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When you only own ten items of clothing, you are very selective about what makes it into your backpack. As full-time travellers with just carry-on luggage, we ask the near impossible from our clothes. They must be lightweight but durable, functional yet stylish, wrinkle-resistant, breathable, and quick-drying, can be worn for hikes and nights out, and go with all our other clothes.
It’s a tall order, and in reality, most of our clothes don’t meet all these criteria. Finding the right trousers for travel is particularly tough. Most travel trousers are ugly, while normal pairs can be too heavy. In the past, Simon wore technical travel trousers from companies like The North Face and REI that are functional but not exactly attractive.
Then he discovered Bluffs. Bluffworks was founded by Stefan Loble, who ran a Kickstarter campaign to create his dream trousers—smart enough for the office but practical enough for hiking, no ironing required, and can be worn multiple days without washing. They sounded perfect for travel, combining the performance of technical travel clothing with a smart look. Amazingly, they seemed to meet all of our criteria.
Simon has been travelling with Bluffs Originals for three years now, and he soon got rid of his REI travel trousers—the Bluffs have most of their benefits but look better. They are lightweight, comfortable, highly wrinkle-free, and have hidden zippered pockets to keep his phone or wallet secure. He has worn them on long bus journeys, horse riding, hiking, biking, city sightseeing, to fancy restaurants, and even to a wedding. They’ve worked well for every occasion and still look as good as new.
This review will focus on the Bluffs Originals that Simon owns (one of only two pairs of trousers in his backpack, the other being jeans). Most of these features apply to all of Bluffworks’ clothing, though, and I’ll go into the differences between the Originals and Bluffs Chinos below.
- Lightweight – Simon’s Bluffs weigh 380g (13.4oz), so they don’t add much weight to his backpack, although he usually wears them on travel days anyway.
- Comfortable – Even on 12-hour flights or bus journeys.
- Quick-drying – Bluffs are made from polyester and dry really quickly.
- Wrinkle-resistant – Simon never irons his, but they still look good, even straight out of his backpack. The Chinos are even more wrinkle-free.
- Security pockets – This is essential. Bluffs have a hidden zippered pocket inside the front pocket where you can keep your wallet or phone. When Simon was pickpocketed in Costa Rica, the thief stole his wallet from the main pocket but totally missed the much more valuable iPod Touch in his hidden pocket. The newer Bluffs have security pockets on both sides to keep both your wallet and phone safe. On the back of the trousers, there’s a regular pocket, a zippered pocket, and a phone pocket just below the waistband.
- Versatile – The technical fabric means they are perfect for hiking and adventure, but the smart look works for fancy restaurants too.
- Durable – Although the fabric is thin it is very durable. I’ve never seen any stains on Simon’s Bluffs, and they can be worn for a week or so and still look good. After two years his first pair did develop a hole along the seam, but this would have been easy to repair, and it probably happened because they had become too tight. He went up a size for his second pair and has had no problems with these. They really look as good as new.
- Easy to wash – They are machine-washable and can be tumble-dried. Simon’s Bluffs have survived dozens of washing machines and laundry services around the world with no shrinkage or damage.
- Range of colours available – Choose from black, navy, charcoal, classic gray, khaki, and velvet brown (Simon’s favourite). Chinos have a few brighter colours too.
- Regular or relaxed fit – The regular fit is slimmer and works well for Simon. If you prefer a looser style, go for the relaxed fit.
- Designed and manufactured in New York City – On the same street where founder Stefan’s grandfather worked as a garment cutter almost 90 years ago.
- The Originals have a slightly rough fabric that’s not as soft and comfortable as Simon’s jeans. The Chinos are much softer.
- Although they work well in hot weather, when it’s really humid and the temperature soars over 30ºC/86ºF, they feel too hot. Simon usually wears shorts then anyway.
- They are not cheap at $98 a pair, but they could be the only pair of trousers you need.
- Only available for men!
Simon’s Bluffs are his go-to trousers for travel days, hikes (except when very hot), nice restaurants, and sightseeing when he wants the security pockets (like in cities renowned for pickpockets like Barcelona). They feel more formal than his jeans, though, which he’s more likely to wear lounging around the house or on days when security isn’t a concern.
Bluffs Around the World
Simon has worn his Bluffs in nearly 20 countries in Asia, North and Central America, and Europe.
Which Bluffs Are Right For You? Bluffs Originals Vs Chinos
The Chinos are Bluffworks’ newest style and have many of the same features, but the fabric is softer, stretchier, and a little thicker than the Originals. They are also wrinkle-free. They have a modern slim fit and come in brighter colours than the more traditional colours of the Originals including “harvest gold” a mustard yellow and the bright “steel blue”. They have a more casual style and look like cotton.
Simon did try the Chinos but decided to stick with the Originals, mainly because the Chinos don’t come in his size (30-inch waist is the minimum). The Originals also have a thinner fabric that’s more breathable in hot weather where we spend most of our time.
Many travellers love the Chinos, though, so it’s worth trying both to see what’s best for you. You have 30 days to get a refund and 90 days for exchanges.
See the Bluffworks Fit Guide to choose the right style and size for you.
Other Bluffworks Clothing
Bluffworks also makes shorts and shirts, which have the same technical features, hidden pockets, and smart look as the trousers. Their newest product is the Blazer, which looks like wool but can be stuffed into a bag and come out wrinkle-free. It’s machine-washable and has 10 pockets including zippered security pockets and a hidden cash pocket.
Bluffs are the most versatile travel trousers we’ve found for men. If you want to travel with just one pair of trousers or are looking for a smarter alternative to hiking trousers, Bluffs are ideal.
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This post is sponsored by Bluffworks. We are very selective about the clothes we pack, and if Simon didn’t love them, he wouldn’t still be travelling with his Bluffs.
Are you looking for Christmas gift ideas? See our 47 Useful Gift Ideas for Carry-On Travellers. They are ideal for travel lovers who want to pack light and include something for every budget.
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