The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

REI Sahara Roll-Up - Women's Review

A lightweight pair for warmer days.
REI Sahara Roll-Up
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Price:  $70 List
Pros:  Lightweight, breathable, easy to move in.
Cons:  Not water resistant, internal buttons leave marks.
Manufacturer:   REI
By Cam McKenzie Ring ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 15, 2016
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Our Verdict

As of December 2017, the Sahara Roll-Up is No Longer Available
The REI Sahara Roll-Up is a lightweight and breathable pair of hiking pants. The material is soft and stretchy, and very comfortable to wear all day long. Unfortunately, the internal tightening system was uncomfortable under a hipbelt and left marks on our skin, reducing the overall comfort for this pant. They are also not waterproof and take a long time to dry, which limits their versatility. But for those looking for a warm weather day hiking pant, this model is still a great choice. For a more versatile and water resistant pair of hiking pants, check out our Editors' Choice winner, the Marmot Lobo's Convertible Pant - Women's.

Our Analysis and Test Results

The REI Sahara Roll-Up is made of an 87% Polyester/13% Spandex blend. The material has a UPF 50+ rating, and the overall fit is relaxed with a wide leg. This pant is available in two inseam lengths (Petite 29.5" and Regular 32"), and converts to a 24" crop and a 16" capri. Sizing runs from 0-16 and current colors include Asphalt, Black and Pewter Green.

Performance Comparison


These pants are stretchy and have a loose cut  particularly around the lower legs.
These pants are stretchy and have a loose cut, particularly around the lower legs.

Comfort & Mobility


When we initially put this pant on we thought that it would be in the running for the most comfortable pant in this review thanks to the relaxed fit and soft, stretchy fabric. Then we wore it out for a day with a backpack hipbelt on, and discovered that this was not the case. This pant uses an elasticized internal waistbelt commonly found on children's clothing to tighten the pant. At first we were excited to see this feature on an adult pair of pants, particularly a hiking pair, as it's virtually impossible to wear a belt with a pair of hiking pants comfortably under a hipbelt. Alas, the position of the buttons that secure the elastic fell right on top of our hip bones, and while this was tolerable without a pack on, as soon as we did up our hipbelt they starting digging in and left marks. We'll take a simple internal drawstring over this feature any day, or no drawstring at all, like on our Top Pick for Comfort, the Mountain Hardwear Dynama.

The internal buttons  our hipbones  and our hipbelts meet up at the wrong spot  leaving us uncomfortable and with deep marks on our skin.
The internal buttons, our hipbones, and our hipbelts meet up at the wrong spot, leaving us uncomfortable and with deep marks on our skin.

This pant has the highest percentage of stretchy fabric added to the blend of any pant in this review (13% Spandex), and we could really tell the difference. The fabric stretched and moved with us no matter what we were doing, and the wide leg gave us unrestricted range of motion. If it hadn't been for those pesky internal buttons this pant would have rated much higher overall.

The stretchy fabric and looser legs made scrambling a breeze.
The stretchy fabric and looser legs made scrambling a breeze.

Versatility


This pant rolls up to a standard crop length and also a shorter just-below-the-knee capri. While we often found ourselves using the lower crop on hot days, the higher capri option didn't really work that well. The rolled up fabric felt too bulky at that level, and wasn't a comfortable or practical option. These pants do not resist water well either, limiting their versatility further. It you are looking for a pant that gives you a variety of wear options and can also cross over to water sports, the Marmot Lobo's or The North Face Paramount 2.0 Convertible Pant - Women's are better options.

The unstructured fabric doesn't hold a roll well  so the crop holder tabs are nice  but the upper capri feels bulky and uncomfortable. We doubt we'd ever use that feature  and would prefer switching to a pair of shorts instead.
The unstructured fabric doesn't hold a roll well, so the crop holder tabs are nice, but the upper capri feels bulky and uncomfortable. We doubt we'd ever use that feature, and would prefer switching to a pair of shorts instead.

Breathability


REI advertises that this material "wicks moisture and dries fast." We'd agree with the former statement for sure. Only the Prana Sage Convertible - Women's felt more breathable than this model. This is a great summer hiking pant choice, particularly if you prefer to wear your pants long for tick or sun protection and/or don't like wearing convertible pants.

On hot desert hikes we still felt cool and airy in these pants. The lightweight material breathes well  and they are a great choice for warmer days.
On hot desert hikes we still felt cool and airy in these pants. The lightweight material breathes well, and they are a great choice for warmer days.

Durability


We had no main durability issues with these pants over our testing period. Other user reviews mention that the material loses a bit of its "rebound" over time and the pants started to look a little saggy in the rear, which is a downside to having such a high percentage of Spandex blended in. This material is also very thin, and not abrasion resistant, so it won't hold up as well in the long term as the slightly thicker Marmot Lobo's or The North Face Paramount 2.0s will.

Weather Resistance


These pants received a fairly low score for weather resistance. Wind rips right through the thin material, and when we did our spray bottle test, the water didn't even bead up for a second — instead it immediately soaked right into the pants. They were also not that quick to dry either, taking over twice as long at the Marmot Lobo's to completely dry out. The do have a UPF 50+ rating though.

No beading occurred on these pants; water soaked right in. They also took a long time to dry.
No beading occurred on these pants; water soaked right in. They also took a long time to dry.

Features


We liked the deep hand pockets on this pant, which will accommodate your whole hand while hiking. The one side zippered cargo pocket and back pocket are great too, and can stash your valuables or ID without you having to worry about losing them. Having the lower crop holder tabs is nice, as the pants don't stay rolled without them, but the upper capri tabs are really unnecessary and we doubt we'd ever really use them except for about five minutes on a river crossing. And, as we mentioned above, our least favorite feature of this whole review was found on this pant: the internal elasticized waist adjuster.

Deep cargo pockets are a great feature for keeping your phone or camera close at hand.
The front pockets are also deep and will hold your phone or your whole hand.

Best Applications


The REI Sahara Roll-Up pants are best used for day hikes with small packs that don't have a hipbelt. They are also great for travelling, as they are breathable and resist wrinkling.

If you're heading out on a warm day for a quick jaunt without a big pack  the Saharas are a good choice.
If you're heading out on a warm day for a quick jaunt without a big pack, the Saharas are a good choice.

Value


At $70, these pants are priced under what some of the other major brands are selling their pants for, which is a nice treat!

Conclusion


The REI Sahara Roll-Up pant is a stretchy, breathable and loose fitting pair of hiking pants. They'd be really comfortable too if it wasn't for the buttons on the inside of the waistband.


Cam McKenzie Ring