Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: Varies from $52 - $65 | Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros: Option to zip off and roll up, durable, colored zips on zip-offs, fit well, many useful pockets.
Cons: Significantly heavier than others, can't take bottom cuffs off without removing shoes, drawstring doesn't keep pants tight enough.
Best Uses: Backpacking, long-distance hiking.
For hikers and backpackers, a huge factor to consider when purchasing pants is whether you want convertible pants or not. Some people polled for this review claimed that they would not wear convertible pants based simply on the nerdy looks, while others said they would never backpack without them. Many backpackers love the multiple uses that can be gotten out of convertible pants, but this comes with the tradeoff that they are heavier and less moveable than non-convertible options.
If convertible pants are your thing, the North Face Paramount Peak Pants are an excellent option, having three different modes to wear, many useful pockets, and a very durable material. If you don't like the added weight of the zip-offs and would rather hike in light, stretchy pants, try the Patagonia Simple Guide Pant - Women's Pants or the Outdoor Research Reverie Pant, both of which are extremely breathable and moveable.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
For those of you who prefer convertible pants with many different wear options, the North Face Paramount Peak pants are a wonderful option. They can serve as long pants, the bottoms roll up and button into capri-style pants, or the pants zip off at the knee to become shorts. Especially for long distance hikers who try to simplify what they carry, the multiple uses of these pants make them very desirable. They also allow for other types of modularity such as unzipping a gap at the knees to create a vent while not removing all of the lower pant leg.
These pants also have some complimentary features to make the modularity easier to use. The zippers have different colors on each leg, so that it is quick and easy to decide which pant leg zips on to which corresponding leg. The Paramount Peak pants also have extra elastic bands on the back waist of the pants where you can tuck the lower legs once you have zipped them off, in case you want to keep them handy rather than stuff them in your pack.
Though useful, zip-off pants are not going to win any fashion awards this year. The addition of all the convertible features adds a lot of weight, making them the heaviest pants in this review. Also, all the convertible features can be a huge hassle. For instance, the main downside to the zip-offs, is that only small footed people (roughly women's size 6) can remove the bottom of the legs while still wearing shoes. The rest of us will either need to decide what mode to wear the pants in for the whole day in the morning, or plan on removing boots during an extended water break.
Comfort & Fit
Some users have complained that the zippers can cause chafing on the legs, and prefer regular hiking pants without this features such as the OR Reverie. There is a zipper flap covering the zipper so that it does not rub directly on your legs, but the flap can become uncomfortable when hiking long distances depending on how the pants fit over your thigh. The zippers also make the pants fit some women strangely. Thighs are usually the problem area for women's pants, and the zippers exaggerate this fit problem. Some women fit very well in these pants, and others do not.
The drawstring closure on the waist doesn't keep the pants up very well. The pants stretch a little while wearing day after day, and the drawstring is very hard to tie as well as being too loose to help to tighten the pants very much. The design could be improved if the women's version had the same clip belt feature that the men's version of these pants have, or had an integrated belt such as the OR Reverie pants.
Convertible pants are more restrictive around the thigh, where the zipper is located, and not as stretchy or as comfortable as pants like the Patagonia Rock Guide.
The nylon pants dries quickly and breathes fairly well.
These pants are are very durable, stand up to hard use over prolonged periods of time, and are wind resistant – important features for a hiking pant. They are rated to 30 UPF to provide extra protection against sun and the nylon fabric has a DWR water resistant coating that keeps them from getting soaked too easily, allowing them to stand up to a light sprinkling.
These convertible pants are best suited to long distance hiking and backpacking when every item carried should have multiple purposes. These pants essentially provide three different layers in one, which ultimately saves weight even though the pants themselves are heavier than other, simpler pants options.
Personal Stories (Advice from an AT Hiker)
We polled an Appalachian Trail thru-hiker, who wore the Paramount Peak Convertible Pants for the entire 2000+ mile hike and loved them the whole way. The pants were durable, holding up well to hard use every day for almost six months. In the hot and humid weather on the East Coast, she used all three modes of the convertible pants and felt that they were the perfect option for such a long distance hike.
At $65, the Paramount Peak pants offer the most wear options for the least money. For shorts, long pants, and capris, this is an excellent price. The durability of the fabric means they will last a long time, making this purchase an investment that is well worth it.
The North Face Paramount Peak Convertible Pants - Men's
— McKenzie Long
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: June 27, 2012
Credit: The North Face
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