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Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible - Women's Review

An excellent, stretchy pair of pants that can handle almost anything, but their zip-off nature is polarizing
Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible - Women's
Photo: Outdoor Research
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $90 List | Check Price at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Hold their shape day after day, breathable, durable, deep hand pockets will hold a phone, shorts and pants in one
Cons:  Zipper seams fit close against some thighs, cargo pocket is not very useful
Manufacturer:   Outdoor Research
By Clark Tate ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 6, 2020
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  • Comfort and Mobility - 35% 7
  • Venting And Breathability - 20% 10
  • Weather Resistance - 15% 9
  • Features - 15% 8
  • Versatility - 15% 9

Our Verdict

The Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible pants offer light weather protection and durability. They aren't perfect (no pants are), with a few minor drawbacks, but they are a fantastic hiking pant, winning us over multiple years in a row. While the zip-off legs cool you off quickly, the slim cut means that you can feel the zippers around your legs most of the time. There is a non-zip off version if this sounds worrisome. Still, these are our favorite long-haul hiking pants in the review. They are comfortable despite the zipper seams and move beautifully. The Ferrosi offers stellar on-trail performance from cool spring days to blazing summer hikes. They maintain their structure enough to wear day in and day out, making them the ideal choice for dedicated hikers and backpackers heading out for the day or for days.

Our Analysis and Test Results

Zip-off pants are not for everyone. Half of our testers despise them, preferring to throw a pair of shorts in their bag than fuss with the zippers. If you are one of these folks, we highly recommend checking out the non-convertible version of these pants. The Ferrosi hiking pants are stretchy and lightweight, with an 86% ripstop nylon and 14% spandex blend that breathes exceptionally well. They have a 31-inch inseam and zip-off into a 9.5 inch Bermuda short. While there is only one inseam length available in the zip-off version, the non-zip-off version comes in short (29"), regular (31"), and long (34"). All versions come in sizes from 2 to 14.

Performance Comparison

The high-performance Ferrosis are ready for almost any adventure you...
The high-performance Ferrosis are ready for almost any adventure you are.
Photo: Clark Tate

Comfort and Mobility

We weren't sure about the Ferrosi at first. They fit snug around the thighs, and we worried the zippers would restrict our mobility. When we started hiking, though, we were pleasantly surprised. They have a soft lining around the waistband, a gusseted crotch, and the material moves with your body, never fighting against it. These pants can handle any movement, from high stepping to warm-up lunges. We climbed, scrambled, hiked, even slept in them, with very few complaints.

While they move with the best of them, the optional zip-off lower leg keeps them from winning comfort. The zippers encircling the thighs can be annoying but never painful. The teeth hide behind a fabric liner, and we never noticed any chafing. But they do leave a bra-like imprint on our thighs. The initial odd feeling fades away as you hike, though. Some of our testers were never bothered by them. Others were.

The Ferrosi didn't lose its flattering, but mobile, fit after five...
The Ferrosi didn't lose its flattering, but mobile, fit after five days of use.
Photo: John Luebbers

To lessen the effect, many online reviewers suggest sizing up. While we range from willowy to curvy and our regular sizes fit well, we recommend sizing up if you have larger thighs. These pants work best for women with fewer curves and an athletic build. We'd love to see Outdoor Research develop them to fit more body types.

Despite these challenges, we love the Ferrosi so much that one tester wore them for five straight days. They never lost their shape despite quite a bit of abuse. We wear them to hike, camp, crag, and even to sleep under the stars some nights.

The Ferrosi's fit best on narrow hips and less-curvy women. For our...
The Ferrosi's fit best on narrow hips and less-curvy women. For our tester's athletic build, these pants are just right.
Photo: Meg Atteberry

Venting and Breathability

Thanks to those zippers, you can detach the lower legs above the knee, and a cinch in the hem lets you expose your ankles or calves. That's a lot of venting options. We often opted to leave the pants intact in warm weather to protect our legs from the sun.

We had no problems wearing the Ferrosi comfortably in the summer desert. They also have a wind-resistant element. So while they let your legs exhale when you're working hard in the heat, they don't let every cool breeze give you goosebumps. We appreciate the balanced design.

Water beads up and rolls off the Ferrosis so well that we had a hard...
Water beads up and rolls off the Ferrosis so well that we had a hard time catching a water droplet for a photo. In heavy rain though, they do soak through in a matter of minutes.
Photo: Clark Tate

Weather Resistance

The Ferrosi doesn't have a durable water repellant (DWR) finish, but the water-resistant fabric does bead and shed water remarkably well for a time. They gave us about a minute and a half of real protection in our shower test and took a full five minutes before they soaked through. Once they're wet, their low weight and the cinch at the ankle keep them comfortable. And they dry quickly, faster than most of the pants in the review.

These pants also offer UPF 50+ protection, which we truly appreciate in the intense desert sun. When it comes to wind, this 90D nylon provides some resistance, but it also allows cooling breezes to penetrate. If you run cold or are heading into cold climes, it's easy to fit a base layer underneath these stretchy pants without feeling too restricted.

The cinch strap on the Ferrosi comes in handy to seal in warmth...
The cinch strap on the Ferrosi comes in handy to seal in warmth, wear them in capri mode, or do some climbing at the crag.
Photo: Meg Atteberry


In addition to the convertible shorts and drawstrings at the bottoms of the legs, this pair has a zippered pocket on the right thigh, two rear pockets, and massive hand pockets. Useless pockets are a recurring disease plaguing women's pants. The Ferrosi offers a mixed bag.

The side zipper pocket is pretty useless, aside from holding a car key and an ID. But, the hand pockets are beyond deep, allowing you to carry your phone easily. Sometimes this is uncomfortable while high stepping or scrambling, but for modest terrain, it doesn't bother us too much. How useful are back pockets ever?

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

The stretchy material combined with a felt-lined waist belt keeps these pants in place day in and day out. The Ferrosi has a built-in drawstring that gives you added assistance to keep these pants right where you want them. There are also belt loops if you prefer to wear a belt. We don't, and they don't work well under a pack's hip belt.

Light, breathable and weather resistant, the Ferrosi zip-off pants...
Light, breathable and weather resistant, the Ferrosi zip-off pants set you up for success on the trail.
Photo: Clark Tate


Since these are both pants and Bermuda shorts, they're pretty versatile. When in shorts mode, the Ferrosi's hit just above the knee. The slim fit keeps them relatively flattering, which is a tall order for a pair of long, zip-off shorts. The drawstring at the hem also gives you length options for climbing, bouldering, traveling over scree, even cinching up for a cropped pants look.

The Ferrosi is suitable for any type of hiking terrain and works well for a variety of other sports as well. They fit nicely under a backpack and climbing harness. Although the Ferrosis are convertible, which screams hiking pants, the slim fit makes them somewhat fashionable. We feel vaguely comfortable wearing them into town, but they aren't the most stylish option by a longshot.

The Ferrosi's handled the abuse of trad gear and sharp rocks during...
The Ferrosi's handled the abuse of trad gear and sharp rocks during the testing period.
Photo: Callie Manning


These pants are one of the pricier models that we tested. You get a lot for your money though, which makes these pants a good value. They are durable and offer excellent performance for a wide range of outdoor activities. You're also getting a pair of shorts along with a pair of pants.

We wore them for months, including in the desert for a week straight without seeing any signs of wear. If you don't want the shorts zip-off version, the non-conversion option is slightly less expensive.

It's nice to have a dependable pair of pants when heading into the...
It's nice to have a dependable pair of pants when heading into the unknown.
Photo: Clark Tate C/O Bradley Brooks


The women's Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible pants are the model we keep coming back to thanks to the stretchy, durable material and lasting fit. But, zip-off pants aren't for everyone, and these aren't the best for curvier women. If they fit you comfortably, they'll outfit you for a wide range of outdoor adventures.

Clark Tate

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