The Columbia Saturday Trail Stretch hiking pants are affordable, easy to move in, and perform well on the trail. That coveted combination wins them our Best Budget Buy Award for those on a tight budget but still demand adequate performance. They move with you and breathe well, but they're not very warm. They do repel water nicely but can feel so chilly that they're best for day hikes or backpacking in warmer months. If you're heading into sweltering weather, the Saturday Trail pants are also available as zip-off, convertible pants. The main issue with these pants is their tricky fit and durability. You're paying less for pants that aren't cut as well and won't last as long. The tradeoff is up to you.
Columbia Saturday Trail Stretch - Women's Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Lightweight, easy to move in, breathable
Cons: Material pills, front pockets are small, sizing is off
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Saturday Trail Stretch pants feature a 96% Nylon/4% Elastane blend. The fabric has Columbia's "Omni Shield" water and stain repellent treatment and a UPF 50+ rating. These pants are available in plus sizes and three inseam lengths (Short 29.5", Regular 32", and Long 34.5"). We measured the regular at more of a 30" than 32", so sizing may be inconsistent. They are also available as a convertible, zip-off pant. They come in sizes 2 to 24w. The cut is close-fitting, but they run small, so consider sizing up.
Comfort and Mobility
Our primary tester for these pants is tall, has an athletic build, and lacks curves. The Trail Stretch's fit her awkwardly, with material bunching around the crotch but squeezing her thighs and butt. Many pear-shaped women swear by these pants, though, so if you have a curvier body with wider hips and thinner legs, these are well worth a look.
While their awkward fit can detract from their comfort, the Saturday Trail Stretch are easy to move in. The soft fabric feels excellent when hiking or sitting and moves with you. Even though these pants were tight in the thigh, we had no problems scrambling up steep sandstone. The articulated knees make taking big steps easier, which is helpful because the legs are tapered. The inner waistband is the same soft material as the rest of the pant, which feels nice under a hip belt or even a rock climbing harness.
These pants sit at the perfect height to fit under a hip belt — that is, right at our hips. Too high and the waist can bunch up uncomfortably, too low, and the hip belt pushes your pants down all day. This one gets it just right. There is no internal drawstring, though, so if the waist is a little large on you, you may need a belt (belts are a no-go for most folks when wearing a backpack). We also noticed a bit of stretch as the day wears on.
The pant's inseam is shorter than advertised. The shorter legs, awkward bagginess around the hips, and tightness in the legs meant our tallest tester struggled to feel confident when wearing these pants. She couldn't wait to get them off. Sure, we could still move quickly and hike, but these pants aren't flattering on all body types.
Venting and Breathability
This is one of the most breathable pair of hiking pants we tested. It's almost too breathable and cool you off in a hurry when the temperature dips. Since we can't comfortably wear a base layer underneath, we don't recommend these pants for cold weather.
This pair's mesh-lined pockets help with air-flow, and the thin material vents well. While they don't convert into shorts, you can roll them up to a crop on hot days. These pants are an excellent choice for summer hikes in tick-prone areas where you need to wear long pants, but don't want to. They're also great for those who want extra coverage from the sun but don't want to overheat.
These pants resist water well. Water rolls off these pants without soaking in, even after having the water sit on them for 30 minutes.
The thin material lets the wind pass right through, which is helpful from a breathability perspective but not so great on a cold, blustery day. The fabric has a UPF 50+ rating, which means that only 1/50th of the sun's rays will penetrate the fabric. This feature is welcome on a pant that is designed to be breathable and worn in the summer months.
These pants could use a features overhaul. With many more robust models paving the way, the Saturday Trail pants fall a little short.The zip-up side pocket is a nice thought, but it can't handle anything more than an ID or some lip balm. None of the pockets provide a place to stash a smartphone, and the rear pockets are rendered useless by the tight fit. There is one tiny zippered hand pocket, but we aren't quite sure why, since it can't even fit a car key.
The roll-up tabs tuck up into a little pocket to snap up. Again, it's a great thought, but it's nearly impossible to snap them up without serious concentration and effort. More than once, we thought that we had snapped the pants up, only to find that they came undone a few steps later.
While these pants are not quite as versatile as a convertible zip-off pair, you can use them for a variety of outdoor adventures. They are only suited to warm weather hikes, though. They would work well for water sports due to their water resistance.
While they don't scream hiking pants when you pull them on, we don't wear them for daily activities. They're fine to wear to dinner or the pub after a day in the woods.
While the Saturday Trails don't have the same polish as other pants in our lineup, they are still a great budget buy. If you don't care for a zip-off leg feature and prize breathability, then this pair is a great buy.
Unfortunately, durability is one area where we feel that these pants are not on par with some of the other models in this review. Their soft, comfortable material is prone to pilling in high friction areas like between the thighs and on the rear. The pants did well on rough sandstone, but we could see the stitching straining under the awkward fit. Look to other pants in the review if you are preparing for a long thru-hike and need something that can go for a thousand miles or so without breaking down.
These trousers are a great addition to an outdoor apparel closet. The Columbia Saturday Trail Stretch pants built for curves, and they are comfortable enough for all-day wear. The stretchy material moves with your body and provides little resistance, and the excellent breathability prevents you from getting too sweaty on a hot day. They offer impressive water resistance but lack the features of other pants. They are not the most durable pair that we tested, but are certainly affordable.
— Meg Atteberry & Cam McKenzie Ring