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The North Face Paramount Active Review

These slim fit hiking pants offer a combination of stretch and style.
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Price:  $70 List | $55.99 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Stylish, accommodating elastic waistband, drawstring
Cons:  Poor water resistance, asymmetrical hand pockets
Manufacturer:   The North Face
By Ben Applebaum-Bauch ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 10, 2019
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67
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 11
  • Comfort and Mobility - 35% 7
  • Venting and Breathability - 20% 6
  • Versatility - 15% 8
  • Water Resistance - 15% 5
  • Features - 15% 7

Our Verdict

The The North Face Paramount Active is a versatile pair of comfortable pants with a couple of unique features. They have a slimmer fit but include a stretchy elastic waistband and a drawstring on the interior of the waist. Their casual look makes them suitable for other social activities around town as well as outdoors. They don't perform as well in the rain, absorbing water and taking longer to dry but they are reasonably breathable. We think they could be right for the outdoor enthusiast who needs to transition between trails and work without time to change.

The Paramount line from The North Face is no new kid on the block. It has undergone many changes in design, style, and intended function. We've also reviewed the Paramount Trail Convertible pants. While they partially share the same name, the Trail Convertible is baggier, warmer, and offers less stretch. Our testers feel like they have quite a separate appeal and functionality in comparison to its sibling reviewed here.


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Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  Best Buy Award 
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Stylish, accommodating elastic waistband, drawstringAiry fabric, very comfortable, maximum mobilityComfortable fit and fabric, very versatile, perfectly functioning featuresSupple and mobile, DWR coating works great, fair priceComfortable, lots of pockets, integrated belt
Cons Poor water resistance, asymmetrical hand pocketsWaist fit is loose, not great in cool weatherNot much ventilation, fabric absorbs water in a heavy downpourNot many pockets, slim fit may not be awesome for larger adultsRoll up snaps have limited versatility, baggy
Bottom Line These slim fit hiking pants offer a combination of stretch and style.For comfort and breathability, these pants can’t be beat.A favorite pair of very comfortable hiking pants.An awesome pant for 14er day hikes and chilling at the brewpub afterwards.These comfortable, relaxed fit pants are an inexpensive option for day hikes and short backpacking trips.
Rating Categories Paramount Active Ferrosi Pants Prana Stretch Zion Patagonia Quandary REI Co-op Sahara Roll-Up
Comfort And Mobility (35%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
Venting And Breathability (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
7
Versatility (15%)
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
5
Water Resistance (15%)
10
0
5
10
0
6
10
0
5
10
0
9
10
0
7
Features (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
7
Specs Paramount Active Ferrosi Pants Prana Stretch Zion Patagonia Quandary REI Co-op Sahara...
Weight (in oz) 10.4 oz 12.2 oz 13.6 oz 10 oz 9.5 oz
Material 90% Polyester, 10% Spandex 86% nylon / 14% spandex 90D stretch woven ripstop 97% Nylon / 3% Spandex 94% nylon (62% recycled) / 6% spandex 94% nylon / 6% spandex
Water Resistance DWR finish DWR finish DWR finish DWR finish DWR finish
Sizing (waist, length options) W: 30", 31", 32", 33", 34", 34", 36", 38", 40" L: short, regular, long W: 28" - 38" W: 28" - 42"
L: 28", 30", 32", 34", 36"
W: 28" - 40"
L: 30", 32", 34"
W: 30" - 42"
L: 28" - 36"
Sun Protection not specified not specified UPF 50 UPF 50 UPF 50
Convertible, or option available? Yes No, but convertible version available No, but convertible version available No Yes
Pockets 2 hand, 1 back (right), 1 thigh zip 2 hand, 2 back, 1 thigh zip 2 hand, 2 back, one left side 2 hand, 2 back, 1 zippered thigh, 1 coin 2 hand, 2 back, 2 thigh zip
Waist Strap/Fasten Button and zip fly Button and zip fly Button and zip fly with waist cinch Button and zip fly Button and zip fly
Other Features Gusseted crotch, darted knees Drawcord cuff closures, side zip pocket Ventilated inseam gusset, roll up leg snaps, adjustable waist tightening strap Front and back knee articulation, gusseted crotch, slim straight fit Legs roll up and snap in place, gusseted crotch, articulated knees, integrated belt, UPF 50
Warranty Lifetime warranty against defects Lifetime Full refund, credit, or exchange if you are dissatisfied Lifetime Limited warranty

Our Analysis and Test Results

These pants are stretchy but form-fitting, making them feel a little tight, even for skinnier folks. They are comfortable but might feel a little limiting if you do a lot of rugged hiking, scrambling, or climbing that brings your knees up around waist height. We found that they take on water faster than most other models, so they aren't ideal for wet weather.

Performance Comparison


We think these slim fit pants look and feel pretty good.
We think these slim fit pants look and feel pretty good.

Comfort & Mobility


These pants fall at the intersection of comfort and mobility. They have a 90% polyester, 10% spandex blend that makes them super stretchy. However, they also have a slim fit that starts to affect performance when you have to do a lot of high stepping. We like the elastic band on the back half of the waist which adds to their lounge comfort in a somewhat discrete way. Even more discrete is the drawstring on the inside of the waist. This feature is especially valuable if you are going on an extended adventure for many weeks and you are anticipating losing weight along the way.

The black elastic on the back half of the waist means these pants can accommodate some some stretch.
The black elastic on the back half of the waist means these pants can accommodate some some stretch.

The crotch is gusseted for increased comfort, but in our estimation, it is one of the more modest cuts of the models that we tested. All in all, the Paramount Active score just about average in this metric because they are comfortable against the skin, don't chafe, but are also somewhat restrictive.

For the best comfort and mobility in this review, we think the Prana Stretch Zion and Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants are top choices.

Venting & Breathability


These pants focus equally on venting and breathability, both of which they do moderately well. All of the pockets are mesh-lined. The fabric is light and stretchy, which allowed us to cool down faster.

Rolling up the legs in an effective way to stay cool. There's nothing to actually hold them up  so we found it is best to roll them tightly.
Rolling up the legs in an effective way to stay cool. There's nothing to actually hold them up, so we found it is best to roll them tightly.

Though there is no built-in fastener, the pants are slim enough that they stay up when tightly rolled. This fact means that if you start cold and get warmer on a spring day, you can keep the Paramount Active pants on throughout and stay comfortable for the whole hike.

Versatility


The Paramount Active pants have solid versatility. They suit both hiking and backpacking. There are no belt loops but there is elastic in the waist that stretches and a drawstring to secure the waist tighter. It's not the most elegant system, but it gets the job done if your waist size changes mid-trip.

The built in drawstring on the interior is the 'tightening' complement to the elastic waistband's stretchiness.
The built in drawstring on the interior is the 'tightening' complement to the elastic waistband's stretchiness.

Their slim fit also makes them a stylish choice for casual social events or relaxed office attire. In a world full of unflattering hiking pants, the Paramount Active fights the trend.

Water Resistance


These pants tend to take on water faster than our top scorers. Water goes from beading to absorption after a couple of minutes in moderate rain. We also found that the tighter weave holds on to water longer and they take a bit more time to dry than airier models like the Outdoor Research Ferrosi. Overall, we wouldn't choose this pair if we knew there was a chance of real rain.

Features


We have mixed feelings about the features in these pants. They come equipped with two hand pockets. They are asymmetrical; the right one is shallower than the left to accommodate the vertical zip right thigh pocket. We don't love the verticle zipper on the leg — items tend to fall out. The angle of the zipper makes it a little awkward as well. There is also one rear pocket on the right side (no zipper). There is no roll up securing feature, but the legs are slim and stretchy enough that you can roll them up and they will stay put.

The side zip pocket is adequate to stash a quick snack.
The side zip pocket is adequate to stash a quick snack.

The half-elastic waist and drawstring allow for a little adjustability (both larger and smaller than the named waist size) and the pants secure with a traditional metal button.

Best Applications


The Paramount Active pants are best in arid environments where you'll have the opportunity to dry out even if the odd rain storm comes through. They are also lightweight as well which adds to their utility in the sunshine. We also think that they work reasonably well in transition from outdoor adventure to indoor get-togethers.

Value


At $70, these pants are priced just about where we would expect them to be. We think that they offer a moderate value, but we would prefer to spend a little more for even more comfort from award winners like the Prana Stretch Zion or the Outdoor Research Ferrosi.

Conclusion


The The North Face Paramount Active pants are a slim fit, stretchy model. They are lightweight and perform better in drier climates. With a drawstring to tighten the waist and stretchy elastic in the back, they have solid sizing flexibility. They are a little restrictive, but their style makes them a versatile pair worth considering.


Ben Applebaum-Bauch