In just a few short years we'll be celebrating the 150th anniversary of what has to be the most iconic piece of clothing in the history of the world: the blue jean. It's hard to beat the basic design: a strong cotton weave with distinctive diagonal ribbing and rivets for a soft yet durable fabric that can be worn for work or play. About the only thing denim doesn't do well is stretch, but there's been plenty of innovation there in the past decade.
One company that's been working hard to give superpowers to your blue jeans is Boulder Denim. Their third generation of performance denim mixes technical fabrics in with cotton for some stretch, breathability and even moisture wicking ability. 100 Percent organic cotton, Coolmax Ecomade recycled polyester and Lycra are the magic ingredients, and the result is a very cool pair of pants. They didn't stop there either. One thing about making jeans stretchy is that it compromises durability, but Boulder Denim wove some Cordura into their jeans for added toughness. They even made the faux leather patch out of a corn-based vegan material.
The crotch gusset is reinforced for you saddle jockeys, and on the Workhorse edition that we tested there are reinforced knees, as well as a tool loop and open top phone pocket on the right. The hand pockets are extra-deep, and on the left there's a zipped inner pocket that will fit a phone or passport, while the right side adds a traditional watch pocket.
The overall fit of the slim fit jeans is on the skinny side, with form fitting legs and a mid to low rise waist. The waist is billed as a "no gap" design, but while we found the sizing accurate on the waist and length we definitely found the elastic in the waist to be a bit on the loose side, and let's just say there was some gappage. Not plumber's crack per se, but more than we'd like. A belt solved the problem, but we don't like wearing belts absent a tool-bearing need. Ordering a sized down in the waist might solve the problem, and we may take a crack at it, pun intended. Note that there is a men's athletic fit for larger legs, and that the two women's styles – skinny and boyfriend – have a higher rise waist.
The jeans are super comfortable, and even with the snug fit you don't notice any drag because of the stretch. They just feel light and completely unrestricting. They also seem to repel stains and dirt better than garden-variety denim, and for pants that will hit the trail and the crags that's a big plus. Boulder Denim clearly takes the time and trouble to make a really high quality product, so if you're looking for performance jeans and like the skinny jeans style this may be your ticket to ride – or climb, or hike, or just about anything else you'd normally go to a technical pant for.