Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Water/wind resistant, warm in colder climates, durable.
Cons: Baggy fit and lack of stretch not ideal for active sports, dry slowly.
Best Uses: Hiking, backpacking, travel.
The North Face Paramount Peak Convertible Pants win our Top Pick award for best travel pants. They offer a long lasting, somewhat versatile pant for hiking and adventuring. Made from a thicker material than other pants reviewed, the Paramount Peak Pants are more durable and offer good rain and wind resistance. These are not our favorite all-purpose pants; they are quite baggy and while not the best for climbing or more intense sports, do provide a comfortable fit for someone with a larger frame. The thicker material (100 percent nylon) holds up well against tears and provides more warmth than the competition.
We recommend these pants for mountaineering and adventuring in cooler climates as they leave plenty of room underneath for long underwear. However for someone looking for a single solution for multi-sport use, we recommend going with our Editor's Choice, the Prana Stretch Zion Convertible Pants.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The North Face Paramount Peak Convertible Pants provide everything needed for a cool weather hike or for traveling abroad in moderately cool climates. Ample pocket space with a secure zipper pocket for your keys, fair DWR rain and wind proofing, zip-off legs for when the weather gets hot, and a loose unencumbering fit. These pants win our Best Buy award as a well-priced, extremely functional, durable pair of pants that holds up well in a variety of weather conditions and is great for serious hikers and travelers.
Credit: Brian Blum
The six waist sizes and three lengths available offer a fit for most body types, although these pants do tend to run on the baggy side. While the Paramount Peak's looser fit is not ideal for a multi-use pair of pants, they offer good comfort and fit for hiking and general travel. These pants are generally comfortable, although the 100 percent nylon material is not as soft on the skin and does not offer the comfort of stretch that the Prana Stretch Zion Pants offer. Specifically we are less impressed with how the snap in front is a little abrasive on our stomach. The North Face pants' looser fit, especially when compared to the Arc'teryx pants, does allow those with a bigger frame to fit comfortably inside, leaving enough room for additional thermal layers underneath (but are not tight enough for a waterproof shell to fit over top). The elastic waistband and belt also add to a better fitting pant. While not factored into our rating, the four available color options leave good options to choose from.
Also not factored into our score but something worth taking into consideration is the fact we were not that impressed with the style of these pants due to the deep front pockets and the awkwardly placed front cargo pockets. For social engagements in town we instead chose the Arc'teryx Perimeter Pants that offered a more sleek look and feel.
We find the multiple pockets and general loose fit of these pants to be ideal for hiking and traveling town to town, although when crammed into public transportation and when dealing with warmer weather we find ourselves zipping off the legs and wishing we were wearing a slightly thinner material (we were in the tropics for much of our testing). In general the baggy fit makes these pants less ideal for a variety of outdoor activities. From a functional standpoint they were a good general purpose travel pant so long as your needs didn't include yoga, slacklining, rock climbing, water sports or more adventurous endeavors.
The thicker material these pants are made from holds up very well to our 'rough them up' tests (basically climbing, somewhat sloppily, on granite walls in Joshua Tree). The pockets are well made, and while we are not the biggest fans of Velcro tabs that tend to fall off over time, the stitching on these North Face pants is very well done. Additionally, North Face offers a lifetime warranty against product defects and a low cost repair option for worn out zippers, Velcro, or other components. In comparison to the other pants tested, these pants generally hold up better and have an impressive made-to-last quality that makes them ideal for more serious hikers.
The North Face Paramount Peak Convertible Pants perform well in general when it came to dealing with the elements. Warmer than most pants we tested, the thicker material offers better wind resistance than the competition and has a very effective water resistant coating. Once saturated, these pants are slower to dry, but still offer an ideal option for longer hikes or multi-day adventures where a change of clothes is not available. We like that these pants offer UPF 30 sun protection (although sun exposure in general was not a problem with any of the pants we tested).
Sporting two open, very deep front pockets (so deep it was sometimes a bit annoying to carry things in them), two Velcro front pockets, a security (zipper) front pocket, and two rear Velcro pockets, the North Face Paramount Peak Convertible Pants offer more than enough real estate to potentially day hike without a pack. Although it is generally not our style to load weight into our pockets when it can be isolated to a lightweight pack, there is definitely some benefit to this option, especially for world travelers carrying lots of tickets, passports and other stuff in need of quick access. The elastic waistband and belt provides some additional adjustment potential, although we had some issues with the belt getting lost inside the belt sleeve. Finally, the convertible legs and vertical zippers on the bottom of the pant legs offer breathability and aeration in warmer climates.
Very solid hiking, travel and multi-day mountaineering pants. These pants are not ideal for climbing, yoga, slacklining, kayaking and other more physical fast-moving sports. Highly recommended if you are looking for a single pair of pants to hike the PCT in.
In the middle to upper middle price range, the North Face Paramount Peak Convertible Pants offer a good pair of pants for travelers or backpackers that anticipate slightly cooler climates and the need for plenty of pocket space. Without any stretch in the material, we do find versatility limited to slower moving sports, and therefore recommend the Prana Stretch Zion Convertible Pants for a more versatile option.
The North Face Paramount Peak Convertible Pants are our Top Pick winner for their specific application as a great pair of pants to travel and backpack in. They are a well made, well designed hiking pant that are ideal for world travelers and seasoned hikers. These are not a multi-purpose pant good for all sports, but handle well in inclement weather, are durable, and if you are looking for a breathable warm pair of pants for your hiking and exploration of the world, are a great fit.
— Brian Blum
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Most recent review: November 6, 2013
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