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What do you wear on your legs during the day? (winter or summer)
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Confused Newbie

Locale: Northern CO
What do you wear on your legs during the day? (winter or summer) on 05/05/2014 14:37:18 MDT Print View

I'm new to ultralight, and hoping to get more experience this year. I'm hoping you can give me some advice as to what you wear on your legs when outside, both in the winter and summer. I don't have much experience camping in colder weather, but my son has just joined Boy Scouts, and we're doing a lot of colder weather car camping. I'm hoping to buy gear that I can use for both car camping with the Scouts (which can mean a lot of time not active, or getting wet in the snow), and for backpacking. Also, my nylon pants are ripped, and my rain pants also are pretty destroyed, so I'm building my clothing from scratch.

I live in northern CO, and am looking for things suitable for the high country, where the temperature might drop 20-30 degrees in the summer, and many mornings will be frosty but the temps can be hot in the sun. Winter daytime temperatures can get to -10 to-20F during a cold spell.

I'd been wearing nylon pants that convert to shorts for summer hikes, and putting on rain pants when it gets cold or rainy.

For winter hikes, I've been wearing snowpants, but just for snowshoeing day hikes. These are rather bulky and not terribly waterproof.

So, please tell me what you like to bring for your legs! Thanks.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: What do you wear on your legs during the day? (winter or summer) on 05/05/2014 14:46:24 MDT Print View

3 season- REI convertible pants. almost never bring rain pants. easy to start and end the day when it is cooler. unzip bottoms and toss in a side pocket.

snowshoe- Columbia Titanium ski pants with shorts underneath. very waterproof, internal snow cuff that fits over the top of my boots so i don't need gaiters. if it was real cold i'd throw Underarmour tights under instead of shorts.

Cameron Habib
(camhabib) - F
Re: What do you wear on your legs during the day? (winter or summer) on 05/05/2014 17:04:26 MDT Print View

In general, I hate shorts. I find they don't offer much reduction in heat over pants, and the added proaction I get from wearing full coverage is well worth the added weight for me.

That said, I do a lot of rock climbing, so most of my clothing is purpose made for that. For summer, I have a pair of Patagonia Simple Guide pants that are probably one of my favorite pieces. They're nearly indestructible, breath well, have a great DWR finish, good flex / stretch, and material on the hem to let out for extra length. They are a bit pricey, but well worth it in my opinion. In the winter, I tend to keep the same bottoms (depending on just how cold / wet it is), but through on some base layers underneath. If it gets done especially cold I have a couple pairs of insulated pants, and some GoreTex ones for wet weather, though I find I don't normally need them.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: What do you wear on your legs during the day? (winter or summer) on 05/05/2014 17:21:36 MDT Print View

Usually thin nylon pants year round. Just easier all around. No sunscreen,scratched up legs,poison oak,ticks,etc.

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife

Re: What do you wear on your legs during the day? (winter or summer) on 05/05/2014 17:43:31 MDT Print View

I have 1200+ days of use wearing the Montbell Dynamo wind pants. I have had to stitch up three holes since the article I posted 2+ years ago.

Edited by JohnAbela on 05/05/2014 21:44:35 MDT.

TKB 1979

Re: What do you wear on your legs during the day? (winter or summer) on 05/05/2014 18:07:49 MDT Print View

I'm new to this as well, so not sure what others here would think, but I've been using a pair of 511 Taclite Pros - I guess it's a lighter version of their standard option. On my handy dandy new scale I got after reading other articles here, looks like 1 lb 6 oz for 34x32s, if I'm using the thing correctly. :)

I live in warmer weather than you do & they've never felt hot (I never wear shorts), but only a couple of times up north (Greer/Alpine, Az area) & I used some compression pants underneath without any issues.

I can speak to the durability with 100% confidence. I've put these guys through a heck of a lot of bouldering and about every thorny, prickly plant you can think of & they're still going strong after a couple years now. The only hole, more like a scrape, is in the back pocket from sliding down a rock w/ a can of Copenhagen back there.

Just my 2 cents.

511 Taclite Pro Pants

6.14 oz. Taclite poly/cotton ripstop fabric
48 individual bartacks in high stress areas
Double thick seat and knees (kneepad ready)
Triple-stitch reinforcement
Draw cord openings at bottom hem
YKK® zippers
Prym® snaps

Tom D.
(DaFireMedic) - M

Locale: Southern California
511 on 05/05/2014 23:24:01 MDT Print View

511 makes quality stuff. They're usually built a little heavier than most convertible pants as they tend to market them to law enforcement, EMS, fire, search & rescue, etc. I have many friends who use them.

Like a few of the previous posters, I use convertible nylon pants. All of mine (I have 7 pairs) have come from thrift stores with the exception of one pair I bought new. I have 3 Columbia, 2 Ex-Officio, and 1 off brand that all came from thrift stores. The one pair I bought new was the Bass Pro Shop house brand, before I found the others. I like to have some kind of shorts with me as I often hike with my sons who like to swim, so the convertibles at least allow me shorts to do this should the opportunity arise.

The lightest pair happens to be the off brand one (I don't remember the name) at 11.1 oz., although the Ex-Officio pair is only slightly heavier but has an integrated nylon belt.

For thru-hikes, I usually bring Dri-Ducks rain pants as a back up to wear when washing the convertibles, or to press into service in the event of catastrophic failure that I can't repair, at least to get me into town. I use these because they are the lightest pants (5.1 oz) that I own and I could even use them if it rains, although I rarely do. The convertibles have been fine in the rain so far.

Edited by DaFireMedic on 05/05/2014 23:25:50 MDT.

Brian Johns

Locale: NorCal
windpants on 05/05/2014 23:32:31 MDT Print View

I use supplex-weight golite windpants for three-to-four seasons. They are light, ripstop, front slash pokets, elastic waist and elastic cuffs. In winter, over cap 3 or merino long underwear bottoms. In summer over running shorts (or in the pack depending on weather, brush, bugs. They weigh about 5 oz. and won't die.

(KalebC) - F

Locale: South West
Pants on 05/05/2014 23:37:53 MDT Print View

I use shorts whenever possible, the stretchy the better. If I need pants I use either Arcteryx Rampart, convertible Golite's, montbell dynamos in 3 season, and Mountain Hardwear soft shell pants and or rain pants in winter or stormy shoulder seasons.

Options! That's my philosophy, it's a game time decision.

Edited by KalebC on 05/05/2014 23:39:11 MDT.

Christopher Yi
(TRAUMAhead) - F

Locale: Cen Cal
Re: What do you wear on your legs during the day? (winter or summer) on 05/05/2014 23:55:28 MDT Print View

Patagonia Baggies 5" shorts when it's 50* or hotter, Montane Featherlite wind pants if it's colder or I need bug protection. Recently been hiking in TNF Better Than Naked split shorts, not sure if I would trust their durability for longer hikes.

Edited by TRAUMAhead on 05/05/2014 23:57:10 MDT.

Confused Newbie

Locale: Northern CO
Re: What do you wear on your legs during the day? (winter or summer) on 05/09/2014 13:42:48 MDT Print View

Thanks all. Lots of great food for thought. I'd worry I'd get hot wearing pants on a sunny day, but it sounds like this is not an issue for many of you?

Christian Denniston
(cdenniston) - F
Pants on 05/09/2014 14:14:10 MDT Print View

I've been wearing OR Treadway Pants this season and really like them. Very light at around 6.5 oz in size small. In the winter I use Patagonia Traverse. I never wear shorts, to many thorns and ticks where I hike.

Just In Time
(ArcturusBear1) - F
Re: Re: What do you wear on your legs during the day? (winter or summer) on 05/09/2014 14:44:14 MDT Print View

"Thanks all. Lots of great food for thought. I'd worry I'd get hot wearing pants on a sunny day, but it sounds like this is not an issue for many of you?"

For me it depends. If I'm exposed to a lot of direct, intense sun, then loose fitting and light colored all linen (or my thin hemp/poly blend) pants keep me cooler than no pants. But if I'm in a shaded area, especially if its humid I prefer shorts, or the ultimate in cooling, a thin, breathable kilt.

Also depends on your hiking style--if you do a lot of off trail stuff, pants are usually a better idea, but on trail usually fine for shorts.

Gordon Gray
(GordonG) - F

Locale: Front Range, CO
Pant/ shorts option on 05/09/2014 15:05:36 MDT Print View

I have found a solution that has worked pretty well. For the cost of $34, I got these:

I know there are probably better ones (fit and comfort) out there but they have worked very well in the same conditions you frequent. They are breathable and highly water resistant - almost water proof. When I get warm, I typically just unzip the area at the knee cap and it creates a nice air vent.

For when it gets cooler, I pack along a lightweight pair of polyester long jons. I typically put these on in the early evening and stay warm till bead time where my pants come off and its jammy time.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Railraiders Eco Mesh Pants on 05/09/2014 15:22:53 MDT Print View

Otherwise nice nylon pants, but instead of having zip offs they have long venting zippers on the outside of the legs with mesh openings. When fully unzipped you get solar protection AND full ventilation. You can unzip them from the bottom or the top - just a few inches at the top and your nether region get a nice breeze, from the bottom and the legs get it. All the way and it is almost like streaking. Never liked zip offs, and this is a very nice solution. When the sun goes down low, zip them up again to get another few hours of warmth. Used to be all the rage on here 8 or 10 years ago.

The Eco Mesh shirts are pretty dorky however.

Nylon pants are usually great and all, but I have shredded more than one pair of them scrambling around on slickrock - they should have put it in the manual somewhere that it is only slick when covered with ice. Otherwise is is sandpaper. Now if I am going anywhere in Canyon country I use something a lot tougher.

Edited by millonas on 05/09/2014 15:26:39 MDT.

Derek M.
(dmusashe) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Railraiders Eco Mesh Pants on 05/09/2014 19:48:48 MDT Print View

If running shorts are a "10" in terms of ventilation in hot weather, what would you rate the Railriders Eco Mesh Pants when they are fully unzipped?

Glenn S

Locale: Snowhere, MN
Re: What do you wear on your legs during the day? (winter or summer) on 05/09/2014 19:54:42 MDT Print View

Convertible pants seem to be a love/hate sort of thing, but until they fail me, I like them. I only camp 3 season, but for anything down to freezing, I bring a thermal top and bottom for both sleeping, and as a base layer for cool mornings or late cool evenings. Most synthetic outdoor pants seem fairly water resistant, but complete water proof wear is another topic that seems to garner a good deal of attention all by itself.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: Railraiders Eco Mesh Pants on 05/09/2014 19:59:06 MDT Print View

"If running shorts are a "10" in terms of ventilation in hot weather, what would you rate the Railriders Eco Mesh Pants when they are fully unzipped?"

Ventilation 9/10. Actually can feel a bit "exposed" when you first unzip them all the way - the mesh gap is about 3 inches when fully expanded. But, comfort of legs greater to much greater under sunny conditions than shorts if coolness and not just moisture removal is part of the comfort equation.

Adjustability on the go is kind of a nice added feature too. Also the mesh has holes small enough to keep out mosquitoes. Has that insect guard stuff in the fabric as well, but I find that kind of embarrassing to mention. :-)

@John, Maybe those wind pants have earned a retirement after all they have done for you. I am both amazed and mildly disturbed that that you have worn then for so many days. You should let them run free - put them out to stud where they can breed more windpants and increase the quality of the stock.

Edited by millonas on 05/09/2014 21:41:52 MDT.

Just In Time
(ArcturusBear1) - F
Re: Re: Re: What do you wear on your legs during the day? (winter or summer) on 05/11/2014 01:51:35 MDT Print View

Zips are cool, but it's probably a bit more efficient to go with pants made out of all, very breathable fabric. I love my somewhat loosely woven linen pants, you can feel most all but the very subtle breezes through the fabric, and the fabric itself is very cool to the touch. On the other hand, less protection against insects or abrasion issues. Like most things, there is some trade off you have to weigh.

Most of the above, i bought at thrift stores, and cost less than 5 dollars a pair. Also have the nice feature of pretty good (and truly for the life of the garment) odor control. Not good for winter (or colder weather)! We switch to poly-wool or wool-poly blends, silk, or the less breathable nylon pants then (in about that order of preference).

Edited by ArcturusBear1 on 05/11/2014 01:53:13 MDT.

Kenda Willey
Re: What do you wear on your legs? on 05/11/2014 19:58:57 MDT Print View

In summer, I wear Patagonia lightweight capilene base layers. They protect my legs surprisingly well: most things slide right off them. Oh yeah--I wear them under shorts. I can wear them 24 hrs a day: They protect me without being too hot during the day, they keep me warm in the evening and morning, and I sleep in them. I also have non-capilene long johns, but weeds catch on them more than on capilene.
In cold weather, I wear long johns under hiking pants. I've never tried down pants, but I have worn flannel-lined pants and they made me look fat. Also, not exactly UL.