What if you only needed to own one pair of pants?
A pair that you could wear every single day, no matter the occasion.
Be it rock climbing, pitching a project to a client, or getting drinks with that painfully attractive Tinder date… these pants could go from one to the next without a loss of style, comfort, or utility.
What would they look like?
Well for starters, they’d have to be hella durable, right? Durable enough to be worn every day, in every situation, without breaking down. Durable enough to withstand a life of reckless abandon, survive thousands of rough falls & rusty metal, and stay in top shape a year later. No holes, no wear down, no marks at all.
And more than just durable, the material would have to be anti-bacterial enough that you can wear it for a week straight of hiking the Bhutan mountains without washing them before they begin to smell.
And, while we’re talking about ideals and not reality, these pants would somehow manage to be flexible enough to climb cliff walls and practice yoga at their top, while looking classy enough to wear to a craft cocktail bar after sunset.
They’d also shrug off spills, of course. Able to repel any liquid from water to coffee to wine like it’s falling on a glass window. And when some tropical storm actually manages get them wet, they’d be dry and ready to go after an hour or two hanging.
Oh, and did I mention that they’d have to be more comfortable than any pair of jeans you’ve ever worn; soft and gentle against your skin despite their rugged durability?
And, of course, they’d be imbued with the spirit of legendary heroes and warriors, imbuing your every step with greater grace and agility than a mere mortal should be able to attain.
This ideal of the pinnacle of pants is what the Outlier clothing company pursues. They’ve laid claim to each of the above seeming miracles in their Outlier Slim Dungarees… well, except for long dead heros bit.
At one point, I didn’t wash them for 8 weeks.
They’ve seen me sweating buckets in >30C Singaporean weather, driving through the flooded streets of a Balinese monsoon, waist deep in the snow drifts of Toronto’s coldest winter month ever (going below -25C plus wind chill), hiking through mountainous Indonesian forest, exploring & climbing around abandoned theme parks, hotels, and towers, working knee deep in muddy rice fields, practicing parkour on concrete surfaces, falling off my penny board, and going through more tumbles, tight squeezes, and scrapes than I can count. They’ve even been with me through a couple scooter wipeouts (the scooter that looks like a motorcycle, not the kid’s toy).
I’ve gone to multiple weddings (including my own), dressed up for dates, and attended formal religious events…in the same pants.
All in the name of discovering the best pair of pants ever created for the digital nomad.
So….do the Outlier Slim Dungarees measure up? Are they worthy of being named the very best pants ever designed for the digital nomad?
After 25 months of grueling testing, here’s what I’ve learned…
Disclaimer: This review is not paid for or related to Outlier as a company in any way. Everything here is 100% my opinion, and I am under no obligation or expectation whatsoever to give a favourable review (and have given unfavourable reviews to crappy products in the past). I don’t even get an affiliate income off of this one. The following is my unfiltered and honest opinion, and nothing else.
What the Outlier Slim Dungarees Are Made To Do:
On the homepage for the Slim Dungarees, Outlier claims that they…
- Are durable & rugged. “made from the most ruggedly comfortable tech fabric around”
- Are comfortable. “made from the most ruggedly comfortable tech fabric around”
- Repel liquid & don’t get stained. “A pant that shrugs off coffee and beer.”
- Dry fast. “A pant that stays dry in light rain, yet drys fast if it does get wet.”
- Look good for daily wear. “Pants we can travel the world in, through mud, dust and grime, and still walk into a restaurant looking sharp.”
- Resist odor. “A pant that looks and smells good even if you never wash them”
- Are flexible. “A gusseted crotch, curved waistband and reverse back yoke ensure you can move freely through any situation.
- Are highly breathable. “a rugged, ready-for-anything fabric that stays both comfortable and breathable.”
TL;DR? Skip to the “The Results” section at the bottom.
Do the Outlier Slim Dungarees Do What They Are Made To Do?
Durable & Rugged
One useful stat to keep in mind is that I’ve worn these jeans every single day for over two years. How often does the average man wear a favourite pair of jeans? Perhaps 1 to 5 times per week? In that case, I’ve worn these pants for the equivalent of 2.9- 14.6 years of normal wear.
Which is a long damn time for a pair of pants.
In that time, they’ve been through just about every reasonable test of ruggedness & durability an adventurous nomad can expect. Which includes (but sure as hell isn’t limited to)….
- Countless falls on rock & cement, including via scooter crash.
- Scraping between broken brick corners & rough cement walls.
- Tackling my mom’s muscular beast of a dog on gravel to stop her chasing children.
- Tackling my wife’s cuddly dog on prickly weeds to avoid him running into traffic.
- Whacking my way through pine-tree thickets.
- Hiking sweaty trails & climbing rusty telecom towers at their tops.
- Full-stretch yoga and acroyoga.
- Newbie parkour.
- Spilling everything from hot coffee to egg yolk to wine to ice cream on them.
- Walking an average of 6827 steps per day for 24 months.
- Cuddling cats that like to dig into my legs with their claws, including one that peed on me.
- Being left to bake-dry in the sun many times.
- Washing them dozens of times.
The results at the year mark? Only two noticeable signs of wear, neither effecting usefulness.
The first, which began around the 5 month mark and was exacerbated by Canada’s snow & sleet, was a greying of the color. At first glance the previously navy blue pants now appear to be a dark bluish grey instead of simply navy blue.
Second is a bit of wear in the crotch area where the cloth had thinned out but not ripped through. I have big thunder thighs which rub together and usually result in a hole in the bottom of the crotch in every pair of jeans I’ve ever worn, within half a year.
Then, like it was planned, they began to suddenly break down just days after the year mark.
However, it wasn’t the material that began to fail… it was the stitching. Which, honestly, is pretty ideal. Stitching is easy to fix.
Every single stitched piece on these pants seems to be a quite simple setup of 2 parallel lines. Over the course of two weeks, a new approx 1 cm hole in the right pocket grew big enough for my iPhone 5s to fall through. Around the same time, the stitching in the front & the back of the gusseted crotch started coming out, and the first half of a hole (one line of stitching) began to appear in the left back pocket.
I took them to a good tailor in Singapore and got them fixed.
It’s worth stopping for a minute to really absorb something I said above: After a year of intense wear, the cloth of the pants was by and large unmarked.
That seeming miracle of clothing engineering is thanks to Outlier’s WorkCloth DoubleWeave Canvas, developed by Schoeller Textiles. This fabric is responsible, in large part, for Outlier’s high price tag.
So what’s so special?
First off, a doubleweave is a complex (and therefore pricey and rare) weave structure that can create a fabric with completely different properties on either side. In the case of the Slim Dungarees, it’s soft and sweat wicking on the inside, and rough and durable on the outside.
Another thing to notice about the WorkCloth is that it stays durable from beginning to end. In co-founder Abe Bermeister’s words:
“With jeans, there is an interesting contradiction between the fact that they are both comfortable and durable. The problem is that they are not exactly comfortable and durable at the same time. A new unwashed pair of jeans is damn durable, but it’s not comfortable at all. Only through significant wear, or through special garment treatments, does it reach the point where it gets comfortable. Ironically, it’s at that point that it has lost a significant amount of durability. While there is something admirable in the idea of needing to live with and break in your clothing, we wanted to make a pant that was both comfortable and durable from the very get-go.”
They also gave the Slim Dungarees a gusseted crotch which, among other benefits I’ll get into later, re-distributes the wear & pressure on the jeans from one central point (that bump where all four quarters of the cloth meet below the crotch) to four. So all the centralized pressure that usually results in a hole is shared amongst 4 nodes… which means it takes longer for a hole to appear.
Speaking of which, a hole did eventually appear in the fabric itself.
About 19 months in, the Outliers developed a hole in the crotch that was ripped into the fabric itself. In the 6 months since, that hole has slowly grown to be about 10cm long. They also re-developed the hole in the right pocket. I still wear them just about every day (the crotch hole isn’t noticeable unless I’m… well, showing you my crotch), but I’d say that, unless one last major patch up job (which I’m going to give a go for experimentation’s sake) restores their durability in these weak spots, these Outlier Slim Dungarees (I can’t speak for their other pants models) have finally faced enough wear and tear to be retired.
So, in conclusion of their durability:
- They survived a year of rough and tumble daily wear without needing any repairs.
- Some simple re-stitching got them to last an additional 7-10 months in good shape.
- They’re still wearable, though in need of some hole repair and clearly reaching their end, after 25 months of daily hard use.
Update: At the 26 month mark, the zipper broke. Not a huge deal, since I can still re-attach it with a bit of moving it around… but it’s annoying. I’d say this is the final straw that broke the Outlier Slim Dungaree’s back. Time to find a new pair of pants to abuse and test.
I’m not sure I’m able to explain just how much more comfortable the Outlier Slim Dungarees are compared to normal jeans. The first few times I wore denim jeans after a few months in the Dungarees, I was taken aback by how constricting and uncomfortable they were. I was straight up dismayed and surprised to the point of disbelief.
I cannot stand wearing jeans anymore, thanks to Outlier.
Let’s break down their comfort step-by-step:
Got a pair of jeans on hand? Run your fingertips along the inside fabric.
It feels like very high-grit sandpaper, right? Rough, coarse, and stiff. The same as the fabric on the outside.
Like I mentioned above (thanks to the WorkCloth Doubleweave Canvas), the inside of the Dungarees feels soft, smooth, and pliable. It’s made of “a loosely woven nylon-poly blend that has been made to subtle softness”.
This creates, on a microscopic level, a “mountainous” surface to the inside of the pants that minimizes contact with your skin, leaving more room for air to flow.
Together with the breathability gained via the NanoSphere treatment, the heavy cloth manages to be breathable and avoid overheating. I sweat a TON more in Singapore wearing any other pants, but these manage to keep me from getting totally drenched.
It’s a really nice contrast to denim jeans, which get uncomfortably hot in humid weather and wind up drenched in my sweat. Ever worn wet jeans? High friction and clammy and uncomfortable as hell.
To really test out the material’s softness, I smoked a joint and wore them commando (aka without underwear) while walking around. In case you don’t know, smoking weed enhances your senses (which is why food tastes so good). Which means that you’re a lot more aware of physical comfort/discomfort.
I loved the feeling of them. They kept me warm in Canadian winter, they felt smooth on my skin, and they moved freely without ever getting in the way of my range of motion.
In short, the WorkCloth Doubleweave Canvas that Outlier uses in their Slim Dungarees is engineered to keep you unconstricted, comfortable, and clean in just about any environment.
It’s fucking excellent.
When the guys behind Outlier decided to re-design pants from the ground up, they took a good long look at the way pants are formed and sewn.
See, there’s a few old-school design elements in normal pants that really messes up the comfort. One of the biggest is the crotch. More specifically the point just below the crotch, where the four parts of the pant leg meet at one point. This makes the jeans tight around the hips and constricts wide-range movements.
Outlier took a look at this and decided to incorporate a gusseted crotch. What this means is that they sewed in a diamond-shaped piece of cloth at the bottom of the crotch, and had the four quarters of the pant meet four different times (once at each of the diamond’s corners). Besides making the pants more durable, this fixed the problem of their inflexibility: With the added space at the bottom of the pants, your range of motion is so unlimited that you can literally perform martial-artist high-kicks and do yoga without feeling restricted.
They also incorporated a curved waist band and reverse back yolk in the seat of the pants, which makes sure you never get plumber’s butt, increases mobility, empathizes your booty (which, I’ve learned, is a thing women inexplicably like), and makes the pants more comfortable when sitting/bike riding by moving the meeting point up from it’s usual place where it can dig into you.
I don’t know if this fits under the Comfort part of this post, but it has to be mentioned: the way Outlier designed the pockets of the Slim Dungarees is a nomad’s dream.
The two front pockets are deep and wide. I can fit my whole hand, fingers spread apart, and still have about 6cm of wrist before I run out of pocket space.
To give an example, I loaded them up with a bunch of stuff, took a picture to show how they looked (like I have some stuff in my pockets, but not bulky), and then unloaded.
Here’s the result:
- Samsung Note
- Rite In The Rain pocket notebook
- Field Notes pocket notebook
- Unbranded pocket notebook
- Canadian passport
- External Hard drive
- Tin case (I use it to carry supplement pills)
- Altoids tin
- Pillpot (it’s actually a broken TrueUtility Firestash I repurposed)
- Nite Ize Inka Pen
That is awesome. When I get around to copying Jeff & Clara’s famous travel-the-world-with-no-backpack OkCupid date, I’ll want these pants on me.
Repel Liquid & Don’t Get Stained
Verdict: TRUE (for a while)
The Slim Dungarees do indeed shrug off everything from water to coffee to wine without staining or even getting very wet… for a while.
For the first eight months or so, any liquid that made contact with my Outliers would bead up and fall off without leaving much of itself behind. After that (and a few washes with fabric softener, which they recommend against), the water repelling property began to vanish completely to the point that they could almost be called absorbent (though they still dry very fast). They also never seem to stain, even 25 months in.
The way Outlier makes their pants liquid repellent and yet breathable is interesting. They use something called NanoSphere treatment by Schoeller Textiles. In the words of the Outlier team on Core 77:
“Schoeller’s proprietary Nanosphere treatment. Most fabric treatments work on the micro level, bonding to the surface of the fabric itself. As the name implies, Nanosphere works on the nano level, bonding to the actual fibers inside the fabric, creating a “self-cleaning” surface that emulates a lotus leaf. This leaves the pores of the fabric open to maximize breathability while retaining a substantial amount of water and dirt resistance.”
The pockets are strange, thanks to being made of water-resistant Supplex cloth. If water gets in the pockets… it stays there. It takes a long time for that water to drain out. This is interesting, but never posed a problem to me (though I can see it potentially ruining a phone in your pocket). It also began to fade about 8 months in.
However, sweat from your legs seems to have no problem getting into the pockets (perhaps thanks to prolonged contact), which can cause everything you’re carrying to get damp). I’m not sure why this is the case, but be aware of this if you get a pair for yourself.
So, the water repellent properties of the Outlier slim dungarees are excellent. But not extremely long lasting.
These are among the fastest drying pieces of clothing I’ve ever owned. I’ve literally taken them fresh out of the washing machine (with a spin cycle at end) and put them right on. They felt a bit damp, but dried off after an hour or so of wearing.
No matter how soaked, they’ll be dry after about 45 minutes in the sun. It’s awesome.
Buuut, I never bothered to get them tailored to fit me (except for their length, which alone took me over a year to actually get around to).
If you were to tailor the pants to your body shape, the clean and simple looking fabric would look like a well put together pair of jean-ish pants.
It’s worth noting here that these pants don’t get stained & repel water, which means you don’t have to worry about a spill ruining your look.
I went a little overboard with testing this one. There were multiple occasion in the last 25 months where I wore the pants every day without washing, often in sweaty weather & while adventuring, until I could smell them myself.
Let me re-iterate that: I let them get so bad that their stench was able to overcome my body’s olfactory adaptation multiple times a day.
So, how long did it take?
In the beginning, it would be about 7-10 days of hard use before they began to stink if you got your nose closer to them than most people would. At around the three week mark, it was noticeable. At a month plus… well, I shouldn’t have kept wearing them.
However, for whatever reason, their ability to resist odor went away over time. My guess is that it’s linked to the same property as their water resistance: the NanoSphere treatment.
After about a year, they would begin to smell slightly after 3-5 days of good use, and really stink around 10.
Keep in mind with those numbers that I sweat. A lot.
That’s still pretty damn good, and the early days were straight up excellent.
Thanks to the Slim Dungarees’ gusseted crotch & Workcloth’s slight two way stretch, these are just about the most flexible pants I’ve ever worn that aren’t tights.
I’ve also done acro-yoga, parkour, building climbing, and a bunch of other stuff without feeling restricted at all.
That’s one of my favourite things about these pants: they’re durable and flexible enough to be perfect for just about any adventure I can bring them on, without looking strange in a bar.
Are Highly Breathable
There is some black magic I truly do not understand at work with this bit. The Slim Dungarees were both warmer than normal jeans in Canada’s winter, and cooler than normal jeans in Singapore’s summer.
I hear that other styles of Outlier pants are more breathable (and I’m thinking of trying them out), but these pose no real problem unless you’re in truly intense environments.
These are the most durable pants I’ve ever encountered.
While their finer properties like water repellency does go down over time, it took a near-heroic effort to really damage these pants and wear them down.
When you get the pants, you’ll probably want to take them to a tailor to get hemmed and perhaps tailored to your figure. Not a big deal, but since they’re likely coming in the mail, they may need some work to fully fit your body.
From there, maintenance is extremely minimal. One wash every 1-2 weeks if you’re wearing them daily, and you may need to get the stitching re-done every year.
Weight, Size, & Noticeability: 5/5
If you’re a nomad, you know that nothing takes up more room in your backpack than your clothing.
And, unless you want to find yourself with a big clunky bag or, god forbid, checked luggage… you can’t have much of it. Which means that the clothes you do own have to be able to get you through every adventure, any weather, and all the rough & tumble stuff you’ll put it through… all while looking good enough to go to a formal dinner.
The guys at Outlier clearly understand this. In the words of Abe Burmeister and Tyler Clemens, Outlier’s founders,
“One well considered object can take the place of many cheaply made ones.”
The Slim Dungarees weigh about the same as normal pants, but can work as adventure pants, every-day pants, and semi-formal pants all in one. Hell, they’re so fast drying you could even use them to replace a swimsuit in a bind. And you won’t have to get a new pair for years.
The Outlier Slim Dungarees are without a doubt the best nomadic pants I have ever encountered. There are many other brands I haven’t tried yet, but they will be extremely hard pressed to meet the standards that Outlier has set.
Are they worth the ~$200 USD price point? Well, seeing as they last probably over an order of magnitude longer than normal jeans, and are wayy more versatile, I think they’re actually a money saver.
They’re extremely durable, completely flexible, look like classy jeans, dry quickly, resist odor & stains, repel liquids (for a while), are shockingly comfortable, suitable for all weather, and very clearly made by people who are trying to make the best pants in the world. A 21st century jean, in their words.
I think they may have achieved that goal.
You can get the Slim Dungarees on Outlier’s website.