Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Pants Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Light weight for warmer weather, variety of sizes and colors, inexpensive
Cons: Flimsy material, poor fit and mobility, inadequate water resistance
Our Analysis and Test Results
These hiking pants offer a very lightweight option for general outdoor use. They will thrive in hot climates, and also can 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 reduced 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 enjoy hiking in them. For a very lightweight and breathable option, we recommend checking out the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants, or the Prana Stretch Zion Convertible Pants if you are sold on convertible pants.
Comfort and Mobility
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 these pants, 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.
This contender offers 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 in wet conditions. 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.
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 kept us much cooler in these pants than in most of their heavier counterparts, meaning this a good choice pant for hot 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 matters. 7 out of 10.
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.
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.
Features and Conveniences
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.
This pant 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.
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.
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 suit the adventurer in you.
— Andy Wellman