In defense of convertible pants

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azbackpackr
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In defense of convertible pants

Post by azbackpackr » Dec 03 2013 9:05 pm

I like convertible pants (AKA "zip-offs) because I really do prefer hiking in shorts, but sometimes it's super chilly in the morning, or chilly on top of the mountain, or at night in camp, or you end up bushwhacking when you hadn't planned on it, so then I can pull out the legs and zip them on. I don't like those capri-type ones. I only like the ones that convert to shorts. I also like them to be real hiking pants, with cargo pockets--the more the merrier.

The shorts sections of my remaining two pairs of zip-offs are very faded and stitched-up and patched, whereas the legs are in pretty good shape. That reflects how I use the pants--mostly as shorts, with the added benefit of making them long when I need to.

So, I find that REI seems to be out of most sizes, and has few choices, most of which make into capris. I found a nice pair on EMS (Eastern Mountain Sports) and might order them there, but will probably look further, compare prices.

I have to take issue with the editor of Outside who said they are the worst outdoor gear invented. Huh? I know from long experience they are one of the best inventions, especially for the Southwest. Oh, but wait, most magazines are East Coast-centric... And that guy mentioned he is hung up on fashion, as well.

So, what's with the wane in popularity of these pants? Are people really such fashion victims that they are all caught up about how they look? In fact, the better brands don't look bad at all. Why would I want to carry a pair of pants in my day pack on a day when I would wear shorts 3/4 of the day? Ditto in my overnight backpack.
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Re: In defense of convertible pants

Post by joebartels » Dec 03 2013 9:47 pm

That's the only kind I own. When the weather or terrain forces me out of shorts I wear them. Most that I hike with wear them too. It seems I remove and attach the legs more than others. Mine are the cheaper REI with side zippers. Perhaps not having to take off my shoes makes it less of a hassle.

Bruce carried a pair of convertible pants on one the worst cat claw adventures but refused to wear 'em.

I think for some a lot of refusing to take them off is trying to guarantee they do not return home looking like sausage. On the flip side most in AZ despise the thought of pants so giving in to putting them on is a mental loss in addition to sweating.

Yet I would guess the real reason they don't get used as much as designed is they just aren't easy enough to convert or fail when converted too many times.
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Re: In defense of convertible pants

Post by azbackpackr » Dec 03 2013 9:53 pm

I've read several magazine and online review complaints of some sort of "fashion" issue with them.

I really do dislike hiking in long pants, so for me, it's great to have the legs in my pack, just in case I need them! I also think the men's sizes are easier to find. For some reason, REI didn't have any reasonable sizes in the women's versions.
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Re: In defense of convertible pants

Post by mazatzal » Dec 03 2013 10:08 pm

My pref is shorts and knee length socks! Roll down when trail is clear and up thru cat claw. My knees get kinda bloody tho :)
Last edited by mazatzal on Dec 04 2013 8:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: In defense of convertible pants

Post by big_load » Dec 03 2013 10:12 pm

I'm surely in the minority on this. I don't like putting the legs on and off, and I prefer whatever scratch and sun protection I get from long pants anyway.

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Re: In defense of convertible pants

Post by azbackpackr » Dec 04 2013 7:31 am

mazatzal wrote:My pref is shorts and knee length socks! Roll up down when trail is clear and up thru cat claw. My knees get kinda bloody tho :)
big_load wrote:I'm surely in the minority on this. I don't like putting the legs on and off, and I prefer whatever scratch and sun protection I get from long pants anyway.
Hey look! I figured out how to quote two people at the same time! ;) Well, I guess the point is I hardly ever use the legs. I may think it's very cold in the morning, so I start out with the legs on, but it doesn't take long before I want them off again, usually. I have had only one pair of these where you have to take your shoes off. They were $20 ones from Campmor! They have lasted, I still have them. As for knee socks, hmmm...I used to wear knee socks and plaid pleated skirts when I was a kid, and had to use rubber bands to hold the socks up.

If I know in advance I am going to be doing mostly bushwhacking, I wear USMC camo pants. I have three pairs, they last forever. I got them for free, when my DIL got out of the Marine Corps. Also, if I know it is not going to get to over 50 degrees on a dry day, (such as in the White Mountains) I wear those.
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Re: In defense of convertible pants

Post by Sun_Ray » Dec 04 2013 7:35 am

We travel a bit and I like just packing zip offs and determineing what lenght to wear when I get to the trailhead.
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Re: In defense of convertible pants

Post by BobP » Dec 04 2013 7:38 am

mazatzal wrote:knee length socks! Roll up down when trail is clear and up thru cat claw. My knees get kinda bloody tho :)
I thought you wore knee highs just to use them as an ashtray :o .
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Re: In defense of convertible pants

Post by azbackpackr » Dec 04 2013 9:04 am

I messaged REI, said to the online person, "What's with the women's convertible pants? Almost no sizes available." He replied something about maybe they will get more in the spring. I replied, "This is hiking season in Arizona, SoCal, and New Mexico. How many stores do you think REI has in those places?" He suggested I email their merchandising department.
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Re: In defense of convertible pants

Post by Jim_H » Dec 04 2013 9:16 am

Actually, in New Mexico and far, far west Texas, there are no REI's south of I-40, and it's cold up in northern NM, so the need for those pants is low. Even in Lac Cruces, standard pants are fine. It's cold over here. Colder if going up.
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Re: In defense of convertible pants

Post by chumley » Dec 04 2013 10:27 am

I think I agree with Elizabeth on this one. I love my convertible pants, and have several pair. I rarely use the legs, but they are great to have for early morning or evening hikes, and especially around camp if it's buggy out. And like Joe, I gotta have the zip legs so I can switch without removing my boots. If you buy the same brand you can even use the shorts and legs interchangebly which will drive any east coast fashion editor absolutely bonkers. I really like wearing the green legs with the khaki shorts. Or a green leg, with a tan leg, and the khaki shorts. I am my own style and I don't give a rip what anybody else thinks. : king :

Speaking of rip, I had a wardrobe malfunction at the Reavis Hippy Hazfest last month but took them home and spent a couple of hours sewing them all back to working condition because I like them that much!

My occasional frustration is identifying the left and right leg parts when putting them on. I had a pair of Columbia brand pants once that tried to help -- by having the zipper marked L and R. Unfortunately it was a total engineering FAIL since the marked zippers were attached to the shorts, not the legs! ](*,)

I also wash them separately (why wash the legs if you haven't worn them), so even when I'm not wearing a mix'n'match fashion statement, the color of the legs doesn't match the shorts anyway.

Now if only they'd invent a shirt that would convert from wife-beater to short-sleeves to full long-sleeves with a collar! It's the holy grail of convertible clothing :pray:
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Re: In defense of convertible pants

Post by BobP » Dec 04 2013 1:20 pm

joe bartels wrote: It seems I remove and attach the legs more than others
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Re: In defense of convertible pants

Post by CannondaleKid » Dec 04 2013 2:27 pm

big_load wrote:I prefer whatever scratch and sun protection I get from long pants anyway.
I'm with you. Since 95% of my hiking is off-trail I welcome the protection, I like my skin just fine as is, thank you. If I'll be going through the real bad stuff I also wear homemade leather chaps. For me the extra UV protection of long sleeves/pants works good and even in hot weather with the chaps I do just fine.

Of the convertible pants I've had the materials simply wouldn't stand up to my use... the last pair had so many stitches & patches on it I was putting patches over patches. Now that I've gone with 511 Tactical brand Teflon-impregnated pants they rarely catch on cats-claw/etc., and even if they do they shed them without tearing.
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Re: In defense of convertible pants

Post by joebartels » Dec 04 2013 2:39 pm

My cheapy pair has no issues tearing with cats claw. The majority of my mends come in the gluteus maximus region. Probably from tarter sharp rock. The thin cheapies suffice. I have a pair of fire hose pants good for locust and manzanita but the heat and weight added is taxing. They're six sizes too large now too. I'm smaller than I was in high school but I'm still a monster compared to Dave1 or te-wa.
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Re: In defense of convertible pants

Post by hippiepunkpirate » Dec 04 2013 4:03 pm

chumley wrote:Speaking of rip, I had a wardrobe malfunction at the Reavis Hippy Hazfest last month but took them home and spent a couple of hours sewing them all back to working condition because I like them that much!
To really hit home the subject line of this thread, in the photo that Todd linked to, three out of the four people pictured are wearing zip-off pants
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Re: In defense of convertible pants

Post by Jim_H » Dec 04 2013 6:51 pm

I just wore my zip offs 3 days in a row. Shorts going up on my hike, pants coming down.
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Re: In defense of convertible pants

Post by Trishness » Dec 04 2013 7:55 pm

What's not to like? I love zip-offs, convertible pants whatever you want to call them. I usually find them at a great price on STP. I buy them in pairs and the same color because if I blow out the seat on one pair I always have extra legs for the other. They're great for when you start out cold in the early AM and wind up hot in the PM. Duct tape is almost always the essential accessory.
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Re: In defense of convertible pants

Post by azbackpackr » Dec 04 2013 8:31 pm

Apparently, REI doesn't like them well enough to keep the women's Sahara ones in stock. And all the other ones they have zip off into capris. I don't do capris when I'm hiking.

I found some at EMS, and probably can find them elsewhere. I sent another message to REI asking about it, got the same run around "oh, we need room for our ski stuff right now." Maybe I should have checked the men's department to see if they keep the men's zipoffs in stock.

Anyway, I have seen some editors dinging them, so I guess those of us who actually hike, (as opposed to those simply posing for outdoor clothing ads) like them, but editors don't.
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Re: In defense of convertible pants

Post by big_load » Dec 04 2013 8:58 pm

azbackpackr wrote:Apparently, REI doesn't like them well enough to keep the women's Sahara ones in stock.
Availability of their Sahara and Mojave lines seem to wax and wane seasonally, at least in stores. I haven't noticed if they ever go away online.

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Re: In defense of convertible pants

Post by azbackpackr » Dec 04 2013 9:13 pm

big_load wrote:
azbackpackr wrote:Apparently, REI doesn't like them well enough to keep the women's Sahara ones in stock.
Availability of their Sahara and Mojave lines seem to wax and wane seasonally, at least in stores. I haven't noticed if they ever go away online.
Since when do you buy the women's ones? :D I do almost all my shopping online. The Sahara ones are available only in odd sizes right now, online. Mojave line? Must be for men, I don't see it in the women's line-up. And most of what they show are the capris. I have no use for those.
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