Best Convertible Hiking Pants (Buying Guide)
Hikers need a pair of pants with breathability and a high range of motion to withstand the various challenges presented by hiking trails in the backcountry. The best hiking pants are both waterproof and quick-drying to prevent chafing in inclement weather conditions or on a hike with river crossings and other water hazards. Modern hiking pant manufacturers have developed design features like a gusseted crotch, articulated knees, ripstop abrasion-resistant construction material, and interwoven spandex and nylon fabric for a stretchy waistband and extra give. To allow sweat to escape but external moisture to stay on the outside of the fabric, many modern hiking pants feature moisture-wicking fabric.
Even with these developments, one of the simplest and most effective design features added to hiking pants has got to be the zippered removable pant legs. Many readers probably remember convertible pants from street fashion but they have increased applicability in the backcountry where temperatures can often skyrocket or plummet as hikers traverse high elevation gains or continue their hike into the evening hours. The ability to have full-length pant legs, remove the lower legs to make hiking shorts, or affix the lower leg at mid-calf for a pair of roll-up pants makes convertible hiking pants ideal for hot weather and all of the other different conditions hikers usually find themselves in in the backcountry.
Any hiker who frequents trails or goes on longer thru-hikes will love the added versatility of convertible hiking pants. Durable water repellent (DWR) coatings ensure that they can withstand light rain or some splashing at a river crossing or puddle. Many manufacturers have even included sun protection in the fabric of their convertible pants. Cargo pockets are an essential feature of any model of convertible pants worth its salt. More rugged hikers who frequently go mountaineering, rock climbing, or trekking over terrain that’s challenging to navigate will need to look for abrasion-resistant convertible hiking pants while hikers who generally scramble over rocks and prefer a greater range of motion will want to look for a model with more spandex in the construction.
No matter what kind of hiker you are, a pair of convertible pants will save a fair bit of anguish in hot weather or tuck into your hiking boots to prevent water or debris from entering if you attach the lower legs. We’ve scoured Amazon to find the best and most durable convertible hiking pants that will last you many backcountry hiking trips to come. Read on to see what Amazon has to offer and check out our winner for the best convertible hiking pants at the end.
Best Convertible Hiking Pants – Overview
1. prAna Stretch Zion
- THE ROLL-UP PANT: The Stretch Zion Pant takes every adventure head-on; Made with our original Stretch Zion fabric and featuring roll-up leg snaps, you can tackle the crag and have beers after too
These prAna Stretch Zion Pants are cargo pants that are as minimalist as the Columbia Silver Ridge Convertibles with an added roll-up pant leg snaps. The “stretch” in the name indicates how stretchy these convertible pants are. Their interwoven spandex and nylon fabrics provide a wide range of motion for hikers who often face tons of obstacles on the hiking trail. prAna Stretch Zion Convertible Pants also feature a stretchy elastic waistband for a snug fit that’s not too baggy. The gusseted crotch and inseam are ventilated for added breathability. The angled dual-entry cargo pocket allows hikers to place items inside it or withdraw them from the side or top-down but doesn’t sacrifice any of the security hikers expect in usable cargo pockets.
The spandex and nylon fabrics have DWR finish that gives them terrific water resistance, although the fabric is not wicking material. 50 UPF sun protection is included as well as an abrasion-resistant feature to prevent damage while rock climbing or scrambling over rough terrain. prAna Stretch Zion pants aren’t insulated so you’ll want to wear a base layer underneath in cold temperatures. There’s also a waist-tightening strap that functions more or less like an integrated belt, but if you don’t like the looks of it then you may be better off with another model because the integrated belt is not removable.
- Roll-up pants
- Spandex and nylon fabric with DWR finish
- Gusseted crotch and inseam
- Cargo pocket with dual entry
- 50 UPF sun protection
- Integrated belt is not removable
- No moisture wicking fabric
2. Outdoor Research Equinox Convertible Pants
- Fabric Performance: DWR Treated, Breathable, Lightweight, Quick- Drying, Movement-Mirroring Stretch, Abrasion-Resistant, UPF 50+
These Outdoor Research convertible pants are made with 95% nylon fabric and 5% elastane, or spandex, that are interwoven together for a stretchy pant with an ample range of motion. They have breathability and are lightweight so as not to be too cumbersome on the hiking trail. They are quick-drying although they are not made of moisture-wicking fabric. Outdoor Research has designed these convertible pants with UPF 50 sun protection and a DWR finish for water-resistance.
A couple of drawbacks to the Outdoor Research Equinox convertible pants are the lack of cargo pockets and lack of elastic waistband. That being said, they do have a side zip-off feature that allows hikers to remove the lower leg without taking off their hiking boots first, which is very handy for a quick pit stop on the hiking trail. There are no zippered pockets either, but for hikers who have enough space in their rucksack or pack ultralight, cargo pockets and zippered pockets may not be the most important thing in a pair of convertible pants. There’s an integrated belt to make sure they aren’t saggy on any sized waist. We found this model better all around than the Outdoor Research Ferrosi convertible pants.
- Ample range of motion
- Quick-drying, DWR finish
- UPF 50 sun protection
- Integrated belt
- Side zip-off feature for quick removal of the lower leg
- Not moisture-wicking fabric
- No cargo pockets
- No zippered pockets
- No elastic waistband
3. The North Face Paramount Convertible Pants
- DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish. Converts to 10' short. UPF 50+ protection. Elastic waistband with adjustable buckle closure in front. Welted hand pockets. Classic coin pocket on the right in...
These Paramount convertible pants are a solid pair of pants, which is no surprise coming from The North Face. Constructed from 100% nylon fabric, they are fairly stretchy with enough range of motion for most hiking trails. The North Face has designed the Paramount convertible pants to have a more relaxed fit than other models of convertible pants, but they’ve also included an integrated belt so hikers can adjust the fit to suit their personal taste. The DWR finish makes these convertible pants water-repellent and quick-drying. UPF 50 sun protection is built right into the fabric to prevent any unwanted sun damage for hikers who like to stay out on the backcountry hiking trails for as long as possible.
The stretchy elastic waistband is comfortable but not too saggy. In addition to the classic coin pocket in the front, The North Face has also outfitted the Paramount convertible pants with a zippered pocket on the back right and a hook-and-loop cargo pocket on the front right. A zippered cargo pocket is on the left leg. The North Face has also made their Paramount pants into zippered roll-up pants, which is a much nicer method than the standard snap button roll-up method. The integrated belt is removable for hikers who don’t like it or want to wear their own. There are also additional zippers on the side of the lower leg to remove the zip-offs without taking off your hiking boots.
- Removable integrated belt
- DWR finish
- UPF 50 sun protection
- Two zippered pockets and one cargo pocket
- Zippered roll-up pants
- Lower leg zip-off point to avoid removing hiking boots
- No moisture wicking fabric
- Not waterproof
- No spandex
4. Trailside Supply Co. Convertible Pants
- Airy,comfortable,durable,lightweight and made of a fast drying material,water resistant,slightly crinkled appearance
These convertible pants are constructed with a quick-dry fabric that’s made out of 100% nylon fabric. There are two normal side pockets at the top, two water-resistant pockets on the lower leg, and two zippered pockets in the rear. The integrated belt ensures a snug fit on most hikers. There are tons of additional design features in these convertible pants that you don’t find on the market too often, such as water-resistant treatment, bug repellency, ripstop abrasion resistance, breathability, and quick-drying capability. Unfortunately, these are not roll-up pants and there is no zippered removal option on the side of the lower leg, so hikers can’t remove the zip-off section without first removing their hiking boots.
- Quick-dry, 100% nylon fabric
- 6 pockets total, 2 zippered and 2 cargo pockets
- Integrated belt
- Bug repellency
- Ripstop abrasion resistance
- Not roll-up pants
- No side zipper on lower leg
5. Fjallraven Abisko Lite Trekking Trousers
- Technical cut sits close to the body, while allowing for full range of motion. Easily converts to shorts thanks to zip-off leg panels. Fixed waist with belt loops. Button closure and zip fly....
These lightweight convertible pants from Fjallraven are made from 65% polyester and 35% cotton, which gives them a superior range of motion to the other models on this list. Fjallraven has also designed them with a technical cut that fits the body much better than other convertible pants do. The oversized zippered cargo pockets at the thigh are perfect for storing maps or anything else hikers might need quick access to out on the hiking trail.
Generally speaking, the fit of these convertible pants is so good that Fjallraven didn’t need to include an integrated belt. These are some of the most straightforward convertible pants on the market which makes them perfect for hikers who are looking for the utility of convertible pants without any of the frills. There is no DWR coating or UPF 50 sun protection, but for hikers who want the best hiking pants that just do what you expect pants to do, these Fjallraven Abisko convertible pants are just fine.
- Lightweight, great range of motion
- Technical cut for a snug fit
- Two oversized zippered cargo pockets
- No integrated belt needed
- No UPF 50 sun protection
- No DWR coating
6. Marmot Transcend Convertible Pants
Marmot has designed these convertible pants with deep side pockets so objects won’t fall out even though they aren’t zippered. There’s also a zippered cargo pocket on the right leg for the absolutely essential things that hikers want to protect on their person out on the hiking trail. The fit is very snug so Marmot hasn’t included an integrated belt on this model, but they have thoughtfully added some extra length to the lower leg which is great for taller hikers and for anyone who wants to prevent mud or debris from entering their hiking boot. Simply tucking these into the hiking boot will prevent almost any kind of debris from entering.
These convertible pants are water-resistant but not waterproof. For light rain and normal exposure to precipitation they should work well enough, although it’s probably not advisable to wear these convertible pants if you plane to encounter any snow on the hiking trail. Hikers should wear a base layer if they are going to wear these convertible pants since they aren’t very well insulated. Overall not the most thrilling pair of convertible pants on the market but sound enough.
- Zippered cargo pocket
- Snug fit
- Extra length on the lower leg
- Not waterproof
- No integrated belt
- Not insulated
7. Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Pants
- ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY: Columbia's Silver Ridge Convertible Pant features Omni-Shade UPF 50 fabric for maxium protection against the sun and Omni-Wick technology that pulls moisture away to keep you...
These convertible pants from Columbia are stylish and minimal, ideal on or off the trail. Constructed with 100% nylon fabric are lightweight with a straight leg and enough give for a wide range of motion. UPF 50 sun protection is built right into the nylon fabric. Columbia has added tons of storage space into its Silver Ridge Convertible Pants as well. They feature a zippered security pocket, side cargo pockets with hook and loop closure, and mesh pocket bags for a durable pocket that won’t suffer abrasions from sharp objects like tools or car keys. Columbia has also built its Silver Ridge Convertible Pants with moisture-wicking fabric. Hikers will be able to stay cool with the wicking nylon fabric that pulls sweat away from the body and disperses it widely across the pant for quick-drying by evaporation.
The stretchy elastic waistband ensures these Silver Ridge Convertible Pants from Columbia won’t be too baggy, so hikers can navigate the trail without stopping to readjust frequently. There is a material flap that covers the zipper for a hide-away appeal, but Columbia has not included a side zipper on its Silver Ridge Convertible Pants which would have allowed hikers to remove the zip-off lower legs without having to also remove their hiking boots. These convertible pants from Colombia may not be the best pants on the market but they are a solid option with all the absolutely necessary design features, which is why they’re our top pick for the best convertible hiking pants.
- 100% nylon fabric
- UPF 50 sun protection
- Cargo pockets
- Mesh pockets
- No side zipper
- Not ideal roll-up pants
8. CQR Convertible Pants
- CQR Convertible Pants constructed for all outdoor activities and sports.
These convertible pants have a whopping six pockets in total, which ties them for the highest amount of storage space of all the pants on this list. There are two normal side pockets at the top, two zippered cargo pockets above the knee, and two rear velcro-secured pockets at the rear. The velcro means that out of the six total pockets, these convertible pants have four that are completely secured, which means maps and cell phones can be carried on a hikers’ person without any worry that they’ll fall out on the hiking trail. Furthermore, there’s a D-ring on these convertible pants that allows for some equipment like a small flashlight or anything else that can be attached with a carabiner to be stowed on the pants in much the same way as you could with one of the belt loops, but with added security.
They’re also built with moisture sensing, which is a little bit like moisture-wicking although not as effective. These convertible pants are stretchy and comfortable and there’s an integrated belt included to make sure all hikers can adjust the waistband to suit their size. Two-way air circulation lends these convertible pants top-notch breathability, but they aren’t insulated so a base layer is recommended for hiking in cold temperatures.
- Six storage pockets included 2 side pockets and 2 zippered cargo pockets
- D-ring attachment
- Moisture sensing
- Integrated belt included
- Top-notch breathability
- No DWR coating
- Not insulated
- No side zipper on the lower leg
For all the useful design features and their superior breathability and comfort, we’ve chosen the Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Pants as our winner for the best convertible hiking pants. Columbia has come up with one of the most effective pair of pants that do just what hikers want convertible pants to do. The zip-off lower legs afford hikers the chance to cool down in warm temperatures or add some protection from mud and moisture by re-attaching the lower legs and tucking them into hiking boots. The 100% nylon fabric construction ensures that these Columbia convertible pants are stretchy and gives a wide range of motion to hikers which is ideal for any unexpected rock climbing or scrambling that the hiking trail might throw at you.
Design features like the cargo pockets ensure that hikers can store important items like a map or a cell phone without worrying about it falling out on the hiking trail. Unlike most of the other convertible pants on the market, these Columbia Silver Ridge Convertibles have mesh pockets that will stay intact over a long lifespan no matter what kind of objects you need to store inside them while you’re out in the backcountry.
The quick-wicking fabric ensures that hikers’ sweat will be pulled away from the hiker and dispersed over the surface of the fabric for quick-drying via evaporation and hikers can stay dry and cool while they hike. Additional features like the UPF 50 sun protection allow hikers to stay out on the trail as long as they like without having to worry about their legs getting burned, provided they haven’t removed the zip-off lower legs of course.
Overall, the whole idea behind convertible hiking pants is versatility and these Columbia convertibles offer just that. Storage, breathability, wicking fabric, and a wide enough range of motion give hikers everything they need in a high-performance pair of pants with the added benefits of removable lower legs. We found these Columbia convertible pants better than competing models from other manufacturers like Arc’teryx, Patagonia, Kuhl, or Mountain Hardwear. For this reason, Columbia is our winner for the best convertible hiking pants with their Silver Ridge Convertible Pants.
Bonus tip: Get some additional information on the science behind moisture-wicking clothing with this video!