Gear Review: First Lite Kanab 2.0
Pants are great. Not all pants, though. Some pants are winners and some are losers. I’ve had my fair share of losing pants throughout the years whether I knew it at the time or not. It wasn’t until I bought a pair of Sitka trousers that I realized there were far better options out there for me than what I was currently wearing on my outings into the woods. Thus began my search for as many good sets of trousers as I could find.
If you were to see my collection of hiking/hunting pants in my closet, you’d find a pair of Sitka Mountain Pants, Kuiu Alpine Pants, PrAna Stretch Zion Pants, and now a pair of First Lite Kanab 2.0 pants. I purchased the Kanab’s in early October 2016 just before the Washington State rifle deer season through a website called Experticity, which gives me discounted price for being a Veteran. I had always wanted to give First Lite a try so I made my purchase and did my best to wear the Kanab 2.0’s as many days in the field as I could to get a feel for how they would perform.
I remember thinking the fabric reminded me of a set of slacks. Like someone took a pair of dress pants and cut them up into a pair of hunting pants. The sheen and the feel of the fabric feels like something my Grandfather wore to church on Sundays. That aside, the pants looked super cool and the brown color in contrast with the bright orange logo of First Lite popped pretty well. First impressions of the pants were positive, but that really doesn’t mean anything at all if they don’t perform or fit well.
I’m in love with my Kuiu Alpine Pants. They’re so freaking comfortable. They stretch in all the right places and they have built in knee pads. Because I’m a human, I’m naturally going to compare everything I put on to a pair of my favorite pants so just don’t freak if I happen to say something other than “these pants were made by Angels.”
When I put on my Kanab’s for the first time, I was shocked to find how slim fit they actually were. There was a moment when I thought “uh oh,” but after walking around in them a bit, I realized it wasn’t too bad and the built in stretch material did an okay job of doing what it was built to do.
When it came to length, I was surprised to find that there was not much material left over at the bottom of the pants. I’m 5’8” with about a 30” inseam and they are pretty much dead on with no real bunching at the bottom. If you don’t like excess material near your foot, you’ll like these, but if you do need more or want more material to work with, you’re not going to be happy. Because of a built in drawstring, the Kanab pant can’t be made to be hemmed by the customer at home. Kuiu pants on the other hand come longer for a custom fitting of length.
In my humble opinion, the First Like Kanab 2.0 doesn’t hold a flame in terms of comfort when compared to the Kuiu Alpine or even the Sitka Mountain Pant. That’s not to say they’re uncomfortable, but what I am saying is that they’re just not as stretchy and freely mobile as those other brands. When compared side by side (jumping from one pant to the other) I actually felt a bit restricted at times in the Kanab walking around the house and wondered if I was going to end up ditching them eventually (turns out that won’t ever happen). Even though I was skeptical, I decided I’d wear them as much as I could to find out the truth behind these pants.
In the Field
I wore the Kanab 2.0 pants for a long weekend in the hills of Winthrop, Washington going up and down steep hills. These hills are no joke. To save my knees, I had to zig zag back and forth while going up or down these things! I fully expected the Kanab’s to show me some issues with restricting movement, but I really didn’t notice them at all. They flexed as needed and allowed me full range of motion.
Breathability was great with the Kanab’s! I was huffing and puffing a lot that weekend going up and down these gnarly hills, and never once felt like my pants were suffocating me. I had a First Lite Merino layer on under them as well and found the two worked flawlessly together. It’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t felt the difference between pants that breathe and pants that don’t until they’ve actually experienced it for themselves. Just know that the last thing these pants will do is make you too hot. On the flip side, I’m not so sure they’re the warmest pants for the coldest of days. You’d have to layer up pretty good to keep warm.
Build Quality and Durability
I remember reading some reviews of the Kanab saying they’re not the most durable of pants because of the Merino fabric used. I’d have to agree with that statement, but I still think they’re pretty darn tough. Where the issue comes in for me is that they’re not overly durable in the high wear areas like the knees and seat. I’d suggest that First Lite create the same pant in the future, but add in some additional features to reinforce the areas like the seat and knees. Call it a Kanab Mountain pant or something so folks can choose between the original and the Mountain style pants.
The stretch material used in the crotch and seat of the pant is subject to damage just from the fabric rubbing against itself while walking (see pictures). I wore these pants roughly 14 days total in the field and there’s already sign of the fabric balling up so I’m really curious to find out how long they’re going to last. For a pair of pants that retails for up to $185, I personally don’t think it’s cool if the Kanab’s begin to break down after such little use. At that price point, most guys are going to own only one pair of pants and probably wear them all season long for multiple seasons on end. I can’t say for certain, but after a couple of seasons in the Kanab’s, you’re likely going to have some major wear going on and you’ll soon be looking to purchase another pair for yet again a steep price.
That’s where the issue is with these pants. It’s not that they’re bad pants, but to me the value to price point comparison is skewed and unbalanced. If these pants were priced at $125, the scale would be much more balanced. Even $150 would be more appropriate and feel better. That $185 is just so darn steep!
While I’m at it, let’s talk about value a bit more. At some point, the price just isn’t worth it for a pair of pants that doesn’t actually do anything amazing for you. The First Like Kanab’s are about as streamlined as they come with two cargo pockets, one back pocket, two font pockets, and a pocket like you’d have on a pair of jeans – the infamous 5th pocket. Does anyone even use that pocket? If so, what the heck are you using it for? Chap stick? Coins? I haven’t figured out why this small pocket is on the Kanab pants. But, I digress…
You have 5 usable pockets on the Kanab pants from First Lite, a draw string closer at the bottom of the pants and the ability to wear suspenders (which I’m not a big fan of…I’ll mention this later). For $185, that’s all you get if you choose a camouflage color scheme. The only thing that is an added benefit to these pants is that the fabric is made of Merino Wool. But is that actually a benefit? Depends on how you look at it. Durability wise, it’s not a benefit. Merino is a delicate fabric that requires care. These are not your military grade wool pants from WWII. They’ll likely see some damage if you’re always in contact with sharp brush. Comfort wise, Merino is pretty beneficial because these pants help regulate your body temperature. They’ll also not want to kill you if you get them wet, unlike a pair of cotton trousers would.
So I guess it depends on what’s important to you. Again, for $165 to $185, you’re getting a pair of pants that has minimal features other than the Merino Wool that it’s made out of. If you find value in Merino then you’ll likely see these pants as highly valuable and worth the money, however if you don’t care about Merino and want a comfortable pant that isn’t cotton, then you’ll never want to buy these pants because for $85 you can purchase a pair of PrAna Zion Stretch pants that are more comfortable and likely more durable than the First Lite Kanab’s are. Oh, and did I mention they’re only $85?
Please understand that I’m only being hard on these pants because of the price point. I actually love these pants, but I was able to purchase them at 45% off so the value is different to me. Had I paid full price, I don’t think I’d be buying another pair down the road.
The Kanab’s come with a set of suspenders that I desperately tried to like, but just couldn’t do it. I guess they’re just not my favorite so I took them off and put on a thin belt. I only day hiked in these pants with a light pack on, but after a couple of hours I found that the waste belt of my pack was digging in to my hip and lower back, which I’ve never experienced in the past. I quickly found that where the Kanab suspender attachments are there is a thick black loop that sits right on the hip bone and waist area. This was the culprit and it freaking sucks. I had to continually shift the pants and belt around so it wouldn’t dig in so much. Maybe this is a fit issue with my body, but I’ve heard it’s been an issue for others as well. When backpacking, you want your waist to be as thin and free from bulky stuff as possible. A simple redesign of these black loops on the pants would fix the issue.
Draw String Pant Closure
I can’t say for certain that I love or hate this feature. I’m somewhere in the middle. If it went away tomorrow, I’d be fine. There’s certainly a benefit to having a drawstring to synch down your pants for crossing water or securing around a boot, but it borders the line with gimmicky. I’d cast my vote in favor of lengthening the pants, removing the drawstring cord and installing double layer knees or a pocket for a knee pad (like we’re trading features or something).
Nailed it! Oh man did First Like just nail the design of the cargo pocket with the placement. Since the moment I first stuffed a million things into my cargo pockets in boot camp, I’ve hated having junk banging against my thigh. It drives me nuts which is why you’ll rarely see anything in a cargo pocket of mine besides a thin set of gloves or a mouth reed. By moving the cargo pockets to the front of the pants, First Lite has somehow removed all my cargo pocket irritation and anxiety. I found myself stuffing all kinds of things in there because when I walked, the gear just moved with my leg instead of bouncing around (that thought literally gives me chills). There isn’t any zipper to keep things from falling out, but I didn’t find it to be a problem. That said, I’d probably cast a vote in favor of adding a zipper and removing the overhanging flap. The cargo pockets are big enough to fully hold an iPhone Plus sized device, so that’s pretty cool.
Front hand Pockets
No major grips to report here other than the pockets being far too deep. Some people apparently like REALLY deep hand pockets, but to me, these are just too deep. They literally go to the base of the cargo pocket. I’d suggest shortening them to where the cargo and the hand pockets do not overlap (see picture). The issue I experienced was that the pockets are so darn deep that the cuff of my jacket would catch on the outside of the pocket leaving my fingers still inches from the object I’m reaching for. That feels like it’s on my knee. It’s super weird to describe, but the pocket is just too deep for my liking.
It’s big enough to hold a large phone or a wallet and it zips shut. That’s about it. Nothing uncommon about a back pocket except that there is only one and it’s on the right cheek. If you’re left hand dominant and keep your wallet in the left pocket, this might annoy you.
Inside the Pants
The inside of a pair of pants is always interesting to me. I’m no seamstress so I have no idea what I’m looking at. All I know is some pants look better than others. Does this really matter? I’d like to know for certain, but to me, it’s probably not a huge deal other than the fact that a well sewn product gives a look of quality versus having a product sewn with rough edges and rough seams. I do know that some seams are more durable than others so maybe that’s a reason for the look being a little rough inside. Depending on the type of stitching, a seam can easily pull apart. With how much movement we do in the field, it’s likely that the inside of a hunting pant is going to pretty gnarly so it can withstand the abuse of seam pulling and stretching. As long as it’s still comfortable, I don’t mind.
The inside of the knees is a soft nylon looking material. I guess that means it’s double layered, but I’m not so worried about the inside wearing down as much as I am the outside wearing down.
Buttons on the Knees
Just as a heads up, there’s this button on the knees that you can use to roll them up with. Use it and you won’t have to worry about them falling down. It’s a cool thought, but unless I’m running around in them rolled up, I don’t think they’re going to fall down enough to cause an issue. Still, I guess it’s a nice option.
Overall, I really actually enjoyed my Kanab’s when it came to comfort. I hiked and hunted with them in October and November and never felt restricted or bound up. They’re actually very enjoyable to wear around and I like the color options as well. When it comes down to it, comfort is what we really care about, right? Especially when you’re going to be living in them for days on end. Have no fear, the First Like Kanab pants are indeed comfy!
I think the First Like Kanab 2.0 are a great all around pant that I would suggest to those out there who are not very attached to money. If you’re on a budget and are wondering if $185 for a pair of hunting pants is going to be worth it then I’d tell you “no” and point you in another direction unless you’re dead set on owning First Lite gear (…you can only get Fusion camo from First Lite…soooo, yeah).
For such a high price, I have a hard time finding an increased value in the First Like Kanab trousers especially when there are companies out there like Kuiu selling a competitive product for much less. The Kuiu Attack, Alpine, Tiburon, and Guide pants are all well under the lowest retail price of the Kanab. The only pant in their lineup that is not cheaper is the Chinook, which is only $10 more than the Kanab and is loaded with features.
To break it down, here’s the big three and their retail price points as of December 2016;
First Lite Kanab 2.0 (camouflage)- $185.00
Sitka Ascent Pant (camouflage) – $149.00
Kuiu Attack Pant (camouflage) - $129.00
The Kanab 2.0 is again, a great piece of gear. I’m just being a bit overly critical because of the price point; it’s the most expensive pant when compared to its competition. The main difference other than the proprietary Fusion camouflage, is the fabric. If you go with the First Lite Kanab, you’re getting Merino Wool. If that is important to you and you’re willing to pay the $35 delta between that and the next price point of the Sitka Ascent Pant, then I think you should lay that cash down and walk out of the store with a smile on your face knowing you’ll have a solid pair of pants to adventure around in. If you’re in love with the Fusion camouflage pattern that First Lite has developed, then you should get the Kanab because you can’t get that pattern anywhere else at this point.
If neither the desire for Merino or the Fusion camo pattern are high on your list of needs/wants, then don’t buy these pants because they’re not going to make you anymore stealthy or better at whatever it is that you’re doing with them. You're better off saving your pennies and putting the money saved towards optics or a better warming layer where more money does equal better value.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post! If you enjoyed it, please let me know. If you have any questions or comments, please take a minute to toss them in the comments section below and I’ll respond to them as soon as possible.
If you’d like to know when additional content is posted, go ahead and subscribe to my email list and you’ll be notified when new stuff comes out. No junk, just articles.
Enjoy your time in the great outdoors!