Q: You need convertible trousers but don’t want to look like too much a backpacker when walking the city streets, what do you do?

A: Buy the Kuhl Liberator Convertible pants.

Kühl calls it “mountain-town” style and that works for me. Not exactly Paris/Tokyo, but better than some of my previous convertible trousers now long outdated.

I was first drawn to them for the 34″ trouser inseam option–a must for tall folks like myself, (6’6″)–and the 10.5″ short inseam. But was also deterred by the high price as $95 is not easy when you’re putting aside much of your paycheck to fund a year of travel.

But with some REI dividend help I made these my first piece of Kühl clothing and I’m now a lifelong fan. The quality is remarkable as they’ve fine tuned so many small details in something as simple as pants.

The DWR treated nylon/cotton exterior is incredibly strong and has resisted wear and tear from the past nine months of heavy use. Meanwhile the trousers feel comfortable and even silky soft against the skin inside and keep dry in various sweaty situations. Kühl achieves this by careful design of their fabric blend, placing cotton on the outside and nylon next to the skin; “soft cotton pulls moisture away from the nylon, bringing it to the surface where it can evaporate.” A gusseted crotch with a little stretch, and articulated knees all help keep movement, even big stretches, unrestricted.

Kuhl Liberator Convertible Pants

Using stealthy zippers well concealed inside seams, the Kuhl Liberator Convertible Pants zips into shorts in a flash. At first the converting zippers seemed too small and I feared they wouldn’t hold up to repeated use, but I’ve put them through the wringer — clean and dirty — and they still zip smoothly.

And maybe my favorite feature of all is the five-pocket design that includes two covert thigh pockets that zip up securely, hiding away cash or passport for days fighting through crowds in far off places. The Kuhl Liberator Convertible Pants has been the perfect fit for travel, providing all the brand’s great function with its distinct fashion.

My Kuhl Liberator Pants also made my revised round-the-world packing list.

Amazing comfort and mountain-town style with the added functionality of convertible hiking pants. One of my best purchases leading up to this trip.
  • Amazing comfort with stretch/gusseted crotch
  • Quick drying
  • Converts to shorts in a flash
  • None
4.8Overall Score

About The Author


Mark quit everything to travel the world for a year with his wife, Britnee. Along the way, he picked up a love for many other things, including illy coffee, Nepal, Bolivianos bills, and Thai beaches. Now happily home in Utah, Mark is a balding marketing professional with a mountain biking addiction.