I’ve went through four distinct phases since starting down this rabbit hole of performance clothing. The first phase was a “try everything phase”, the second was “I found one pair of pants I love, everything else is dead to me”, the third was “I only want performance pants to replace all my ‘normal’ pants”, and now I am on a phase where I have very few pants that I really like. But I am missing one thing: a great pair of jeans. Actually, I have a few, but I keep wanting to find something better because each leaves something to be desired. I’ve talked about Ministry of Supply’s offering, the Bluffworks, and of course Outlier’s Slim Dungarees, and Strong Dungarees. Today, I want to talk about something that straddles the line better than most of those: Swrve’s CORDURA jeans.
I’ve long known about this fabric, but finding it in a cut not made for rock climbing has been hard. This is essentially a nylon reinforced denim. I bought the pants in the regular cut (as I am told looser pants are coming back in style), but they come in slim and skinny fits too. Before I get started, I want to touch on the best feature of these jeans, the price: $100. That’s it, $100. So many of the pants I review and test are expensive and hard to justify, but a good pair of jeans that could be your only jeans, for $100, ok that’s a solid deal. Let’s dive in…
Ok, so before we dive into this material, I want to touch on the normal grades of ‘performance’ jeans:
- Standard Denim: 100% cotton
- Big Brand Performance Denim: cotton + small amount of stretchy stuff.
- ‘Reimagined’ Performance Jeans/Denim/Type Thing: nylon + stretchy stuff.
The first two look like denim because cotton is what gives you the denim look. The last one looks like, well, it looks like nylon with five pockets. The last one is by far and away the ‘better’ pant, just as long as you aren’t trying to style yourself like denim.
These Swrve jeans are CORDURA denim, and as far as I can tell, no one lists the exact make up of these things in a format I can better explain to you. They are a blend of cotton, nylon 6,6 and spandex. They are a very standard weight and everything else is some form of copy and paste from this page.
The tag on the pants says 55% cotton, 15% nylon, and 30% polyester. Which doesn’t make sense or help in any way. First it is ‘CORDURA’ denim, with only 15% nylon? Second these jeans stretch a good amount, but list no elastane or spandex? I don’t get it.
So I’ll tell you how they feel. They have a great hand feel and they feel exactly like the denim I’ve grown up with. They drape the same, they cuff the same, and look the same. This is a a dark indigo wash, and it looks like one.
So while I don’t know what is going on here, I am guessing that the are cotton strands wrapping a nylon core — but that’s pure guessing on my part.
Fit and Style
As I mentioned, these are a regular cut, which means they are that classic: loose/relaxed everywhere look. They are not baggy, and do have a nice taper at the ankle, but they are loose. I got these as I do think trends are moving this way, but my wife is not a fan of the cut. She doesn’t hate it, but doesn’t love it.
I would get the slim if I were to buy again. That said, the fit is spot on, I normally wear 34/35 and the 36 fits me perfectly in this pant. The length reads true to size, but you might size up if you are on the edge of any sizes.
Generally speaking these fit great for jeans to work and do stuff in. Absolutely no restrictions with them. And feel great. But if you’re looking to stay more on trend, even now, you’ll probably want a slimmer cut. The pictures referenced on the site for this cut are very accurate.
Ok, there’s a lot to unpack here with the performance, I am going to go through each individually:
- Durability of material: there’s two parts to this denim which seem highly lab tested. The first is general abrasion resistance which seems proven out not only in testing but in use by rock climbers. So let’s just assume that’s correct and they can take a heck of a beating. The second part is washing fade resistance, which again has been lab tested. I’ve only washed them a few times, but they have not faded. This is more and more par for the course on performance jeans (Ministry of Supply manages the same thing) but is nice to have. Great durability on these.
- Movement: this comes in two forms, the stretch and the Diamond gusset. Both of those combined with the looser fit of these never once left me for wanting. They are some of the least restrictive pants I own. I suspect that they go back to standard performance levels of movement in a slimmer cut. But they stretch well and move great.
- Triple stitching: I normally don’t mention stitching, but Swrve points out that they triple stitch the seams for durability. And this is true, except in one spot which seems like an odd oversight: one side of the gusset is a single stitch — and that seems prime for a blow out. It’s a weird oversight.
- Reflective stripe: on the inside of the pants there is a reflective stripe that shows when the jeans are cuffed. It’s subtle in the daylight, but reflects well with light. I could take it or leave it.
- No zippers: the biggest performance gain for me is that these are performance jeans with no extra zipper pockets. Which is great and a refreshing change. One caveat to this is that at the back edge of each front pocket is a distinct slot to hold a pen, it isn’t wide enough for a pocket knife but a pen or small flashlight does fit.
I’ve been wearing these jeans everyday since I got them, and they’ve been great. I even did a rucking workout in them on a particularly cold day where temps hovered around freezing. Overall these jeans are great. They breathe about as well as a standard pair of jeans and they move even better.
There’s nothing about them which will wow you on the side of drying times, or dirt resistance. They dry quick enough, slightly faster than normal cotton, but not “fast”. They breath fine, but I would not want to wear them about 70°F. The performance is all about durability and stretch — they excel in those areas.
These are one of my favorite pairs of jeans I own. They are not my favorite on a performance basis, nor on style — but if I need to go do some yard work, these are the jeans. Work in the shop/garage, these jeans.
But when it gets hot, I’ll be grabbing something else. Ditto for date nights.
At $100 these are a heck of a deal for a pair of pants which likely will last a long time.