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Convertible pants
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John Gelack

Locale: North East
Convertible pants on 02/28/2006 05:14:17 MST Print View

I've always hiked in shorts,but usually my legs take a beating,(bug bites,cuts & scrapes,sunburn ect.) So I've considered switching to convertible pants,this way I could wear them as shorts most of the time,but still be able zip on the legs when the bugs get bad(I don't use DEET)and also to provide a little extra warmth if it starts to get cold. The pants that I've been looking at are REI Sahara pants,Columbia Venture pants,Ex Officio Amphi pants,and Mt hardwear pack pants. Does anyone have a opinion about these pant or about convetible pants in general? Are they comfortable to hike in,or are there better options? I really appreciate any advice you can give me. thanks John

Douglas Meredith
(dougmeredith) - F
Re: Convertible pants on 02/28/2006 05:38:22 MST Print View

I use convertible pants, but take the opposite approach to what you are considering. I leave the legs on for protection at all times. I started doing this for sun protection, but I really like the bug and branch protection too.

I only take them off for stream crossings.


Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Convertible pants on 02/28/2006 07:56:04 MST Print View

I've always preferred breeches (knickerbockers), but have trouble during the summer sometimes getting my calves badly sunburned at high altitudes. So what I do now is wear MEC Ferrata Pants (Schoeller Dryskin) which are regular full-length pants, and roll them up to the knees when I want to walk with my legs exposed. With my new Mammut Courmayeur Pants I can even roll them up over the knee. Works great and don't have to carry extra shorts or worry about what to do with the zipped off hems of convertible pants.

(mountainwalker) - MLife

Locale: SF Bay Area & New England
MH Convertible Pack Pants Blow The Others Away on 02/28/2006 08:25:59 MST Print View

Hi John,
I've tried or tried on REI Saharas, Columbia nylon convertibles, Ex Officio Amphis and Mt Hardwear Convertible Pack Pants. And my wife and I hike with ours on most of the time. No contest. The MH blows the rest away in function and comfort. The MH material is more water resistant, wind resistant, very breathable, very durable and super comfortable with chamois cloth lining around the hips. The Saharas are not bad, but are not designed as well and use material that's not as good, the Columbias are not made well and the material pills and wears out more quickly, and the Ex Officio Amphis are a thinner, flimsier material that rips and punctures more easily and are not as wind and water resistant as the MH. The Ex Officios are also not as comfortable on the inside and IMHO are poorly cut. They often look baggy on people. I'll add that while the MH pants are pack pants, the outer material holds up so well they look neat enough to wear while traveling in towns. Try to get a color that's in the brown range so that it doesn't show dirt off easily. You can usually find the MH convertible pack pants on sale at Sierra Trading Post or Campmor for $70-99.

Though I've never tried them, BeyondFleece has a custom cut pair of convertible softshell pants made of dynamic that look very high quality. Very expensive though.

Laurence Daniels
(GNR) - F

Locale: Boston
I use em... on 02/28/2006 08:26:21 MST Print View

EMS makes a really burly pair of convertable pants...they are heavy and covered in pockets and zippers. The material is really tough which makes them last forever.

Convertable pants are the only thing I wear for 3 season hiking and backpacking. I usually wear them as shorts and put the lowers on if I get cold or need protection from bugs or whatever.

In my experience, most convertable pants run pretty baggy, which is a pain if you are climbing anything with a decent incline and are not wearing them as shorts.

Douglas Frick
(Otter) - MLife

Locale: Wyoming
Re: I use em... on 02/28/2006 11:18:53 MST Print View

I use Lands End convertible pants, which have held up to several years of guava brush and uluhe fern without showing any wear. These are great for warm-weather hiking. My wife added zippers to the vertical side seams so I could zip them off my legs without removing my boots. (size L shorts: 8.7oz; legs: 4.5 oz; legs with added zippers 6.1oz)

Edited by Otter on 02/28/2006 11:31:33 MST.

Jeff Black
(thehikingdude) - F
Re: MH Convertible Pack Pants Blow The Others Away on 02/28/2006 13:02:54 MST Print View

Are these the ones you are referring to? $80 with the 20% off coupon.


Edited by thehikingdude on 02/28/2006 13:03:26 MST.

John Gelack

Locale: North East
Re: Convertible pants on 03/03/2006 08:15:29 MST Print View

Thanks everyone for your responses. I decided to purchase the Mt Hardware convertible pack pants from REI with the 20% off coupon. I am really looking forward to trying them. Thanks again for your help. John

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
MH Convertible: crotch seams on 03/03/2006 10:46:15 MST Print View

Look very carefully at the quality of the seams used to stitch the chamois lining to the nylon in the crotch. While the lining should prevent chafing, the seams actually caused it in my case. according to MH this was a production error and they were going to correct it but I don't know if it really happened.

(RavenUL) - F
Re: Convertible pants on 03/03/2006 12:54:40 MST Print View

Rail Riders puts out a pair of pants with a full length vent. Its got a mesh liner to hold the leg closed, but it opens up significant amounts of real estate for air movement.

This has a few benefits over shorts. It keeps the legs shaded - no burns. It keeps the legs covered - no bushwhacking scratches. Its internationally acceptable - No Nepali grandma chasing you down the mountain with a pot because your dressed indecently. :D

Matt Eckhart
(matte580) - F - M
TNF on 03/19/2006 00:36:09 MST Print View

I use the north face paramount convertible pants. They've held up to scrambling 14ers and have been pretty durable so far.

cushing hamlen
(chamlen) - F

Locale: Minnesota
Re: Convertible pants on 03/19/2006 21:23:20 MST Print View

Don't know whether anyone is still looking at this thread - but will try this anyway. I also am "converted" to the full-pants approach (bug and sun protection)...but have been a little dissapointed at the weight of the convertible pants (all those zippers seem to add up). Since I very seldom actually take the legs off, and also seldom use the pockets, I am wondering whether it would make sense to try to make a really stripped down pair of pants (i.e. no pockets, no zip-off legs). A pair of running shorts is so light, one could then pack a set of those if shorts are wanted or needed. Has onyone tried to make such a pair of pants, and is there a source for a pattern (I just left the Outdoor Wilderness Fabrics website, and they do carry the 50 SPF equivalent lighweight fabric.....)

David Bonn
(david_bonn) - F

Locale: North Cascades
Re: Convertible pants on 03/19/2006 22:10:10 MST Print View

I can think of two that you can buy offhand...

Either the Integral Designs Pertex Pants (representative link):

Or the Montane Featherlite Pants (representative link):

[oh, I messed up and had the Integral Designs link in here twice. All fixed now, I hope].

I use and like the montane pants. My pair (size L) weighs in at about four ounces.

Sure, you could also make them too. Probably the best bet is to find a pattern for rain pants and work from there.

Patagonia also sells a pair of shell pants that are similar but much more expensive and they have side zips.

Oh, my two pfennigs on convertible pants: I know a lot of people who like them. I love them for travel, but not for hiking. The wind pants + running shorts approach works a lot better for me at less weight. I'm also a little fearful of catastrophic zipper failure in the field. And I don't need the all the pockets on the trail anyway.

Edited by david_bonn on 03/19/2006 22:18:29 MST.

Frank Ramos
(frprovis) - F
convertible pants on 03/19/2006 22:14:18 MST Print View

I make my own pants of supplex nylon. No pockets, no zippers, just a 3/4" elastic waist. No outer seam either, so there are just two pieces of fabric to be sewn together and sewing is very simple. Total weight is 180 grams (6 oz) for the long pants and 110 grams for shorts that extend to my knees and are thus suitable for wearing in cities. (I'm a men's size large.) The shorts can be worn alone or used as underwear under the long pants. Here is
my pattern.

You can use any windpants pattern, such as the Kwik-sew pattern 2463 ("Men's Windsuit"). This pattern is usually in stock at Denver Fabrics. (Goto the Kwik-sew site to see what this pattern looks like.) This pattern uses 4 piece of fabric and has outer seams and pockets and zippers and all sorts of other bells and whistles, but it's fairly easy to just strip all this junk out and simplify things. Experiment with the $1/yard discount fabric until you have a pattern that works. I use simple brown wrapping paper from the office supplies store for making my patterns, then trace onto polyester interfacing fabric for archiving.

Edited by frprovis on 03/19/2006 22:20:57 MST.