing them in warm weather when a pair of pants will be uncomfortable. I don’t feel I have to compromise performance when switching to shorts from pants.
One other feature that I like about the shorts is the belt loop. Mostly out of habit, I tend to wear a belt on my pants and shorts. There’s nothing quite like a Kuhl belt loop, especially when I have on my favorite Arcade belt. The wider belt loops on the front, and the extra wide one on the back keep it in place and comfortable along the shorts’ waistband.
As stated above, these shorts (and all Kühl clothing) are made for being active. Just like my Kühl pants, the gusseted crotch provides that additional flexibility and freedom of movement I want when I’m out on the trail. You shouldn’t notice any restrictions when you have a good pair of shorts. However, if you wear brands that don’t perform, you will notice them all day long, which is not what you want.
While these shorts perform well in most situations, the only drawback is weather resistance. They’re not specifically designed for wet weather like some of the other shorts Kühl offers. However, this is a tradeoff for durability. Since they dry fast, unlike cotton shorts, they are more than adequate for getting caught in a rainstorm on a long hike. However, if you want a pair of shorts that can easily transition from hiking shorts to swim trunks, you may want to opt for the Kuhl Shift Amfibia (a great option for water sports).
Don’t let this scare you away, though. They are the best all-around shorts Kühl offers, in my humble opinion. They perform excellently in most areas and above average in the areas where they don’t shine.
Adding to their functionality are seven pockets: two front pockets (jean style), one coin pocket, two back pockets, one stealth cell phone pocket, and one 3D gusset pocket. I tend to carry more than I should in my pockets, but the pockets in these shorts eat up what a pair of jeans would struggle to hold. On the other hand, they don’t feel like a pair of cargo shorts overloaded with a “backpack-load” of supplies. The pockets are ideal for keeping everything, including your cell phone, wallets, and a trail snack secure, organized, and out of mind.
The front hand pockets incorporate the stretch fabric on the inside, giving it the venting performance of mesh pockets but the durability of a solid fabric. The rear pockets’ interior fabric is the same as the exterior.
One thing that would be an excellent addition would be zippered pockets or ones with a velcro closure or snap button. I have worn other shorts with zippered thigh pockets that provide that extra security for loose money or a credit card. However, the pockets are deep, so it’s not a huge concern with the Radikl shorts.
One of the hardest decisions when picking your shorts is the color. Kühl gives you plenty of options with a whopping 13 color choices. I decided on Carbon, a dark grey color, but you can also choose from Grey Camo, Fired Brick, Green Camo, Deep Waters, Dark Kacjhi, Smoke, Walnut, Black, Burnt Olive, Breen, Fossil, and Teak. If that confused you, you should check them out on the Kuhl website.
It’s important to note that Kühl clothes are more expensive than some other outdoor clothing options on the market, and it can sometimes be a little harder to press the “buy button” on something you haven’t experienced before. However, the nominally higher price is well worth it when it comes to the amount of use you’ll get out of them.
I’m going to go off-topic for a moment, but I’m a firm believer in the “Last Tool First” philosophy. This means that it’s often more beneficial to spend a little extra upfront to get the longest-lasting and best-built product than purchase multiple less durable items of lower quality that won’t last, ultimately spending more in the long run. Too many clothing brands try to hit the magic price point to get people to buy and, hopefully, when they wear out, buy again. Kühl approaches things differently and builds products to last. While I’m sure they hope you purchase a second pair, you won’t need to unless you want them for convenience.
Kühl clothing will outlast the competition and provide a more comfortable and capable product over the years. Plus, the materials used to create the clothing are sustainably sourced and ethically made, allowing your personal values to be part of your clothing choices.
Other Kühl Shorts
One of the best things about Kühl shorts is the options. While this review focuses on one of my favorites, the Radikl, they make several different styles designed for specific forms of adventure. Below are some great shorts to check out:
Summary: Renegade shorts are all-around performers made for durability and comfort, just like their big brother, the Renegade pants. The fabric boasts water resistance and breathability, ensuring these shorts stand up to the elements.
Fabric: Crafted from 95% Nylon with a hint of 5% Spandex, they have a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish that ensures excellent water resistance.
- Water Resistance: Excellent
- Quick Dry: Excellent
Summary: The Shift Amfib shorts are tailored for the stylish traveler. Their moisture-wicking capabilities and fast-drying properties make them a trusted companion on any journey.
Fabric: Comprising 54% Nylon, 41% Polyester, and 5% Spandex with a DWR Coating, these shorts guarantee comfort and durability.
- Water Resistance: Good
- Quick Dry: Excellent
- Sun Protection: UPF 50
Summary: Silencr shorts are technical wonders engineered for those who prioritize movement. With excellent breathability, they cater to a range of activities, from hiking to fitness routines.
Fabric: Made entirely from Mechanical Stretch Polyester, these shorts also feature a DWR Coating for added resistance.
- Water Resistance: Excellent
- Quick Dry: Good
- Sun Protection: UPF 50
Summary: Whether it's climbing a challenging terrain, setting up camp, or just lounging casually, the Ramblr shorts are your go-to. Their fabric ensures they are versatile for any adventure.
Fabric: With a composition of 68% Cotton and 29% Nylon, blended with 3% Spandex, these shorts prioritize comfort.
- Water Resistance: Fair
- Quick Dry: Good
- Sun Protection: UPF 50
Why Choose KUHL?
One of the benefits of choosing Kühl, in addition to getting quality clothing, is knowing that you’re aligning your personal values with your financial decisions. Kühl is a privately owned and independent business operating in the competitive landscape of the outdoor apparel industry. Based out of Salt Lake City, the company prides itself on its unwavering commitment to delivering the highest quality products to its customers, a commitment underpinned by its core value of independence.
Kühl’s motto is “Mountain Grown, Independently Owned.” Their choice to remain independently owned is more than just a business decision; it is a promise to their customers, employees, and community that they will continue to chart their own course. Kühl aims to inspire its customers to pursue their true callings and passions, supporting independents in all areas of life.
Fiscal responsibility is a vital principle for Kühl. The company rejects overproduction, viewing it as a misuse of capital and resources and an environmentally damaging practice. Instead, Kühl is committed to producing excellent products at a fair price. The company operates under the belief that actions define a business, and as such, it has a unique definition of success. Kühl’s goal is to collaborate with and employ great people, source materials responsibly, and improve the quality of life for all stakeholders, all in the pursuit of making exceptional products. They aim to enrich the journey, not just focus on the destination.
Personally, this makes me feel good about choosing Kühl clothing. While it may cost a little more than items at big-box stores, I can sleep better at night knowing that I made a more ethical choice for people and the planet.
I absolutely love the Radikl Shorts by Kuhl. They are honestly one of the most comfortable shorts I own. They’re perfect for hot summer hikes, durable enough for a rock scramble, and compact enough to tuck into the storage space of a small backpack. If you’re looking for an all-around single pair of shorts, the Radikl’s are a great option for almost any activity you throw at them. However, they are perfect for everyday use with a stylish design showing your love for the great outdoors. Give me a comfortable pair of shoes, a lightweight shirt, and a pair of Kuhl shorts, and I’m ready for anything.