The North Face Utility Hybrid Hiker - Women's Review
Cons: Don’t breath well, potentially awkward fit, slow to dry
Manufacturer: The North Face
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Utility Hybrid is a unique addition to our lineup. They are technically a hiker tight, but their features create a fashion-forward look that isn't your typical set of tights. Not to mention, the big, zippered pockets function much like a hiking pant. All this makes them part mobile tights, part pants, and part fashion statement.
Comfort & Mobility
When we set out to free solo a Flatiron in Boulder, Colorado, we were stoked to put the Utility Hybrid Hiker to the test. As we ascended 600 feet of slabby rock, we often had to step high and with confidence. The Utility Hybrid's performed beautifully, giving us a full range of motion without feeling like they were too clingy or inhibiting.
On a thin-framed person, they almost fit perfectly; however, we found the crotch to be a little baggy. Curvier women will love the large waistband and ability of these pants to stretch.
The 95% nylon and 5% elastane blend felt a little itchy to us on our first wear. However, once washed, the itch factor disappeared, although they still felt just slightly stiff. They aren't as soft as tights you might be used to, as they have more of a hiker pants feel to them. The North Face aptly named this "hybrid" that lands directly between hiking pants and tights.
These pants are highly versatile, working great at the crag, on a run, and around town. The fashionable design of the pockets gives these pants a hip, almost urban feel to them. You can easily dress them up after a quick hike and hit the town.
Overall, we didn't notice any pilling or stitching issues while testing the Hybrid Hikers. We did notice that the pants appear to be of two different materials, with the front side being softer than the backside. To the best of our knowledge, this is to protect the rear when scooting over obstacles. The front side of the tights may be more susceptible to wear and tear over time. These tights retain most of their shape if you plan to wear them all day. There was a bit of sag in the rear, but our primary tester doesn't pack much junk in the trunk and tends to have this problem with almost every pair of tights, so it could just be us.
Hiker tights don't repel water all that well, and the Utility Hybrid's are no exception. These pants perform poorly when inundated with water. You might want to put on something else or pack rain pants for wet days on the trail. It took hours for these pants to dry out completely.
On windy days, since the Utility Hybrid's aren't as breathable, they do a decent job keeping the wind out. However, keep in mind that hiker tights, in general, tend to be cooler than hiking pants.
If useful pockets are important to you, then you'll love the features on the Utility Hybrid Hiker Tights. Two roomy, zippered hand pockets, as well as two zippered thigh pockets, allow for plenty of functional storage options. We can fit most smartphones in these pockets and truly appreciate the attention to detail with this feature. Not to mention, the design of the pockets adds some style, which we love. The two rear pockets aren't as useful to us, but they do help round out the pants' look.
Usually hiking tights have the issue of becoming too cold, but we find the Utility Hybrid to be a bit too hot. On warm weather days, these tights don't breath that well and we wish that they let in a little more of a breeze. However, if you plan to hike in colder environments, these tights offer more insulation than you might expect from tights.
These pants are not exactly a bargain, but certainly a fair deal considering you get hiking tights that function, fit, and are durable and flattering. These fashion-forward tights come with the bonus of being a great addition to your wardrobe off the trail, giving these pants a value boost over some of the other hiker tights models.
The North Face Utility Hybrid Hiker pushes the boundaries of function and fashion. Although there is certainly room for improvement in breathability and weather resistance, these are a great option for those looking for a pair of hiking tights with some flare.
— Meg Atteberry