When opting to be outdoors, some may think that what you wear doesn’t matter. The location and details of your adventure will determine your wardrobe. When researching these items, you want to make sure you find the best (and most suitable) clothes for your exploration.
First, determine what you will be using these outdoor pants for. Are you going camping with friends? Trekking up a mountain? Are these pants going to be used for basic traveling?
When choosing the perfect pants, you want to make sure you have your activity, location and temperature (to name a few) in mind, before making the final cut. Below are some tips and suggestions for finding the best convertible pants for your next escapade.
What Are Convertible Pants?
You may not have heard the term before, but once it’s explained, you’ll realize you’ve heard of them before.
They look like a normal pair of pants, but they have a zipper on each leg, just about the knee, that allow you to remove the lower part of the pant leg, converting the pants into shorts. This allows you to plan ahead for whatever temperature and weather may come your way without having to bulk up your bag with too much clothing.
Which Features Are Important?
Okay, so you’ve decided to invest in a new pair (or maybe your first pair), of convertible pants. Now what?
You’re the outdoorsy type, looking for something comfortable to sustain a variety of terrains and weather conditions, but you just don’t know what pants are your type. How are you supposed to commit to a new pair of pants without knowing what to look for? Here are some suggestions to make your new pant relationship last.
- Material: If you’re looking for a reliable pair of quick-drying convertible pants, you want to ensure it is made of the best material you can find. Most convertible pants are made of 100% nylon, as it is a quick-drying, light material that is suitable for most outdoor activities.
Other pants’ materials such as cotton or polyester are going to be heavier than recommended, and won’t dry nearly as quickly as nylon.
They also lack the breathability that most avid hikers or campers desire. Other options that you might see under the “material” category might be “other fibers”. This typically means that the manufacturer has used a mix of fabrics to provide the consumer with a “comfort fit” pant.
These pants are presumably laced with a stretchy or cottony fabric to add a little extra comfortability. Picking this material really depends on the purpose of your pants.
- Durability: Seeking the most reliable durability in convertible pants is also very important. We all know that mother nature is unpredictable. Rain, wind or storms can often appear unexpectedly, so you want to make sure you’re prepared for any circumstances.
Having a waterproof convertible pant is one specification to look for. You want to be able to persevere during unfortunate weather, or even through a hike that takes you through water.
Not only are waterproof convertible pants desirable, but windproof pants are also recommended. Seeing as convertible pants are typically made of a lightweight material, they can be quite thin.
However, if you stumble across a pair of waterproof, windproof pants, you just might have hit the jackpot. Another term you might hear when searching for the best convertible pant is ripstop. If you find a convertible pant that is made of 100% nylon with a “ridge ripstop”, these pants have great durability.
These pants are made with woven, nylon fabric that will provide reinforcements to prevent the material from ripping. Whether you’re trudging through mud or trekking through a stream, having ripstop fabric will ensure longevity.
- Versatility: Pockets or no pockets? Cut-off capabilities or not? These are some features that may strike you as important when searching for the best convertible pant. Imagine starting a 10-mile hike at 7am and finishing at noon.
The temperature during this hike will likely vary. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to turn your convertible pants into shorts? Don’t worry, this is totally a thing!
The variety of convertible pants available vary in length. However, cut-off capabilities are definitely an option.
Some of the convertible pants provide the consumer with a cargo-pocket option, while others present with the vertical zipper-pocket and a closure to prevent snagging. Whichever pocket suits you best is up to you.
- Sun Protection Fabric: Even on a cloudy day, the sun can still find you. As mentioned earlier, these pants are typically made of a lightweight, thin material, so the sun can still shine through these pants leading to cases of sunburn.
However, if you find a convertible pant with UV protection, you can spare your legs from sun exposure. The sun protection varies from pant to pant, but it typically ranges from 15-50 UPF.
When choosing the best convertible pant, your activity variability, weather conditions or regional location might determine the UPF protection that you’re looking for.
If the pants you are looking for do not have UPF protection, you can choose a color that will protect you from the sun to a certain degree. See below for color options.
- Color: Though you might not think that the color of your pants would matter in an adventurous setting, it could play an important role for obtaining optimal comfort.
Most hiking or camping companies recommend a light color, such as beige or light gray, in order to prevent attraction of heat from the sun. Yet if you’re hiking on a mountain or in a cooler atmosphere, darker colors may suit you well.
Thankfully, all six of the convertible pants that are recommended come in a plethora of colors to choose from. Whether you’re looking to be fashionable or stay cool on a hot summer day, there are choices for each.
Top Six Convertible Pants
When searching for the outdoor pants that are most conducive to your upcoming activities, you want to make sure they have all the specifications that you’re looking for. With these six convertible pant suggestions, you’re guaranteed to find the perfect fit.
Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Pant
Weight: 14.4 ounces
Specific Features: 100% Nylon, UPF of 50, Omni-wick evaporation technology, Zip-off legs, 10” inseam, Cargo pockets, rear pockets
Best Use: Hiking, Camping, Outdoor activities in warm weather, light water involvement
Description: These Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Pant are perfect for warm-weather activity. Though these pants are not completely waterproof, they do feature the omni-wick evaporation technology which helps to keep the moisture away from your body, enabling quick-dry and optimal comfortability.
Even if you break a sweat in these pants, the omni-wick technology will come to your rescue. These pants are 100% nylon and have a high UPF of 50, ensuring reliable protection from the sun.
The Columbia Silver Ridge pant has a straight-leg style, converting to shorts with a 10” inseam. The shorts are quite fashionable on their own, falling just above the knee. They feature dual-sided cargo pockets and closed-flap rear pockets.
One bonus feature of these pants is the adjustable waist belt. If you’re looking to take a warm weather hike in mild conditions, I recommend the silver ridge convertible pant!
White Sierra Trail Convertible Pant
Weight: 16.6 ounces
Specific Features: 100% Nylon, Pocket versatility, Zip-off pants (convert to shorts in seconds), UPF fabric, 30” inseam
Best Use: Hiking, Camping, Outdoor activities in warm weather
Description: Going for a midday hike or a nature walk with friends? These may be the pants for you.
These strong, rugged White Sierra Trail Convertible Pant still provide you with the lightweight, breathable material as any other convertible pant but present you with more durability. At a hefty 1.6 lbs, these pants provide you many pocket options to keep your belongings with you at all times.
The sierra trail pants offer dual-sided cargo pockets, front, slanted pockets seen on a standard active pant, and also back hook-and-loop pockets, which present utmost security.
Though the UPF protection is not specified, the fabric will protect you to some degree. These 30” inseam pants provide you with the cut-off option, allowing the shorts to fall right on the knee.
The downside to these pants is the lack of waterproof protection, so you may want to invest in some waterproofing spray.
Geval Windproof Quick Drying Outdoor Pants
Weight: 16.3 ounces
Specific Features: Zipper closure, 100% nylon with ridge ripstop, wick dry capabilities, Omni-Shade UPF 40+, Exterior adjustable waistband, Zip-Off legs
Best Use: Outdoor sports, Camping, hiking, traveling, fishing & warm-weather activities
Description: If you’re looking for a quick-drying, convertible pant that not only keeps you “cool” fashion wise, but also temperature wise, then this is the pant for you.
These Geval Windproof Quick Drying Outdoor Pants feature wick-dry capabilities, which enable the pants to dry quicker than others.
With super lightweight, 100% nylon material, you’re sure to stay comfortable on your next outdoor adventure. These pants also feature the ridge ripstop, which ensures durable fabric, preventing rips and tears. With closures on each zipper, you’re belongings are kept safe, sound and secure.
Flexibility is also an option with these convertible pants. They feature an exterior adjustable waistband, so feel free to snack on your hike! If you’re trekking in these pants in warm weather, you won’t have to worry about being protected by the sun; these Geval pants provide you with omni-shade protection and a UPF of 40+.
The good news is, if you get too hot on your travels, you can zip off the full-length pants and turn them into light, breathable shorts. The downside? If heavy winds are in the forecast, they don’t seem to brave the forces of a windy adventure very well.
Columbia Silver Ridge Stretch Pants
Specific Features: 100% Other Fibers, Omni-Wick, Omni-Shield Advanced Repellency, Omni-Shade UPF 50, Comfort Stretch, Zip-Closed Security Pocket & Cargo pocket
Best Use: Hiking, Camping, Fishing, Outdoor activities with water contact
Description: Secure, stretchy and true to size, these convertible pants are versatile and worth every penny.
These Columbia Silver Ridge Stretch Pants stand out from the rest as they are made of 100% other fibers, while most others are made of 100% nylon. This material gives the pants a slight stretch, which gives them a “comfort fit” feel. The best part about these pants?
Not only do they feature the omni-wick technology that is true to Columbia’s brand and keeps you dry, but they boast the omni-shield advanced repellency system that allows minimal water access to the pants itself. They also deliver omni-shade capabilities with a UPF of 50.
The opportunities are endless with the silver ridge stretch pants. You can enjoy many outdoor activities in various conditions, and even bring along your phone or camera to capture it all.
These pants feature a zip-closed security pocket and a cargo pocket, for extra storage. The downside is that these pants do not convert into shorts.
Mr. Stream Lightweight Convertible Pants
Weight: Unknown, size runs small
Specific Features: 100% nylon, Lightweight, Quick-dry and breathable, Exterior Adjustable Waistband, Zip-Off Legs, Omni sun protection
Best Use: Hiking, Traveling, Camping, Outdoor sports/activities
Description: If you’re searching for a budget-friendly, lightweight, get-what-you-see type of convertible pant, you’ve found your match. These breathable Mr. Stream Lightweight Convertible Pants are thin and small-fitting, but can be easily folded into a backpack.
The legs will happily zip-off for a quick conversion to an inseam short, and the material is suited with omni sun protection for minimal protection. This product does have an exterior adjustable waistband, which might just be necessary considering these pants are not true to size.
Make sure to check the sizing chart before you buy. An upside to these pants is the six, closed zipper pockets that are discreetly placed throughout the legs. If you’re looking for the basic convertible pants under $30, you’ve found them.
Columbia Convertible II Pant
Specific Features: 100% Nylon, Zip-closed security pocket, UPF 15, Partial elastic waist, Zip-off legs, 7.5” inseam short,
Best Use: Traveling, Hiking, Camping, Outdoor activities/sports
Description: These lightweight, water-repelling, Columbia Convertible II Pant are the perfect travel companion. With their breezy material and conversion capability, you have the versatility you need to feel comfortable for the duration of your next trip.
When the legs zip off, they leave you with a 7.5” inseam on the shorts and a UPF of 15. Though the sun protection is mere, it’s enough to not have to worry about that extra layer of sunscreen.
These pants have a partial-elastic waist for more breathing room and the nylon, ripstop fabric promises the durability you’re looking for.
Want to take these pants for a run? They are sure to keep you cool and dry, whether it’s a warm summer day or a cool, brisk morning with a light drizzle. These pants are my second favorite choice and I highly recommend them as your top pick for cross country travels.
The North Face Paramount Peak II Convertible Pant
Dimensions: 14 x 16 x 3 inches
Weight: 16.2 ounces
Specific Features: Abrasion-resistant nylon, Environment-friendly fabric, Large pocket space, Durable, Midweight, Zip-off legs, Buckled belt and elasticized waistband
Best Use: Camping, Hiking, Traveling, Outdoor activities/sports
Description: These popular-branded North Face Paramount Peak II Convertible Pant are an environmentalists best friend. Powered by 90% of a blue sign, environment-friendly fabric, these outdoor pants were produced with global conservation in mind.
Not only can they be converted to durable shorts, but the abrasion-resistant nylon stands up to the toughest adventure you come by. Though these pants aren’t as light as the others, they withstand wind and water, and are simply made well.
With large pockets and a discreet buckled belt, convertible pants can conform not only to your size, but also to your next activity.
Though these pants are more expensive than the other options, you’re paying for the environment-friendly fabric and the blatant quality of the convertible pants, themselves. If you’re in the market for a durable, multi-purpose convertible pant and want to help save the world, you’ve stumbled upon the perfect pair.
Pick Your Adventure & The Pants Pick You
Convertible pants can provide you with exactly the comfort you’re looking for when it comes to staying both warm and cool during your hike.
You may need the extra protection in the early hours of the morning, but as it heats up, removing the legs of your pants is the best way to cool odd. Save on packing several lengths of pants and settle for convertible pants, so you’ll have more room for the extra gear you’ll really need.
Do you have a pair you’re dying to talk about? Why not share your stories and comments with us in the section below? We’d love to hear from you.