For a number of years I’ve been plagued by upland trousers that just don’t cut it. I put hundreds of miles on pants in any given season and have burned through pair after pair. The standard issues arise over and over. They are either too thin for brush, or so thick and unyielding they are like wearing uncomfortable chain-mail armor. Fabric that breathes like fishnet so you freeze on windy days, or fabric so airtight that your legs work up a sweaty lather. Find the right pair and perfect fit and after the first washing they shrink to the point they may as well be shorts.
And it seems that when companies add the word “Upland” to a pair of pants it automatically increases the price by 200%.
So last year I began looking outside the hunting world for pants that would perform, meeting the rigors of an Ultimate Uplander. They’d have to be sturdy, yet comfortable. They have to breathe but still be warm enough on frigid days. And I don’t feel like I should pay a king’s ransom for these features.
I picked up a pair of Kühl Rydr at a local outdoor store before the season started last year. These folks are known more for rock climbing, skiing and outdoor active wear — hence their tag Born in the Mountains. I think I actually used some points or a coupon so they only ran me $65 though they normally retail for $75.
After the first leg of the hunt in North Dakota where I was getting frigid mornings and 80°+ days, I never took these pants off (including when I hit the sack in the tent). Needless to say, I’m a fan.
Of course, at the same time I was experimenting with wearing low-top shoes to save weight. What I found was standard inseam pants with low top shoes aren’t ideal because of the amount of weeds and seeds that can reach your sock. So on a hunch I ordered another pair of the Kühl Rydr online with an inseam 2″ longer than my normal cut. And that little trick is a winner. Though the cuff may drag some depending on the shoe, it has minimal fray and the trade off of weed-free low-cut shoes is worth it.
I figure I’ve put over 150 miles on that one pair of pants. And until the beginning of this season I only had one rip in a foreleg from a extremely pointy sage branch (the leg suffered no damage from the encounter surprisingly and the pant leg was an easy patch). But the mileage does add up and I noticed after some of the rugged terrain in Nevada, my beloved pants were starting to show their age. And that may be the one knock on the Rydrs, they could stand to be just a bit more sturdy. But I also don’t want to give up the comfort.
Enter The Law. I don’t know where Kühl came up with the name but The Law is billed as their toughest pant to date. Better yet, it shares the same features and cut as the Rydr. I’m sure there are very specific descriptions of these features which explain why the pants don’t bind, allow free bending and movement and don’t make you sweat your coconuts off. But I don’t really care to learn the specifics. It may as well be magic for all I know, and I like that hocus-pocus.
I’ve been wearing Kühl The Law drawers all over Nebraska, still with the extra 2″ inseam, and I think they are going to be good for more miles than my last pair. They do have an added zipper on a pant pocket where I normally keep my defense salvo of shells. It does keep them in place but also makes access less swift in the event I’m charged by the random tiger. And the Kühl pants all seem to have that extra button on the inside of the fly that latches the pants. I’m sure this contributes something to the comfort and fit. But the more sturdy fabric of The Law makes that button a little more challenging to negotiate, so I suggest not waiting to the last possible second to water the cactus.
These are small trade offs for pants this comfortable that can still perform afield and retail for half of what many official upland pants do (just $89 from Kuhl.com – choose from 2 colors). And though I can’t speak directly to the comfort of women’s pants, Kühl makes the W Rydr ($70) and I believe the Rivetr ($75) is the closest thing to The Law for female Ultimate Uplanders.