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The North Face Paramount Trail Convertible Review

This warmer pant is a bit heavy in summer temperatures, and its design lacks stretch.
The North Face Paramount Trail Convertible
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Price:  $70 List | $45.47 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Better-than-average water and wind resistance, warm in colder climates, durable, good features and pockets
Cons:  Baggy fit and lack of stretch, heavy, convertible shorts are a bit short (10”)
Manufacturer:   The North Face
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jan 18, 2018
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71
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 13
  • Comfort and Mobility - 35% 6
  • Venting and Breathability - 20% 7
  • Versatility - 15% 9
  • Water Resistance - 15% 7
  • Features - 15% 8

The Skinny

These pants are durable, versatile, and have several great features, all offered at a decent price. They are one of the least expensive pairs of pants that we tested. Made from a thicker material than the other models we reviewed, these hiking pants are more durable and provide excellent rain and wind resistance. We think they work great for hiking and are also an excellent choice for extended backpacking trips. This model also provides perhaps the most comfortable fit for someone with a more substantial frame. The thicker 100% nylon fabric holds up well against tears and provides more warmth than the competition. While this means they can be a bit hot in warmer weather, they also have an excellent conversion feature that includes vertical zips at the cuffs for easy removal of the lower leg without having to remove footwear.

While we like these pants, but were more impressed by the higher performance of the REI Co-op Sahara Convertible, our Best Buy winner. If you like the baggier fit, though, stick with the Paramount.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

These hiking pants are great for a cool weather hike or traveling abroad in cooler climates. They offer ample pocket space with a secure zipper pocket for keys, a fair durable water repellent (DWR) coating, and zip-off legs for when the weather gets hot. They also have a very loose and baggy fit, which may or may not be your style. These pants are well-priced, functional and durable, holding up well in a variety of weather conditions; they are good for hikers and travelers alike.

Not much has changed in these pants when compared to the original Paramount Peak Convertible. The pockets are a bit more useful; the front cargo pockets are long enough to fit a large map. The fabric is more durable (although we never found that this was an issue in the past). The North Face claims that they are "QuickDry," which we verified, although they don't dry out quite as quickly as thinner nylon models like the Outdoor Research Ferrosi or Arc'teryx Gamma LT. In previous years, we identified these pants as "slow to dry," so we believe this is a marked improvement. All-in-all, The North Face has chosen to stick with what it believes works well and this convertible options fits and performs much like the original version.

Performance Comparison


Our head tester at the end of the hike-able part of the Subway if coming up from the bottom  as he did in the winter when swimming through the narrows was not an option. The Paramount Peak II pants kept him plenty warm in this cold slot  and later on the sweaty hike out he was able to wear them as shorts to stay cool.
Our head tester at the end of the hike-able part of the Subway if coming up from the bottom, as he did in the winter when swimming through the narrows was not an option. The Paramount Peak II pants kept him plenty warm in this cold slot, and later on the sweaty hike out he was able to wear them as shorts to stay cool.

Comfort and Mobility


These pants are stylish and are the loosest fitting ones in the review. They are also made of the heaviest and burliest material. They include an integrated belt enclosed within the waist.
These pants are stylish and are the loosest fitting ones in the review. They are also made of the heaviest and burliest material. They include an integrated belt enclosed within the waist.
The six waist sizes and three lengths don't quite offer the same variety available for other pants. It's important to note that these pants run very relaxed and baggy. While the Paramount Trail Convertible's looser fit is not ideal for every activity or every person, we think they offer a high degree of comfort for general travel as well as hiking. These pants are comfortable, although the 100 percent nylon material is not as soft on the skin and does not offer the stretch that the most comfortable models provide, such as the Prana Stretch Zion. We debated sizing down, but without the stretchy material, we felt fitting them any narrower might restrict movement, especially on uphills and stairs.

The looser fit is great for people with larger lower bodies, especially when compared to pants like the Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible. It leaves enough room for additional thermal layers underneath (but conversely, is not tight enough for a waterproof shell to fit over the top). The elastic waistband and belt also make the fit a little more adjustable. Our only other complaint is that the conversion seam where the pants unzip into shorts is a bit restrictive on our legs, as it is in pretty much all conversion pants. On this model, it was slightly more noticeable due to the static material, but we were happy with the way the overlapping fabric covered the zipper, making the best of a minor inconvenience.

Playing on a log on one of the countless stream crossings on the 4.5 mile hike to the Subway in the Zion National Park Backcountry.
Playing on a log on one of the countless stream crossings on the 4.5 mile hike to the Subway in the Zion National Park Backcountry.

Versatility


We find the variety of pockets and loose fit of these pants are ideal for hiking and traveling town to town. In warmer weather though, we found ourselves zipping off the legs and wishing we were wearing a slightly thinner material. The baggy fit makes these pants less ideal for a variety of outdoor activities, although this didn't detract from their primary function as hiking pants.

The 10" inseam of the shorts is a bit short for us, and we felt a bit awkward in them, but that is a style preference. They dried out fairly quickly compared to the competition, improving their versatility.

On this day the water resistance and drying time of these pants was not tested  as our head tester managed to keep himself out of the river on the possibly 100 stream crossings encountered on the nine mile roundtrip journey to the Subway.
On this day the water resistance and drying time of these pants was not tested, as our head tester managed to keep himself out of the river on the possibly 100 stream crossings encountered on the nine mile roundtrip journey to the Subway.

Breathability


We liked the vertical zippers at the bottom of the pant legs on these pants. They provide extra ventilation  or allow one to more easily remove the pant leg when converting them to shorts without taking off your shoes or boots.
We liked the vertical zippers at the bottom of the pant legs on these pants. They provide extra ventilation, or allow one to more easily remove the pant leg when converting them to shorts without taking off your shoes or boots.
In the case of this competitor, we are pleased with their ability to convert to shorts. Without the ability to remove the lower legs, we would only be able to recommend them for the coolest cloudy days. The fabric of these pants is thick and heavy, which makes them very durable, but also quite hot compared to the competition.

We had a hard time tolerating the sweat and heat build-up while charging uphill in the sun. That said, if you get too hot and sweaty in these pants, just zip off the legs.

While we wish the shorts were a little bit longer when the lower legs are removed  we are happy that they look like a normal pair of shorts and that the zipper is well hidden with no awkward flaps.
While we wish the shorts were a little bit longer when the lower legs are removed, we are happy that they look like a normal pair of shorts and that the zipper is well hidden with no awkward flaps.

Durability


The thicker material excelled at our 'rough them up' tests — climbing in chimneys and off-widths at Indian Creek, where the rock is sandpaper. The pockets and stitching are well crafted. Additionally, The North Face offers a lifetime warranty on product defects and a low-cost repair option for worn out zippers, velcro, or other components. In comparison to the other pants tested, this contender held up better and had an impressive made-to-last quality that makes them ideal for more serious hikers.

Water Resistance


These convertible pants performed well when it came to dealing with the elements. Warmer than most pants we tested, the thicker material offers better wind resistance than the competition and has an effective enough DWR coating. In our shower testing, these pants didn't repel water as effectively as some of the other similar pants, like the REI Sahara Convertible, but they also didn't absorb much water into the nylon fabric.

The DWR coating and water resistance in the shower was about average for the Paramount Peak II Convertible pants. Some water certainly made it through  but there was not nearly as much absorption as a few of the pairs exhibited.
The DWR coating and water resistance in the shower was about average for the Paramount Peak II Convertible pants. Some water certainly made it through, but there was not nearly as much absorption as a few of the pairs exhibited.

We still think they offer an ideal option for longer hikes or multi-day adventures where a change of clothes is not available and we like that these pants offer UPF 50 sun protection, as many of the other pairs that we tested.

Features


The cargo pockets on there pants are on each side and have an odd fastening system of an overlapping flap that is sewn closed at one end  and adhered by a single velcro patch on the other.
The cargo pockets on there pants are on each side and have an odd fastening system of an overlapping flap that is sewn closed at one end, and adhered by a single velcro patch on the other.
Sporting two open, bottomless front pockets, two velcro front pockets, a zippered front pocket, and two rear velcro pockets, this competitor offers more than enough real estate to try a day hike without a pack. Although it is not our style to load weight into our pockets, there is some benefit to this option, especially for world travelers carrying lots of tickets, passports, and other items they want to keep close to their body or may need to access quickly. The long-haul thru-hikers that we interviewed in our Buying Advice Article wore these pants and loved them for the size and number of the pockets.

The back pockets on these pants have a flap and velcro attachment. You can also see the side zipper pocket which is only on one side  but is good for securing valuables.
The back pockets on these pants have a flap and velcro attachment. You can also see the side zipper pocket which is only on one side, but is good for securing valuables.

The elastic waistband and belt provide some additional adjustment, and we like that the belt comes enclosed within a sleeve, and is not hanging loose. Finally, the convertible legs and vertical zippers on the bottom of the pant offer breathability in warmer climates. This model also has color-coded zippers to make it easier to zip them back on quickly (red goes with red; blue with blue).

These pants are the only ones that have color coded the zippers on the conversion. The other side has a blue zipper. This feature is especially handy when putting the legs back on  as you can quickly and easily tell what side goes where.
These pants are the only ones that have color coded the zippers on the conversion. The other side has a blue zipper. This feature is especially handy when putting the legs back on, as you can quickly and easily tell what side goes where.

Best Applications


These are decent hiking, backpacking, and multi-day travel pants. We recommend this contender if you are looking for a single pair of hiking pants, especially if you know you will encounter cooler weather. Despite their conversion feature, we wouldn't recommend them for warmer areas.

Winter time testing meant trips to the desert  and no need to battle the crowds in the world-famous Subway feature in the Zion National Park backcountry.
Winter time testing meant trips to the desert, and no need to battle the crowds in the world-famous Subway feature in the Zion National Park backcountry.

Value


Considering their durability and versatility, we think this pair offers good value, and are sure that if their fit works for you, you are going to get a lot of time in these pants before they wear out.

The Paramount Peak II Convertibles are one of our favorite pants for hiking in cooler temperatures. Their thick and heavy fabric helps hold in the heat and they unzip into shorts when the temperatures climb.
The Paramount Peak II Convertibles are one of our favorite pants for hiking in cooler temperatures. Their thick and heavy fabric helps hold in the heat and they unzip into shorts when the temperatures climb.

Conclusion


These pants offer longevity at an affordable price. They are a well-made, well-designed hiking pant that is ideal for world travelers and seasoned hikers. These are not a multi-purpose pant good for all sports but handle well in inclement weather. They are durable, and if you are looking for a breathable warm pair of pants for your next adventure, you should give them a try.


Andy Wellman