Hands-on Gear Review

Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Pants Review

The thinnest and lightest pant in our test, this model lacks versatility.
Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Pants
By: Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 14, 2016
Price:  $60 List  |  $32.97 at Backcountry - 45% Off
Pros:  Light weight for warmer weather, variety of sizes and colors, inexpensive
Cons:  Flimsy material, poor fit and mobility, inadequate water resistance
Manufacturer:   Columbia
42
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort and Mobility - 30% 3
  • Versatility - 15% 4
  • Durability - 15% 5
  • Weather Resistance - 15% 3
  • features and convenience - 15% 5
  • Breathability - 10% 7
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Our Verdict

The Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Pants are the thinnest, most lightweight and — unfortunately — the least versatile of the pants we tested. We founds that these pants only adequate for a few things; as the lightest pants in our review, they were better than most at keeping us cool, and are a good option for very warm climates where the protection of a pant is still desired. However, with a fit that was too tight in the legs and crotch for one of our lanky testers, and no stretchy fabric to make up for it, we found ourselves struggling to justify wearing them on many outdoor adventures. These pants are inexpensive. However, we recommend paying a little bit more for a more versatile and comfortable pair such as the Prana Stretch Zion Convertible Pants.


Our Analysis and Test Results

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These hiking pants offer a very lightweight option for general outdoor use. They will thrive in very warm climates, and also have the option to convert into shorts when things get truly hot. However, when compared to other pants on the market, these pants do not excel. While they are the most affordable option in this review, one lanky tester wearing this contender suffered from poor mobility, a restrictive fit, and an unfashionable shorts option. With the constrictions in the thighs and crotch, we felt uncomfortable whenever we were in these pants, and didn't really enjoy hiking in them. For a very lightweight and breathable option, we recommend checking out the Outdoor Research Ferrosi, or the Prana Stretch Zion Convertible Pants if you are sold on convertible pants.

Performance Comparison


Hiking up the Old Twin Peaks trail on a sunny afternoon in spring outside of Ouray  CO. The Silver Ridge Convertible pants kept our legs cool in the sun  but notice how tight they are in the upper leg  something that sort of drove us nuts.
Hiking up the Old Twin Peaks trail on a sunny afternoon in spring outside of Ouray, CO. The Silver Ridge Convertible pants kept our legs cool in the sun, but notice how tight they are in the upper leg, something that sort of drove us nuts.

Comfort and Mobility


The Silver Ridge Convertible pants are a neat and sleek looking  thin fabric  hiking pant. We think they are good for traveling or trekking and hiking in warmer climates. They should not be used in the rain and are a bit too thin for colder temperatures.
The Silver Ridge Convertible pants are a neat and sleek looking, thin fabric, hiking pant. We think they are good for traveling or trekking and hiking in warmer climates. They should not be used in the rain and are a bit too thin for colder temperatures.

With 11 waist sizes and three lengths to choose from, these hiking pants offer many sizing options. The elastic waist provides some additional comfort, and the face fabric is smooth and soft against the skin. With no stretch in the body material (100 percent nylon) and a tighter than desired fit, even on an athletic (skinny!) frame, these pants feel tight. Online reviewers have mentioned that these pants run small, and we would have to agree, especially in the waist and the crotch, as well as the upper thighs. We found them to be so restrictive that we didn't enjoy hiking in them and we didn't find it easy to be as diligent about testing these as the other pants in our review. Like the Prana pants, we also found the crotch zipper to be too short, which is a mere annoyance compared to the fit issues. If you are attracted to this pant, we certainly recommend that you try them on in advance, and if you must order them, then certainly size them up. These pants earned a 3 out of a possible 10 points.

The Silver Ridge Convertible Pants on the brand new Oak Creek Bridge outside of Ouray on a spring hike with the dog Chip.
The Silver Ridge Convertible Pants on the brand new Oak Creek Bridge outside of Ouray on a spring hike with the dog Chip.

Versatility


This contender offer the least versatility of all those we tested. They lack warmth for longer high elevation hikes and impede movement at other times. They generally do not provide the flexibility needed for fast-paced activities. We found that they do not have a DWR coating (discussed more in the weather resistance section), which led them to soak through almost instantly in even light rain. With such water absorption, they dried out exceptionally slow, so we think they would be a real liability if wet conditions are encountered. While they are convertible, we found the shorts to ride a bit high and feel a bit silly, and didn't feel inspired to wear them as such.

The shorts look for the Silver Ridge Convertible pants. The shorts are a bit shorter than we would wish  we like a hem line that sits around our knees. We are also not a huge fan of how the bottom of the shorts looks after removing the pant legs.
The shorts look for the Silver Ridge Convertible pants. The shorts are a bit shorter than we would wish, we like a hem line that sits around our knees. We are also not a huge fan of how the bottom of the shorts looks after removing the pant legs.

Breathability


While the Silver Ridge Convertible was amongst the lowest scoring pants in nearly every metric we measured, breathability is one area where it easily outperformed most of the competition. The very lightweight fabric simply kept us much cooler in these pants than in most of their heavier counterparts, meaning this a good choice pant for very warm and sunny climates (provided they fit well on you). Since we don't have a fancy scientific lab to quantify these results, we can't tell you whether the perceived coolness while in these pants is due to less heat build-up, or heat diffusion through breathability, but we aren't sure that it actually matters. 7 out of 10.

Durability


We had a hard time testing these pants to their limit to ascertain their durability due to the issues with fit. While wearing them during the previous edition of the review, our reviewer found that the ripstop nylon material did seem to hold up well to the abuse he put them through. However, we find that the fabric is too thin to consider wearing in high abrasion activities. We have noticed that these pants seem to become very wrinkled and creased very easily, which detracts from their appearance, and we don't feel like it is appropriate for a traveler or hiker to need to iron their pants.

Weather Resistance


These pants are thin and offer little protection against wind and rain. Of all seven pants in our review, they were the only ones that did not have any DWR coating to help shed water. During our shower test, we found that they absorb moisture readily and hold a surprising amount of water for being so thin. For these reasons, they are generally inadequate for cooler climates or wet weather. If you anticipate cooler weather, light rain or high winds, stick with a more protective pant such as the Arc'teryx Gamma LT pant.

Complete and total soak through pretty much instantly  causing the uncomfortable sensation of water-logged fabric sticking to the skin. The Silver Ridge Convertible pants were the only ones in our test without a DWR coating.
Complete and total soak through pretty much instantly, causing the uncomfortable sensation of water-logged fabric sticking to the skin. The Silver Ridge Convertible pants were the only ones in our test without a DWR coating.

Features and Conveniences


These pants come with a nylon webbing belt with a plastic buckle. Unlike other pants where the waist tightening system is integrated  this is a standard detached belt. For us  we needed no more waist tightening  as they were already very tight in our size.
These pants come with a nylon webbing belt with a plastic buckle. Unlike other pants where the waist tightening system is integrated, this is a standard detached belt. For us, we needed no more waist tightening, as they were already very tight in our size.

These pants offer adequate pockets for carrying and securing goods when hiking or on the move. The zipper and velcro pockets come in handy when traveling through cities, although the velcro fails over time. The convertible legs offer a transition to shorts when the weather gets warm or there is a swimming hole nearby, although they were not our favorite pair of shorts. It comes with a cheap feeling belt made of webbing and a plastic buckle, although on our testers, the waist was so tight that they didn't need the belt, and would rather use their own higher quality (and better looking) one. Unfortunately, none of the features on these pants stick out to us in a way that added value.

There is a cargo pocket on each leg of these pants  one has a zippered opening  and the other has a flap with velcro.
There is a cargo pocket on each leg of these pants, one has a zippered opening, and the other has a flap with velcro.

The back pockets on these pants both have covering flaps that adhere with velcro tabs. We tended to like normal  non-fastened pockets better back here  because we find that velcro is one of the first things to wear out on cargo pockets. Its also obvious these pants run a bit tight in this region.
The back pockets on these pants both have covering flaps that adhere with velcro tabs. We tended to like normal, non-fastened pockets better back here, because we find that velcro is one of the first things to wear out on cargo pockets. Its also obvious these pants run a bit tight in this region.

The flap with velcro opening on the other cargo pocket. This is our least favorite way of fastening a pocket  as the flaps tend to crinkle up over time and washings  and the velcro wears out. We much prefer zippered pockets.
The flap with velcro opening on the other cargo pocket. This is our least favorite way of fastening a pocket, as the flaps tend to crinkle up over time and washings, and the velcro wears out. We much prefer zippered pockets.

Best Applications


This pant really excels when hiking in warmer climates, backpacking or traveling in warm conditions such as the tropics, and camping. They are not the best for intense activities that require a wide range of movement and the potential for cooler temperature ranges or inclement weather.

Value


These hiking pants are the most affordable of the seven pants we reviewed; this is one of those instances where you get what you pay for. If you are willing to pay $60 for a pair of hiking pants, we would recommend shelling out another $20-$30 and getting a pair that is worth what you spend.

Conclusions


The Silver Ridge Convertibles are well made and serve the needs of a casual explorer or traveler, especially in warmer climates, if sized correctly. If you are looking for a somewhat stylish, well-priced pair of pants, these could serve your needs. However, if you are planning on traveling through the backcountry or are looking for a pair of pants that must hold up to some wear and tear and endure a slightly rougher lifestyle, select a pair of hiking pants that offer more durability and versatility and are built for the adventurer in you.

Spring hikes in Colorado mean finding the areas without snow  but also involve lots of snowy walking. The difference between sun and shade can be like winter and summer. It gives good opportunity to test hiking pants in different temperatures on one hike. The Silver Ridge Convertible was good for in the sun  but a little thin for colder hiking.
Spring hikes in Colorado mean finding the areas without snow, but also involve lots of snowy walking. The difference between sun and shade can be like winter and summer. It gives good opportunity to test hiking pants in different temperatures on one hike. The Silver Ridge Convertible was good for in the sun, but a little thin for colder hiking.

Andy Wellman

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Most recent review: May 14, 2016
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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