/  Fitness /  Outdoor Clothing

Hands-On: I Tried the Kühl One Shell and Renegade Pant

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post containing affiliate links. We received compensation and courtesy product from Kühl in exchange for our honest review only. All opinions expressed here are our own. Learn more.

Matt Gulielmi
Expertise:

Style, Jewelry, Watches, Skincare, Brand Activations

Matt is a NYC-based merchandise planner in the luxury space and moonlights as a retail documentarian through his TikTok blog @retailecology. His fashion career has waltzed through styling for Michigan State's VIM Magazine, translating brand copy into Spanish for cosmetic startups, to managing inventory for some of the biggest retailers in the US. Read full bio.


Published: Apr 30, 2024
8 min read
Model wearing Kuhl One Shell and Renegade Pants in park in NYC

Trying to pick outdoor apparel can be a bigger challenge than whatever activity you need them for. 

Gauging your skill level is hard enough. Gauging whether you’ll need every feature, let alone get your money’s worth? Talk about missing the forest for the trees. 

KÜHL is known for durable, feature-rich outdoor apparel. I tested a shell jacket and a pair of rugged hiking pants get the low-down on how much action they can take.

The Adult Man Image/Icon
KÜHL

Bottom line: KÜHL manages to integrate a lot of function without the hyper-technical look that’s common with outdoor apparel. I’m by no means an accomplished outdoorsman, but I still need ample pockets, water-repellency, and unrestricted movement in the city. Every box was checked across the products I tested. However, their casual items are priced similar to their feature-heavy offerings, and the pricing didn’t always add up.

Ratings: The Adult Man Image/Icon  Design The Adult Man Image/Icon  Quality of Materials The Adult Man Image/Icon  Value for Money The Adult Man Image/Icon  Craftsmanship The Adult Man Image/Icon  Customer Service
Pros:
  • Multiple points of adjustability ensure a proper fit on The One Shell
  • Their pants are great for the outdoors but they can double as casual trousers
  • KÜHL stands by any defects with repairs or replacements
Cons:
  • The One Shell looks bulky when loaded up with supplies

A city boy reviewing products from one of the hiking greats? 

Hear me out. 

Navigating the streets of New York City is its own beast. It’s no Grand Teton, but it earns the “concrete jungle” nickname. 

When I wanted flexible pants for huffing it through subway catacombs, the stretch chinos I got were tight enough to read my credit card number through my back pocket. 

I bought a trench-style raincoat for the city. They’re timeless. I wouldn’t describe the “waterproof” finish with the same adjective. 

KÜHL always seemed like premium gear reserved for the pros. A recent search revealed they’ve evolved into a lifestyle brand with options for the masses, so I picked up a shell jacket and a pair of pants, to see if they’re the sherpa for my urban and wild journeys alike. 

What Is Kühl?

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Founded in Utah, KÜHL has been making a performance-driven apparel for 40 years.  

They’ve brought their passion for the outdoors into the company, blending mountain culture with casual style

As one of the last remaining independently owned outdoor brands they focus on one thing: developing outdoor gear with lasting quality. 

In the event of product defects, KÜHL offers repairs or replacements on any of their products, whether they’re purchased directly from them or an authorized retailer. 

Things to Consider before Buying

Kuhl Product Label Close up

KÜHL produces a wide range of items ranging in price, material, and number of features, but as their tagline suggests the brand largely prioritizes those born in the mountains. 

With that comes a higher cost. If you’d call yourself an amateur, a winter jacket from KÜHL might seem pricey based on how often you’ll wear it, but it will surely come equipped with everything you need. 

My Hands-on Review

The One Shell

Kuhl One Shell Close up

Before I relied on shell jackets to keep me dry, the lightweight feel of them had me questioning why they cost so much. 

It’s not like they’re insulated with goose down. In fact, most hardly feel like anything more than sewn plastic tarp.

The One Shell costs over $300, so it better be packed to the brim with features if it expects to be my trusted choice for moisture defense.

I snagged a large, and while it’s a bit roomy on me, I wouldn’t size down. I typically wear shell jackets over a warm base layer, and a medium wouldn’t allow enough room for easy movement. It doesn’t look as big as it feels with just a t-shirt on under it, though.

Model Sitting wearing Kuhl One Shell

KÜHL designed The One Shell to be ultra-adjustable and it comes in handy with whatever I’m wearing.

The bottom hem has an elastic adjuster on either side, which makes getting the perfect fit easy. Other shell jackets I’ve tested have a single bungee loop going around the bottom, which can make for a weird poofy look.

Both sleeves feature velcro straps for tightening, and I love the mountain scape detail KÜHL snuck onto them. Elastic cuff bands can give me that scrunched-up look too, but the velcro straps hide any extra slack when they’re tightened.

Maybe I have a huge noggin, but the hood felt tight. The backside has its own elastic adjuster, but I feel like it’s tight enough where I wouldn’t need to tighten it any more.

If you participate in high-contact outdoor activities like skiing, mountain biking, or climbing, I doubt The One Shell has enough room for a helmet underneath.

It fits great otherwise. The fabric connecting the hood to the shoulders has plenty of room for moving my head side to side without any resistance.

Radiki Outsider Pants rear view

The front bill is my favorite detail on the hood. It pokes out just enough to provide ample sun shade, but it doesn’t look like a goofy awning above my forehead.

Storage is a key selling point for my jacket purchases, especially for shell jackets that serve as my outermost layer.

It doesn’t have the most space, but it works for most things. Both side pockets can harbor my phone, wallet, headphones, and keys, but anything more and it starts to look like I’m shoplifting something.

Pocket view of Kuhl One Shell

I appreciate the arm and inside pockets though. Again, these aren’t huge, but they’re handy for smaller objects to lighten the load of my front pockets. I’d say their best use case is for holding quick-draw chapstick out on the slopes.

KÜHL’s waterproofing is where The One Shell really impressed.

First, the hood falls far enough over my head to avoid any water running down my face, which is a gripe I’ve run into with other rain jackets.

Model Wearing One Shell with Hood Drawn

The aqua-guard zippers do an amazing job at keeping water out of an otherwise vulnerable spot. Each side of the zipper has a rubber cover that completely conceals the teeth when joined.

KÜHL’s fabric is a Nylon AERO membrane that supposedly balances breathability and waterproofing. One big differentiator is that this fabric is soft, quiet, and offers a slight stretch that provides seamless movement.

Kuhl One Shell Hood Rear

In terms of keeping water out, It’s first-class. Light sprinkles bead up on contact, and heavy drenches of water skate right off the fabric. Neither left any dark spots where moisture has seeped in.

I didn’t think the fabric was that breathable (though how many rain shells are?). Keeping water out while letting body heat escape just seems paradoxical to me. If I’m starting to overhead, the armpits have zippered pass-through windows to cool things down, and they make a big difference.

Kuhl One Piece Zipper View


Paired with my Radikl Outsider Pants, getting wet isn’t something I think of. The AERO Membrane and aqua-guard zippers do an amazing job at keeping me dry. Even though it’s slightly large by itself, multiple points of adjustability make that a non-issue. It only took a few wears to understand why it’s called “The One Shell.”

Kühl One Shell

A respectable shell jacket has to keep you dry. Anything else is frosting. The AERO membrane fabric and aqua-guard zippers are effective in waterproofing, but the pocket space and fit customization take The One Shell take The One Shell from a specialized mountaineering piece into a daily rain jacket. 

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Renegade Pant

Model Wearing Renegade Pants

Comfort and durability aren’t just nice-to-haves for outdoor gear—anything worn on an outdoor escapade has to be fit for the occasion.

The Renegade Pant was a chin-scratcher at first. Without obvious signs of utility like lobster clips or double-knee reinforcements, it seemed pretty basic.

Given that it’s made from nylon and spandex, I opted to size up to a 34-inch waist instead of my regular 33”.

Renegade Pants lower pocket view

I had the right idea. The waist gently forms to my size with a bit of wiggle room, and it has belt loops if I drop a few pounds. There’s no risk going true-to-size, but I could see one size up being more comfortable with long underwear.

Whether it’s a lazy day at home or strutting around town, nothing spells misery like tightness near the crotch because of ill-fitting pants. 

The Renegade Pant has a gusseted crotch that avoids any squeezing in the rise. 

Close up of Renegade Pant upper area

Your average loose-fitting hiking pants adorned with hardware find themselves at home in the wilderness. Styled correctly, I could get away with wearing these to everyday functions.

Besides the rear hang loop (huge fan, by the way) and KÜHL logo, nothing else suggests they’re hiking pants at heart. Any zippered pocket has a flap to keep water out while maintaining a clean look in doing so.

They claim the fabric is soft yet durable, which, in my experience, is spot-on. It almost feels like an athletic canvas—tough enough to handle scrapes with ease and a flexible texture that doesn’t require a break-in period.

The fabric panels and stitching are strategically placed to allow knees to articulate freely. It’s a unique feature I haven’t seen on other pants, and while the fabric is unrestrictive by itself, it makes The Renegade Pant even better for intense exploration.

Kuhl Renegade Pants Posterior

It dries in a snap, which is a must if your date with mother nature takes you near water. These are by no means waterproof, though. I noticed it hanging onto water after a quick commute in the rain.

There’s a sneaky amount of pocket space for such an unsuspecting pant. 

I like the drop-in cell phone pockets, and having them on both sides of the pants is a welcomed decision for a left-hander like me.

Kuhl Renegade Pants Pocket view close up

The velcro closure on the rear pockets keeps things safe, but I wouldn’t mind if KÜHL swapped it for sturdy zippers like the security pockets on each side. Regardless, eight pockets in total provide more than enough stash spots.

After putting them through their paces, The Renegade Pants hide a lot of practicality under the hood. They’re easy to move around in despite their robust material, and the storage competes with cargo pants without the bulky silhouette. Knowing that I’m a novice hiker, the sub-$100 price point seals the deal as part of my gear rotation.

Kühl Renegade Pant
Even if they aren’t fully water resistant, The Renegade Pants dry quickly. They don’t leave anything to be desired otherwise. Plenty of legroom, comfort, and pocket space make these an easy addition to my permanent hiking rotation.
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What Do Other Reviewers Say?

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If browsing reviews showed me anything, it’s that KÜHL doesn’t talk big game. 

The review section for each product hosts pictures of satisfied customers using their recent purchases in faraway lands. 

Whether they’re on rocky mountaintops, dewy forests, or breathtaking plains, reviewers share that KÜHL’s product always rises to the occasion. 

My Thoughts Overall

What I Like

  • The One Shell’s adjustable wrist cuffs, bottom hem, and hood make it easy to secure a proper fit.
  • Nylon fabric, an interior AERO membrane, and aqua-guard zippers give The One Shell multiple points of water protection that work well.
  • I haven’t had pants with a gussets before, and they give The Renegade Pants great mobility between the legs without relying on the flexible fabric.
  • The Renegade Pants have a ton of interior storage space that avoid the bulky appearance that outside pockets deliver. .

What I Don’t Like

  • The One Shell’s thin design can quickly look awkward when I fill all of the pockets with belongings.

Who Are These Pieces For?

KÜHL is for the guy who doesn’t care for flashy outdoor apparel yet demands good looks and utility. 

Take The One Shell and the Renegade pants demonstrate both sides of KÜHL’s appeal. The former is a function-dense outer layer fit for hikes in rainy climates, but its understated styling doubles as my commuter rain jacket. The latter sees just as many office days as ones out in the forest.

The Verdict

Unlike Patagonia or The North Face, I’ve never seen a flashy marketing campaign from KÜHL. It was only on the arms of seasoned ski-bums did I spot their snow-capped shield logo. 

Once I tested a bunch of their products, it made sense. Everything is there: lasting quality, usefulness, and comfort. If the big-shots find value in what they’re putting out, chances are it’ll go above and beyond my needs, and I’m willing to pay KÜHL’s prices if it means I’m getting the best. 

The One Shell, and Renegade Pant really illustrate their expertise. Is all of that storage, waterproofing, and movement-amplifying material overkill for my needs? Sure, but I’d rather pay for them and not need them than to get caught without them.

Kühl

Their emphasis on fit, functionality, and utility makes Kühl a trusty brand for guys who are hiking, fishing, hunting, camping, or working a blue-collar job and looking for performance materials on the clock while they’re on their feet.

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