The Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants take the Editors' Choice Award for the best overall model of the bunch. They are great for a variety of adventures. These technical pants exceed the performance of the competition, garnering high scores in several metrics. They have an understated but practical set of pockets and features. Also, these pants are the single most breathable model that we tested, keeping us cool on hot days while offering quality sun protection. Though they aren't remarkable in high winds, this is a pair of hiking pants that perform well across a variety of activities.
Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Airy fabric, very comfortable, maximum mobility
Cons: Waist fit is loose, not great in cool weather
Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
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Our Analysis and Test Results
We love the unique blend of materials that go into these pants. It produces a product that offers plenty of stretch while you are on the move and breathability that you wouldn't expect from synthetic clothing. These pants have a super simple 'convertibility' feature in the cuff — an elastic cord that you give a quick pull once you pull up the legs. Though they aren't perfect, all in all, this is an excellent pair of hiking pants. They take the crown on comfort, mobility, and breathability, making them a top tier choice overall.
Comfort and Mobility
When it comes to comfort, these pants ranked right up there with the best of them. However, when considering mobility, no other pants can match the light, supple mobility afforded by these awesome pants.
The cut of these pants is great. They have articulated knees and a gusseted crotch. We found the fit to be 'regular', that is, neither slim nor baggy. The fabric is smooth against the skin, and the mobility this pair offers is second to none. One understated comfort feature is that the inside of the waistband has a strip of soft, felty material that reduces rubbing and abrasion if you have a backpacking waist belt clipped around them.
One drawback to the fit of this pair is the waist sizing. We suppose that this model is designed to be worn lower on the hips, but we felt like we really wanted a belt with this pair, which is less than ideal while wearing a climbing harness. It does come with traditional belt loops, so it's not a huge deal, but you might want to try sizing these pants down in the waist.
Venting and Breathability
It is breathability that really carries these pants. On warmer days, we felt like we were getting the sun protection we needed while retaining way less heat (and sweat) than we would expect while wearing a pair of hiking pants.
In terms of ventilation, the two front hand pockets are partially lined with mesh on the inside, as is the thigh pocket. Additionally, the bottom of each leg cuff has an elastic cord that allows the wearer to pull up and secure the pant legs above the calf or knee. Though not wholly comparable to a convertible pair, this feature offers a solid, simple solution when you need to cool down in the heat.
Though these pants have only a couple of features that could be considered venting points, in our head-to-head testing, running uphill revealed that their super-light and highly breathable fabric more than made up for it; ultimately, we felt cooler in our Ferrosi pants. Our only critical note is that when the wind whips on chilly days, these pants are a little bit too breathable.
This model provides an excellent combination of attributes for many outdoor activities. This pair features an 86% 90D stretch ripstop nylon and 14% elastane blend, the airiest-feeling material of any pant that we tested, making them great for both hiking and climbing. They are the perfect choice on warmer days and good in the late summer and early fall, just as the weather is about to change. On multi-day adventures, we wouldn't hesitate to keep them on as a pair of in-camp pants or even use them as a pair of on-trail pajamas.
The Ferrosi pants are perfect for hot weather and offer the extra options afforded by the leg cinch cords. If you need a pair of cooler weather pants, we would look elsewhere — the material on the Ferrosi is just too thin to provide serious wind protection. They can also get pretty beat up while climbing. On the other hand, we think they look pretty good. A little on the tech side but we wouldn't hesitate to run weekend errands in them.
These pants do an effective job of shedding water, at least while the DWR coating holds up. They don't offer nearly the level of beading and shedding that we saw with other models but noted that they still perform admirably.
With a spritz that simulated a drizzle, the water effectively beaded up and fell off the front of these pants. In a full-on downpour, water soaks into the outside layer of nylon, so our legs got wet. On the plus side, when the clouds part, their thin fabric dries out very quickly.
These pants have just a few simple features, but they all function quite well. There are five pockets overall — two partially mesh-lined front hand pockets, as well as a side pocket on the outside of the right thigh that includes a horizontal zippered opening. We found that the front pockets were adequately deep, and appreciate the subtle but thoughtful angle of the thigh pocket zipper, which makes it easier to open and close with one hand.
On the back, these pants have two open pockets with no zippers. We didn't mind not being able to close the rear pockets in the backcountry — we found that we rarely used them and when we did it was to temporarily hold a bandana or some small object to free up our hands. However, wearing them around town, we would like to be able to close them for peace of mind when walking around with a wallet.
These pants also come with a 50+ UPF rating, which means that they are ideally suited for sun protection. Another somewhat unique feature these pants offer is the elastic cinch cord at each leg cuff. Not only does this give the wearer another option for cooling down, but the cord can be used to keep the pants up when crossing streams or to cinch the cuffs down around the tops of boots like gaiters. Though the Ferrosi is not the most feature-packed pair, we are still pleased with what they do offer.
These pants are of good value. You are getting what we deem to be the best pants available, and if top performance is your top priority, then we think you will be happy with them. Our only concern is how well they hold up down the road. We suspect that we might find ourselves swapping them out sooner than some other thicker models.
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 Award for best overall. These pants are supremely mobile, very comfortable, and highly breathable. Whether you are out on a day hike or a multi-week adventure, they will keep you cool and comfortable while on the move.
— Andy Wellman & Ben Applebaum-Bauch