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.
The North Face Paramount Trail Convertible Review
Compare prices at 2 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
Our Analysis and Test Results
These hiking pants are great for a brisk 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 suitable 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 Pants 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 they think works well, and this convertible options fits and performs much like the original version.
Comfort and Mobility
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 excellent 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, it 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.
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 relatively quickly compared to the competition, improving their versatility.
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, zip off the legs.
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.
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.
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.
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 for this review wore these pants and loved them for the size and number of the pockets.
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 pants 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 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.
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.
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
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