If you’re a guy, even if you’re a proud metrosexual, you probably still find balancing fashion and function a struggle. Jeans are easy. It’s all about fit. But what about dressier pants for work or play? You can go with the usual suspects (J.Crew, Banana Republic, maybe Bonobos) or try a newer brand like Mott and Bow (promising comfortable, breathable and stylish pants). If you’re like me, you also want great pockets and stretch fabric, too. With all this in mind, a friend who knows me well recommended Western Rise.
Immediately I was intrigued by the tagline: “field tested, city approved.” After a run-through of the full Western Rise offering, including shirts, socks and caps, I ordered two pants: an Evolution Pant in blue-gray and an AT Slim Pant in steel. Both are billed as play-hard, work-hard, stain-resistant and light-weight. The fabric and cut gives the pants a sleek contemporary look.
They don’t come cheap of course, clocking in at $115 and $149 respectively. But if Western Rise meets expectations (“replaces at least three pairs in your closet”) it would be well worth it. The gear arrived three days later, and I eagerly opened the box. My quick try-on was encouraging. The pants looked good according to my wife, as stylish as Hartford, my favorite French brand. Plus some performance wear pluses: breathable stretch nylon and stronger than usual pockets, including a hidden zipped sleeve inside the right rear pocket. The fabric was light-weight and smooth to the touch.
I looked forward to wearing them in the field, um, I mean the city.
The next morning, I went with the evolution pant–the blue-gray color matched well with a white oxford and an unstructured blue jacket. Perfect for the office. On the fit front, I had gone a size down per the Western Rise sizing chart. It still left enough room for a t-shirt underneath my button-down with one minor note. The waist button pulled slightly to the right as if too tight; although the pants felt fine. Off to the subway for the field test!
I tucked my AirPods into the rear inside zipper pocket. No way I was losing them on the Q train. At the office, a snarky colleague delivered an underhanded compliment: “Aren’t those pants too cool for you?” Now I was really starting to like Western Rise. The rest of the work day shot by, and to tell the truth, until I got home that night, I had completely forgotten what I was wearing, a good sign the fit was right and the pants genuinely comfortable.
[PICTURE OF AT SLIM PANT]
Next up, the AT Slim pant. Despite it being marketed as distinct from the Evolution (“a modern update of the 1873 rivet style”) it felt pretty much the same in terms of fit. The waist had the necessary space, but the button still pulled to the left. Everything else was good, including the same hidden zip pocket found on the Evolution. The fabric, however, is thicker and stiffer than the Evolution. It’s composed of 97% nylon, 3% spandex vs. 96% nylon and 4% elastane.
I waited a day to sport them—in case my witty colleague remembered the distinctive Western Rise look and called me a weird obsessive. It’s not true, is it? Overall, these pants performed comfortably and well, although I didn’t get any unexpected compliments, back-handed or otherwise. So far, Western Rise had more than justified its claim of “City Approved.”
It was time for the “field test,” a fall weekend in the Adirondacks. Hiking, golf and shooting—just clay pigeons of course. I doubled down and packed only Western Rise pants, easily rolling them up into a tight ball. I was ready to see how they handled a likely combination of hot and cold, sun and rain and the one constant: dirt.
The ride up was over six hours to the Western Adirondack Park, and the Evolution
Pants were comfortable the whole way, neither too hot nor too warm. When we finally got to my friend’s camp (Adirondack-speak for a lake house), I was expecting some shots at my pants for their slick fabric and hip look, but they barely got a second glance. Maybe this old school gang expected such from a New York City Slicker.
Anyway, the next day, I threw on the Slim Pants for busy day of hiking followed by afternoon golf. The morning was cool and damp, and I worried the Evolutions wouldn’t be heavy enough as we hiked to the top of Bear Mountain. Actually, they breathed well, keeping me warm enough at the cooler start of the hike and not too hot as we reached the summit. A good start. Golf next.
The local public course turned out to be something more special than anticipated. Designed by golf legend Donald Ross, the back-and-forth front nine was worthy of a posh club. We split into foursomes and headed out onto the fairway as the sun emerged from the clouds, a golden and warm fall afternoon. By the fifth hole, two beers in, playing fast, I started to sweat. But the pants still felt good, not too warm, the stretch fabric ideal for golf. Later that night, I hung the pants up before bed. They still looked fresh.
The next morning, a little woozy from a late drinking night, I looked out the window at a grey sky, the temperature in the mid-40s. Our time on the clay course was 2pm. The forecast: 100 percent rain. It would be a perfect workout for the AT Slim pants.
We arrived just as it started to drizzle. The instructor walked us through the safety procedures. We signed the waivers and we took our guns: 12 gauge and a lighter 20 gauge. Before I knew it, I had a shotgun in my hands and was firing away. Naturally, I missed the first few, but with a tip from the instructor, I focused my vision down the rifle shaft and, boom, started to hit some clays! Even as the rain fell harder, my pants, despite the relatively thin fabric, keep my legs at a nice even temperature, and I discovered shooting clays was more fun than I’d imagined.
On the way back to the camp, I noticed my steel-colored Slims had mud splatters around the cuffs. I was happy. It was a chance to see if Western Rise lived up to its stain-resistant claims. With just a quick rinse and a modest amount of hand soap, the mud was gone, the pants dried quickly, and they were ready to go back on for another night of drinking and laughing with my old friends.
All in all, Western Rise had come through its biggest test with flying colors. Both the Evolution and the AT Slim are a very strong choice for anyone seeking a stylish, functional pant ready for work and play. An achievement worthy of the Alpha 50. Welcome Western Rise!
Total Score: 4.88
Problem: finding a stylish, durable, stain resistant, travel-ready pair of pants for work and play. Rating: 5.0
Solution: a light-weight, comfortable, highly-functional pant with a distinct modern look at a relatively high price point. Rating: 5.0
Usability: both the AT Slim and the Evolution pant are comfortable from the get-go, a great choice for the office, golf, hiking and travel (they roll nicely into a ball). Our reviewer, however, couldn’t really tell the difference between the two models beyond the Slim’s thicker, starchier fabric. Rating: 4.9 due to modest differentiation between different offers.
Competitors: While Western Rise competes broadly, many comparable brands, such as Bluffworks, Lululemon and PrAna, are lumped as travel wear. See thesavvybackpacker’s excellent category review. Rating: 5.0
Third-Party Reviews: 50Alpha couldn’t find multiple customer reviews of the Evolution Pant or the AT Slim apart from the Western Rise website. On its site, the Evolution scored a 4.9 out of 5 based on 276 reviews. The AT Slim rated 4.8 out of 342 reviews. Packhacker rated the AT Slim 7.1 out of 10. Rating 4.5 due to lack of data.