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Why yes, I am wearing my bicycle pants to the office…and hiking…and camping…A review of Bluff Works adventure-ready pants

by Samuel Hagler

You know those guys who go a year without breaking a sweat? You’ve seen them walking, bellies a swingin’, from one boring meeting to the next in some sprawling city where people get lost in thoughts about whether there is more to life than this. Well, unfortunately, you can do that in these pants if you want, and nobody would give you a second look. But if that’s all you’re going to do, you might as well go to the mall. Tell it hi for me. I’ll be the one on my bike— sprinting, braking, glancing over my shoulder, cursing, laughing, forgiving drivers, hoping they forgive me, and fighting for my little place in rush hour traffic.

I have a confession to make: I don’t much care about looking swanky. In fact, as a wilderness guide I get a secret satisfaction from watching my clients learn why. Maybe one of my clients ripped his Tommy vest on an Ocotillo thorn. Maybe his wife dropped her Coach purse in the mud at camp. Regardless, I love witnessing that moment when people realize their possessions should do more than advertise the fact that they spent a lot of money at the store a celebrity was paid to recommend.

The truth is, these Bluff Works slim-fittin’ trousers earn me all the love and respect that I couldn’t care less about from folks who spend their mornings tying uncomfortable double windsor cloths around their professional necks. But here’s the kicker: Underneath this charcoal-colored layer of relatively preppy pants, I have no problem maintaining spandex svelteness when necessary, not unlike you ladies who get a rush from wearing red thongs under your business suits. I feel like an off-duty superhero with an exciting secret.

Those are some classy looking slacks

Maybe you’ve heard about the guy who tried to marry his car. How romantic. Well, I can’t say I am enough of a buster to marry a piece of Bluff Works clothing, but I do recommend getting in their pants. They are simultaneously professional, athletic, attractive, and durable as a mother. During this review I did days of off-trail backpacking in the Grand Canyon, brushing up against spiny plants and climbing 40-grit sandstone without issue. I slept in them, woke up in them, rode my bike to meetings without changing clothes, and even went on a real life mountain bike ride in them. After a few days, they smelled like a sweaty campfire but looked like a million bucks. Yup, these are either the nicest looking athletic pants or the toughest fancypants I have ever worn.

Bluff Works in action

Here are some details that normally wouldn’t matter much to me, but add up to give me my new favorite pair o’ pantalones:

1)   Lighweight, breathable, quick-drying material that seriously doesn’t wrinkle.

2)   A couple of optional zipper pockets. Keep the pocket-within-a-pocket zipped for one normal pocket, or unzip for a second pocket that can hold wily thangs more securely than Jesus’ tomb.

3)   Quite simply a comfortable, ridiculously good looking fit.

Bluffin’ in the Grand Canyon

4)   Strong stitching and darn durable material. None of those buttons you see on other pants that are just held on by two threads. This is a strong, metal button. Same with the zipper. Real pants made to last in a made-to-break society? Rebels.

5)   There’s just something about them. My new favorite hiking pants are also my new favorite meeting pants.

I know I’m just a random writer/rider to you. I know you have very little reason to trust what I say. So, here’s my story: I ride like there’s no tomorrow and I may even be one of those big-dreaming cyclists who thinks bikes can help play a part in ensuring there is a tomorrow. Magical qualities, indeed. I could hardly care less about the fancy factor of the clothes I wear, because I’m probably going to destroy them soon anyway. That’s what my clothes are for—living. The more extravagant the clothes, the more they hold me back in the ways that matter most to me. But these pants? I love these pants. Twofers. Suddenly I care about my clothes.

Built for Play

Never have I reviewed an item and immediately gone out to buy another of the thing I’m reviewing, but this time that’s exactly what is about to happen.


Samuel HaglerSamuel Hagler is a returned Peace Corps volunteer and founder of the Ride for Good Foundation. He is a master’s candidate studying Bicycle Activism in the M.A. Sustainable Communities program at Northern Arizona University, and enjoys mountain biking, commuting, and traveling the world by bicycle.

 
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7 Responses to “Why yes, I am wearing my bicycle pants to the office…and hiking…and camping…A review of Bluff Works adventure-ready pants”

  1. Jason McCay says:

    Glad to see the casual technical clothing market expanding. I love my Outlier Slim Dungarees, but they were a pretty penny. These Bluffworks don’t seem to have the same high-tech design and materials, but the price is a lot more attractive.

  2. BluesCat says:

    Ah! A man after me own heart! I’ve always said that the ONLY purpose a necktie serves is to give the Bad Guys an easy way of grabbing and LYNCHING you!

    I have only two issues with these pants, and they probably don’t apply to the vast majority of bike commuters:

    1. In the 100°+ heat of the Phoenix summer mornings, my 8-mile commute demands a shower at my gym right across the hall from my office; and THAT demands a fresh, clean pair of slacks; otherwise, folks can smell me in my second floor office as far away as the first floor.

    2. The double-length chain on my recumbent will always leave a nice, black grease smear on the inner, right leg of any slacks I wear (my calf is almost parallel to the top of the chain at one point during the pedal rotation, and the chain comes close enough to my leg that any pant which isn’t clinging to my calf will brush against it). Shorts or knickers when I ride the ‘bent!

  3. Brian S says:

    Wow…just what I have been looking for! I have been wearing Prana Bronson’s for work which are ok and have some stretch to them. Will have to give these a shot.

  4. ret3 says:

    I’m heartened to see that they’re available in sizes to fit at least the smaller end of the belly-swingin’ set. When I finally move down to a 42 waist, I might invest in a pair. Until then, REI’s Adventures Pants are filling this role nicely for me.

  5. jdmitch says:

    Yeah, fabric isn’t as fancy as Oulier… looks like but it’s probably 99% as effective for most people. Looks like standard technical ripstop nylon, just in weaves and colors to be office friendly.

    And the fact that the pants are made in NYC is good enough for me.

  6. Ray says:

    I will check these out. For now, I make do with REI’s “Mistral” pants. I use them when temps are below about 55F. Below 30F, I’ll add a layer of wool or poly thermals. If the temps climb above the 55F (+/-), the Mistrals can be too warm. They are “windproof” to about 20 mph and they are quick drying. They probably aren’t as robust as the Bluff Works, but they are COMFORTABLE. Stretchy spandex stuff in the knees make them great for riding. And they don’t look like geeky bike pants. Looks like the “looks” prize would go to the Bluff Works, but the Mistrals aren’t too shabby. Price on the Mistrals is about $100. I’ve got two pair and they get A LOT of use on the winter commute rides.

  7. Doug says:

    I tried these, and they don’t have much stretch to them, and they are very slim fitting. Too tight for my thighs, which are big, but not huge. Don’t really seem designed for cyclists who want to ride to the office.

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