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Prana Brion Review

A solid pair of everyday pants that are also good for hiking or climbing
Prana Brion
Photo: prAna
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Price:  $79 List | $78.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Simple design looks good, very comfortable, affordable
Cons:  No features, too hot in warm weather
Manufacturer:   Prana
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 5, 2019
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64
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 17
  • Comfort and Mobility - 35% 8
  • Venting and Breathability - 20% 5
  • Versatility and Style - 15% 8
  • Weather Resistance - 15% 5
  • Features - 15% 4

Our Verdict

The Prana Brion keeps things simple. It doesn't have the frills and features found on a lot of hiking pants, but this allows them to ease into town life better than any other model, and without sacrificing much hiking performance. The Brion is made from a comfortable and durable stretch fabric blend (97% nylon, 3% spandex), and has a minimalist set of features, which make them well-suited for everyday casual wear or even to the office on casual Friday.

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Pros Simple design looks good, very comfortable, affordableAiry fabric, very comfortable, maximum mobilitySupple and mobile, DWR coating works great, fair pricecomfortable fabric, belt, zippered pocketsLook good, don't stretch, cinch cords in ankles
Cons No features, too hot in warm weatherWaist fit is loose, not great in cool weatherNot many pockets, slim fit may not be awesome for larger adultsShallow pockets, expensiveStiff, most pockets don't have zips
Bottom Line The simplest hiking pant that also proved to be the most stylish for everyday wearFor comfort and breathability, these pants can’t be beatThis stellar pant surprised us with its high performance at an affordable priceThese pants are great for a variety of activities and conditionsAn excellent choice for anyone going straight from their desk to the trailhead
Rating Categories Prana Brion Ferrosi Pants Patagonia Quandary Chockstone/2 Royal Robbins Alpine Road
Comfort And Mobility (35%)
8
9
8
8
7
Venting And Breathability (20%)
5
9
7
7
6
Versatility And Style (15%)
8
7
7
7
8
Weather Resistance (15%)
5
5
7
6
7
Features (15%)
4
4
6
6
6
Specs Prana Brion Ferrosi Pants Patagonia Quandary Chockstone/2 Royal Robbins...
Weight (in oz) 12.0 oz 12.2 oz 10.0 oz 11.5 oz 13.8 oz
Material 97% nylon, 3% spandex 86% nylon, 14% spandex; 90D stretch woven ripstop 94% nylon (62% recycled), 6% spandex 88% nylon, 12% elastane 66% nylon, 31% polyester, 3% spandex
Water Resistance DWR finish DWR finish DWR finish DWR finish DWR finish
Sizing (waist, length options) W: 28" - 40"
L: 30", 32", 34"
W: 28" - 38" W: 28" - 40"
L: 30", 32", 34"
W: 28" - 42" L: 30" - 34" W: 30" - 40" L: 30" - 34"
Sun Protection UPF 50 not specified UPF 50 UPF 50 UPF 50
Convertible, or option available? No No, but convertible version available No No No
Pockets 2 hand, 1 front coin, 2 back 2 hand, 2 back, 1 thigh zip 2 hand, 2 back, 1 zippered thigh, 1 coin 2 hand, 2 back, 1 thigh 2 front, 2 rear, 1 cargo
Waist Strap/Fasten Button and zip fly Button and zip fly Button and zip fly Button and zip fly Button and zip fly
Other Features Gusseted crotch, belt loops, mesh pockets Drawcord cuff closures, side zip pocket Front and back knee articulation, gusseted crotch, slim straight fit Cinch cord at cuff, removable belt Gussetted crotch, tapered leg, cinch cord at cuff

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Brion is very functional as a hiking pant but also excels as a casual, everyday pair. The stretch fabric ensures that they are super comfortable against the skin, while also offering superior mobility, durability, and protection you would expect from an outdoor pant. This model has a relatively slim and straight cut. They come in a wide variety of earthy colors, ensuring that you will look as comfortable in a meeting at work as out on the trail.

Performance Comparison


The Prana Brion pants are comfortable, slim fitting, and wrinkle...
The Prana Brion pants are comfortable, slim fitting, and wrinkle resistant. They come in all sorts of earthy colors, and served us especially well for after-work adventures.

Comfort and Mobility


The Brion is a very comfortable pant that ranks up there with our favorite pairs in this metric. 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. They have a relatively slim fit that is straight through the leg. We like the gusseted crotch, but wish that the zipper extended a bit lower. To us, it feels like it stops too high up on the front of the pant.

With a perfect athletic fit and soft, stretchy fabric, we thought...
With a perfect athletic fit and soft, stretchy fabric, we thought these pants were among the most comfortable that we tested for hiking.

Venting and Breathability


During our hiking field tests, we noticed that these pants hold quite a bit of heat compared to the competition. The stretch fabric is a fair bit heavier than the material found on the most breathable pants, and the Brion also 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 a minimal impact. There are 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.

The Stretch Zion fabric used to make this pant consists of 97% nylon...
The Stretch Zion fabric used to make this pant consists of 97% nylon and 3% spandex. It honestly looks and feels remarkably smooth and almost cotton-esque for a nylon blended fabric. That said, it is fairly heavy, warm, and doesn't breathe super well.

Versatility


The versatility of the Brion is tricky to pin down. In terms of this pair's functionality as hiking pants in different seasons or climates, they lack the technical features that would expand their usage. For example, they are warm, not convertible, and don't have any substantial ventilation points to help cool you off, like roll-up cuff cinch cords. All of this diminishes their versatility for hot weather or long backpacking trips. On the other hand, they are the most appropriate pant we tested for a variety of other outdoor activities; working outside, or in an office, wearing around town, camping, traveling, climbing, and paddling.

While they don't offer a ton of technical hiking versatility, we...
While they don't offer a ton of technical hiking versatility, we loved how these pants looked good enough to wear around town, and then could hit the trails after work as well.

Water Resistance


These pants come with a durable water repellent (DWR) coating applied to the outside, meant to help repel water droplets before they have time to soak into the material. We found that water soaks in much quicker than most hiking pants we tested. In a light mist, water droplets would bead up and run off, but in a true rainstorm, these pants quickly become saturated. 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 looking elsewhere.

As you can see, after a few light misting sprays, some of the water...
As you can see, after a few light misting sprays, some of the water around the edges is being successfully repelled by the DWR coating, but a lot is also starting to soak in quickly.

Features


The little extra things can go a long way to improving the function of a hiking pant. The Brion takes the opposite, minimalist approach.

The pockets on the rear of the Brion pants are your standard rear...
The pockets on the rear of the Brion pants are your standard rear pockets without top enclosures.

There are no 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 have a UPF 50+ rating, meaning their ability to shield you from the sun has been lab-tested and confirmed. Including no extra features at all is a design choice that we don't necessarily dislike, but in the context of this review, they received one of the lowest scores in this metric.

With few features to highlight, we point out the standard front hand...
With few features to highlight, we point out the standard front hand pockets, as well as the smaller change pocket.

Value


While these pants aren't exactly dirt cheap, they aren't the most expensive pants we tested either. We think they provide plenty of good value for the right wearer.

Descending switchbacks on an early spring hike in the San Juans...
Descending switchbacks on an early spring hike in the San Juans, enjoying the low elevation trails while waiting for the alpine to melt out, wearing the Brion pants.

Conclusion


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.

The Dallas Creek Trail in the San Juan Mountains provide awesome...
The Dallas Creek Trail in the San Juan Mountains provide awesome views of narrow slot canyons below. Hiking in the Brion pants.

Andy Wellman