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pants vs shorts vs convertibles
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Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
pants on 07/09/2012 07:52:20 MDT Print View

I'm a fishbelly-pale white dude living in the American West. One of my major concerns is sunburn and I detest slathering greasy sunblock on myself so I have come to almost always wear pants. Better brush/bug protection, too. In hot weather I find that I like RailRiders EcoMesh pants- they vent very well so no problems with overheating. (And their EcoMesh, Equator, or Madison River vented shirts.) Bonus- you can get them pretreated with Permethrin- they call it "InsectShield(tm). IMHO, RailRiders "gets it right" in the trade off between weight and durability. Even their "heavier" Weatherpants are pretty light.


There's a reason that throughout the middle-east people have always worn full-sized flowing robes- to protect them from the sun. The sun beating on your exposed body is much more of a threat than some sort of theoretical overheating from wearing lightly-colored loose clothes that cover you adequately. I suppose in the American Southeast where the humidity is absurd one might think differently, but even then I'm not so sure.

Weight isn't really an issue- you can find some incredibly light pants. I think that the extra protection is easily worth a couple or three more ounces.

But I do occasionally wear shorts on quick dayhikes, and on the occasions were I trail-run.

I've come to not believe in convertibles- they are heavier than plain pants and the zippers are two more things to fail, then you're stuck with shorts, anyway. (And all of the ones I've used have been incredibly over-built, again adding to the weight, while simultaneously using flimsy zippers for the convertible legs.) Granted the EcoMesh pants have two extra zippers, too, but if one fails the leg doesn't fall off...

Just commit, and pick either pants or shorts. And, actually, it isn't insane to bring both and wear a set of running shorts with a liner as your underwear under the pants, and just take the pants off if you feel the need- especially if you can find some insanely light pants like the old BPL Thorofare pants. GoLite makes some decent shorts (or they did the last time I looked) that can be worn as underwear.

Edited by acrosome on 07/11/2012 11:18:51 MDT.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Re: rock guides on 07/09/2012 07:56:21 MDT Print View

I have rock guides as well, wonderful pant, but I don't use them much in the summer (save extensive off trail use)- they are used exclusively for shoulder season and winter however

I do carry Cap 4 bottoms in the pack as a insulating layer, they weigh 6.1 oz and are much warmer than any convertible pant- they get used at camp at night, as part of my sleeping system if turns really cold or in a pinch as pants in very inclement weather

disclaimer- I don't do much hitchhiking :)

Brian Lindahl
(lindahlb) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re: rock guides on 07/09/2012 10:47:11 MDT Print View

I wear running shorts as underwear and really light softshell pants on top. I like the color (off-white), fit and stretch of the Ferosi pants better than the Rock Guides, but those work well, too. I roll them up into manpris also, and prefer the simpler system. I'm usually in the alpine during summer, so temperatures really don't get above 80 degrees. The extra protection from rocks, wind and rain is nice in these environments.


What do you do when afternoon weather moves in when you're above treeline? I've found shorts to be not quite adequate in warmth for those situations in Colorado, especially on ridgelines and summits. If I did almost all below-treeline trail hiking, I can see myself mostly using shorts in summer, though (and I do in these rare situations).

Edited by lindahlb on 07/09/2012 10:48:19 MDT.

Devon Cloud

Locale: Southwest
nothing but convertables for me on 07/09/2012 11:45:24 MDT Print View

I always wear convertables. I weat them during the hike to help stop bug attacks or thorns, take them off when it is hot, or leave them on when it is not. I dont bring anyghing else actually.

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
pants vs shorts vs convertibles on 07/09/2012 12:20:49 MDT Print View

My favorite pants are the ArcTeryx Rampart pants. The material feels thin but is durable, with flat unobtrusive pockets. I usually roll them up, like Brian, to manpris, about mid-calf. So far, I haven't really missed shorts with these. It is worth waiting for a sale, though; REI carries them and every year for the past few years, they have gone on sale (but I can't remember what time of year).

If I wear shorts, I wear running shorts with a liner. I also take wool tights, like Mike above, that often stay in the pack during the day, but are there for sleeping and an extra layer if needed.

I'd like to try a combo like Serge's running shorts/wind pant system, maybe with the Montbell Dynamo. I don't have these, though, and our summers are so short in the PNW, that it might not be worth it.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Re: Re: Re: rock guides on 07/09/2012 13:14:51 MDT Print View

Brian- my legs rarely cool me down, even above treeline and even w/ rain. If push comes to shove, I'll break the Cap 4 bottoms out- but 95%+ they stay in the pack until I stop for the evening. Once I stop moving, bare legs do tend to cool me down.

I have a pair of the now discontinued Montbell Stretch windpants that I used to carry- nice stretchy material w/ zipped pockets and zipped ankles, really good DWR finish and they breathe well. However I found that I didn't wear them much on the trail and once at camp I would be better served by tights (Cap 4), so I made the switch. Weight is about identical (~ 6 oz) betwen the two.


Jeffrey Windsor
(jeffreywindsor) - F
What Dean said on 07/09/2012 13:30:25 MDT Print View

Dean pretty well summed it up, so I'll just add my vote for pants-only. One pair of thin nylon pants for a trip, and a pair of long johns for insulation. But I'm a wimp who doesn't camp in the winter (I blame my cushy San Diego childhood). If I have to swim while backpacking, it is either in the pants or naked.

Christopher Yi
(TRAUMAhead) - F

Locale: Cen Cal
Re: pants vs shorts vs convertibles on 07/09/2012 14:55:43 MDT Print View

I hike super hot, so less is better. Im fine down to the 30s-40s in a windshirt and shorts as long as Im moving. 5" Patagonia Baggies for shorts, Montane Featherlite wind pants when it gets colder or Im dealing with snow or alot of bugs. This combo weighs similar to typical hiking pants.

shane sibert
(grinder) - F

Locale: P.N.W
shorts on 07/09/2012 17:08:09 MDT Print View

I wear light weight NB running shorts with a loose liner. They are great for ease of movement, strechy and are cool, dry super fast. In the evening if need be I pull on a pair of my favorite light weight ArcTeryx Rampart pants over the running shorts no need for underwear.

I used to use convertables, but in searching for a new pair I discovered the shorts inseam on many convertables has gotten longer (street fashion?)and restricts my leg movement which is very annoying climbing over a log in the trail.

Edited by grinder on 07/09/2012 17:13:48 MDT.

Lisa Frugoli
(alfresco) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
pants vs shorts vs convertibles on 07/09/2012 17:15:23 MDT Print View

Those of you hiking in boxers may want to read this article:


Tim Zen
(asdzxc57) - F

Locale: MI
Re: Re: pants vs shorts vs convertibles on 07/09/2012 17:41:11 MDT Print View

Shorts would be great, but it is way too buggy around here, so I always go with pants.
Convertibles -- don't wear them anymore.
I like the bathing suit/jogger runner idea. Reminds me of college when you would run out of underwear.

Cool boxer link too -- $14 and free shipping.

Edited by asdzxc57 on 07/09/2012 17:43:38 MDT.

Brett Peugh
(bpeugh) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
rock craft on 07/09/2012 17:44:48 MDT Print View

The old Jackalope and now Rock Craft Pants from Patagonia are pretty good for winter or abrasion.

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
pants vs shorts vs convertibles on 07/09/2012 17:51:08 MDT Print View


Interesting article. It's pretty ballsy to start a new business in this economy, they always seem to get the shaft.

John G
(JohnG10) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic via Upstate NY
convertibles on 07/09/2012 19:20:41 MDT Print View

I only wear the legs in the cool morning hours, but remove them for hiking. Once in a while, if it's extra chilly, I'll wear them in the evening. I'd use them more if they were faster to attach. The zippers on the legs aren't noticeable to me.

Warren Greer
(WarrenGreer) - F

Locale: SoCal
well, it depends on 07/09/2012 22:36:42 MDT Print View

Day hike - shorts always unless I know there is allot of brush or other rough stuff.

Overnight. Always convertible. Sun and bug protection are very helpful as are extra warmth. And I like the option to convert to shorts. Don't notice the zippers at all. Don't want shorts with a built-in liner cause I like to wash my boxer briefs at the end of the day. Kinda tough if they are attached to your shorts.

Zorg Zumo
(BurnNotice) - F
Re: pants vs shorts vs convertibles on 07/10/2012 10:33:20 MDT Print View

I used to wear shorts. But I got tired of bug repellent & dust goo on my legs. So I switched to nylon trail pants. I have a pair of convertibles and I've never unzipped them - just not useful to me. So my favorite is a pair of Columbia trail pants. Most skeeters won't bite through them and they breathe enough to keep my legs reasonable. My legs stay cleaner which keeps my hammock cleaner.

jeff currey

Locale: North Central Idaho
Put a wiggle in your stride on 07/10/2012 16:03:18 MDT Print View

Mr Jones by David Byrne/ Talking Heads

Mr Jones
Put a wiggle in your stride
Loosen up
I believe he'll be alright
Changing clothes
Now he's got ventilated slacks..... etc

Yes, I love my Rail Riders cuz they're ventilated!

. .
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: (...)
... on 07/10/2012 16:11:48 MDT Print View


Edited by RogerDodger on 07/11/2015 14:57:08 MDT.

Brett Peugh
(bpeugh) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
converts on 07/11/2012 15:35:59 MDT Print View

If you want a convertible pant the REI Sahara ones are still the best. That whole leg zips off from the side and vertically.

wiiawiwb wiiawiwb
(wiiawiwb) - F
Lycra on 07/11/2012 17:02:26 MDT Print View

I've never gotten used to pants, of any type, as they impede my leg movement when I ascend. I thought RailRiders, with their gusseted knees, would help but they didn't.

Now, I always hike in compression shorts when I can or long lycras otherwise. If it's cool I have warmer stretch lycras I can wear by themselves or over the lycras.