Best hiking pants.

9:31 a.m. on June 6, 2010 (EDT)
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So it's a Sunday morning and I am enjoying a cup of coffee and thinking about some older than dirt gear that could use some replacement. I am wearing just a pair of 100% cotton, Columbia cargo shorts that must be 20 years old. (I will spare you any photos.)

I know that cotton is now taboo on the trail but it's about all I have for warm weather hiking.

This all leads me to ask what ya'lls favorite hiking pants are. I will add that I do not own any convertible ones where the lower legs can be zipped off. Wondering if they are the shnitz.

3:04 p.m. on June 6, 2010 (EDT)
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I prefer zip-off nylon hiking pant/shorts. They dry fast (I wore mine while biking across Alaska, where it rained a lot) they save having to have shorts and pants or wear shorts underneath the pants. They zip on and off very easily. They are extremely lightweight and pack very small, tho I usually have but one pair and wear them all the time. They have a zippered area along the bottom of the inseam to make pulling the lower pant leg off over boots easier than taking of the boots. REI makes the best ones I have ever had , they cost about $50 but REI has repaired or replaced the ones I have manytimes over the last 10 years. I have khaki colored ones and green ones.

4:45 p.m. on June 6, 2010 (EDT)
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I recently picked up some shorts from Royal Robbins made of a fabric called Supplex that is way comfortable. Here's a price comparison page.

The fabric is super comfy, reducing chafing issues I get with my Columbia hiking pants.

5:04 p.m. on June 6, 2010 (EDT)
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If you want them to last another 20 years, go with 5.11 or Vertx tactical pants. Otherwise, the lightweight zip-off nylon ones Gary mentions are awesome. I've got a pair of White Sierra convertibles that I wear almost exclusively in the summer...

6:26 p.m. on June 6, 2010 (EDT)
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Do they make long pants in those?

12:39 a.m. on June 7, 2010 (EDT)
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altrec.com has a few very good deals right now on some convertible pants, check out the link below. Last week I was able to order the wife a pair of Ex Officio Women's Insect Shield Convertible Pants for $34. I don't really care about how effective the bug protection is because for the price I was able to get her a good pair of pants and didn't have to pay the list price of $85.

http://outlet.altrec.com/convertible-pants/search.htm

6:07 a.m. on June 7, 2010 (EDT)
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Running shorts or swimming trunks are my warm weather wear. My current shorts are quick dry synthetic, and quite comfy. Add cycling tights (two pairs for pretty cold), then add wind/rain pants for really cold. I don’t like the zippered, convertible pants, both because I find the zipper irritating as well as I prefer shorter legs on my shorts. In any case my shorts/tights system is a lot cheaper than other solutions I’ve seen, warmer and lighter as a system too.

Someone mentioned the current school of thought, to refrain from cotton in your hiking wardrobe, but I haven’t had any problems with cotton for summertime use, finding it cooler than most of their hi-tec counterparts.
Ed

11:30 a.m. on June 7, 2010 (EDT)
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I will throw in my vote for zip-off hiking pants. I have two pairs, one is green the other beige. They have side cargo pockets, standard front "hand" pockets, and a rear wallet pocket. The lower leg zips off at the knee, and they are lightweight synthetic. They pack *very* small, and dry extremely fast.

They serve as one of three essential lower-body layers in all but extremely cold conditions:

1st Layer - Thermal Base Layer (polypro or wool, depending on how cold)

2nd Layer - Zip off synthetic hiking pants

3rd Layer - Goretex Shell

For warm or hot temps, the Hiking pants with the legs zipped off is perfect, when its cool I leave the legs on. When its a bit colder, a base thermal layer under the hiking pants does the trick. When temp gets pretty low the GoreTex shell over the other two layers works quite great. Of course for really cold temps aditional layers of wool, or a down layer, are needed. Otherwise I am all set with my three-layer system.

Both pairs that I currently own I got on clearance for $15 each at Bass Pro Shops. They are not the best out there for sure, but they have served me well, and at that price can't be beat.

2:01 p.m. on June 7, 2010 (EDT)
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+1 for cotton in arid, sunny places. I often revert to my lightweight desert BDU/ACU pants in such conditions, as they are very breathable, and the tight weave keeps fine dust/sand from getting in.

The "cotton kills" mantra gets thrown around a lot because it's easier to remember than "Don't wear cotton, if you can help it, except when the following conditions are met: it's really hot and really dry, it's really cold and really dry, you've got a spare..."

In some conditions, the evaporative cooling effect associated with cotton drying against one's skin is a real benefit. Same with the breathability of Ventile cotton when used in an outer garment layer in uber-cold places (especially w/high activity for loooong periods of time). Otherwise, cotton does not find much of a home in my backpack.

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