My review of Bluff Works travel pants after four months in Europe

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Me and my Bluff Works pants in Serbia.

Me and my Bluff Works pants on Day 94 (Serbia).

I only took one pair of trousers on my four-month backpacking trip through Europe in winter – a single pair of Bluff Works travel pants. No backup pair; I wore them every single day. It was a gamble, but it paid off: the Bluff Works held up well and never wrinkled or got damaged or stained.

I have since purchased a second pair, just to have another color. This is my review of Bluff Works travel pants and my experiences with them in all kinds of settings. Plus lots of photos of my Bluff Works in the field!

(Note: This is not a paid article – I just like these pants and want to help out my fellow lightweight travelers.)

What are “Bluff Works” pants?

Bluff Works is the name of a small American company founded by one Stefan Loble. He started a Kickstarter campaign to help him design and produce “bomb-proof” travel pants that were wrinkle-free, quick-drying, breathable, and suitable for outdoors and an office environment. He seems to downplay the Kickstarter origins of Bluff Works on the official site (http://bluffworks.com) but it’s true.

Bluff Works aren’t yet available on Amazon or places like that. You’ll have to order them directly from the Bluff Works website (that’s what I did).

In preparing for my trip, I became focused on cutting down weight and bulk wherever I could. I had read some online reviews of Bluff Works travel pants by people who had used them for traveling, and their glowing endorsements made me spend far more – about $100 – than I ever had on any pair of pants. My goal was to be as light and simple as possible, and Bluff Works seemed to fit the bill.

How my Bluff Works held up in Europe

I wore my single pair of Bluff Works travel pants every single day from October until the following February in some of the coldest and driest places in Europe, then through April and beyond on a trip to America and then back to my home in Japan.

Scenic Humalog shot with snowy castle

Humalog shot through my Bluff Works in the snow, outside a castle in Croatia.

Basically, I wore them every day for half a year. And I’m still wearing them.

They perform as advertised. The synthetic material in Bluff Works pants is comfortable, they are super-quick drying, and they do not wrinkle. Mine never seemed to stain – despite my taking countless Humalog shots through them (with the occasional blood or insulin spillage), dripping Hungarian goulash on them, sitting in pigeon poo, and all the other exciting things that a diabetic traveler will experience on a long backpacking trip like I did.

What happens when you take low-quality pants on a long trip: you have to replace them. Me in Vietnam, before I found Bluff Works.

An earlier trip, to Vietnam, with cheap pants. They got shredded through every day use, and I had to replace them. Another reason to invest in a good pair of trou.

That European trip has been over for several months and I still use this same pair of Bluff Works trousers, in my casual life and at work where I have to dress up.

Bluff Works travel pants: Pros

Drops of insulin after an injection on board a bus in Estonia. This never permanently stained the Bluff Works travel pants.

Drops of insulin after an injection on board a bus in Estonia. This never permanently stained the Bluff Works travel pants, even when there was blood.

After a snow angel in Croatia. Snow is sticking to my shirt, but not the Bluff Works pants.

After a snow angel in Croatia. Snow is sticking to my shirt, but not the Bluff Works pants.

Bluff Works travel pants: Cons

My Bluff Works pants got muddy in Slovakia. I rinsed them off in a sink for a couple minutes, then went to dinner with clean, dry pants.

My Bluff Works pants got muddy in Slovakia. I rinsed them off in a sink for a couple minutes, then went to dinner with clean, dry pants.

Bluff Works pants sizing

I guessed my waist size on my first pair of Bluff Works travel pants, converting from the centimeters I use to buy my pants in Japan. They seemed to fit fine, except for that problem of coins (and hotel keys) falling out of the pockets.

When I returned to Japan I bought a second pair (navy blue) but chose a waist one size smaller. These slimmer pants fit better and made me realize that the charcoal grey Bluff Works I’d taken to Europe were probably a size too big, even if they worked fine.

For both pairs I got much longer legs than I needed and had them adjusted. I figured that was a better way to get the cut I wanted rather than hoping to hit a bull’s eye with the numbers.

Bluff Works pants weight

My 34-inch waist pair of Bluff Works are 406g, which is 14.3 ounces – less than a pound. My second pair with a 33-inch waist weighs 384g, only 13.5 ounces. I wore mine all the time but it’s safe to say that if you want a second pair to stow in your bag, Bluff Works travel pants are about as lightweight as you could find.

My Bluff Works and I going ice skating in Bratislava.

My Bluff Works and I preparing to go ice skating in Bratislava.

Are Bluff Works pants warm in winter?

Bluff Works’ own website says that the material in the trousers is light, and so the trousers are of best use in warmer months. However, I wore mine in Europe in winter – and now in Japan in winter – and they are fine. I’m sure there are warmer pants out there, much warmer, but I just put on a pair of long underwear underneath the trousers. On especially cold days in Europe, I’d put on both my pairs of long underwear, plus my Bluff Works. I never felt cold, and would recommend Bluff Works even in winter.

Are Bluff Works pants cool in summer?

These pants do indeed work well in summer. They are light and breathe well, and the official website goes on about how you only need to wash them every five days. I’m not sure how they arrived at that number, but that’s roughly how often I washed mine in summer (less often in winter) and there was never any smell or unpleasant mustiness. I’d recommend them for any season.

Where to buy Bluff Works

As far as I know you have to order your pair(s) directly from bluffworks.com. They have free shipping in the United States but can ship around the globe too. You just choose your style and color, plus the waist and length you want, and order. It’s very easy and no-hassle.

It’s worth investing in a pair of pants you can travel easily with. I’d wear Bluff Works in any season in any country – especially since shorts look stupid on every male on the planet, and thick, heavy jeans are not a great choice for, say, Thailand, where they’re too hot, or Europe in winter, where they’ll take days to dry after laundry.

Get Bluff Works – they are durable and versatile, and require virtually no care at all. Perfect for a traveler who wants to travel, not get psychologically bogged down in the possessions he or she is lugging around.

Update August 2016: No chinos review

In response to this review, I got a nice email from Bluff Works founder Stefan Loble offering to send me a pair of pants from their new line of chinos. I accepted, but never received any package or any further emails. So I’d like to post a review of the newest pants they have but it doesn’t look like I can for now. Still wearing the old ones though!

Alternatives to Bluff Works

I’d love to know if you have used another brand of travel pants for your excursions. Let me know your thoughts about the best pants for traveling. Is there something better than Bluff Works?

Share your travel stories, give advice, or ask a question in the comments section.

Next page: Maybe a "regular" life isn't really for you

“Read these inspiring tips about why a 9-to-5 office existence may not be for you, and how nature wants you to travel, and face challenges and adventures.”

About the author

Jeremy has traveled to over 40 countries, taken several road trips across the United States (and Canada), and lived on and off in Japan for several years. He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1982 but doesn't let a little thing like that stop him from exploring the world.

Jeremy writes about his travels with diabetes on 70-130.com as a way of logging his excursions and of inspiring others who might be feeling hesitant to take their own big bite out of life.

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5 comments
My review of Bluff Works travel pants after four months in Europe

  1. Using “TFC” as a promo code on their site will get you a discount on your entire purchase.

    Use promo code TFC and get 10% OFF your entire order on bluffworks.com

  2. I have 4 pairs of pants which I like but in less than a year they have shrunk from 30″ inseam to 29″. No satisfaction from the company, sadly. Don’t buy them unless you buy them an inch long

    • Huh, that’s interesting. I haven’t experienced that. In fact the first pair I bought, about three years ago, were a little too large (my fault). Wearing them now, and I wish they’d shrink.

      I wonder if anyone else has had this happen to their pants…?

  3. Thanks for the review. I just ordered a pair of the navy to replace my aging and travel-worn Travelsmith casual pants. I’ve had good results with Travelsmith, FYI. They have a pair of wool dress travel pants that look very dressy but resist wrinkles and are basically wash and wear.

    • Thanks for the tip, I’ll check out Travelsmith. Let me know what you think of the Bluff Works too. Mine are still going strong after dragging them through dozens of European countries and now dozens of states in the USA :)

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