Light nylon zip-off pants are popular with hikers in general I think. I have REI, Mountain Hardwear and Outdoor Research models. Ex Officio is another that comes to mind. All but the Mountain Hardwear are mostly warm weather items.
I think convertible pants cut down on extra clothing, filling the shorts and pants niche. The other route is light shorts and wind pants, but all of the zip offs I've seen are more durable than wind pants.
The Gi III pants would be great hiking pants.
As to the soft shell pants, I think they are the only way to go for cooler, wetter weather. It's funny--- I don't think soft shell jackets are practical, but I really like the pants. I have some REI Mistral pants and a discontinued pair of really light ones from OR that are more like loose tights. There are a lot of stretch knit running pants that bridge the pants/tights gap.
I think soft shells pair up well with long johns for colder weather. The really heavy ones are climbing stuff, too heavy and stiff for trails. I wish they offered more models in light colors; the black ones get hot if the sun comes out.