The Western Rise AT Slim Rivet Pant, in review

Hey there, fellow travel gear junkies. I’ve got something today that I’m pretty excited about. You know how I’m always going on and on about how soft shell jeans are the greatest thing in the world, but there simply aren’t so many options available? Well, I’m happy to introduce an alternative; one that does things a bit differently from what you might expect from a “soft shell,” and one that I expect will be stealing some thunder away from certain alternatives as more people give them a try. They’re the AT Slim Rivet Pant from Western Rise, a not-quite-soft-shell pant that was built to handle just about anything you can imagine.

I picked these up the normal way, then coincidentally received an email from the founder, who asked if there was anything of theirs I’d like to try. I told him I was already wearing his pants as I was writing him back, and that I had been enjoying them so much that I wouldn’t say no to a second pair, which he was happy to send.

This is kind of a Goldilocks situation for me. If I had to custom-make a pair of travel pants, this is pretty much what I would come up with. Let’s get to it.

Western Rise AT Slim Rivet Pant, reviewed

Here they are in “Shadow” and “Cloud.” There’s a khaki available as well, and a black in the works, both for men and women.

Western Rise AT Slim Rivet Pant shadow and cloud

These are priced at $129, which puts them around the midrange for high-tech pants, especially from small companies. I’ve seen similar items go down to about $90, but they also go all the way up to $200 and above, so they’re certainly competitive compared to the options available. And they’re really, really tough. I’d expect these would outlast just about anything you can find.

Here’s a front view:

Western Rise AT Slim Rivet Pant front

Yup, totally normal. No weird racing stripes or random zippers anywhere to be seen. Just a classic, stylish appearance with no extra frills, which is just as it should be.

Fabric

This is really the star of the show. I’ll go out on a limb here to say this is the most natural-feeling synthetic fabric I’ve run into, perhaps tied for first place with the Slim Dungarees (reviewed here) and Futureworks pants, both from Outlier. It doesn’t have any of that slick, silky-smooth surface of most polyester or nylon fabrics, and none of the shine, either.

Here are the stats:

  • Fabric composition: 97% nylon, 3% elastane
  • Fabric weight: 280 grams per square meter
  • Garment weight: 17.2 oz (size 34)
  • Horizontal stretch: 25%
  • Vertical stretch: 10%

These pants are a little heftier than you might expect, and stiffer; they wanted a fabric that would “break,” rather than “drape.” To give you an idea of how structured they are, you can undo the button and unzip the fly while you’ve got them on, and they won’t fall down. They remind me a bit of brand-new cotton canvas, both in terms of look and feel; thick, hefty, and structured, but not quite “rigid.” I wouldn’t call them soft, but they’re not scratchy either.

Let’s start with a fabric closeup, where you can see how the individual yarns are big enough that…well, you can actually see them.

Western Rise AT Slim Rivet Pant fabric closeup

Thicker yarns create a more textured surface, which not only looks and feels more like a normal fabric, but also creates more air channels between the fibers, providing a great deal more breathability than a fabric of thinner yarns more densely woven together.

Plus, it’s unlined:

Western Rise AT Slim Rivet Pant inner fabric face

Most true soft shells are made with a “double-weave” fabric, which means they have a soft, brushed surface on the inside, almost like fleece…which is soft and comfy, but also quite warm. Skipping the brushed interior makes these less likely to overheat during high exertion, so they’ve been a lot more comfortable during hot weather and exercise than I would have expected from a fabric of this weight.

They also have 4-way stretch, even though it only says 2-way on their site. They told me that since they only have a little stretch along the vertical, they didn’t want to brag about it, but it’s definitely there, and very much appreciated. I’ve found them to be comfortable in all sorts of situations, even with the slim fit. It’s not the sort of crazy stretch that you might want for yoga or karate high kicks, but it’s plenty for everyday use, casual hikes, and so on.

The only thing I can mention that’s a potential negative is how the sound of the legs brushing together is pretty typical of most synthetic pants, in that you can hear a swooshy noise. I’ve heard worse, but it’s about average in this regard. It’s reduced quite a bit by the slim fit though, since there’s less fabric that’ll brush together with each step.

Overall, however, this fabric is a real winner. It’s tough, structured, stretchy, pleasantly textured, super breathable, fast-drying, not overly warm, comfortable in a wide variety of temperatures, and pretty indistinguishable from a regular fabric in terms of its appearance. It’s a little loud sometimes, but I love everything else about it.

Features

These have a jean-pocket layout, which has always been my favorite. Nothing ever falls out of a jean pocket, which is why I wear them almost exclusively.

The pocket openings are just a bit snug, although not enough to cause much of a problem. Here’s the front left. The extra stitching above the pocket is just decorative, by the way.

Western Rise AT Slim Rivet Pant front left pocket

Over on the other side they’ve got the 5th pocket, but it’s big enough to fit a smartphone, pens, pocketknives, and other lengthy items:

Western Rise AT Slim Rivet Pant smartphone pocket

I tend to put my phone into the regular pocket, but I like having this option for other long and skinny things, so they won’t interfere with each other. It’s also kind of a security pocket; fold up a couple paper bills and shove them in there, and they’ll be about as safe as it gets.

What I also like about this pocket is how it’s positioned as far to the side as it’ll go, rather than right in the middle, meaning the contents are further away from getting crushed between hip and thigh when you sit down.

Over in back, it has classic jean styling as well:

Western Rise AT Slim Rivet Pant back

That back right pocket has a secret, though.

Western Rise AT Slim Rivet Pant back right security pocket

A hidden zippered pocket, exactly where I like to put my wallet. And that’s in addition to the regular pocket, rather than the zipper securing the main pocket itself. I like this method a little better, since you can use the regular pocket like normal at home, without having to fiddle with the zipper.

These pockets aren’t very big, though. I like how they’re snug enough that a wallet won’t fall over to become horizontal, but a normal-sized wallet will go right up to the zipper:

Western Rise AT Slim Rivet Pant security pocket wallet fit

You can see how it’s just barely able to fit in there while still allowing the zipper to close, which means it’s not big enough for a passport:

Western Rise AT Slim Rivet Pant security pocket passport fit

Depending on how you like to store things, this might be a problem for you. Personally, I like to keep just my wallet back there, so I’m fine with this. But it’s a tight fit, and with the small zipper handle, it can be a little fiddly getting a wallet in and out of there. Considering how this is a security pocket, you could think of this as an extra security feature, but I think most people would prefer just a teensy bit more room in there.

The front pockets are pretty short too. They’re just big enough that they don’t annoy me, but I think just a couple more inches would be nice. Here’s a measurement so you can get a better idea to compare them to a favorite you’ve already got:

Western Rise AT Slim Rivet Pant pocket interior

You might notice how the zipper is a bit shorter as well. This may have something to do with reducing the issue of “tenting,” but it does feel a bit snug when you’re pulling these on or taking them off, as the zipper won’t open as much as certain alternatives.

The small pockets are likely to be the biggest issue anyone has with these pants. Again, they’re just big enough, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they deepened the front pockets by an inch or two and made the back pockets maybe 5-10% bigger in an updated version at some point.

Fit

They’re called the AT Slim Rivet Pants, so they’re definitely slim. They also avoid the use of “vanity” sizing, meaning you should probably go 2″ bigger than usual. I wear a 32 in most brands (including Outlier and Bluffworks pants, which readers of this site might be familiar with), but I got a 34 in these, and they’re just right. Their shorts, however, do not use this system, so pay attention to the sizing charts if you’re looking at those too. The pants are currently available only in even-numbered sizes, but they told me they’re hoping to expand to odd numbers in the near future as well, which would be helpful in getting an exact fit.

There’s a bit of shrinkage if you dry them in a dryer, but not enough to ruin the waist size. The waist is actually pretty consistent, in that it won’t get overstretched if you wear them without a belt, as the fabric is reinforced by a non-stretch fabric along the inside of the waistband. It’ll shrink just a bit in the dryer, but then expand back to normal if you wear them for a little while. I think everyone should do it this way, so you don’t have to deal with baggy pants if you choose to go belt-less (although I don’t mind how QOR uses an elastic boxer-short-style waistband to make their waistbands stretchy, but not saggy).

They’ll shrink just a bit in the length, however, so go ahead and do that before getting them hemmed or anything like that. As an added bonus, they also have an extra inch of length at the ankle, folded back and hidden within the hem. Just undo that layer of stitching and you’ll get pants 1″ longer. Nice little touch.

Here they are in front:

Western Rise AT Slim Rivet pant worn front

And in back:

Western Rise AT Slim Rivet Pant worn back

I’m 5’10” by the way, in case that’s useful info.

One little detail worth noticing here is how every version uses those black rivets. They blend in with the dark grey version, but work as accents on the lighter grey one. I don’t have a preference either way, but I thought I’d point this out.

You can see they fit pretty close to the legs, so they’d be great for biking, rock climbing, and things like that. They certainly don’t feel tight, courtesy of the 4-way stretch fabric, and I never feel restricted in them unless I’m lifting my knee up to my chest or something. They’ve got an inseam gusset as well, for even more flexibility.

So what’s the verdict?!

Final thoughts on the Western Rise AT Slim Rivet Pants

I was really looking forward to these when I first saw them, and I’m happy to say they became an instant favorite the moment I put them on. I’ve always wanted a five-pocket pant in a 4-way stretch synthetic fabric, with a hidden zippered pocket in the back right, a non-saggy waistband, and a style that’s totally normal and will fit in anywhere.

Beyond that, Western Rise really did a great job getting the fabric just right. It’s super tough, structured, textured, and stretchy, but not so much that it’ll lose its shape or feel pajama-like. These feel more like body armor than wispy-thin hiking pants or super-stretchy yoga pants, and although they’re heftier than you might expect for a lightweight travel pant, they feel more like “real” pants because of it. They also don’t overheat or feel sticky like most soft shell fabrics, thanks to those thick yarns and the unlined interior, making them more versatile than the fabric weight might imply. I’m happy to say that after all these years, this is my favorite technical pant fabric.

I expect the only real difficulty anyone might have with these would be the small pockets, both in front and back. They’re just big enough, but with phones getting bigger all the time, I think expanding them would go over pretty well with most people. They’ve also got a bit of that swishy noise when you brush your legs past each other, but it’s pretty standard compared to other technical pants I’ve tried, and I’ve only seen a few others that have avoided this altogether (for the record, both are from Outlier).

I expect these to win over a lot of fans in the near future. They’re as close as any synthetic fabric I’ve seen to something that looks and feels normal, with a breathability that exceeds those densely-woven, brushed-interior soft shells, and a classic appearance that’ll look good anywhere. Again, they’re not the softest, lightest, or stretchiest, but for a super-tough, do-it-all workhorse, these are definitely a winner, and I’ve been excited to share them with you.

If these are for you, you can pick them up from Western Rise. That’s for the men’s version in light grey, but don’t forget they’ve got other colors, and a women’s version as well. They’re also available on Huckberry, so take a look over there too.

Update: There’s a lightweight version live on Kickstarter! It’s 2/3 of the weight, but otherwise identical (but with the deeper pockets I recommended!). Just visit their site and you’ll see the link to the campaign.

About SnarkyNomad

Eytan is a pretentious English major whose rant-laden sarcastic tirades occasionally include budget travel tips and other international nonsense. You can follow his every narcissistic word on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

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18 Comments on “The Western Rise AT Slim Rivet Pant, in review”

  1. Nice write-up. I just got a pair of these. I like them. I got the dark color, which I like. But they do have a hint of green/brown in them I wasn’t expecting.

    I agree with you on the pockets. They’re awfully small. I don’t know how you fit a wallet in that back zippered pocket. And in the front my iPhone 7 Plus barely fits.

    1. I’ve got one of those slim wallets with only a few cards, so that probably helps, and just an iPhone 5S for now. I think they’ll probably give into the pressure sooner or later, and it’ll be an easy fix that’ll go over pretty well.

    2. I received my pair in the mail today, and there is a definite green/brown hue to them. What’s interesting is that the images they have of the pants on their website differ in color. Some show the dark gray color. Some show the green/brown color. The images for the pants on Huckberry’s website are identical (slightly different crop of the image, but otherwise the same) and they all show the pants as being dark gray only. There’s definitely some post-processing of these images at play. I’ve reached out to Western Rise about this and will reply here if they respond.

      The images in this writeup all appear to be dark gray, so I wonder if they modified their coloring and applied Photoshop to their product images to reflect the new color. Note that the images of the pants worn by the models all appear a definite gray.

      Otherwise I concur with nearly everything our nomadic friend has (excellently) written.

      The fit as I see it is slightly looser than the Outlier Slim Dungarees, and that’s without regarding the stretch of the fabrics. For reference I wear a 32 in the Outlier and have a pair of the 34 of the Western Rise. I’ve had my Outliers for nearly a year, and they are broken in. I would hazard a guess that the Western Rise 34 would compare to a 33 of the Outliers. Note that I yet to send them through the laundry, so their final state may be more closely aligned with what Eytan has written.

      1. Their “shadow” is definitely a dark grey, with a bit of a dirty brown/green hue in there somewhere, which I enjoy quite a bit. Ignore any photos that make it look almost black. That was just a lighting mishap or whatever. They did, however, inform me they’re working on a flat black option for the near future.

  2. Another upside to a plain woven fabric is that it’s as tough inside as out. In my experience, doubleweave fabrics pill and degrade on the inside long before the outer face starts to show wear. I actively avoid them now, the small amount of added comfort isn’t worth the loss in durability.

    1. I think I agree. The original purpose of a soft shell was for mountaineering, so warmth was part of the performance requirements. Plus you wouldn’t be using them every single day, but maybe once a month when you go into the mountains, and even that would be pretty intensive use compared to an average person. But if you’re traveling, or using them casually in a consistent rotation (which I’m totally doing with these), then I think the unlined, thick-yarn combo is the winner.

  3. Thanks for the heads up on these. Any comments or comparisons between these and the Outlier Slim Dungarees specifically regarding fit through the legs and fabric weight for warmer temperatures?

    1. The fit and weight are extremely similar, but I think the Western Rise wins at both because it has 4-way stretch instead of 2-way (although the vertical isn’t crazily stretchy), and the unlined interior means it’s cooler when you’re working up a sweat. The Slim Dungarees win if you want something warmer, softer, and with deeper front pockets.

  4. Can you comment on the useful temperature range? They remind me a bit of Outlier’s Strong Dungarees, which are more of a Fall/winter weight.

    Would they be comfortable on a long transatlantic flight?

    1. I found them comfortable in warm summers, depending on what I was doing, up to the 70s and 80s F. I wasn’t doing anything crazily athletic in them, although I did go on a bike ride (though of course there’s plenty of airflow in situations like that), but they’re better than I would have expected from the weight. I would expect they’re most similar to the Strong Dungarees in overall feel, but they’re lighter, so they’ve been extremely versatile from cold to warm. If I’m climbing uphill in tropical weather I might want shorts, but that’s about it, from what I can tell so far.

    1. I would say they have an average rise…similar to Banana Republic travels denim jeans. As mentioned by Snarky Nomad in his comment, Outlier slim dungarees have a large rise. In fact they go just about to my belly button; they are way too high for my liking.

  5. How about water- and stain-repellancy? And how long do they stay clean for longer-term travel between washings?

    1. Light rain just rolls right off. The combination of synthetic fabric + DWR is about as good as it gets, without going for a full waterproof fabric. I’ve worn them for about a week or two straight without a problem. It hasn’t been super hot outside, but I haven’t had any trouble so far with that.

  6. So this material reminds me of Outlier’s Strong Dungarees. Unfortunately without a lining it shreds my leg hairs. Think I’ll experience something similar here?

    1. The Slim Dungarees are shredding your leg hairs? Hmm…they’re nice and soft on the inside, so that’s a bit of a surprise, unless that’s not what you meant. Maybe try wearing the Dungarees inside out. That’ll give you an idea of what an unlined version would feel like. Brand new, stiff denim would also be similar.

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