October 1, 2021
Duer is a performance clothing company from Vancouver, Canada, that boasts the world's most comfortable pants. The company was founded in 2013 by an executive from Levi's and a material scientist. Together they created a pair of performance pants created with natural components and targetted cyclists. Today Duer creates whole lines of performance-casual apparel for Men and Women.
You can complain about so many things when it comes to wearing jeans on a bike that it's hard to know where to start. Crotch blowout, sweat, rain, cars screaming “I can see your ass” (really happened), and let's not mention how ridiculous it looks trying to get on your bike in any slim pair of raw denim. It's safe to say, that when Levi Strauss & Co created jeans over 170 years ago, they were not considering the modern cycling commuter.
I first heard about Duer around a year ago from a friend. He mentioned that Duer's cycling jeans were better than the Levis Commuter line that launched in 2011. I thought this was a bold statement and did a bit of research. After visiting the Duer site, I was bombarded with their ads and which I found obnoxious. However, I was interested in test driving the jeans and see if they were really as good as my buddy had said.
For two weeks, I wore only Duer pants and cycled the 10km to work and back. I swapped between a pair of slim-fitting jeans and no sweat slim-fitting pants, went from the bike to the boardroom and back to the bike.
Duer pants come in 6 fits: straight, slim, relaxed, hybrid, jogger, and shorts. In the change room, they immediately felt comfortable. It was a bit of a shock at how immediate the sensation was… ooooooohhhhhh. It is like putting on a pair of your favorite worn-in jogging pants. Feeling that level of comfort and seeing jeans in the mirror messes with the brain and it's hard to not fall immediately in love. But, let's continue...
The stretch is unbelievable as Duer pants are interwoven with Spandex/Lycra and offer 5x the stretch of regular denim. They are also infinitely more stretchable than any Levi's commuters I have worn. I immediately started doing some basic yoga poses in the mirror to make sure that this was all real. Duer pants really do allow you to move in any way you want.
As with the Levis Commuter line, the magic lies in the “performance gusset”. A gusset is an extra cloth in the crotch area that allows for expansion and ultimate stretch. For cyclists, this gusset means the end of crotch blowout!
One small critical point about the stretch is that you can see anything and everything in your pockets. I tend to ride with my phone in my front pocket which looks a lot like carrying a brick around in my pants.
If you are coming from raw denim, getting used to stretchy jeans has an adjustment period. At first, you love them, then you miss the structure of hipster Japanese raw denim. The pants do feel loose and baggy at all times and also sit much higher on the waist. This is to prevent your bum cheeks from flashing motorists on your ride home - a good thing. After a couple of weeks, it's still unclear to me whether I need to wear a belt with them or not.
Like most jeans, the Duers tend to ‘bag out' over the course of the day. This also takes getting used to. However, on closer inspection in a mirror one afternoon, the pants still appeared to be slim and hugging even though they felt baggier than they were in the morning - a very odd sensation. People I have spoken to claim they end up washing their Duers more often to help tighten them up after a few days.
The Duers excel in temperature and moisture control. These are almost the same issue for most cyclists. They simply do not get hot. The pant fabric is made up of 28% Coolmax® technology which some of you may recognize from other outdoor gear apparel. The Coolmax® really keeps heat and moisture down, and this is a very good thing. No heat means no sweat and no sweat means no smell—which makes it easier to be in a client meeting or next to any human being really.
Another large consideration for us on the coast and in the Pacific Northwest is the rain. Commuting by bicycle in our part of the world usually means you have some sort of rain gear, fenders—the whole kit. It rained 3 of the 10 days I commuted and was thankful for the experience. The pants actually felt dry in the rain as they are covered in a biodegradable rain shield treatment (looove). Then after stepping into the office, they also seemed to dry faster and were completely dry within minutes. No more sitting at your desk in a soaked sponge waiting until lunch to dry out. You've been there, you know what I mean.
For those who like to do longer cycling trips, chances are you will end up in some sort of society. The Duer pants and jeans would be a great option to bring along for bikepackers and touring folk. The pants roll down into the size of a t-shirt and weigh next to nothing as they are apparently 30% lighter than regular denim.
We took our Duers for a spin through downtown Victoria, Canada.
It seems that Duer has moved its messaging away from bike commuting and focused on a general market with its ‘world's most comfortable pants' marketing. The claim seems a bit confident to me but probably not too far from the truth.
I love them, I won't lie. After two weeks, I don't see myself going back to my stiff old APC jeans no matter how cool I think they look. I do prefer the Duer pants over jeans. The pants are pants and I know what to expect. The jeans, however, almost feel like they are trying to trick me. A pair of my favorite joggers pretending to be a pair of jeans. Once you get over the mental hurdles, the performance, heat control, moisture resistance, and straight-up style make the pants and jeans winners.
The last consideration is value. The jeans cost $130USD / $140CAD which is quite affordable when compared to any pair of performance pants or hipster raw denim. The real question is in how they perform over a longer period than 2 weeks. Stay tuned for that as I will revisit them in 6 months' time.
Barry has been cycling and creating digital products around the world for 20+ years. He was a design leader at IDEO, IDEO.org and Nike’s Innovation Lab.