The Columbia Aruba Convertible Pants are an affordable, lightweight option for three-season hiking and backpacking. The Arubas are loose fitting and can be layered underneath on cooler days, but offer a UPF rating of 30 and the option to convert to shorts which will keep you well ventilated and protected from sun exposure in the summer. They have less convertible options than either our Editors' Choice winner, the Marmot Lobo's Convertible Pant - Women's or the Best Buy winning The North Face Paramount II Convertible Pant, both of which have excellent roll-up features in addition to zip-off shorts. The Aruba don't roll up very well.
Columbia PFG Aruba Convertible Pant - Women's Review
Cons: Unflattering, not wind resistant, few features, small waistband button closure
Manufacturer: Columbia Sportswear
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Columbia Aruba Convertible Pants are lightweight zip-off hiking pants with a UPF rating for a well ventilated hike on the trail.
Comfort and Fit
The Columbia Aruba Convertible rate high on our metrics for comfort. Our testers wore these pants for hundreds of miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, as well as on leisurely day hikes in the Rockies. They are constructed of 100% Nylon, which is a quick-drying synthetic fiber that offers breathability, sweat wicking properties, and tends to resist pilling. While it doesn't feel as soft as other fibers, such as the blends with Spandex and cotton found on the Prana Halle and Kuhl Splash Roll Up Pant - Women's, it does provide adequate comfort for hiking. The fit is a mid-high rise with relaxed/loose fitting legs. This fit is not a flattering fit on most body types, particularly those who regularly wear low-mid rise pants. With that being said, the mid-high rise is conducive to backpacking as the pants remained in place covering the lower back, and prevented chaffing from the backpack. At 9 oz, the Arubas are one of the lightest pairs we tested, and we found comfort in knowing that the pants were not going to weigh us down.
The breathability in the Columbia Aruba Pants is excellent. No other pant in our women's hiking pant review offered a comparable breathability. The lightweight material paired with the relaxed fit allowed for airflow between the pants and skin. We found these pants to be great for hiking in hot and arid environments and tested them while backpacking through the Mojave Desert on the PCT. When layered up with long underwear beneath the Arubas the breathability was maintained.
Wind and rain are likely on most long backpacking trips in the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountain ranges. The Columbia Aruba Convertible Pants dry fast when rain or creek water is encountered, yet don't offer a DWR or Teflon coating to allow water to bead up during light precipitation. The loose fit and great breathability did not contribute to wind resistance. We prefer the Arubas in good weather.
They do feature a UPF rating of 30, which helps protect against the sun in alpine and desert environments.
The Arubas convert from pants to shorts easily while hiking. The tapered ends allow the pant leg ends to be featured as gaiters when unzipped into shorts, which can keep rocks out of your shoes when hiking in shorts, yet is inconvenient because you must remove your shoes (in most cases) to remove the pant leg ends entirely. We found this to be inconvenient when continuous movement and flow were desired while hiking. These pants feature four pockets - two hand and two cargo pockets - for storing the essentials. The lack of back pockets was not a problem while hiking yet contributed to the unflattering design. Other features include a partially elastic waist at the back corners of the pants, which is great for hiking with layers and hiking over long time periods when weight fluctuations are foreseen, and quick drying performance which makes washing these pants over the course of long trips an easy process.
Mobility is an important consideration for hiking pants, especially if you intend to use them over long distances and/or for diversity of outdoor recreation. The Columbia Aruba Convertible Pants offer great stretch and mobility while hiking, especially for scrambling and high stepping. They provide middle of the range mobility in our rating metrics when compared to other hiking pants, and rated slightly better than the award winning North Face Paramount 2 in comfort, yet not as high as the Marmot Lobo's or the ExOfficio Nomad Pants.
The best applications for the Columbia Aruba Convertible Pants are hiking in dry, arid environments, summer hiking, especially in heat, and spring and fall hiking where layering is an anticipated necessity for comfort. The Aruba pants convert into shorts and are well suited for traveling and backpacking, where multi-function clothing is needed.
At $50, the Columbia Aruba Pants are the least expensive pant in our women's hiking pant review. At $25+ below the MSRP of the other pants, the Aruba Convertible Pants are a good economical option for a technical layer designed with UPF protection, OmniWick and OmniShade, and the option to convert into shorts.
The Columbia Aruba Convertible Pants are an incredibly lightweight hiking pant that breathes well, dries fast, travels compactly, and is overall a great hiking pant, especially when the temperatures are high. Well suited for backpacking, the Aruba is the most economical technical layer in thisreview.
— Briana Valorosi