Possibly the most practical, all-purpose trouser you could ever find.
I first came across Kiwi trousers by the trekking firm Craghoppers last autumn, round about the DH’s birthday. We were on holiday in Brittany, on our usual coastal trip, which involves walking along clifftops and on beaches, often in fierce weather.
The DH for a long time had lived in cavalry twill pants from Orvis, but the kind he liked had been discontinued and he was loath to risk ordering something else, given Orvis prices, so I got online and did a bit of research, and came across the Kiwis. Over 2 million of these trousers have been retailed; reviews were overwhelmingly positive and I was perhaps sold on the idea that they were what Michael Palin wears on his trips abroad. I bought the DH a pair as a belated birthday pressie.
For him, they have proved a godsend. They have nine pockets for starters, and he is a man who is obsessed with pockets. Made from polycotton with a peachskin finish, they look surprisingly smart for cargo pants (there is just one cargo pocket, on the right leg). They have a solar blocker in them up to SPF 40, a water repellent finish so the rain just rolls off, zip security pockets behind the standard hand pockets, an elastic waist that comes properly up to your midriff, reinforced knees, and webbing tapes inside the hems to prevent heel chafing. The men’s version also has a map pocket on the leg which is sized to take an Ordnance Survey map, and they don’t need ironing. He has ordered three more pairs in shades of grey and sludge and has worn nothing else since he bought them, for both work and leisure.
I am not obsessed with pockets (the women’s Kiwis have six), but because I too have a destructo-trouser habit, I have since ordered three pairs for myself – the classic Kiwi in black and in navy, and the winter-lined Kiwis in navy, which have an integral thermal lining.
The latter felt a little odd at first, as I’m used to wearing thermals that don’t budge, rather than thermals that move about, but I quickly got used to them. Sizing was very generous on these and I can still easily get another set of thermals on under them, so they will be great for bitter days.
The classic Kiwis, though, are a better fit on me and since they arrived, I’ve pretty much worn nothing else. Why would I when I can brush off the cat hair, wood ash, bicarb and all the other myriad bits of crap I get attached to all day and then the things look like new? Ive been wearing my black Kiwis with a charcoal poloneck and a hoody, which the DH says makes me look kind of paramilitary, but once they’re on, I pretty much forget about them, which is a great thing to have with clothing. They have, by and large, replaced jeans for me, for daily wear, as they are much tougher. The only issue for me is that because I’m a midget, I’ve had to take them up by nearly two inches, thus losing the benefit of the heel tapes.
This review is for the Classic Kiwis, but they also come with a zip-off leg for those who like to convert to shorts or crops, and in a stretch version, whose reviews were less positive, but I already have stretch walking trousers that fit this bill.
Oh, and just about everybody hates the integral belt, but I find it quite handy, with its quick-release clip – handy for peeing in the bushes.