The Prana Stretch Zion pants look and feel like a "normal" pair of pants. We loved this because it meant we could wear them out around town or over to a friend's house without looking like we were too tech-ed out. They have a comfortable and laid back style, perfect for everyday use. They also feel great to hike in, and we loved them for days at the crag as well.
While the Stretch Zion scored highly for comfort and mobility, versatility, and their nearly perfect features, we don't want to let them off the hook too easily. We found them to lack adequate ventilation options compared to the competition, and consequently, they didn't seem to breathe as well in our comparative tests as the thinner and lighter Patagonia Quandary. There is no doubt that these pants are comfier for cooler weather, but they wouldn't be our first choice for the heat of summer. Likewise, despite coming with a DWR coating, these pants took on water faster than most. They performed fine in a light drizzle, but we would also be cautious if heavy rain is a guarantee in your itinerary. With these two caveats aside, they are still one of our favorite pairs of hiking pants.
The Stretch Zion was our Best Overall Hiking Pants winner because they were simply the most comfortable to wear. Here we are checking out Cascade Falls from behind the water during low season, not something you can do most of the year.
Comfort and Mobility
From a comfort standpoint, these pants have a lot going for them. The material is soft and we found that they offered an excellent fit; not too tight, not too loose. They provide the right amount of stretch for hiking and are a suitable option for activities like yoga or climbing. The snap-up pant legs offer an option for warmer weather or when wading through streams. We didn't feel constrained when sitting in them for long periods of time, and in colder climates, these pants did a great job with keeping our legs warm.
As in years past, we still wish the crotch zipper was slightly longer in these pants — it feels like it stops too short. That said, we didn't experience tightness or constriction with the cut of the crotch, and these pants fit better in the upper thighs and front hip area than either the Patagonia Quandary or the Mountain Hardwear Men's Hardwear AP Pant. The overall result is the most comfortable pant in our review.
The Stretch Zion were the most comfortable hiking pants in this review, due to the softness of the fabric against our skin, as well as the awesome fit of the pant. You can see here the ventilation holes in the gusseted crotch, which are a nice tough but not super effective, in our opinion.
Venting and Breathability
This model felt a bit hot compared to some of the other lighter pants in this review. The thinner cut pant sleeves seemed to allow less airflow within the pants than we experienced with the REI Co-op Screeline, and thus these felt slightly stuffier. Much like that pant, the Stretch Zion has tiny vent holes in the crotch region to facilitate breathing, but we found them to have minimal effect in reducing built up heat while adventuring in the heat of the day.
Running uphill in the sun on a hot day to test the venting and breathability capabilities of each pair of pants. The Stretch Zion were a pretty warm pant overall, and we preferred them for cooler weather.
Mesh-lined pockets are a common approach to increase ventilation in a pair of hiking pants, but unlike the Screeline or Kontra Air, this pair has only two mesh-lined pockets, the front hand warmer pockets. And while they do have small plastic snap buttons to hold the cuffs up if you need some extra air on your lower legs, this design is not as efficient as a full conversion to shorts as is possible with the Stretch Zion Convertible. At the end of the day, while they are the most comfortable, they didn't fare as well when the going was hot, and we enjoyed them more as a spring and fall pant than a summer one.
Whether day hiking or trying to select a single pair of pants for a long backpacking trip, the Stretch Zion is a good choice. These pants are also the perfect choice for rock climbing, working, travel, or hanging out at the local pub. As a "do everything" pant that also thrives on the trail, they naturally rank as one of the most versatile.
While we preferred to use these pants in cool weather and did our best to find something else to wear when it was hot, we thought they were pretty versatile for climbing, camping, hiking, backpacking, traveling, or simply wearing around town. Here at a local sport crag in the San Juan Mountains of CO.
Only The North Face Paramount 3.0 and the KUHL Renegade Cargo Convertible pants also came in a convertible option. The primary benefit of this style means that a pant is usable no matter the outside temperature or the preference of the wearer. As a pant that can handle a lot more than merely hiking, it crushes in this metric.
There is no doubt in our minds that water resistance is the weakest aspect of this pant, and if you are searching for a pair of hiking pants for your next trek through the tropical rainforest, we would urge you to stay away. While this pant does come with a DWR coating on top of its 97% nylon weave fabric, the truth is that by the time our three-month test period had come to a close, any notion of water resistance had worn off the pants and out of our minds.
Despite coming with a DWR coating in place, these pants were some of the more absorptive in our water resistance testing, especially for a completely nylon fabric. They wouldn't be our first choice for trips where we knew we were likely to get wet.
In a light mist, there was a bit of resistance, however, anything more than that led to pretty much immediate absorption, in line with the REI Screeline. That said, we found that these pants dried out considerably faster than the cotton-heavy fabric blends used in the Men's Hardwear AP Pant. With relatively poor test results, if slid toward the back of the pack here.
The Stretch Zion Pants have three front and two rear pockets, an adjustable waist belt, snap-up pant legs and marginally helpful ventilation holes in the crotch. The open front and rear pockets provide easy access while keeping their contents secure. The mesh fabric interior of the pockets increases the Zion's breathability. The cargo zipper pocket on the side of the leg is extremely useful for securing valuables and important items when on the move. The dual-access thigh pocket (zippered access on top and the side) is useful. Initially, we thought this might be gimmicky, but we appreciated the side access when wearing a harness. The waist tightening system is low profile and works great, and we were happy to have the option of not wearing a belt underneath our pack waist strap.
This simple buckle is not a belt that wraps the entire waist, but simply a short strap that can be pulled to help cinch up the pants a bit. This feature is nice for making micro adjustments to fit on long hiking trips where waist size fluctuates, and is also nice for avoiding an actual belt when wearing a pack waist belt or climbing harness.
Overall, we thought these pants had a solid set of features, based mostly on quality, not quantity. They really couldn't compare to the magnitude of different pockets and ventilation options found on the KUHL Renegade Cargo Convertible. But while they didn't offer the most storage or pockets, all the zippers, buttons, and the waist tightener worked pretty much perfectly.
The single cargo pocket on the Stretch Zion has the cool feature of being zipper enclosed on both the top and the side. When sitting in a harness, the side entrance becomes very convenient.
These hiking pants are excellent for hiking, general outdoor activities, and especially multifaceted travel. They are uniquely suitable for higher intensity activities, rock climbing, slack-lining, dancing, and general play. They are sufficient in both hot and cold, although they are a bit more comfortable in cooler climates than warmer ones. While they will keep you dry in slightly damp or misty conditions, they are not the best in heavy rain.
The Stretch Zion are a good pant for hiking during cooler temps and seasons, like we are here exploring in the Amphitheatre near our home in Ouray, CO. While they work ok in the heat of the summer, they are a bit hot for our tastes during that time.
These pants retail for $85, which is about as affordable as high-quality hiking pants come. Since they are one of the top scorers in our review, and we recommend them as our Best Climbing Pants, we clearly think that you will find great value in this purchase. We also love that Prana will honor their policy of providing a full refund at any time if you are unhappy with their product.
At a relatively low price of $85, and considering that they are not only the most comfortable pant for hiking, but also our favorite for climbing, like we are here at Smith Rock, we think the Stretch Zion are an awesome value.
The Prana Stretch Zion earns a Top Pick and our Best Climbing Pant award based mostly on the fact that we found them to be the most comfortable pant that we tested. They are awesome for nearly any outdoor activity, not just hiking, although they are great for that too! Their nearly perfect feature set was highly functional and simple. While they aren't our preferred choice for wet weather, we love them for pretty much everywhere else, and we think you will too.
Hiking along the Crooked River at Smith Rock, OR, in the Prana Stretch Zion. We felt like these comfortable pants were ideal for both hiking and climbing.