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Thread: Pros and cons of convertible hiking pants

  1. #1
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    Question Pros and cons of convertible hiking pants

    Iím in the market for new hiking pants for spring/fall hiking but am debating on another pair of convertible pants (zip-off legs). That is what I am replacing as the shorts part have seen their day. I found I wore the shorts more without the pant legs attached to the point that the shorts and legs were different colors. Are they more trouble than they are worth? Do you find it a pain to put the legs on or take them off in the course of the day? Iím interested in what others are finding works for them.

    I have hiking shorts and prefer hiking in shorts whenever reasonable but pants sometimes are needed Ė bushwhacking, mud, snow, whatever. Maybe itís just as easy to change from pants to shorts as it is to change the legs??

    Thoughts??

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    Senior Member kmorgan's Avatar
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    I got a pair of the REI nylon convertible pants last year and I really like them. The lower legs have vertical zips so they're easy to get off over your hiking boots and it only takes a minute. I've also been using them all winter, they really block the wind nicely.

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  3. #3
    Senior Member ripple's Avatar
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    I have two pair that I really like. I find myself generally taking off the pant section once the day warms up, and ofcourse putting them back in the evening.. Help keep the bugs off too. One pair I have zips off w/ the zipper going around the back of the knee. I'll unzip the pant section a few inches, I found this feature to be great for venting, w/ every step there is a billow effect that pushes air out. There are times where it is buggy or going thru pickers that I just like to vent the pants. I wouldn't do 3 season hikes w/o the zip offs. I don't want the weight of carrying extra shorts or pants when I can carry one in the same.
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    Senior Member marty's Avatar
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    Carole -
    I find their flexibility invaluable. I often start out with pants, as I tend to be cold-blooded. When I get heated up from hiking, I just zip them right off and hike in the shorts.

    My favorites are the Ex Officio Amphi pants. They are comfortable, durable and have a nice mesh liner, which I prefer to wearing underwear. Here is the link, in case you are looking to spend your REI Dividend: Ex Officio Amphi - REI

    Marty
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  5. #5
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    I tried a few pairs on at EMS once. Blech. I couldn't stand the zipper and covering rubbing on my knees. I will bring cycling leg warmers and put them on and off instead. They aren't made to stand up to abuse, unfortunately, but I have some that are getting a bit thin and worn from lots of sweat and washings.

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    Senior Member nartreb's Avatar
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    Depending on the trail, changing from pants to a separate pair of shorts or vice versa can be pretty inconvenient. You don't want to get arrested. Plus, I usually have to sit down to change, which is not so good in mud, snow, etc. You could wear shorts under pants, but that's sweaty and uncomfortable.

    I wear my convertibles whenever I'm on the trail, even as a base layer in winter and as shorts in midsummer (they're the fastest-drying pants I have, and the best-breathing shorts too).

    BHSF: Sounds like you were trying a pair that didn't fit correctly. The zippers aren't supposed to be touching your knees. The zip-off point should be above the knee, and the side zip should come up the side of the leg (to below the knee).

  7. #7
    Senior Member cbcbd's Avatar
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    One advice I'd have would be to try on different pairs from different manufacturers. Since the zipper point is completely up to them it can change the way the shorts/pants feel and look.

    I have EMS pants and personally never use them as shorts - I never have needed to and don't like the way they look as shorts (too short! ). In the summer time I'm usually wearing shorts and knee-high gaiters anyway, I get plenty of coverage that way.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Stan's Avatar
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    I like them and never had a problem with the legs. I find them an easier and quicker change than separate pants and shorts and there's less to pack.

    Its just natural that the tops wear out before the bottoms, both for the additional time you wear the tops and the additional wear and tear especially on the seat ... unless you can figure out a way to wear just the bottoms and not the tops

  9. #9
    Senior Member marty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikehikeskifish
    I tried a few pairs on at EMS once. Blech. I couldn't stand the zipper and covering rubbing on my knees. I will bring cycling leg warmers and put them on and off instead. They aren't made to stand up to abuse, unfortunately, but I have some that are getting a bit thin and worn from lots of sweat and washings.

    Tim
    I have experienced this, but not with The Ex Officio Amphis. They have a nice strip of fabric on the inside of the zipper that prevents any rubbing. That strip does not interfere with the zippers, that work very nicely.

    Marty
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    Senior Member Oldsmores's Avatar
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    I've got a couple of pair and use 'em year round. The other advantage is you can zip open the legs a couple of inches for ventilation when the temperature is somewhere between shorts and long pants weather.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Bob Kittredge's Avatar
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    I love my zippy pants, especially in the winter when it's too cold to start the day in shorts but when I want to be able to layer down as I heat up.

    Trick: If you wear gaiters (short or tall) with these pants, when you unzip the bottoms, just tuck them under your gaiters. That way you don't have to get them off and on over your boots, and you don't have to stop and figure out which is right and which is left when you want to zip them back on.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Bobby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stan
    Iunless you can figure out a way to wear just the bottoms and not the tops

    Staple them to your legs? I like my convertibles. Instead of taking the "legs" off, I sometimes stuff them into my socks. On the cooler days, venting by opening the zippers is a better option than taking the legs off then putting them back on.
    "Don't try to strike everybody out. Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic." Crash Davis -"Bull Durham"

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  13. #13
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    Go with the convertibles

    Convertible shorts/pants (or as they're sometimes abbreviated, "shants") are great!

    I have shorts and pants as well but I use the converts year round. I'll often bring the shorts but many times I come home from a trip and they've not been out of my pack.

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    In summer, usually the only long pants that I carry are my Frogg Togg rain pants. On cool mornings or evenings, I just pull them on over my hiking shorts.

    Weight wise, I think that 2 pairs of hiking shorts, plus 1 long nylon hiking pants may be lighter than convertable pants with zippers.

  15. #15
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    I guess Iím leaning toward pants for when I feel Iíll have them on all day. Once you get me in shorts itís got to be pretty cold for me to want otherwise. I carry either a wind or rain pant as needed so they can go over the shorts just as easy as adding legs.

    On a funny note: I have found several detached Ďlegsí on my hikes, one time finding a matching pair.

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