The REI Co-op Screeline us a durable, looser fitting, and highly stretchy hiking pant that performs well in a wide variety of outdoor activities. Besides day hikes, we also took them rock climbing, camping, and while doing outdoor work around the house. In every instance, they exceeded our expectations. One of this model's best attributes is its large mesh ventilation gaps in the pockets and at the backs of the knees. On the downside, their entirely synthetic material is not super comfortable against the skin, and the stronger 100% nylon panels over the knees, butt, and lower legs soaked through quickly in the rain. They were not among the top scorers in this review, but we think they are a solid pant for hiking, and recommend checking them out, especially if you appreciate a looser fit.
REI Co-op Screeline Review
Cons: Reinforced nylon panels not water resistant, fewer pockets than most hiking pants
Our Analysis and Test Results
The REI Co-op Screeline is made out of two different fabrics. In the areas that typically move and require more stretch, like the pelvis, inside of the legs, and back of the hamstrings, these pants feature a blend of 88% nylon and 12% spandex, a higher-than-average stretch blend. This construction combines with 100% nylon panels in areas that experience high wear, like the butt, knees, and lower legs. In our testing it seemed that combining these two fabrics was a good idea, providing a perfect solution to the necessities of an outdoor pant — mobility and durability.
The compromise here is that while the stretchy nylon is highly water-resistant, the 100% nylon panels on the knees and butt retained virtually none of their water repellency after a couple of washings and some normal wear, and soaked through in a matter of seconds during our testing. This pant also comes with fewer useful pockets and features than nearly every other competitor. Though there are things that we like, there are also aspects that hold this pant back from the top.
Comfort and Mobility
These pants have an excellent fit and offer a high degree of mobility. However, the completely synthetic fabric was not exceptionally comfortable against the skin. Except for the Fjallraven Vidda Pro, they had the most spacious fit of any hiking pants in this review, but stopped short of what we would call baggy. They also had large panels of the stretchiest material in all the right places, making them hyper-mobile.
On the other hand, much like we found with the synthetic fibers that make up the Arc'teryx Perimeter Pant or The North Face Paramount 3.0, the material wasn't very smooth or soft. Instead, we found it to be rough and at times, itchy. The result was that this pant landed roughly in the middle of the pack in this metric.
Venting and Breathability
We think that this pant does a better job than any other at keeping us cool while working up a sweat on an uphill run in the sun. While the KUHL Kontra Air featured more ventilation locations and a lighter fabric, the more spacious fit of the Screeline seems to promote airflow better, while the huge mesh vents behind the knees work nicely to allow hot air to escape and fresh air to penetrate the sweaty interior. Mesh also lines the two front hand pockets, a single rear pocket, and a single right side stash pocket. Even the thin and light Patagonia Quandary pants don't feel as cool while hiking as these pants do, so if hiking in pants in hot or steamy weather is in your itinerary, this would be one of the first pants we would check out.
We think this pant has limitations due to its poor performance in our water resistance tests as well as its limited pocket offerings. It is a good choice for hot weather, and we thought it also did an equally good job in cool and dry weather, better than the KUHL Kontra Air. We also liked how its included integrated waist belt allowed us to hike with a pack on without needing the extra bulk of our belt. These pants look good enough to wear around town and are durable enough for work, climbing, or lots of camping. Overall they were a pretty versatile pant, similar to the super durable Fjallraven Vidda Pro.
When it comes to water resistance, the performance of the Screeline was a tale of two fabrics. The stretchy main fabric found in the pelvis and upper legs proved to have an awesome DWR coating, allowing water to bead up and run off, with minimal absorption taking place. On the other hand, the more durable nylon panels in the seat, knees, and lower legs don't seem to be water resistant whatsoever, are highly absorbent, and soaked through instantly. This fabric performed worse than the cotton fabrics found on the Mountain Hardwear Men's Hardwear AP Pant as well as the KUHL Kontra Air. Perhaps the DWR coating washed off in these sections in the few months that we used them, but either way, this still presents a problem, and all the pants tested at the same time, after a very similar amount of wear and usage.
Another slightly disappointing aspect of this promising pant was the comparative lack of functional features and pockets. We liked that it came with an integrated flat webbing belt and plastic buckle, much like The North Face Paramount 3.0, but found that the buckle didn't stay super tight on its own. We also wish that this pant had more than the two hand pockets, one single rear pocket, and one zippered stash pocket on the side of the right leg that was smaller than the ones found on every other pant with a similar design, such as the Arc'teryx Perimeter or Patagonia Quandary. Lastly, we feel that the plastic snap button for the front of the waist seems a bit cheap for an expensive hiking pant, and think this could upgrade easily with a standard metal button and hole.
The Screeline is a solid and durable hiking pant that is a great choice for hot weather and also handles a cool wind nicely. We wouldn't choose this model if we knew we were going to get wet, but it excels in drier climates. We think it looks nice enough to wear around town and is also a good choice for work or climbing.
These pants retail for $80. Since we think they are a solid and durable pant and have REI's return policy behind them, they represent a pretty good value.
The REI Co-op Screeline is a loose fitting hiking pant that offers better ventilation than any other pant in our review, making it an excellent choice for hiking or traveling in hot climates. At the same time, it was a disappointment when it came to water resistance, limiting its use to dry climates or seasons. While it has several laudable strengths, it also comes with a few annoying flaws, and so was right about average in our overall comparative ratings.
— Andy Wellman