Best Men’s Convertible Hiking Pants of 2020

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Three-season backpacking in changing weather requires to switch easily from pants to shorts and vice versa regularly. Various combinations of pants and shorts are possible. But there’s another viable solution that works well in many cases – convertible hiking pants.

This post is about the best men’s zip-off pants for hiking of 2020. Here, we compare 13 best hiking convertible pant models for all budgets, styles of travel, seasons, and specific uses. Finding a quality pair of zip-offs was tough, but not anymore. Read this post and learn practically everything you need to know about how to choose the right convertible pants for your needs.

For more of our top gear recommendations, check out the Best Hot Weather Pants for Travel and Hiking. If you need shorts, you may wish to have a look at the Best Men’s Hiking Shorts.

Hiker with convertible hiking pants near lake
Crossing water is faster and easier when wearing zip-off pants

Quick answer: BEST MEN’S CONVERTIBLE HIKING PANTS 2020

1. KUHL Renegade Cargo Convertible                                  View on KUHL                       View on REI

2. Outdoor Research Equinox Convertible                         View on Amazon              View on Backcountry

3. Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible                                     View on Amazon              View on Backcountry

4. Fjallraven Abisko Lite Trekking Zip-Off                           View on Amazon              View on Backcountry

5. Prana Stretch Zion Convertible                                            View on Amazon              View on REI

6. Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible                           View on Amazon              View on Backcountry

7. Marmot Transcend Convertible                                           View on Amazon              View on Backcountry

8. The North Face Paramount Trail Convertible              View on Amazon              View on Backcountry

9. Columbia PFG Blood And Guts III Convertible           View on Amazon              View on Moosejaw

10. Patagonia Quandary Convertible                                    View on Patagonia        View on Backcountry

11. Craghoppers Kiwi Convertible                                          View on Amazon              View on Moosejaw

12. Carhartt Force Extremes Rugged Flex Zip Off         View on Amazon

13. REI Co-op Sahara Convertible                                           View on REI

 

Best all-around

#1 KUHL Renegade Cargo Convertible

KUHL Renegade Cargo Convertible Pants

Weight: 482 g (17 oz)

Price (MSRP): $99

Inseam: 28, 30, 32, 34, 36

Shorts inseam: 10

Materials: DURALUX: 95% Nylon, 5% spandex

Notable features:

  • STEALTH™ zip-off system keeps the zipper run smoothly and efficiently; convert to 10″ shorts nice and easy
  • 1/4 length side zippers on the bottom of the legs allow to fit the pant legs over hiking boots; snaps at leg cuffs help tighten or loosen the fit
  • DWR-treated strong and breathable 2-way stretch nylon-spandex blend

Pros:

  • Excellent zip-off pants that work great in all kinds of weather conditions and environments: forest, alpine, hot sun, cold rain, high wind; if necessary, the KUHL Renegade Cargo Convertible turn into shorts fast and easy
  • Great construction, materials, and features: deep pockets, side zippers, STEALTH™ zip-off system, DWR finish, UPF 50 sun protection
  • Good fit and excellent mobility as they move with the wearer really well during all kinds of outdoor activities
  • Ample storage space for storing essentials and personal belongings due to several deep pockets including compartment pockets inside large cargo pockets

Cons:

  • The convertible zipper seam is restrictive to those with bigger legs creating a rub point against the skin when walking
  • The cargo pockets are deep and convenient but a zipper will help keep the contents secure

Best for: Summer hiking in changing environments

Women’s Version: Not Available

Find the latest price:

KUHL | REI

 

Best lightweight

#2 Outdoor Research Equinox Convertible Pants

Outdoor Research Equinox Convertible Pants

Weight: 269 g (9.5 oz)

Price (MSRP): $99

Inseam: 30, 32, 34

Shorts inseam: 10

Materials: 95% Nylon, 5% spandex

Notable features:

  • Snap front closure and internal drawcord waist for individual fit
  • Fabric with Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) 50+ rating for protection from the sun; the fabric is treated with a DWR finish for better protection from the elements
  • Ankle zippers to pull the convertible pants off over boots easily

Pros:

  • Lightweight design and cool and comfortable material
  • A ton of functional features including removable belt, belt loops (for regular belt), ankle zippers, enough pockets for easy access to small items
  • Five pockets (two front hand pockets, two back pockets, and one zippered thigh pocket) for secure storage of essentials
  • Comfortable fit allows for flexibility when traveling between hot and cool climates; the Equinox convertible pants work well as a pant and as a short

Cons:

  • The removable belt isn’t top-quality (the good news is that the belt loops allow for replacing the removable belt with one according to the personal taste and preferences of the user)
  • We prefer the back pockets to be a bit deeper to fit a wallet or smartphone; a zipper would also be welcomed

Best for: Hiking in changing weather

Women’s Version: Available -> Moosejaw | CampSaver

Find the latest price:

Amazon | Moosejaw | Backcountry

 

Best budget buy

#3 Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible

Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Pants

Weight: 328 g (11.6 oz)

Price (MSRP): $60

Inseam: 28, 30, 32, 34, 36

Shorts inseam: 10

Materials: Main body (Omni-Shade): 100% nylon Silver Ridge ripstop; Mesh panels (Omni-Wick): 57% recycled polyester/43% polyester mesh

Notable features:

  • Built-in sun protection – Omni-Wick mesh panels and Omni-Shade UPF 50 fabric
  • Partial elastic waist and an exterior adjustable waistband ensure a comfortable, secure fit
  • Gusset detail for unrestricted mobility on and off the trail

Pros:

  • Good quality considering the price; the Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible are an excellent option for those looking for budget-friendly zip-offs
  • Versatile and functional convertible pants, they work equally well in hot and humid weather and in the mountain (Omni-Shade UPF 50 offers superior sun protection, which is very important when hiking in mountainous areas)
  • Six convenient pockets keep items secure and organized; the pocket set includes two hand pockets, two rear pockets, and two thigh pockets
  • Comfortable fit and nice flexibility as it’s easy to bend, squat, and kneel while wearing these convertible trousers

Cons:

  • Poor quality of the stitching of the pockets
  • A bit too tight/snug around the legs for hiking pants
  • The zippers are not of very high quality

Best for: Short hiking trips

Women’s Version: Available (Columbia Silver Ridge 2.0 Convertible) -> Amazon | Moosejaw

Find the latest price:

Amazon | REI | Backcountry

Best features

#4 Fjallraven Abisko Lite Trekking Zip-off Trousers

Fjallraven Abisko Lite Trekking Zip-off Trousers

Weight: 470 g (16.6 oz)

Price (MSRP): $195

Inseam: 32 (regular), 34 (long)

Shorts inseam: N/A

Materials: Main material: G-1000 Lite: 65% polyester, 35% cotton; Reinforcements: 88% polyamide, 12% elastane

Notable features:

  • G-1000 reinforcements at leg endings and G-1000 HeavyDuty on the inside of the calves for extra resistance against wear and tear
  • Articulated cut with pre-shaped knees and rear for optimized mobility
  • Bottom hems with brass boot hooks (prevent the pants from riding up), strap adjustments, and integrated gaiters that work well with mid-height and high cut boots

Pros:

  • High-quality construction: well-designed and well-made – nice style and rich colors that go well with other clothes; comfortable; easy to move and go trekking (functional, the technical cut allows for a full range of motion)
  • Great breathability: areas providing enhanced airflow include the rear waist, crotch, and from the back of the knees to the seat
  • Lightweight yet very durable and abrasion-resistant four-way stretch fabric and tightly woven G-1000 Lite with ripstop threads
  • Water-resistant as they are lightly waxed with Greenland Wax; fast-drying thanks to the material and the wax-based waterproofing

Cons:

  • Expensive (great features so if you have the money and you get these zip-off pants, you won’t regret it)
  • Good pocket configuration with four spacious pockets including two zippered cargo pockets but no back pockets

Best for: Trekking in warm climates

Women’s Version: Not Available

Find the latest price:

Amazon | Moosejaw | Backcountry

 

Best of the rest

#5 Prana Stretch Zion Convertible

Prana Stretch Zion Convertible Pants

Weight: 430 g (15.2 oz)

Price (MSRP): $95

Inseam: 30, 32, 34

Shorts inseam: 12

Materials: 97% Nylon, 3% spandex

Notable features:

  • Ventilated holes on the crotch gusset for added breathability
  • Breathable Stretch ‘Zion’ UPF 50+ fabric with DWR finish
  • Streamlined adjustable waistband

Pros:

  • Versatile convertible pants suitable for hiking and backpacking and other outdoor uses (even for everyday wear) as well as for varied conditions (both warm and cooler weather); these zip offs breathe well and wick moisture
  • Great fit and all-day comfort: the ‘Stretch Zion’ fabric has good stretch and mobility and what’s more you don’t have to wear a belt because of the adjustable waistband with pull strap
  • A good amount of pockets (six in total) provide plenty of storage space for organizing items: two zippered side pockets, two hand pockets, and two back pockets
  • The sturdy fabric is stain-resistant, which means that it is easy to clean and maintain

Cons:

  • The water resistance is enough to protect well only during light rain
  • The cargo pockets are a bit too small (especially if you want to keep a smartphone there)

Best for: Multi-faceted travel

Women’s Version: Available (Prana Halle Convertible) -> Amazon | REI | Backcountry

Find the latest price:

Amazon | REI | Backcountry

 

#6 Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible Pants

Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible Pants

Weight: 370 g (13.1 oz)

Price (MSRP): $90

Inseam: 30, 32

Shorts inseam: 10 (for inseam 32)

Materials: 86% Nylon 90D stretch woven ripstop, 14% spandex

Notable features:

  • DWR treated abrasion-resistant fabric; UPF 50+ sun protection
  • Brushed tricot-lined waistband reduce/eliminate chafing for more comfort
  • Gusseted crotch for increased freedom of movement

Pros:

  • Good fit; they are not restricting at all and provide a great range of motion for any activity, which allows the wearer to move the way he wants
  • Lightweight and relatively functional: the legs zip on and off easily; five pockets; color-coded zip-off zippers to distinguish between left and right leg
  • Incredible softshell fabric is highly breathable in warm weather; it also stretches well, wicks moisture, and dries fast
  • Good water repellency (still don’t wear in heavy rain as they’ll get water-saturated); block the sun ultraviolet light from reaching the skin

Cons:

  • Single cargo pocket, which is too small (it’s the only zippered pocket)
  • No ankle zippers so the user can’t accommodate over anything bigger than trail runners or shoes

Best for: Day hikes

Women’s Version: Available -> Amazon | Moosejaw | Backcountry

Find the latest price:

Amazon | Moosejaw | Backcountry

 

#7 Marmot Transcend Convertible Pants

Marmot Transcend Convertible Pants

Weight: 363 g (12.8 oz)

Price (MSRP): $85

Inseam: 30, 32, 34

Shorts Inseam: 10

Materials: 94% Nylon, 6% elastane

Notable features:

  • Bluesign approved fabric is DWR-treated and has UPF 50+ rating to keep the user’s skin safe while out in the sun all-day
  • Padded waistband for added comfort (DriClime interior waistband)
  • Reinforced bottom hem with side leg zips for easy on and off when wearing boots

Pros:

  • Useful features make these functional zip-off pants suitable for some rugged backpacking: abrasion-resistant nylon fabric, inseam gusset panel for increased range of motion, sturdy side zippers allow to fit boots
  • Thin breathable material dries really fast; the pants move with the body
  • Ample pocket space for quick access to essentials and personal belongings; the pockets are deep enough to store things secure; zippered side pocket for valuables/documents
  • Protection from the elements: good wind and water-resistance thanks to the DWR treatment

Cons:

  • The main problem is the fit (it could be better)
  • The front hand pockets are a little too tight and have too narrow openings
  • The back pockets come with Velcro closure: we consider zipper to be a better option as it won’t interfere with the stitching of the wearer’s shirt

Best for: Rugged trips in changing weather

Women’s Version: Not Available

Find the latest price:

Amazon | Moosejaw | Backcountry

 

#8 The North Face Paramount Trail Convertible

The North Face Paramount Convertible

Weight: 420 g (14.8 oz)

Price (MSRP): $70

Inseam: 30 (short), 32 (regular), 34 (long)

Shorts inseam: 9

Materials: 100% Nylon

Notable features:

  • Fold-over waistband with partial elastic and attached belt (adjustable buckle closure)
  • Fabric with durable water-repellent (DWR) finish and UPF 50+
  • Gusseted inseam for freedom of movement

Pros:

  • The convertible-legs zip on and off fast and easy (initially, the zippers are tight but don’t worry – they will loosen with time and the zipping/unzipping will be much easier) – you will always be ready for changing weather conditions or when your legs need to breathe more
  • Made of lightweight, breathable, and fast-drying fabric that’s perfect for summer wear
  • Tough-wearing, abrasion-resistant, solid construction can endure a lot of use and abuse
  • Comfortable, casual look, freedom of movement – these have everything to become your go-to pants for various climates and activities

Cons:

  • The fit is too baggy
  • The belt isn’t built-in (it can get lost easily if you aren’t cautious)
  • Needs a bit more stretch to be comfortable for some serious backpacking

Best for: Casual outdoor activities – light hiking, camping

Women’s Version: Available -> Amazon

Find the latest price:

Amazon | Moosejaw | Backcountry

 

#9 Columbia PFG Blood And Guts III Convertible Pants

Columbia Blood And Guts III Convertible Pants

Weight: 318 g (11.2 oz)

Price (MSRP): $65

Inseam: 30, 32, 34

Shorts inseam: 8.5

Materials: 100% Nylon (Omni-Shield Release Ripstop)

Notable features:

  • Omni-SHIELD Blood ‘n Guts stain repellency
  • Omni-SHADE UPF 30 provides excellent protection from the sun without needing to apply sunscreen
  • Zip fly with partial elastic waist

Pros:

  • Easy to care for: repel stains and wash well; Columbia recommend these for fishing but other than fishing, they are quite good for hiking, camping, kayaking, and other outdoor activities
  • A good set of pockets for easy access to essentials: six in total, including two handwarmer pockets, two back pockets, and two side pockets (the left one is a flap pocket, the right one is smaller)
  • Very lightweight and durable construction; the shorts dry so fast that they can be used as swim trunks
  • Fit like a glove and are comfortable for all-day hiking, fishing or

Cons:

  • Run small
  • Shorts are a little too short for our taste + most designs for hiking convert to shorts with a longer inseam (remember, Columbia made this one with fishing in mind)

Best for: Light hiking and camping

Women’s Version: Not Available

Find the latest price:

Amazon | Moosejaw

 

#10 Patagonia Quandary Convertible Pants

Patagonia Quandary Convertible Pants

Weight: 340 g (12 oz)

Price (MSRP): $89

Inseam: 32

Shorts inseam: 10

Materials: 95% Nylon (65% recycled)/5% spandex

Notable features:

  • Technical fabric treated with a durable water repellent finish to shield off moisture; they also provide good UV protection thanks to UPF 50+
  • Curved waistband provides a close fit so that the pants move well with the user; hidden drawcord for individual fit
  • Front and back knee articulation and gusseted crotch allow for a full range of motion

Pros:

  • Reliable zip-off pants made to provide whatever’s needed to hike the heat of the day: breathable material and good sun protection
  • The quick-drying material don’t stink after use; easy to care for because of the water-repellent finish
  • The convertible-leg zippers work fast and efficiently when the temps get too cool/hot
  • The fabric is comfy, durable, and stretchy; the gusseted crotch for great mobility on the trail and in town

Cons:

  • Slim-straight fit: only come in a slim version
  • The outseam stitching does not look as top-quality stitching

Best for: Multi-day trips in the backcountry

Women’s Version: Available -> Patagonia | REI | Backcountry

Find the latest price:

Patagonia | Moosejaw | Backcountry

#11 Craghoppers Kiwi Convertible Trousers

Craghoppers Kiwi Convertible Trousers

Weight: 505 g (17.8 oz)

Price (MSRP): $70

Inseam: 29 (short), 31 (regular), 33 (long)

Shorts inseam: 8 (short/regular version), 9 (long version)

Materials: 65% Polyester, 35% cotton

Notable features:

  • Nosi Defence insect proof fabric is engineered to provide a robust barrier to biting insects
  • PFC free SmartDry Eco Technology (which is essentially a durable water repellent) protects from drizzle and light rain, whereas UPF 50+ fabric shields from the sun
  • Reinforced knees for added wear resistance

Pros:

  • Practical, easy to use pockets provide enough storage space for tools, small items, and anything else you might need: nine pockets with good depth in total: five of them are zipped pockets; one pocket for a mobile phone
  • Hardwearing and well-made multi-functional convertible pants, these have a great price-quality ratio
  • Insect proof fabric protects from insect bites
  • Weatherproof (provide nice protection from wind and water but also from UV rays and dirt) and easy to wash and maintain

Cons:

  • Advertised as ‘relaxed fit’, these really come little on the baggy side
  • Too heavy and what’s more the polyester-cotton blend isn’t best for too hot weather
  • The zippers don’t look as being top-quality

Best for: Travelling in cooler (if warm, it shouldn’t be too warm) weather

Women’s Version: Not Available

Find the latest price:

Amazon | Moosejaw | CampSaver

 

#12 Carhartt Force Extremes Rugged Flex Zip Off

Carhartt Force Extremes Rugged Flex Zip-Off Trousers

Weight: 454 g (16 oz)

Price (MSRP): $80

Inseam: 30, 32, 34, 36

Shorts inseam: 11

Materials: 54% Cotton, 24% polyester, 22% Cocona 37.5 polyester

Notable features:

  • Rugged Flex technology eases movement
  • Sturdy fabric reinforced by triple-stitched main seams make these pants super durable
  • Heavy-hauling reinforced Carstrong pockets

Pros:

  • Hardwearing convertible pants: reinforced pockets so that you don’t need to worry about tools making holes in your pockets; sturdy zippers, triple-stitched main seams
  • Solid pants with practical design; very functional
  • Super flexible for freedom of movement during all your outdoor activities
  • Fit well and are comfortable to wear in changing climates

Cons:

  • Run a little too tight/small in the waist; you may wish to go a size up than your usual size
  • The pockets are a bit too small (not deep enough) especially the zippered thigh pocket
  • The material isn’t airy enough for hot weather

Best for: Camping, casual hiking, travel

Women’s Version: Not Available

Find the latest price:

Amazon

 

#13 REI Co-op Sahara Convertible Pants

REI Co-op Sahara Convertible Pants

Weight: 318 g (11.2 oz)

Price (MSRP): $70

Inseam: 28, 30, 32, 34, 36

Shorts inseam: 10

Materials: 94% Nylon, 6% spandex

Notable features:

  • Lightweight, quick-drying stretch nylon fabric with a DWR finish and UPF 50+ rating against UV rays
  • Convertible pant-legs with color-coded thigh zippers so you don’t have to worry which one’s the right leg and which one is the left leg when converting the shorts back to pants
  • Bottom side zips allow for extra ventilation when needed without converting to shorts

Pros:

  • Lightweight streamlined design; the fabric breathes well and dries fast when wet
  • Good protection from sun and rain; the fabric repels moisture and dirt due to the DWR finish
  • Hold up well under most conditions
  • Decent quality for the price

Cons:

  • Streamlined design and simple construction but not functional enough for serious backpacking; the overall quality of these zip-offs isn’t as good as it used to be
  • A bit too tight all-around: the cuff is not very roomy, more room in the crotch & thighs would be better; not enough elastic in the waste mean that you’ll need a belt to get a good fit; the zip-off legs don’t fit over boots (need longer zipper)
  • Run small

Best for: Casual strolls in town/day hikes

Women’s Version: Available -> REI

Find the latest price:

REI

 

 

Table 1: Best convertible hiking pants for men – comparison table

PRODUCTDESCRIPTIONPROSCONS
KUHL Renegade Cargo Convertible Pants
KUHL Renegade Cargo Convertible

#1 Best zip off hiking pants



Weight -> 482 g (17 oz)
Price -> $99
Inseam (shorts) -> 10
Material -> 95% Nylon, 5% spandex


-> Versatile; turn into shorts fast and easy
-> Great construction, materials, and features
-> Good fit and allow for excellent mobility
-> Ample storage space for storing essentials and personal belongings


-> The convertible zipper seam is restrictive to those with bigger legs
-> The cargo pockets are deep and convenient but a zipper will help keep the contents secure

Outdoor Research Equinox Convertible Pants
Outdoor Research Equinox Convertible

#2 Best lightweight



Weight -> 269 g (9.5 oz)
Price -> $99
Inseam (shorts) -> 10
Material -> 95% Nylon, 5% spandex


-> Lightweight design and cool and comfortable material
-> Plenty of functional features
-> Five pockets
-> Comfortable fit allows for flexibility when traveling between hot and cool climates


-> The removable belt isn't top-quality
-> The back pockets need to be to be a bit deeper

Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Pants
Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible

#3 Best budget buy



Weight -> 328 g (11.6 oz)
Price -> $60
Inseam (shorts) -> 10
Material -> Main body (Omni-Shade): 100% nylon Silver Ridge ripstop; Mesh panels (Omni-Wick): 57% recycled polyester/43% polyester mesh


-> Excellent budget-friendly option
-> Versatile and functional, work equally well in hot and humid weather and in the mountain
-> Six convenient pockets keep items secure and organized
-> Comfortable fit and nice flexibility


-> Poor quality of the stitching of the pockets
-> A bit too tight/snug around the legs for hiking pants
-> The zippers are not of very high quality

Fjallraven Abisko Lite Zip-off Trousers
Fjallraven Abisko Lite Trekking Zip-off

#4 Best features



Weight -> 470 g (16.6 oz)
Price -> $195
Inseam (shorts) -> N/A
Material -> Main material: G-1000 Lite: 65% polyester, 35% cotton; Reinforcements: 88% polyamide, 12% elastane


-> Nice style and rich colors
-> Great breathability
-> Lightweight yet very durable and abrasion-resistant G-1000 Lite fabric with ripstop threads
-> Lightly waxed with Greenland Wax for added water resistance


-> Expensive
-> Good pocket configuration with some spacious pockets but no back pockets

Prana Stretch Zion Convertible Pants
Prana Stretch Zion Convertible

#5



Weight -> 430 g (15.2 oz)
Price -> $95
Inseam (shorts) -> 12
Material -> 97% Nylon, 3% spandex


-> Versatile convertible pants suitable for different outdoor uses as well as for varied conditions
-> Great fit and all-day comfort thanks to the 'Stretch Zion' fabric
-> A good amount of pockets
-> Easy to clean and maintain fabric


-> The water resistance is enough to protect well only during light rain
-> The cargo pockets are a bit too small

Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible Pants
Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible

#6



Weight -> 370 g (13.1 oz)
Price -> $90
Inseam (shorts) -> 10
Material -> 86% Nylon 90D stretch woven ripstop, 14% spandex


-> Great range of motion for any activity
-> Lightweight and relatively functional
-> The softshell fabric is highly breathable in warm weather; dries fast
-> Good water repellency; block the sun UV light


-> The only zippered pocket is too small
-> No ankle zippers to fit anything bigger than low shoes

Marmot Transcend Convertible Pants
Marmot Transcend Convertible

#7


Weight -> 363 g (12.8 oz)
Price -> $75
Inseam (shorts) -> 10
Material -> 94% Nylon, 6% elastane


-> Suitable for some rugged backpacking
-> Thin breathable material dries really fast
-> Ample pocket space
-> Decent protection from the elements


-> The main problem is the fit: could be better
-> The front hand pockets are a little too tight and have too narrow openings
-> The back pockets come with Velcro closure instead of a zipper

The North Face Paramount Convertible
The North Face Paramount Trail Convertible

#8



Weight -> 420 g (14.8 oz)
Price -> $70
Inseam (shorts) -> 9
Material -> 100% Nylon


->Zip on and off fast and easy
-> Made of lightweight, breathable, and fast-drying fabric that's perfect for summer wear
-> Tough-wearing, abrasion-resistant, solid construction
-> Comfortable, casual look, freedom of movement


-> The fit is too baggy
-> The belt isn't built-in
-> A bit more stretch is needed to be comfortable for some serious backpacking

Columbia Blood And Guts III Convertible Pants
Columbia PFG Blood And Guts III Convertible

#9



Weight -> 318 g (11.2 oz)
Price -> $65
Inseam (shorts) -> 8.5
Material -> 100% Nylon (Omni-Shield Release Ripstop)


-> Easy to care for: repel stains and wash well
-> A good set of pockets for easy access to essentials
-> Very lightweight and durable construction; the shorts dry fast
-> Fit like a glove


-> Run small
-> Shorts are a little too short for our taste + most designs for hiking convert to shorts with a longer inseam

Patagonia Quandary Convertible Pants
Patagonia Quandary Convertible

#10



Weight -> 340 g (12 oz)
Price -> $89
Inseam (shorts) -> 10
Material -> 95% Nylon (65% recycled)/5% spandex


-> Reliable zip-off pants made to provide whatever's needed to hike the heat of the day
-> Don't stink after use; easy to care for
-> The leg zippers work fast and efficiently
-> The fabric is comfy, durable, and stretchy


-> Only come in a slim version
-> The outseam stitching does not look as top-quality stitching

Craghoppers Kiwi Convertible Trousers
Craghoppers Kiwi Convertible

#11



Weight -> 505 g (17.8 oz)
Price -> $70
Inseam (shorts) -> 8 (short/regular version), 9 (long version)
Material -> 65% Polyester, 35% cotton


-> Practical, easy to use pockets provide enough storage space
-> Multi-functional, with a great price-quality ratio
-> Insectproof fabric protects from insect bites
-> Weatherproof


-> Come on the baggy side
-> Too heavy + the polyester-cotton blend isn't best for too hot weather
-> The zippers are not top-quality

Carhartt Force Extremes Rugged Flex Zip-Off Trousers
Carhartt Force Extremes Rugged Flex Zip Off

#12



Weight -> 454 g (16 oz)
Price -> $80
Inseam (shorts) -> 11
Material -> 54% Cotton, 24% polyester, 22% Cocona 37.5 polyester


-> Hardwearing convertible pants with reinforced pockets
-> Practical design
-> Super flexible construction
-> Fit well and are comfortable to wear in changing climates


-> Run a little too tight/small in the waist; you may wish to go a size up than your usual size
-> The pockets are a bit too small (not deep enough)
-> The material isn't airy enough for hot weather

REI Co-op Sahara Convertible Pants
REI Co-op Sahara Convertible

#13



Weight -> 318 g (11.2 oz)
Price -> $70
Inseam (shorts) -> 10
Material -> 94% Nylon, 6% spandex


-> Lightweight streamlined design; the fabric breathes well and dries fast when wet
-> Good protection from sun and rain
-> Hold up well under most conditions
-> Decent quality for the price


-> Not functional enough for serious backpacking; the overall quality isn't very good too
-> A bit too tight all-around
-> Run small

 

Zip-off hiking pants buying advice or what to consider

Materials

There’s no difference between the main materials used for convertible pants and those utilized for regular hiking pants or shorts. And it’s logical as the fabric needs to meet the most important requirements of hiking and other (relatively) high-intensity outdoor pursuits – keep the user cool, dry, and comfortable.

Nylon, polyester, and other synthetic fibers and blends dominate with cotton being the only natural material used in certain designs. Note that although cotton is used from time to time, it isn’t that popular choice. Knowing its inherent characteristics and properties, it’s perfectly understandable that cotton isn’t a hugely popular fiber for making hiking pants and clothing. Still, its high breathability, tenacity, softness and nice feel next to the skin lead to exceptions such as the G-1000 fabric (35% cotton) used in the Fjallraven Abisko Lite Trekking Zip-off Trousers and many other great hiking pant designs by Fjallraven. Craghoppers Kiwi Convertible (35% cotton) and Carhartt Force Extremes Rugged Flex Zip Off (54% cotton) are two other models reviewed here that utilize cotton. Not the best trousers for rough hiking and backpacking, both work well for their intended use.

The top-ranked KUHL Renegade Cargo Convertible and Outdoor Research Equinox Convertible as well as all but the three models mentioned above on our list have nylon (also known as polyamide) as their major component. Its low weight, toughness, durability, abrasion, and wrinkle resistance, etc. are perfect for crafting tough, abrasion-resistant pants suitable for the roughest backcountry trips.

Polyester is another popular fiber for hiking clothing (actually, polyester is the most widely used fiber in the world today) – from pants and shorts to jackets, shirts, and base layers. Often blended with other fibers like cotton, spandex, and nylon, polyester is used in activewear because of its excellent durability, low moisture regain (meaning the fabric does not stain easily i.e. it’s easy to clean and maintain), and resistance to wrinkles, tear and wear, and microorganisms.

Elastane (spandex, Lycra, and various other trade names denote the same fiber) is another synthetic fiber that plays an important role in the hiking pants industry. It can be seen on the label of many hiking and outdoor clothing items (it’s usually at the bottom of the label as its content rarely exceeds more than 5-6%). Spandex gives what nylon and polyester don’t have – the stretch needed to provide a better range of motion. Models like the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible with 14% spandex work great for sports and activities that require dynamic movement.

The manufacturers use UPF fabrics to make the zip-offs shed away the sun. Fabrics with a UPF rating of 30 or more (most models on this list have UPF 50+) provide very good sun protection, which is a nice feature that works well in hot climates and mountain environments where sun protection is essential. The UPF rating itself indicates how much radiation will pass through the fabric and reach the skin of the user. Probably you wonder what does UPF 30 or UPF 50 mean? It’s simple. UPF 30 means that only 1 of 30 units of UV (1 of 40 or 1 of 50 for the UPF 40 and UPF 50 respectively) will pass through the fabric to the skin.

Weight

Generally, convertible pant designs weigh a little more than the regular versions of hiking trousers. The reason for this is that pants with zip-off legs are engineered to work well in more variable climates and environments. The main factors behind the weight of a pair of pants include factors such as design, linings, features (pockets, built-in belts, and especially zippers), thickness and weave of the material used, and the material itself.

We’ve reviewed trousers weighing from 269 g (9.5 oz) to 505 g (17.8 oz) with an average weight of 390 g (13.8 oz). See Graph 1 and Graph 2 where we compare the weight of each model on our list in grams and ounces respectively. The best lightweight convertible pants OR Equinox Convertible together with six other models weigh 370 g (13 oz) or less. Unsurprisingly, the lightest models include primarily lightweight streamlined designs (REI Co-op Sahara Convertible) and zip-offs intended for warm climates (Marmot Transcend Convertible). The six heavier models weigh from 420 g (14.8 oz) for the North Face Paramount Trail Convertible to the 505 g (17.8 oz) for the heaviest Craghoppers Kiwi Convertible. Some of the most solid models are in this group of pants weighing 420 g or more including the Fjallraven Abisko Lite Trekking Zip-off. These trousers are a good combination of functionality, comfort, and Swedish quality.

Graph 1: Weight comparison between men’s zip-off hiking pant designs (in grams)

Men's convertible hiking pants weight comparison

Graph 2: Weight comparison between men’s zip-off hiking pant designs (in ounces) 

Men's convertible hiking pants weight in ounces - comparison

Traditionally, versatile zip-off pants that offer ample storage space such as the KUHL Renegade Cargo Convertible weigh a bit more as they’re suitable for all kinds of weather conditions and environments including alpine environments with variable conditions from hot summer trails to cool rainy weather. Don’t be fooled by the affordable price of the heaviest design Craghoppers Kiwi Convertible. These zip-off pants are not made for high-intensity summer activities but they’re sturdy and well-made and, thanks to the NosiDefence insect proof fabric, are capable of keeping bugs away.

Breathability and ventilation

Well-ventilated trousers are designed to allow passage of air to keep the wearer cool, dry, and comfortable even during strenuous activities in hot temperatures. Similarly, zip-off pants should provide enough airflow in a multitude of weather conditions to ensure a more comfortable experience during hikes and travels. Many people wear zip-offs in the expectation of getting better ventilation in a matter of seconds when needed. Thus the ability of a pair of zip-offs to allow for superior ventilation and air circulation is of prime importance. There are many factors that affect pant breathability. They can be grouped into two main groups of factors:

  • Factors related to the materials including characteristics, properties, weave, thickness, etc. – looser weaves, lighter, thinner, and more porous fabrics are rightly expected to be more air permeable than tighter weaves and heavier and thicker textiles. Certainly, there are exceptions but you get it.
  • Specific features such as mesh-lined pockets, side ventilation zippers, vent openings, convertible zippers, adjustable bottom hems, i.e. everything that contributes to the ability of convertible pants to let perspiration out while providing the much-needed airflow to cool the body.

The most breathable designs in our review are the Outdoor Research Ferrosi, Patagonia Quandary, Prana Stretch Zion, and Abisko Lite Trekking Zip-Off. Each one of these is a good option for those who’d need added ventilation.

Features, functionality, and comfort

Both extremely important and interdependent, functionality depends on the features that a particular pair offers. In addition, it is no secret that the perceived comfort is also super important for every serious outdoorsman. And it depends on the fit, features, range of motion, pants weight, overall functionality, etc.

Technical features such as ankle zippers (allow for fitting the pants over a pair of boots and for easy removal of the legs without taking off the boots), zippered pockets, integrated belts, articulated knees, and inseam gussets (the last two are essential for the ability of pants to move with the user) are great for the overall functionality but they alone won’t make a pair of pants comfortable to wear for hours on and off the trail. The combination of a perfect fit, soft and breathable fabric, ease of movement, and useful technical features is what makes a pair of pants functional and comfortable or not. Great examples for zip-off trousers that allow the user to move easily in them are the Fjallraven Abisko Lite Trekking Zip-off and Prana Stretch Zion.

The main function of convertible pants is to convert to shorts. And the fast and easy switch between shorts and pants depends on the zip-off legs and zippers. Sturdy zippers that make the transition from trousers to shorts smooth should be welcomed. Sometimes, the zippers have color codes for denoting left vs right leg. This feature makes the process of zipping/unzipping easier. Nevertheless, finding a pair of well-fitting convertible pants can be difficult. It is because the zip-off legs should be comfortable without rubbing against the skin when walking, squatting or sitting. That’s among the main reasons why some people find zip-offs uncomfortable – they just haven’t found the right fit for themselves.

Water resistance

Trousers that can protect the wearer from the elements are very popular among the outdoor community. The extra water protection is especially valuable in changing conditions. Durable water repellent coatings are used because they make the fabric repel water. Additionally, DWR-treated fabrics repel dirt and stains too (and sometimes wind and oil) making the fabric easy to clean and maintain. The coating on the KUHL Renegade and Columbia PFG Blood And Guts III offers quality water resistance that does a good job of shedding water drops and forming beads on the outside of the fabric surface. Note that all kinds of DWR coatings applied to a garment will inevitably impair its air permeability. Also, some people think that durable water repellents make a pair of pants waterproof. No, they don’t. Rain pants are a whole different story. Don’t rely on a pair of regular pants with DWR coating in heavy rain – it won’t keep you dry.

Price

Pricing has nothing to do with functionality and comfort and does not affect performance but it is still a major factor that needs proper consideration.

The market is full of models whose price ranges from below $50 to well over $100. The cheapest model in our review is also the best budget option – we’re talking about the Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible. The official price (MSRP) of these zip-offs is around $60. We consider the regular price to be a fair price but from time to time, you can find the Silver River at a considerably lower price, say $30-$40 on a sale. And at this price, it’s a steal. The best thing about these pants is that you get a solid construction with useful features at a reasonable price. Of course, there are much better models with more hi-tech features like the Prana Stretch Zion Convertible and Fjallraven Abisko Lite Trekking but such models cost roughly 2-5 times more. Actually, decent zip-off pants like the North Face Paramount and Marmot Transcend are a bit more expensive than the two Columbia designs here. So, even if you don’t have a huge budget for hiking trousers, you can still get a good combination of practical design, sturdy fabric, and useful features at an affordable price.

The average price is $90 (actually, the Ferrosi Pants cost exactly this) but it’s so high because of a pricey outlier – the Fjallraven Abisko Lite Trekking Zip-Off – that inflates the average price by nearly $9. So, without this outlier, the average price for a pair of convertible pants is $81. Interestingly, the three most expensive designs are among the top 4 best pants. While it’s certainly a coincidence, high quality usually costs more in the world of convertible hiking pants. Having said that, we don’t think that the “you get what you pay for” is always valid. While a high price can get you more value, it’s not something you should be willing to bet on.

Graph 3: Men’s zip-off hiking pants price comparison (US dollars)

Convertible hiking pants price - comparison

Conclusion

If you get one thing only from this post it should be that finding a pair of well-fitting convertible pants is essential to the comfort of the user. We recommend everyone focus their search on specific aspects such as a set of useful features and comfort, i.e. look for a good balance between functionality and comfort.

In our minds, the KUHL Renegade Cargo Convertible (followed closely by the Prana Stretch Zion Convertible) is the best overall pair of convertible pants for men. Both models offer a combination of well-above the average comfort and functionality. Fjallraven Abisko Lite Trekking Zip-Off is our choice for those wanting premium features, whereas we would definitely recommend the Outdoor Research Equinox Convertible and Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible as a great lightweight and budget-friendly option respectively.

We hope that this review helps you make an informed choice. You have all the information to do so and get the right pair of zip-off pants for your needs.

 

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Best men's convertible hiking pants of 2020

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