The Prana Brion is a simple, no frills pant that looks good and performs well on the trail. It can be thought of as a very simplified version of our Top Pick for Climbing, the Prana Stretch Zion. The Brion is made of the same comfortable and durable stretch Zion fabric (97% nylon, 3% spandex), but without the many features such as cuff roll-up buttons, crotch vent holes, waist tightening strap and buckle, and cargo pocket. Without all these technical features, they look a lot better for wearing around town or even to the office and are a very suitable hiking and climbing pant for those who don't demand extra features.
Prana Brion Review
Cons: No features, on the warmer side
#10 of 13
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Our Analysis and Test Results
We almost hesitate to define the Brion as a hiking pant, because in all honesty, they are pretty much just normal, everyday pants. Think of them as Prana's version of a mountain-style khaki. However, their use of the stretch Zion fabric ensures that they are super comfortable against the skin, while also offering superior mobility and the durability and protection you would expect from an outdoor pant. These pants have a relatively slim and straight cut and have none of the features associated with hiking pants that are found on the rest of the options in this review. They come in a wide variety of earthy colors, ensuring that you will look as comfortable in a boardroom as you do hiking up Mt. Sanitas or Mt. Tamalpais.
Comfort and Mobility
The Brion is a very comfortable pant that ranked up there with the best that we have worn. In particular, we love how the fabric feels against the skin, and appreciate that these pants incorporate enough stretchy fibers so that mobility is rarely limited. Like the Prana Stretch Zion, they fit relatively slim with straight leg tubes. We like the gusseted crotch, but wish that the crotch zipper extended a bit lower, to us it feels like it ends too high up on the front of the pant. Due to the looser, but not too loose fit, we felt this pant was more comfortable than the Outdoor Research Ferrosi, and thus awarded it a full 9 out of 10 points.
Venting and Breathability
While testing these pants on days hiking, we noticed that they manage to trap quite a bit of heat compared to the competition. The stretch Zion fabric used is a fair bit heavier than the material found on the most breathable pants, such as the OR Ferrosi, while at the same time the Brion has very few ventilation features. The only ones we noticed were mesh-lined front hand pockets, but considering the openings for these pockets rest flat when not in use, we felt that this feature had minimal impact on actual ventilation. Unlike the Stretch Zion, there were no crotch holes or roll-up cuff snaps. The overall effect is that these pants don't vent or breathe well, and so are not our favorite choice for hot weather. 5 out of 10.
We found it a bit hard to accurately assess the Brion for versatility. If we are considering their technical function and ability to serve well as hiking pants in some different seasons or climates, then they lack the features and functionality that can help extend their usage. For instance, they are warm, are not convertible, and don't have any features to help cool you off, like roll-up cuff cinch cords, lowering their versatility for hot weather or long backpacking trips. On the other hand, they have the most real life cross-over functionality of any pant, as they are perfectly appropriate for working outside, working in an office, wearing around town, camping, traveling, climbing, you name it. In the end, we gave them a solid score of 8, similar in versatility to The North Face Paramount 3.0.
These pants do come with a DWR coating applied to the outside, meant to help repel water droplets before they have time to soak into the material. We found that much like the Prana Stretch Zion, whose fabric they share, water was able to soak in much quicker than most hiking pants tested. With only the lightest of misting water droplets would bead up and fall off, but any amount of water that actually approaches a real rain storm and these pants immediately soak it right in. Not only that, but they also start to feel wet on the inside against the skin almost immediately. If you need a pant that has solid water repellency, we recommend checking out the Arc'teryx Perimeter Pant, and leaving these at home.
Features are all of the little extra things that go a long way to improving the function of a hiking pant. However, pants are a straightforward piece of clothing that need almost no features at all to succeed at their primary purpose — keeping you from walking around naked while also protecting you from the weather.
The Brion stays true to the roots of pants by preceding inclusion of any extra cargo pockets, drawcords, zip off bottoms, or any of the features found on most comparable hiking pants. They are simply a pair of pants with the pockets that you would expect — two on the front (as well as a tiny change pocket), and two on the back. Worth mentioning, though, is that they are rated to UPF 50+, meaning their ability to shield you from the sun has been proven in a lab. Including no extra features at all is a design choice and is not necessarily a bad thing, but in the context of this review, meant that they received the lowest score for this metric.
In our opinion, the Prana Brion pants thrive as an everyday around town or work pair for people who enjoy the "mountain casual" style, with some cross-over functionality for getting in a short bouldering session or evening dog walk without needing to change. They are simple, functional, and comfortable pants that would not be our first choice for bringing on a backpacking trip or other outdoor adventure.
Purchased at retail price, these pants will set you back $79. While this isn't exactly dirt cheap, it isn't exorbitant in the context of this review either. We think they provide plenty good value to be considered for purchase.
The Prana Brion look, feel, and perform far closer to an average pair of casual pants than they do to a technical piece of outerwear. There is nothing wrong with that, and we admit that we love these simple pants. In the context of a hiking pants review, however, they are slightly lacking compared to the designs presented by the competition and weren't one of the highest scorers.
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Most recent review: May 12, 2018
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