Outdoor Research redesigned their Ferrosi line a bit this year. While the fabric remains the same beloved formula of lightweight but durable ripstop nylon and spandex, the style of these pants has been updated. The positioning of the hand pockets slightly different and the thigh pocket zipper is now oriented horizontally, which we imagine was switched up so there is less of a chance of, say, your nut butter packet falling out when you're in a hanging belay 250 feet off the deck. The belt loops appear a bit smaller, and the cut of the pants looks slightly slimmer, as well. Compare the new version (left) to the previous version (right).
Inflation hasn't hit this pant too hard; they're $80 this year, up from last season's $79 price tag. Be aware that since we haven't tested the fit and updated features of this new pant yet, the following review pertains to last year's Ferrosi.
Hands-On Review of the Ferrosi
The OR Ferrosi pants provide an excellent combination of attributes for nearly any outdoor adventure. Made of 86% 90D stretch ripstop nylon and 14% elastane, this pair is made from some of the lightest materials of any pant we tested. The fabric proved to be highly breathable and stretchy - great qualities for both hiking and climbing. They were the perfect choice on warmer days, but we when the mercury dropped and the wind whipped we felt a little too exposed. In these conditions, they didn't offer us the same protection afforded by a thicker model like the Prana Stretch Zion, our Top Pick for Climbing. For this reason, we wouldn't crown them the king of alpine climbing pants, but we do gladly give them the nod as the best pair of hiking pants we have worn.
The OR Ferrosi are the best hiking pants because they combine comfort, breathability, and versatility for all temperatures and seasons better than any other hiking pant.
Comfort and Mobility
When it comes to comfort, the Ferrosi pants ranked right up there with the most comfortable pants in the review, including the Prana Brion and Stretch Zion. However, when considering mobility, no other pant can match the light, supple mobility afforded by these awesome pants.
We found the cut of these pants to be great: neither too tight and slim against our legs like the Patagonia Quandary, nor too baggy as to impede our movement, as we found with the Fjallraven Vidda Pro. The fabric is smooth against the skin, and the mobility this pair offers is second to none.
One drawback to the fit of this pair is in the waist sizing. We are not quite sure whether this model is designed to be worn lower on the hips or if the waist is just notably larger than advertised, but we opted for a belt with this pair, which is less than ideal while wearing a climbing harness or hiking backpack. We suggest you try sizing these pants down one notch but wish that OR would consider normalizing the sizing and inseam options for these incredibly popular pants.
Whether hiking up an off-trail scree gully, or sitting down for a break to contemplate why, the Ferrosi are among the most comfortable pants we have worn.
Venting and Breathability
These pants don't offer nearly the same amount of ventilation options as the REI Co-op Screeline, with its behind the knee mesh vents, or even the Kuhl Kontra Air, which also has a plethora of ventilation points. However, our head-to-head testing, running uphill in the sun while sweaty, revealed that their super light and highly breathable fabric more than made up for the lack of open ventilation. Ultimately, we felt cooler in the Ferrosi.
In addition to the most breathable fabric, these pants do have a couple of ventilation options. The two front hand pockets are partially lined on the inside with mesh. Additionally, the cinch cord at the bottom of each leg cuff allows the wearer to pull up and secure the pant legs above the calf or knee. Though not completely comparable to a convertible pair, this feature offers a solid, simple solution when you need to cool down in the heat. Our only complaint is that on a couple of chilly and windy days, we found these pants to be a bit too breathable.
These are the most breathable pants we tested, but if that isn't enough to keep you cool, the best way to ventilate is to pull the cuffs up above the calves and cinch them in place with the cuff cinch cord. This setup works great for cooling off, and also stays in place easily while hiking.
While we found these pants to be very versatile during hiking trips, they were a bit less so for other activities. We thought they compared similarly to the Kuhl Kontra Air and Patagonia Quandary when it came to this metric, and so awarded 7 points.
The Ferrosi pants are perfect for hot weather, offer mobility on any type of terrain, and have the extra options afforded by the leg cinch cords. However, despite being recommended for climbing, we found them to be a bit thin and delicate and would prefer to climb in the Stretch Zion. One of our testers punched a good-sized knick in a pair knee-barring at the crag. Because of their thinness, we wouldn't choose them for yard or housework and think they look a bit too tech for wearing out on the town.
The Ferrosi are versatile enough for literally any kind of hiking adventure, from short walks to epic thru-hikes. We didn't think they were quite as ideal for non-hiking usage. This photo is taken on a local trail above Ouray, CO.
Compared to the competition, these pants do an effective job of shedding water, at least while the DWR coating holds up. They didn't offer nearly the level of beading and shedding that we saw with our Top Pick for Water Resistance, the Arc'teryx Perimeter Pant, but thought that they did significantly better than the Brion or the Mountain Hardwear Men's Hardwear AP Pant, which has no DWR coating at all.
With a spritz that simulated a gentle drizzle or mist, the water effectively beaded up and fell off the front of these pants. Of course, in a full-on downpour, the water immediately soaked into the outside layer of nylon and spandex fibers but took a bit more time than most to soak all the way through the pants, so our legs were feeling the moisture. On the plus side, their thin fabric dries out very quickly.
With a light spritzing of water the Ferrosi pants do a good job of causing liquid to bead up and run off without soaking in. Add any more and it starts to absorb into the nylon fibers.
These pants have some useful features that all function quite well. They have five pockets overall — two front hand pockets that are lined with mesh, as well as a side pocket on the outside of the right thigh that includes a vertical zippered opening.
On the back, they have two pockets that both have horizontal zippered openings, great for securing belongings in the backcountry.
The side of the thigh pocket that is taped in place and has a vertically oriented zipper is a great place to stash a phone.
These pants come with a 50+ UPF rating, which means that they are ideally suited for sun protection.
We felt that the best unique feature these pants offer is the previously-described cinch cord cinch cord at each leg cuff, allowing the wearer style flexibility. In addition to providing ventilation, they can be used to keep the pants dry when crossing streams or to cinch the cuffs down around the tops of boots like gaiters. Though they weren't on the level of the Kuhl Renegade Cargo Convertible, what they do include performs very well. We were very pleased with the feature set of the Ferrosi pants.
Shown here is the pull cord and buckle on the cuffs of the Ferrosi pants. When not being used, the buckle lives underneath a flap of fabric so that it isn't at all in the way.
These pants are ideally suited for any sort of hiking or backpacking, especially when you want protection from the sun in hot climates. They are also a great choice for travel as they are very comfortable and light. They work fine for climbing but weren't our favorite, and we also thought they were a bit light for heavy duty work.
On a short day hike up into the alpine above Red Mountain Pass in spring, milking the sunniest aspects to find dry trails to follow, wearing the Ferrosi pants.
Retailing for $80, they are one of the more affordable options in this review. Considering you are getting what we deem to be the best pant available for one of the lowest prices, we think these pants present awesome value.
This is a popular and out of the way ice climb in the winter, but in the spring it melts out and provides a great secluded getaway hike in the San Juans.
The Outdoor Research Ferrosi is the highest performing technical hiking pant that we have tested, and is a very worthy recipient of our Editors' Choice for Best Overall Hiking Pant. It is supremely mobile, very comfortable, and highly breathable. At a relatively low price, they also present a decent value purchase, keeping you cool and comfortable while on the move.