Monday, August 09, 2021

Review: KÜHL Resistor Lite Chinos

The convertible cargo pants KÜHL sent me to review were great for outdoorsy activities. Things get trickier when I consider the Resistor Lite Chinos they also sent my way. Can they be both multi-functional and look sharp? Let's find out.


First off, I want pants that Just Look Good. For me, that's neutral looking without zippers and other features screaming for attention. I'm looking to blend here.

The Resistor Lite Chinos are definitely a step up in terms of fashion than other tech pants I've owned. More importantly, they passed the Mom-Test: without prompting she remarked how good they looked.

Verdict: Pass


Just as important, I want pants that are comfortable and thrive in a variety of situations. When traveling, I want the same pair of pants to work for sight-seeing, hiking and a nice dinner out.

I wore these on travel days on our recent Orlando Adventure and the stretchy fabric was comfortable for both walking and sitting on the plane.

Verdict: Pass.


When traveling, I'll typically bring one or two pairs of pants to cover a week and I want to be confident that they're going to endure whatever I throw at them.

There's a noticeable level of quality in the construction of the Resistor Lites. One feature I especially liked: the button that secures the pants is attached via a short length of webbing rather than being sewed on. It's touches like that which give me the sense that these pants are going to last.

Verdict: Pass.


I need generously sized pockets to store all my stuff. For a normal day, this includes a handkerchief, bulky cell phone, key chain, skinny wallet, slim notepad and a pen.

Everything fits as it should. Rather than traditional cargo pockets, the side pockets are moved further back around on the pants. These are relatively large and fit a cell phone and a passport.

The placement of these pockets may keep the pants from looking like traditional cargo pants which is a good thing. However, when sitting down, these side pockets are harder to reach. That didn't immediately strike me as a problem until I found myself seated on a flight and realized the items in these pockets were inaccessible. Time will tell if the side pocket placement is genius or an annoyance. The coin pocket is extra large and fits my wallet, which is a big win.

Verdict: Pass.


When I travel, I like to have certain items secured, including my wallet and boarding pass. For international travel, I'll add my passport to this list. There are different philosophies about where the best place to store your passport is while abroad, I'm in the keep it on me at all times camp.

None of the pockets on the Resistor Lite Chino have zippers and none, other than maybe the coin pocket feel truly secure. For travel, especially international travel, this is a deal breaker. This is the only substantive issue I could find with the pants.

Verdict: Fail


For lengthier trips, I'll often sink-wash my clothes, including pants. For jeans and other cotton based pants, this doesn't work well because they'll remain damp for days. Other technical pants I've worn can go from soaking wet to dry overnight.

I soaked both the Resistor Lite Chinos and another pair of technical pants in my bathroom sink, rolled them in a towel and squeezed to help the drying process and then hung them up. Despite the fact that the Resistor Lite's have some cotton in them, they dried just as quickly as the technical pants. That was a pleasant surprise.

Verdict: Pass.

Other Pros

I like the details that KÜHL has added to the chinos, such as the draw string cords at the ankles and the subtly placed reflective strips. I can see how these features would make riding a bike in the pants safer. While I don't know that I'd search these features out, I appreciate them being included.

Other Cons

Besides the lack of secure closures on the pockets, my only other criticism is how they are marketed. After browsing, YouTube bombarded me with ads for the Resistor Lite. I supposed that's to be expected. After a week of exposure, I had their tagline firmly in my head: Designed to feel weightless. Experience the comfort of shorts with the sun protection of pants.

With all this programming, I couldn't help but be just a little disappointed when I tried the pants on for the first time: they weren't weightless; they weren't as comfortable as shorts. Once I let go of the marketing hyperbole I could appreciated that these were, in fact, mighty fine pants. They just happen to obey the laws of physics.

The Final Verdict

These pants nail both fashion and function. The placement of the side pockets is a question mark for me. I sorely miss zippers on at least a few of the pockets, which would provide important security when traveling.

I'll also note that I've been impressed the interactions I've had with my contact over at KÜHL. He's been patient, interested in my feedback and super responsive. If this is indicative of company values, then that's another serious win for KÜHL products.

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