The REI Co-op Sahara Roll-Up is a super comfortable and relaxed fitting pair of pants. This Best Buy Award winner is easier on the wallet than other models as well. We like the integrated belt and the variety of pockets for storing snacks on the go. Skinnier folks may find them to be a little too baggy in the legs. We think that the namesake roll-up feature has some room for improvement, but all in all these pants are solid. If you want a pair with even more comfortable fabric, we would recommend the Outdoor Research Ferrosi pants, our overall favorite pair. However, for an inexpensive pair with a lot to like, you should keep it right here.
REI Co-op Sahara Roll-Up Review
Cons: Roll up snaps have limited versatility, baggy
Manufacturer: REI Co-op
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Our Analysis and Test Results
We like these pants for day hikes, outdoor lounging, or work around the house. They are lightweight and comfortable. Their fit and aesthetic are not the most stylish, but for utility and comfort, they are an excellent choice at a fair price.
Comfort & Mobility
These pants are comfortable and maintain wearer mobility, mostly owing to the relaxed fit. The 94/6 nylon spandex blend has just a little bit of stretch. We found that the waist with the button and integrated belt is still comfortable under a backpacking waistbelt. The crotch is gusseted, though the fabric insert extends down to knee height along the inner leg. The knees are slightly articulated to increase mobility as well.
There isn't really an activity where we experience restriction in a problematic way. The space that they offer (and the stretch) does an excellent job of minimizing chafing in warmer weather. If anything, our issue is that the loose fit through the leg meant that we often had too much fabric in the lower half of the pants (though obviously, this may be different depending on body shape, so be sure to try them on if everything else sounds good).
Venting & Breathability
The fabric on these pants is thin and breathable. Though they are not quite as airy as the Outdoor Research Ferrosi, we found that they kept us almost as cool. This pair excels in warmer weather, and we think they would be nice tropical climates where you need sun protection but also the ability to stay cool.
Ventilation is limited to the front pockets where half of the liner is mesh. Of course, the roll-up feature helps here as well. There are two levels of roll-up on each leg; low and lower. We were a little let down with this feature. Even the higher of the two doesn't hold the pants up very far — about to mid-calf.
The Sahara Roll-Up pants could stand to be a little more versatile. They are good for warm weather hiking. The thinner material makes them more susceptible to wind penetration than models like the heartier Arc'Teryx Lefroy. They are comfortable for traveling as well, though the number and style of pockets, as well as the fit, limits them to outdoorsy settings — we wouldn't choose to wear them out to dinner. If you are going for a look as much as functionality, check out the more stylish Paramount Active from The North Face.
The front of the ankle cuffs have reinforcements, but not the back. Though the material is thin, we had fewer issues when we got snagged on bramble than with the Outdoor Research Ferrosi.
These pants have decent water resistance. The DWR coating beads and repels light to moderate precipitation well. Heavy pours will saturate it though because of the finer material. On the plus side, they will dry out relatively quickly as well, much like the award-winning Outdoor Research Ferrosi. During testing, these pants stood up to moisture better than the The North Face Paramount Active, which more or less absorbed water right away.
This model will get the job done in a pinch but don't protect super well in the wind. If you are looking for real protection from the elements, the weather resistance top scorer Patagonia Quandary have you covered.
The Sahara Roll-Up pants have a bunch of pockets. Two deep hand pockets (the right one has a coin pocket as well), two rear and two thigh pockets with zippers (the right one has two compartments separated by mesh, one of which is hidden). There is no shortage of space to store snacks, keys, or other small items you might want close at hand.
Flaps cover the rear pocket openings as well as the zippers on the thigh pockets. During testing, the zippers got stuck more often than we would have wanted and we don't think that they are worth the hassle. They offer modest rain protection, but if rain is soaking through the zipper, then it's making its way through the rest of the fabric as well, negating the need for the flap cover. We think it would be beneficial to have zippers on the rear pockets. They would be high enough that you wouldn't be sitting on them and they would offer a lot more piece of mind for the wearer who is concerned about items falling out.
The integrated belt provides flexibility in the fit. These pants also come with traditional belt loops which seem as much for style as anything else. The button at the waist functions just fine and there is an extra one attached to the inside label in case the original gets lost. We like the idea of the roll-up snaps but ultimately wish they went up a little higher. We wouldn't use the snaps for water crossings; we'd just roll up the pants. These pants do offer UPF 50 sun protection.
The Sahara Roll-Up pants are best for warm weather hikes, medium-length backpacking trips, and outdoor work. Because of the storage options and their loose comfort, we think they make a fine option for traveling as well.
Coming in hot at $60, these pants are one of the least expensive in this review. We think they represent an excellent value. We found ourselves wearing them again and again around the house, even when we didn't have a trip planned. If you are a frequent traveler and need a comfy pair, or are looking forward to your next warm weather adventures, these pants won't burn a hole in your wallet.
The REI Sahara Roll-Up pants are comfortable and lightweight. They have a variety of pockets that we found to be generally useful. Though the fit is a little too loose for skinnier folks and they wouldn't be our first choice for wearing out in town after a day outdoors, these Best Buy winners still have a place in this lineup for the hiker who just needs a pair of pants to do their job at a decent price.
— Ben Applebaum-Bauch