(Editor’s Note: If you like what you read below about Rhone Apparel, you usually can find really good deals—up to $14 off shorts and shirts, and $30 off hoodies—over on Huckberry.)
The man holding the map at the Mount San Jacinto State Park ranger station didn’t say it like a challenge, but the inference was clear.
“That hike you want to do is fine, but once you get to this spot,” he pointed to a bend in the trail 2.9 miles away from where we were standing, “if you just go another mile, you’ll see the best views in the park. It’s all uphill, and not the most steady terrain, but once you get to the top, you’ll be glad you did it.”
My wife and I were in the mountains above Palm Springs, Calif., for a quick getaway. We are by no means hikers, and this ranger suggested a path that’d take us nearly eight miles roundtrip. But struck by his enthusiasm and the euphoria of spending a couple days away from websites, deadlines and a constant-question-asking 4-year-old, we put some bottled waters and protein bars in a backpack and headed up.
It was also a good time to put some new products to the test. Rhone Apparel, a less-than-1-year-old company based in New York, recently had sent me a pair of Mako shorts, a short-sleeve Particle shirt and a long-sleeve Meridius shirt to review. Over a series of three weeks, I wore the items on four hikes—San Jacinto, Whitewater Preserve, Ocean Trails at Trump National and Monrovia Canyon Falls—and to a few CrossFit classes. Here are my observations:
1. I find it hard to spend $190 on clothes I end up soaking in sweat. That was the sum of the three products I was provided by Rhone. As someone with limited means, I was very skeptical if it would be worth the price. Rhone is proud of its “uncompromising commitment to details” and doesn’t appear to cut any corners in making the garments. Using silver to combat smell and flat-lock seaming so your skin isn’t chafed is great, but when that cost is transferred to the customer, it needs to deliver. My products ultimately did, as the next few points will show. But it’s important to note that affordability and quality often don’t go hand-in-hand when it comes to clothes. So as a consumer, you need to decide whether you’d rather have one quality garment for a high price, or 2-3 lesser-quality items at the same cost. For something used as often as workout apparel, the high price/quality option is a smart play.
2. The shorts pass the squat test. When I exercise, I can’t have anything encumber me; I just end up using it as an excuse. Raining outside? Guess I can’t go for a run. Weight bench occupied? No prob, I’ll skip chest today. Packed class in a tight CrossFit box? Might as well come back tomorrow. You get the idea. Clothes fall into that category, too. My mass-produced workout apparel often ends up getting in the way to the point of distraction. In particular, my Under Armour shorts have so much material, I end up spending half a workout hiking them up so my thighs can move freely. I didn’t have that problem with the Mako shorts, which moved as my legs did when doing squats—the ultimate test for shorts. Fit is important in everyday wear, and it shouldn’t be compromised in exercise clothes either. This is where Rhone excelled the most.
3. A little stretch goes a long way. Lycra can be a dangerous word when talking about men’s clothing, but after wearing the Particle shirt—made with 5 percent of the stretchy material—I might not ever go back. Blended with cotton and modal, the resulting combination is super soft with just the right amount of cling. Like with the shorts, excess material is not what I’m looking for when I sweat. But neither is the scratchy, shininess of DriFit and other similar sweat-wicking materials. It’s why I didn’t like the Meridius as much as the Particle, though the mesh panels made the long sleeve super breathable and was perfect for the chilly, shady parts of my hikes.
4. The phone pocket is perfect. I like to bring my iPhone on hikes to document the trip, but don’t like to shove it in my drawstring backpack along with water bottles and sunscreen. In the wrong pair of shorts, the phone can be too bulky to carry in a pocket. But with the Rhone shorts, my 5c slipped perfectly into the pocket-within-a-pocket on the front right side. It was a cinch to access when we spotted a deer and I wanted to snap a shot. It was much easier than having to take off my backpack, open it, rustle around for the phone and try not to scare off Bambi.
5. The finishing touches…
- The quotes inside the garments produced an eye roll from my wife—Fall like a thunderbolt?—but I kinda like it. When it comes to exercise, I’ll take my motivation wherever I can get it.
- The waistband on the Mako shorts is a dream. It’s thick, tall and padded—so yeah, basically maternity apparel for guys.
- I had some trouble with the drawstring, however, after a few washes. It tightly twisted into a ball each time I dried them. Probably better not to use the dryer, but I worry about durability there.
If it were my money, I’d pony up for Rhone’s Mako shorts and a couple Particle shirts. The cost is high, but as much time as I spend being active, it’d more than pay for itself. Just like that day in the San Jacinto mountains, sometimes you have to walk a little further than you planned to get to the good stuff.