A quality pair of convertible pants is one piece of outdoor apparel I regularly wear when the weather's warm. Also known as zip-off pants, they're one of the most versatile pieces of clothing going. If you don't own a pair, here are a few reasons why you should.
Invest in a well-constructed pair of zip-off pants made of ripstop nylon and they'll last you many years. I have two pair of Columbia pants that I've been wearing for over five years. They show signs of use but remain in excellent condition. I've worn them walking through rain forests, climbing up rocky mountain trails, urban trekking and on dozens of powerboat and kayak fishing expeditions. Each pair cost me around $75 and I'm pleased with how long they've lasted. I've owned several brands of zip-off pants over the years; this is an instance where you get what you pay for in terms of quality, performance and longevity.
The fact that zip-off pants can quickly be converted into shorts is their biggest asset. You get the best of both worlds in one piece of apparel. This keeps packing to a minimum. Pants keep you warm on cool mornings. Once the temperature rises, changing to shorts to stay comfortable is as simple as unzipping the bottom legs. On the flip-side, I often start in shorts when wading's required to launch my kayak, then zip-on the legs afterwards. Same goes for beach fishing forays.
Here's a tip: Get in the habit of storing right and left zip-off legs in short pockets. You'll never misplace these zip-on sections and they'll be easily accessible when you need them.
In addition to being multi-functional, zip-off pants provide skin protection. Many convertible pants are made of UPF-rated nylon for sun protection. Plus, if you're not a fan of reapplying sunscreen all day, converting to pants is an easy way to protect lower limbs from the sun. Covering-up also prevents bug bites. I love being able to convert shorts into pants when fishing in summer to save my legs from becoming a mosquito smorgasbord back at the boat ramp at dusk.
Ensure zip-off pants are roomy and don't constrict you when you walk, crouch, sit or get into other positions common with outdoor activities. Articulated knees is another feature that fosters unrestricted movement. A relaxed fit encourages airflow too, which minimizes overheating in warm conditions.
Ripstop nylon convertible pants are one of the best pieces of outdoor apparel on the market. If you don't own a pair, I can't recommend them enough.