Note: these were provided by Bluffworks for this review.
The best I can recall, it’s been 2 years since I owned a pair of jeans, and perhaps a little longer since I wore them at that. So the Bluffworks Departure Jeans are my first jeans in quite some time, and I will fully admit that it was weird for me (and for my wife) for me to be wearing jeans again. At the same time, these are super comfortable jeans.
The idea with these jeans is that there are some people who refuse to give up denim, and thus they should be offered a better pair for travel. Bluffworks did this with a custom material, as well as adding a few slick features.
First thing you need to understand is that these are not like many of the “modern” 5-pocket type of pants we talk about. They are not made from a completely technical, non-cotton material. They are trying to improve upon jeans, while still keeping them jeans. To that end, Bluffworks came up with a blend of: 68% Cotton, 22% COOLMAX Polyester, 9% Rayon, and 1% Spandex. There’s a lot going on there, but suffice to say they basically feel like a stretchy pair of standard jeans, even the weight/warmth feels like jeans.
These feel closest to a pair of jeans I had which were made by Mavi, meaning they are very soft to the touch. They look and act mostly like traditional denim with the stretch barely noticeable. Happily, the jeans will easily cuff and remain cuffed — something which more technical materials still find mostly elusive.
The COOLMAX is the biggest addition, which is a fiber designed for moisture wicking and breathability. Given that we are in the dead of winter, I have yet to be able to test anything about this aspect of the pants. I will note that they don’t seem to dry any faster than standard jeans when they get wet.
I’ll first start by saying that I really hate it when clothing manufacturers add zippered pockets to clothing. These types of pockets almost always look silly and get in the way. The Departure Jeans have two of these zippered pockets on the back, which are hidden in the seam above the standard back pockets.
What’s really amazing here is that you cannot tell these pockets exist in any way. The inner part of the actual pocket is a thin and almost nonexistent material. On the outside of the pants the zipper is perfectly hidden and perhaps the most discrete zippered pockets out there.
What this all means is that if, like me, you wish pockets like this didn’t exist then these won’t bother you at all. However, if you do like having secure pockets like these, then they are here for you and are the best I have seen.
Comfort and Wear
I have been wearing these jeans non-stop since I got them, with only one day (while they were being washed) switching back to the pants I normally wear. I’ve found them to be extremely comfortable. There’s no doubt about it, for non-travel and casual lounging wear, cotton still is king. These pants prove that out.
Moreover, they move very freely, more so than any other jeans I have owned. I have had no issues working in the yard, folding piles of laundry on the floor, watching TV, chasing the kids, or any other activity I’ve done while wearing these. If nothing else, these move extremely well.
The fit on these is classic, not slim or baggy. They also look identical to standard jeans. There’s nothing to tell people that they are anything but ordinary jeans one way or the other. The wash is accurate at a medium, but I might prefer a slightly darker wash. All in all, I have no complaints whatsoever in the comfort department.
I think the elephant in the room for me is whether or not these work for travel. This is largely going to depend on how you travel. If you are among the many people who simply refuse to travel anywhere without jeans, then these are certainly a better option that what you normally pack. Bluffworks says that these are 11oz per yard, whereas most jeans are 14oz — that’s hard to conceptualize, so think of it that these jeans are going to weigh less than standard jeans.
However, if you are someone who wears more technical pants (like me) then you’d be hard pressed to want to travel with these. They will not dry very fast if you sink wash them. They won’t repel dirt or grime any better than standard denim. And they will take up more space than your technical pants.
Where these really fit in for me is in the classic style domain. If I am not flying to my destination, I wouldn’t have a good reason not to pack these. So while they may not be the best option for a jet setter, they are a very good option for a weekend away. How much better than a standard jean — for that you’re going to have to ask someone who regularly wears jeans.
One thing I tested with these is a wash and dryer cycle. Though, not recommended, I found that tossing them into the dryer only barely shrunk the waist, while nipping a bit more off the length of the jeans. I mostly did this to break them in a bit more, and because I find myself in between sizes with my pair being slightly too big in the waist. I wouldn’t recommend you do this, but the pants didn’t fall apart when I did.
My only nitpick about these jeans is the fifth pocket, which seems unnecessarily large. Other than that, these are very comfortable and classic looking jeans. The price is right in line with what I always paid for jeans, and is certainly less expensive than most other pants I buy.
These are jeans, and if evaluated solely against other jeans, they rank very high for me. Evaluated against more technical five pocket pants, they only win on aesthetics. That said, there are very few Americans who don’t own, or like wearing, jeans and these are a particularly comfortable pair of them.