REI Sahara Roll-Up - Women's Review
Cons: Not water resistant, internal buttons leave marks.
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.
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.
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.
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. If 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 are better options.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
At $70, these pants are priced under what some of the other major brands are selling their pants for, which is a nice treat!
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