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Hands-on Gear Review
Prana Stretch Zion Pants Review
Cons: Stitching gives way over time, legs slightly short, short crotch zipper
The Prana Stretch Zion Pants are an excellent choice for outdoor enthusiasts looking for a great hiking pant or 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 Convertible. However, at $10 less in price, this model will give you the great bang for your buck. In addition to being incredibly flexible hikers, 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, 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.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Men's Hiking Pants for 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
While we liked the Stretch Zion Convertible slightly more because of its added versatility, we still loved wearing this pair of pants. These felt more like a "normal" pair of pants to us, ones that we would consider wearing in pretty much any situation, not just hiking. But we loved these pants for hiking as well, mostly due to the combination of mobility and comfort. No material in the review felt better against our skin, and the stretchy nylon and spandex blend was so mobile that it felt impossible to be constricted. As it's high rating suggests, it was one of our favorite pairs of pants, and one we are happy to recommend to you.
Comfort and Mobility
From the standpoint of comfort, there are not many negative 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. Unexpectedly, we found these pants offer a slightly snugger fit than the Prana Convertible option, especially around the upper thigh area. They provide stretch for hiking in, as well as a comfortable option for activities like yoga or climbing. The snap-up pant legs offer an option 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 colder climates these pants did a great job with temperature acclimation as they offer some insulation, 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 the legs are slightly short. While this was not an issue for us at any point while out hiking, in certain social situations it may not be the most desirable fit. Like the Stretch Zion Convertible, we found the crotch zipper to be annoyingly short. Without getting too graphic, these pants just aren't as easy to pee in as we wish they were, being dudes and what not. We rated these pants a 9 out of 10 for comfort and mobility.
The short video below shows the horizontal fabric stretch; the material does not stretch vertically. The balance of stretchy in one direction and non-stretchy in the other gives the pants a casual, almost dressy look combined with the flexibility and comfort of sweat pants.
These pants are hands down one of the top pants from the perspective of versatility (only beat by the Stretch Zion Convertible). They were similar in this regard to the Outdoor Research Ferrosi. They perform while in all climates, although we found them to be slightly warm in the warmest of weather. Without the option to convert to shorts, they weren't as versatile as their other Prana brother. On the other hand, they performed a bit better in colder weather than some of the other thinner fabrics like the Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible. Their incredible versatility stems from the fact that there is virtually no activity that we wouldn't be able to do in these pants; they are truly pants that you could live in. 7 out of 10 points.
Like the Stretch Zion Convertible, this pant felt a bit hot compared to some of the other lighter pants in this review. The thinner pant sleeves seemed to allow less airflow within the pants than on the Convertible version, and thus these felt slightly stuffier. While we applaud the idea of the crotch area breathing holes sewn into the fabric, in reality we are not sure that these really did very much for alleviating our sweatiness while in the moment. For having such thin fabric, we were surprised that they were such a hot feeling pant. 5 out of 10 points.
Overall we are quite impressed with how well these pants stand up to wear and tear. We put these pants through the wringer via the abrasion test by climbing in them a lot, especially in Indian Creek, Utah, where our knees and thighs did a lot of rubbing against the rock. We also wore them for a two-day bigwall ascent in Zion, another incredible test of abrasion resistance. We can say that while the knees show a slight amount of wear, that is to be expected, and all things considered they have held up surprisingly well. We are a bit concerned with the amount of loose thread ends showing when we first unwrapped the pants, but have to admit that none of them have come unstitched on us. Regardless, the return policy for Prana is a guaranteed refund if you are unhappy for any reason, so that really helps alleviate any concerns about the construction of these pants. 7 out of 10.
In general, the Stretch Zion Pants held up across a range of weather conditions. In that respect, we found that they performed almost exactly like the Stretch Zion Convertibles. In our shower test, the DWR coating worked impressively well considering how much wear they had before we tested them. It seriously limited water absorption, and soak through only took place in the highest abrasion areas like the knees. We thought that it worked better than The North Face Paramount Trail Convertible or the Kuhl Liberator Convertible. And while we gave them a good dousing, some water did make its way all the way through to our skin; the material didn't absorb very much of that water, keeping the weight down and the drying time quick. 7 out of 10 points.
Features and Conveniences
The Stretch Zion Pants offer three front and two rear pockets, a tightening waist strap, snap-up pant legs and somewhat functional crotch ventilation holes. The open front and rear pockets are well designed to be easily accessible and deep enough to hold ample material without risk of falling out. They also 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 not quite as classy. The waist tightening system was functional, and we were happy to have the option of not wearing a belt underneath our pack waist strap. The Stretch Zion Pants are offered in ten waist sizes and four lengths, and come in six different color options, expanding the amount of options from previous years (and offering more options than the convertibles).
These hiking 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 are perhaps a bit more comfortable in cooler climates than warmer ones. While they will keep you dry in gently wet conditions, they are not the absolute best for full on rain.
This contender provides excellent value ($10 cheaper than the convertible version) and are priced in the middle range of those we tested, providing an all purpose solution to looking and feeling good at home or on whatever adventure you undertake. As the second highest rated pant in our review, we think that you are getting a great pant for your money, and find that these outperform pants both more expensive and cheaper than them. We also love that Prana will honor their policy of providing a full refund at any time if you are unhappy with their product.
This competitor is one of our favorite hiking pants because they are comfortable, durable, and multi-purposed at a reasonable price. They provide everything we want, and more, in a general purpose hiking/outdoor pant. They are also stretchy and versatile enough to use in a range of sports and in a variety of life situations. They are $10 less than our Editors' Choice Award winner for nearly the same product in a true pant style. For those who are not into convertibles, this is one of the best options out there.
Prana Stretch Zion Convertible Pants
— Andy Wellman
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