Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Comfortable, versatile for sports or casual wear, great pocket options, great fit.
Cons: Stitching gives way over time, not for extreme warm or cold temperature ranges.
Best Uses: Everything outdoors from yoga to climbing to hiking and travel (except extreme weather).
The Prana Stretch Zion Pants are an excellent choice for outdoor enthusiasts looking for a multi-use solution for outdoors and travel in general. These pants are a little more stylish but just slightly less versatile than the Editors' Choice award winner, the Prana Stretch Zion Convertible Pants. However, at $10 less in price, the Prana Stretch Zion Pants win our Best Buy award; they give you the most bang for your buck. The Stretch Zion pants are excellent for just about every sport, activity or social affair while traveling or adventuring outdoors. These pants offer an extremely comfortable fit, thanks to their stretchy material (Nylon with a touch of Spandex) allowing one to practice yoga or rock climb in them with no noticeable resistance. They keep you warm during cold fronts (long underwear fits comfortably underneath) and offer roll-up legs that secure with a snap when the weather gets on the warm side. They endure wear and tear in the roughest of conditions, although the stitching tends to give way relatively quickly. These pants are practical and offer a multi-access zipper security pocket (only one compared to two on the Stretch Zion Convertible version) as well as well-sized and positioned front and rear pockets. The waist tightens up with a simple tug on the adjustable waistband. These pants breathe, resist water and in general meet an outdoor enthusiast's every need. They are by no means waterproof, but fit well enough so that a waterproof shell can easily fit over top of them.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
Prana has many amazing products and many different types and styles of pants to choose from, but when looking for a general purpose outdoor/travel pant, the Stretch Zion Pants, like their sister product the Stretch Zion Convertible Pants, offer a uniquely versatile, general purpose solution to your outdoor needs that not only outperform other Prana products, but blow competing products out of the water.
Comfort / Fit
From the standpoint of comfort, there's not many bad things that can be said about these pants. The material is soft and comfortable and they fit your body well; not too tight, not too loose (except for those with a very skinny frame) to accommodate all body types and situations. Unexpectedly, we found these pants to offer a slightly snugger fit than the Prana Stretch Zion Convertible Pants, making them a bit more comfortable and more appropriate for climbing in. They stretch for yoga, climbing or other more intense activities, and they simply look and feel great. The snap-up pant legs offer a version for warmer weather or when wading through streams. We didn't feel claustrophobic or constrained when sitting in them for long periods of time, and in hotter and colder climates these pants did a great job with temperature acclimation as they offer some insulation and breathe and ventilate well, allowing us to focus our energy on what we are doing rather than what we are wearing.
If we absolutely have to make a complaint about these pants we can say that when you tighten up the adjustable waistband they develop awkward creases in the front and often become loose again soon. Note that they also run a little bit short in the legs, which actually works well for climbing but may be undesirable for some in general. However, the six different waist sizes and three lengths available (not to mention the five earthy color options) should render this point moot if you purchase the right pair in the right fit.
Hands down these are one of the top pants from the perspective of versatility (only beat by the Stretch Zion Convertible Version). They perform while hiking to the top of snow covered peaks, saturated in white water, stretching to the limit in some uncomfortable yoga poses, scraping against sharp granite on the boulders of Joshua Tree, and looking like "normal" pants when grabbing a drink in town. There is rarely a situation where throwing these on and heading out the door is a bad idea. There are of course many better solutions for specific activities. We prefer to climb in a tighter fitting pant. We prefer to do yoga in stretchy yoga pants or shorts. We prefer to swim in a bathing suit. And of course we prefer to go out dancing in something a bit more stylish. But for a general purpose solution, especially when looking for an all purpose pair of versatile pants to take with you into the jungles of Asia or the far reaches of the world, we highly recommend these or their convertible equivalent.
Overall we are quite impressed with how well these pants stand up to wear and tear. After six months of bushwacking through jungle, farming in the heat of the tropics, and adventuring through caves and across mountain peaks, these pants took a beating and, as they say, kept on ticking. Aside from a stain or two that won't come out and some stitching that has come undone (which hasn't caused any real problems yet), these pants are in great shape and likely to last at least another six months to a year of intense general use. They don't exactly look new any more, but we can't honestly expect any pair of pants to hold up against six months in the tropics living in the elements. And while not a direct test of weatherproofing, we were happy to see that the weatherproof coating also served to resist the absorption of some spilled red wine, keeping these pants clean from stains in many cases.
In general the Stretch Zion Pants held up across a range of weather conditions. In light rain they did a great job of keeping us dry, although not as dry as the North Face Paramount Peak Convertible Pants. Unless saturated they also dried relatively quickly both on and off the body, which is a nice feature when you get pretty tired of being wet all of the time.
At high elevations at near freezing temperatures they functioned pretty well to keep us warm, although long underwear is a must for those not acclimated to very cold climates. For the most part they were effective as well against cold winds, although some holes in the crotch which serve well to ventilate hot air also become a spot for cold frigid air to enter, sometimes quite uncomfortably. In hotter climates they offered some breathability through these ventilation holes, but still became quite warm, pushing us to snap up the legs for some additional ventilation.
The Stretch Zion Pants offer three front and two rear pockets, a tightening waist strap, snap-up pant legs and functional ventilation holes. The open front and rear pockets are well designed to be easily accessible, deep enough to hold ample material without risk of falling out and offer mesh netting increasing the overall breathability of the pants. The lower front zipper pocket is extremely useful for securing valuables and important items when on the move, and offer two zippers for top or side access (nice while sitting or when in a harness), something we felt at first was overkill but later came to appreciate when accessing these pockets on a climb. Note that the Stretch Zion Convertible Pants have two front zipper pockets, providing additional functionality but offering less in the way of style as the cargo look is less classy. The waist tightening system was functional, although often loosened up during activity and hung awkwardly down the front of the pants as there is no place to tuck the fabric away. The Stretch Zion Pants are offered in six waist sizes and three lengths, and come in five different color options, thus providing enough variety to meet your style preference.
The Stretch Zion Pants are absolutely perfect for hiking, general outdoor activities, and especially multifaceted travel. They are uniquely suitable for higher intensity activities like yoga, rock climbing, slacklining, dancing and general play. They are sufficient for both warmer and cooler climates, although specialized excursions of course call for specialized equipment.
The Stretch Zion Pants provide excellent value ($10 cheaper than the convertible version). These pants are priced in the middle range of those we tested and provide an all purpose solution to looking and feeling good at home or on whatever adventure you undertake. In general they are not cheap pants, but they are also not cheaply made pants. We did have some frustration with the stitching coming loose, which directly degrades their overall value and longevity. However, we love Prana as a company and we especially love their policy of providing a full refund at any time if you are unhappy with their product.
The Prana Stretch Zion Convertible Pants, $85, are the same pant, but the zip off version. These pants win our Editor's Choice Award as the go-to pair of pants for just about every sport, activity or social affair while traveling or adventuring outdoors. These pants offer an extremely comfortable fit with a stretchy material (nylon with a touch of spandex) allowing one to practice yoga or rock climb in them with no noticeable resistance. They keep you warm during cold fronts (long underwear fits comfortably underneath) and can be turned into shorts when the temperature bubbles up. They endure wear and tear in the roughest of conditions.
The Stretch Zion Lined Pants, $99, are equipped with a lightweight stretch lining, which makes these a perfect pant for cooler weather hiking or climbing.
The Monarch Convertible Pants, $85, are the women's version of the convertible pant.
The Prana Stretch Zion Pants win our Best Buy award as an extremely versatile, comfortable, durable multiple use pant at a reasonable price. They provide everything we want, and more, in a general purpose hiking/outdoor pant, are stretchy and versatile enough to use in a range of sports and a variety of life situations, are reasonably durable, weather resistant, and at $10 less than the convertible option, ofter significant value with respect to their overall cost.
— Brian Blum
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Most recent review: January 9, 2014
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