Beyond Clothing claims to be an access path to the outdoors, employing the hashtag #gobeyond to exemplify their drive to outfit the daring with clothing systems designed to perform and last in the world’s wild places. I’ve been testing their top-of-the-line men’s shorts for 3 months, donning them for everything from training, rock climbing, swimming, to casual gatherings. But, and hold on to your wallet, they sell for $227.50!
The Beyond Clothing A5 Rig Light Short is the epitome of rugged activewear. And they need to be to command that price. They resist all forms of physical torture short of combustion. I tried very hard to destroy them, yet they emerged with nothing but a softer hand. Every other attribute is a distant consideration.
But Why So Much?
Materials, high-end construction, and made in the USA; these three things drive the price of apparel higher.
The A5 Rig Light Short comes from Beyond Clothing’s Axios line; this eight-layer technical survival system of outdoor clothing is its flagship. And the choice of Tweave Durastretch matches this classification. Durastretch is a stretch woven nylon-based fabric, and my experience with it in technical softshells couldn’t be more positive. Alpine climbing can shred lesser materials in a single outing, but my Durastretch pieces not only survive the harsh, highly abrasive treatment, they thrive. Fabric this durable doesn’t come cheap.
The construction represents the pinnacle of outdoor apparel. Tight double stitching and seam allowances, generously-sized zippers, robust belt loops, and even the webbing-anchored closure button scream quality and beg for rough treatment.
The A5 Rig Light Short isn’t only made in the USA; it’s Berry compliant. This certification ensures all components, down to the thread, are domestically produced. Again, this elevates costs and pricing.
An example of the price differential caused by the reasons above is the Beyond Clothing K5 Ventum Shorts, the same brand, different materials, and manufactured overseas. These shorts retail for $70, a more acceptable price point for men’s hiking shorts.
The A5 Rig Light Short in the Field
The first thing I noticed was the fit; I’m a 32-inch waist, but my hips are slender, and the size-32 shorts with their 10-inch inseam fit perfectly. Typically, most shorts and pants, especially ones domestically produced, are baggy in the hips. But not the A5 Rig Light, making them ideal for trimmer builds.
The A5 Rig Light Shorts have the standard pair of front slash pockets; these provided more than enough storage for my daily EDC of a wallet, phone, and multitool. And when I was active, all items went into the pair of zipped and flapped leg pockets for security.
I live in Central Texas, and the heat and humidity in late summer are off the scale. The A5 Rig Light Shorts were adequately breathable for a short of such heft (verified weight of 12 ounces for a size 32) with the associated ruggedness, windproofing, and Durastretch water resistance. But I had to be moving to “pump” the air through the leg openings and fabric when the humidity was tropical. Sitting still during high-intensity training revealed the lower air permeability compared to my lightweight hiking shorts. But such are the trade-offs for extreme durability. I would have shredded through my airy summer shorts almost immediately during some of my outings.
I admit having the high price in mind when I started testing; I wanted to prove that spending this much money on a pair of shorts didn’t equate to durability. So I went to town; I slid down both wet and dry crystal-strewn granite, purposely hiked against cliffs, and trudged through the sharp brush. But all of this was futile. The only effect was that the initially stiff hand wore in to become softer and more compliant, giving the shorts a better drape than when new. The fabric resisted becoming fuzzy, punctured, or anything else that would visibly indicate wear.
The only thing I didn’t do was light them on fire. I can say with confidence that no other shorts I currently own could have withstood the treatment I gave the A5 Rig Light Shorts. But none of them cost anywhere near $228.
Are They Worth It?
The admittedly lame answer is, “it depends.”
Suppose you value minimizing consumerism, the highest quality construction, domestic manufacturing, have a slim build, and a disposable income. In that case, these can be the longest-lasting, most durable shorts in your drawer. I am historically brutal on outdoor apparel, and these emerged unscathed. I am confident they will do you right in the longevity department.
They are not as breathable as thinly veiled athletic shorts designed for aerobic activity in the heat, but that’s a necessary trade to gain robustness. Then there is the “tactical” look; some like it, some do not. I did not care; the durability was the quality that won over all else.
Beyond Clothing also offers the same construction in pants, the A5 Rig Light Backcountry Pant.
For more options for men’s shorts, head to these other Improb buyer’s guides: