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    Hiking Gear Buying Guide: Hiking Pants

    The great thing about hiking pants is that they’re lightweight, and they dry out fast. Lightweight is great as you trod the beaten path, but problems can start the moment you veer off-trail trail, when suddenly you need a pair of bush pants. But thanks to new technology, even the lightest hiking pants are built as rugged as the rest of your hiking gear; No longer will you go searching for firewood, only to return with shredded hiking pants. Your old ones would make good fire-starters though. . .

    I think zip-off or “convertible” pants are the best zipper-related invention to come along since the zipper, itself, and the concept was taken to a whole notha lev when high-tech fabrics were incorporated. Now you can have a windproof, but breathable pair of pants that are resistant to punctures and tears during off-trail use, and dry quickly after soaking. Here are some of the latest designs by top outerwear companies.

    Columbia has at a huge lineup of convertible and standard style hiking pants. The six zip-off versions range in price from the $48 (Aruba III) to $120 (Men’s Splash). The full-length pants in Columbia’s “Performance & Active” category are very reasonably priced, considering how much engineering has gone into them; You can step into a pair of Dolomites for $70, and get all the benefits of Omni-Wick Advanced Evaporation moisture transferring technology, which is probably stamped somewhere on the inside in case someone asks. Find them here:

    Under Armor’s Guide pant ($80) has some pretty cool features built into it, like ultraviolet protection and strategic ventilation. But the most impressive technology, called AllSeasonGear, involves “radical fabrics that flex with changing weather conditions,” allowing for a kind of auto-adjusting breathability. These pants also have cargo pockets. In my opinion, one or two extra, low-profile pockets are great to have for lightweight stuff like maps, but cargo pockets are over-rated. I use cargo pockets for hunting, cause sometimes I need quick, quiet, easy access to stuff, and I’m usually moving slow. But one a normal trail hike, who wants stuff swinging around and banging against their legs? Under Armor has solved this problem a bit by angling the pockets back a little, and making them somewhat low-profile.

    Mountain Hardware has been doing hiking pants pretty darn well for a few years now, and they’ve served up another hit, with their Matterhorn convertible, priced at $100. These pants were designed as a piece of hiking gear, not just a piece of clothing. With a seamless waist area lined with “Micro-Chamois” to prevent pack-chaffing, multiple pockets and reinforced knee and seat panels, the Matterhorn will keep you comfy and cool, or comfy and warm.

    Building outwear from synthetic, oil-based materials can be environmentally destructive, and The North Face has decided to work towards a solution, by using bluesign-approved, eco-friendly materials for certain garments, such as the men’s Horizon Peak Surplus pant. At around $60, it’s a great value, and happens to be the lightest pair of hiking pants made by The North Face. Find it here:


    In the convertible category, The North Face offers the men’s Horizon Falls, also for around $60. This pant zips-off to become a pair of 10-inch shorts. The lightweight, packable material is abrasion resistant, dries quickly, and is ultraviolet resistant.

    Total versatility and total Under Armour® performance on the trails or in the field.

    • Quick dry Nylon rip stop.
    • Moisture Transport System keeps you dry and comfortable.
    • Strategic vent zones enable the body to dump heat at key “hot spots”.
    • UPF 50+ protects skin from the sun’s harmful rays and inhibits premature aging.
    • 7 Pocket Styling.
    • Plier Pocket.
    • 100% Nylon.
    • Imported.

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