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Best Hiking Pants for Men of 2021

The stretchy fabric on these pants was comfortable and quite mobile, a...
Thursday April 15, 2021
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We have bought the best hiking pants for 9 years and counting, with almost 40 pairs tested. For 2021, we tested the best 17 pairs side by side in comparative analysis. Our experts took to the trails to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each pair. We know that there are a lot of options out there, so we do the leg work for you to figure out which models are the most comfortable, which ones breathe effectively while keeping you dry, and which have the most useful features to keep you enjoying nature trails all year round.

Related: Best Hiking Pants for Women

Top 17 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 17
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Awards Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award  Top Pick Award 
Price $59.96 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$79.00 at Backcountry
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$113.40 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$83.73 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$85.00 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
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72
71
71
68
Star Rating
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Pros Airy fabric, very comfortable, maximum mobilitySupple and mobile, DWR coating works great, fair priceComfortable, look good, versatile, blocks wind and water better than the restcomfortable fabric, belt, zippered pocketsLook good, don't stretch, cinch cords in ankles
Cons Waist fit is loose, not great in cool weatherNot many pockets, slim fit may not be awesome for larger adultsExpensive, no rear pocketsShallow pockets, expensiveStiff, most pockets don't have zips
Bottom Line For comfort and breathability, these pants can’t be beatThis stellar pant surprised us with its high performance at an affordable priceThe right pair of pants for those who are willing to spend to get high performanceThese pants are great for a variety of activities and conditionsAn excellent choice for anyone going straight from their desk to the trailhead
Rating Categories Ferrosi Pants Patagonia Quandary Arc'teryx Gamma LT Pant Chockstone/2 Royal Robbins Alpine Road
Comfort And Mobility (35%)
9
8
7
8
7
Venting And Breathability (20%)
9
7
6
7
6
Versatility And Style (15%)
7
7
8
7
8
Weather Resistance (15%)
5
7
8
6
7
Features (15%)
4
6
7
6
6
Specs Ferrosi Pants Patagonia Quandary Arc'teryx Gamma LT... Chockstone/2 Royal Robbins...
Weight (in oz) 12.2 oz 10.0 oz 11.6 oz 11.5 oz 13.8 oz
Material 86% nylon, 14% spandex; 90D stretch woven ripstop 94% nylon (62% recycled), 6% spandex 88% nylon, 12% elastane 88% nylon, 12% elastane 66% nylon, 31% polyester, 3% spandex
Water Resistance DWR finish DWR finish DWR finish DWR finish DWR finish
Sizing (waist, length options) W: 28" - 38" W: 28" - 40"
L: 30", 32", 34"
W: 28" - 44" L: 31.5" - 33" W: 28" - 42" L: 30" - 34" W: 30" - 40" L: 30" - 34"
Sun Protection not specified UPF 50 not specified UPF 50 UPF 50
Convertible, or option available? No, but convertible version available No No No No
Pockets 2 hand, 2 back, 1 thigh zip 2 hand, 2 back, 1 zippered thigh, 1 coin 2 hand, 1 side 2 hand, 2 back, 1 thigh 2 front, 2 rear, 1 cargo
Waist Strap/Fasten Button and zip fly Button and zip fly Integrated belt and zip fly Button and zip fly Button and zip fly
Other Features Drawcord cuff closures, side zip pocket Front and back knee articulation, gusseted crotch, slim straight fit Gusseted crotch, articulated knees, integrated belt Cinch cord at cuff, removable belt Gussetted crotch, tapered leg, cinch cord at cuff

Best Overall Hiking Pants


Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants


Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants
Editors' Choice Award

$59.96
(25% off)
at Backcountry
See It

74
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort and Mobility - 35% 9
  • Venting and Breathability - 20% 9
  • Versatility and Style - 15% 7
  • Weather Resistance - 15% 5
  • Features - 15% 4
Material: 86% nylon / 14% spandex | Weight: 9.4 oz
Highly breathable, lightweight fabric
Stretch fabric offers superior mobility
Suitable for everyday wear
Too light for cold, windy days
Waist stretches with repeated wear

The Outdoor Research Ferrosi pants are incredibly comfortable, offer a high degree of wearer mobility, and keep you cool even as the mercury rises. They are made of durable ripstop fabric and incorporate a higher-than-average 14% spandex, making them stretchy and unrestrictive. We found that they provide high mobility for hiking, running, yoga, and rock scrambles. They are also very light, thin, and highly breathable, making them an ideal choice for hot weather.

Their high performance in the dry heat makes them less than ideal on cold or windy days; they just don't provide quite enough protection for skinny legs. We also found that the waist stretches after a couple of wears (if they haven't been washed and dried in between), so if you are hiking for more than a day, a belt is a near necessity. Even so, they are a super comfortable all-purpose pair that especially shines in hot weather.

Read Review: Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants

Best Bang for the Buck


REI Co-op Sahara Roll-Up


REI Co-op Sahara Roll-Up
Best Buy Award

$59.95
at REI
See It

62
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort and Mobility - 35% 6
  • Venting and Breathability - 20% 7
  • Versatility and Style - 15% 4
  • Weather Resistance - 15% 7
  • Features - 15% 7
Material: 94% nylon / 6% spandex | Weight: 9.5 oz
Lightweight
Inexpensive
Elastic waistband
Fit can be odd
Poor style

The REI Co-op Sahara Roll-Up is a high-value pant in a world of expensive hiking bottoms. Despite the comparatively low price, this pair is water-resistant while also remaining lightweight and breathable. It has six pockets (two front, two rear, two thigh), as well as distinctive snaps that allow the wearer to roll them up and secure them mid-leg if the temperature rises.

There are a few things that we aren't thrilled about with this model. They are high utility (which is great), but low fashion. Though they have a wide array of pockets, there are noticeable diminishing returns. That is, in practice, we couldn't carry more in them just because they were there. However, the performance of the Sahara is reliable enough that we would recommend this pair to anyone who prioritizes functionality and value.

Read Review: REI Co-op Sahara Roll-Up

Best Weather Resistance


Arc'teryx Gamma LT Pant


Arc'teryx Gamma LT Pant
Top Pick Award

$113.40
(40% off)
at Backcountry
See It

71
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort and Mobility - 35% 7
  • Venting and Breathability - 20% 6
  • Versatility and Style - 15% 8
  • Weather Resistance - 15% 8
  • Features - 15% 7
Material: 84% nylon / 16% elastane | Weight: 11.6 oz
Comfort
Best in class weather resistance
Look great
Lacks rear pockets
Price

The Arc'teryx Gamma LT pants are comfortable, lightweight, and great for a variety of activities. Their water and wind resistance make them an excellent choice for cool, wet-weather hikes. They also come equipped with a drawstring at the cuff, so if the sun comes out and the temperature rises, you can roll them up and keep your legs cool. We're also fans of the integrated belt on the Gamma LT. The features they include are thoughtful, and the fabric offers enough stretch not to be a distraction while scrambling.

The primary drawback is that these pants are pricey. You could certainly spend less on a different model and not tell too much of a difference. We also think it is an unusual choice not to include any rear pockets. Even with these things in mind, our testers love this model and will be pulling on a pair during future adventures, especially when inclement weather is in the forecast.

Read Review: Arc'teryx Gamma LT Pant

Best for Climbing


Prana Stretch Zion


Prana Stretch Zion
Top Pick Award

$88.95
at Backcountry
See It

67
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort and Mobility - 35% 8
  • Venting and Breathability - 20% 6
  • Versatility and Style - 15% 5
  • Weather Resistance - 15% 5
  • Features - 15% 8
Material: 97% nylon / 3% spandex | Weight: 13.3 oz
Comfortable fabric and fit
Durable
Solid set of features
Mobility
Heavy when wet
Warm in hot climates

The Prana Stretch Zion pants are durable and versatile. We enjoy the small but practical integrated waist tightener, which means these pants can stay up without a belt. We also appreciate the cargo pocket with zippers on both sides, which means that we can quickly reach a phone or topo map while sitting at a belay. Combined with some of the softest and most comfortable fabric of any of the models in this review, it is no wonder that these pants are one of our favorites.

Though they shine for climbing, they are not without their flaws. The fabric is a bit heavy and densely woven for hiking in hot weather. They are much more effective when the temperature is on the cooler side. They also aren't as water-resistant as most, so if wet weather is in your future, look elsewhere. However, if comfort is your top priority, then we would strongly recommend trying on this pair of pants.

Read Review: Prana Stretch Zion

Best for Trail to Town


Royal Robbins Alpine Road


Royal Robbins Alpine Road
Top Pick Award

$85.00
at Amazon
See It

68
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort and Mobility - 35% 7
  • Venting and Breathability - 20% 6
  • Versatility and Style - 15% 8
  • Weather Resistance - 15% 7
  • Features - 15% 6
Material: 66% nylon / 31% polyester / 3% elastane | Weight: 13.8 oz
Front and backcountry functionality
French fly is extra secure
On the heavier side
Stiffer fabric

The Royal Robbins Alpine Road is for the casual business professional that goes straight from the office to the trail. This pair combines a more formal 'office style' with the functionality of a backcountry hiking pant. They come with elastic cinch cords in the ankles, and the thigh pocket is relatively discrete, meaning that it won't look too outdoorsy. The felt interior waist liner also adds to their comfort.

There are a few tradeoffs with these pants. They have a higher than average proportion of polyester and less elastane than the typical pair, which means that there also isn't quite as much stretch in the fabric. Because of their design aesthetic, only one of the pockets has a zipper, which left us wanting a little more security for our house keys when we went out for a quick hike. Even so, their seamless adaptability between the front and backcountry makes them an excellent choice.

Read Review: Royal Robbins Alpine Road


Hiking pants should stretch across multiple areas of outdoor...
Hiking pants should stretch across multiple areas of outdoor recreation -- hiking, backpacking, or simply scrambling around on the rocks, as we are here at Sparks Lake, OR.

Why You Should Trust Us


Lead testers Ben Applebaum-Bauch and Andy Wellman both love a good backcountry adventure. Andy is an avid climber, hiker, and alpine skier. He has published multiple bouldering and climbing guides of the American southwest and knows the value that a comfortable, protective pair of hiking pants can provide. Ben got his professional start in the outdoor industry as a trip guide and has led multi-week backpacking, cycling, and canoeing trips throughout northern New England and maritime Canada. He is also an avid thru-hiker, passing under the baking sun and over the Pacific Crest Trail's snowfields and through the whipping winds and summer hail storms of the Colorado, Long, Oregon Coast, and Appalachian trails.

Our review process begins by researching the market for the best products available. We purchase the top contenders and get down to hands-on testing on hikes and camping adventures in the rain, sun, and wind. Our testing grounds span a variety of locations, including the Oregon Cascades, the Southern Utah desert, Colorado's San Juan Mountains, and New Hampshire's White Mountains. We analyze each pair's comfort and mobility, how well they protect us from the elements, whether they keep us dry (enough) in the rain, or allow us to stay cool in the damp heat of summer. In addition to a variety of outdoor activities, we wear them out and about for everyday use.

Related: How We Tested Hiking Pants

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Analysis and Test Results


We assess each model across five different scoring metrics that are the most significant contributors to the performance and quality of any pair of hiking pants: comfort and mobility, venting and breathability, versatility and style, weather resistance, and additional features. Each metric is weighted based on its relative importance to the overall function of the pants. If a particular metric is much more important to you than the rest, be sure to check out the specifics of how different models perform in that category (as opposed to just looking at the overall score).

Related: Buying Advice for Hiking Pants


Value


We don't consider a product's value in its overall numerical score, but we recognize that it is an important consideration in any purchase. While the adage "you get what you pay for" often rings true, our years of testing experience have taught us that the highest-priced products are not always the highest performing. To assess value, we compare the price of each product against its overall score. The Outdoor Research Ferrosi and Patagonia Quandary are two examples of models that provide great value, costing far below the highest-priced options, yet stepping up to nearly any hiking challenge. The REI Sahara pants help you save even more in your wallet, though there is a noticeable drop off in styling and refinement. Still, they are our recommendation for spending the least while still getting respectable performance.

Comfort can be achieved through a combination of stretchy fabric...
Comfort can be achieved through a combination of stretchy fabric, adjustability, and quality fit. The REI Activator 3.0 pants don't look too technical, but they perform well on trail.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Comfort and Mobility


One of the most critical considerations for outdoor clothing is its comfort. In the context of hiking pants, comfort means that they feel good: not pinching, rubbing, riding up, or distracting from the activity. The product should enhance your outdoor experience, not detract from it. Our thinking is that if it isn't comfortable, the rest of the metrics probably don't matter nearly as much.


Comfort goes hand-in-hand with mobility. The more a model facilitates free movement, the better. The majority of pants in this review achieve their comfort by incorporating some stretchy material, such as spandex or elastane, in order to increase user mobility.

Some models have a gusset (strip of fabric across the crotch of the...
Some models have a gusset (strip of fabric across the crotch of the top pair), while others do not. Gussets tend to extend mobility.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Some pants, such as the Patagonia Quandary, Mammut Runbold, Kuhl Deceptr, and the Fjallraven Abisko Trekking Tights, have a slim fit but compensate with a high proportion of spandex or elastane, which facilitates wearer mobility. The Outdoor Research Ferrosi, Mountain Hardwear Chockstone/2, and Arc'teryx Gamma LT also include a higher-than-average proportion of elastane, though they rely on a slightly looser fit to also achieve mobility. The high-scoring Prana Brion, Royal Robbins Alpine Road, and the Prana Stretch Zion all have lower stretchy material ratios. Still, they somehow perform well above what one might expect based on the numbers alone, due in part to the multi-directional elasticity of their fabrics.

The felt liner inside the Ferrosi waist is a nice touch that...
The felt liner inside the Ferrosi waist is a nice touch that minimizes abrasion and increases comfort.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Other models, such as the Fjallraven Vidda Pro, offer minimal stretch in the fabric and promote mobility with a looser, more relaxed cut. The Kuhl Radikl pants also have a more regular fit but include strategically placed panels of super stretchy fabric at the knees, crotch, and lower back, to facilitate mobility. The cut is also an essential factor but could be heavily dependent on the wearer's body type and shape.

The double front snap on this model is both unique and makes the...
The double front snap on this model is both unique and makes the pants super secure no matter the activity, though we rarely thought in the past that other pants needed more buttons to keep them fastened.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

At the bottom of this metric, we have pants like the Arc'teryx Lefroy, which has a slim fit that feels pretty restrictive. The Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible pants have a different issue — the material is comparatively static. Paired with a waist that stretches out slightly after a few wears, and they don't stay up as well as models with an integrated belt or more resilient fabric.

Venting and Breathability


Venting and breathability are crucial if you plan to wear your pants primarily in the sunshine and/or summer heat. Venting refers to specific features included in a pair of pants that facilitate the release of heat and moisture away from your body. Things like zippered vents, mesh-lined pockets, and rollable cuffs are types of vents. Breathability is similar but refers to the quality of the fabric itself (as opposed to features built into it).


Not surprisingly, the pants made of the lightest and thinnest fabric tended to be the most breathable, while the pants with the most mesh and openable zippers prevented us from getting too sweaty in the first place. The Outdoor Research Ferrosi is lightweight and breathable, making it a solid choice for hot climates. The KUHL Radikl incorporates super stretchy spandex panels for comfort, but they also notably increase ventilation in critical areas in the crotch and along the upper legs.

Running uphill in the sun on a hot day to test the venting and...
Running uphill in the sun on a hot day to test the venting and breathability capabilities of each pair of pants. The Stretch Zion were a pretty warm pant overall, and we preferred them for cooler weather.

There are some in-between options like the Royal Robbins Alpine Road and the Mountain Hardwear Chockstone/2, which are moderately breathable and offer ventilation primarily by rolling up the legs and securing the elastic cinch cord in the ankles. The pants that are the least breathable are also the thickest and heaviest and have the fewest vents. With its extraordinarily dense and heavy G-1000 fabric and no vents, the Fjallraven Vidda Pro is a pant designed exclusively for colder weather. The Fjallraven Abisko Trekking Tights are a bit of an enigma; some panels are light and breathable, but the reinforced areas around the knees and seat get quite sweaty. The Arc'teryx Lefroy and REI Activator 3.0 also have thicker fabric — great for wind resistance, but less impressive regarding breathability.

In addition to having lightweight fabric, the Ferrosi bottoms offer...
In addition to having lightweight fabric, the Ferrosi bottoms offer the ability to cinch up in a pinch if you left your shorts at home.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Versatility and Style


Versatility is a model's ability to perform well and maintain its functionality in a variety of conditions and activities. In the backcountry, the most versatile pants should perform well not only during a hike up a mountain but should be more than serviceable for activities like climbing and paddling. In the front country, pants should also be functional enough for long-haul travel, everyday outdoor work, yoga, and workout routines.

We recognize that style in and of itself isn't essential for measuring performance. However, a pair that looks good will have greater versatility over a pair that doesn't (all other things being equal).


Holding down one of the top spots in the metric is the Royal Robbins Alpine Road, which combines high performance with superb style and adaptability between trail and town. Rounding out the top tier are the Prana Brion, Mammut Runbold, and Arc'teryx Gamma LT for their flexibility in the backcountry and utility for long-distance travel. Though we found that it performs best in cool weather, the REI Activator 3.0 was a pleasant surprise in terms of style. With their stretchier fabric blends, the Outdoor Research Ferrosi, Patagonia Quandary, and Mountain Hardwear Chockstone/2 served us well when we needed to scramble and stretch, making them great choices for many different activities, from hikes to yard work.

We like the ability to roll up our pants leg as temps rise. The best...
We like the ability to roll up our pants leg as temps rise. The best pairs stay up after you roll them up.

The middle-tier pants like the REI Co-op Sahara are high on utility for hiking and outdoor work but have a limited fashion appeal. Conversely, there is the Kuhl Deceptr, which just looks better than it performs. Lower scorers include the Kuhl Radikl and the Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible, which are each more limited to standard hiking and walking, which don't require a wide range of movement or flexibility.

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Weather Resistance


If rain is in the forecast, you'll want to be protected. Though none of the pants in this review claim to be fully waterproof, quality water resistance is a massive bonus for a pair of hiking pants. We also consider wind resistance when assessing performance. Together, both of these characteristics can be tricky to balance with venting and breathability, but some models in this review have decent success.


To that end, most of these pants are designed to keep you as dry as possible while remaining lightweight and comfortable. To achieve this, most come with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating applied to the outside of the fabric. This chemical coating helps the pant shed precipitation. DWR treatments do wear off over time, especially if you wash your pants frequently in the washing machine, so if you are planning a long trip with a much-beloved pair, you should apply a new DWR finish before you head out.

Some pants don&#039;t stand up as well to wet weather and absorb water...
Some pants don't stand up as well to wet weather and absorb water fairly quickly.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

To test water resistance, we wore these pants outside as often as we could in wet weather. For a slightly more controlled environment, we also conduct a spray test, giving each pair an even spritz to understand the process of saturation and water beading. Things we look for are how well the DWR coating works right off the rack, as well as how effective it remains after washing them. We are also interested in how long the pants take to dry out after the skies clear.

The DWR coating on the Gamma LT facilitates excellent beading.
The DWR coating on the Gamma LT facilitates excellent beading.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

The pair that we strongly prefer for cold weather is the REI Activator 3.0. The thick fabric and formidable DWR coating are both valuable assets when hiking deep into the shoulder seasons. We also like the Arc'teryx Gamma LT and Arc'teryx Lefroy, which also both hold their own in wet weather (though we found the former to be slightly warmer). The DWR coating on these models does a great job of shedding water even after a lot of wear, and there is minimal absorption. The Arc-Teryx pants also dry out quickly since the water stays on the surface. The Gamma LT stands out as a step above, balancing water-resistance and comfort and mobility the best. A handful of pants in this review fall into the solid second tier, including the Patagonia Quandary, Royal Robbins Alpine Road, and Kuhl Deceptr. It is no surprise that pairs with the thinnest fabric like the Outdoor Research Ferrosi are also the fastest to dry.

Testing the water resistance after applying quite a lot of Greenland...
Testing the water resistance after applying quite a lot of Greenland wax treatment to the Vidda Pro. These pants extend their versatility well into winter, which is what we expect from a pant born above the arctic circle.

We are intrigued by the performance of the wax impregnated Fjallraven Vidda Pro pant, which eschews the now-standard chemical DWR coating in favor of a more natural and customizable treatment. So long as you are willing to take the time for the initial treatment, they can withstand moisture about as well as (or better than) any other pair in this review. But, with the other models, you don't have to work so hard for it.

Customizable water resistance comes in the form of wax impregnation...
Customizable water resistance comes in the form of wax impregnation. Here we test the system out by rubbing Greenland wax all over the pants, later ironing it into the fabric.

Features


Features are all of the "extras" on a pair of pants. These are the thoughtful design elements that enhance a wearer's experience. Each pair has its own set of unique features, including the type and number of pockets as well as their locations, waist tightening systems, and belts, button and fly styles, roll-up snaps/cinches, ventilation holes, and crotch zippers. Some of these features are functional additions that inspire our adoration, while others are excessive, or unnecessary.


The more useful and functional features a pant includes, the higher the score. Products that receive a lower rating either include fewer valuable features or the features that they do have don't reach their potential. Favorite features among our testers include pockets that are large enough and deep enough to protect items from inadvertently popping out, as well as integrated belts, and the ability to roll up (and keep up) pant legs.

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The KUHL Renegade pant boasts the most robust feature set. It has many pocket options for those who like to have all their trail trinkets handy and organized. The Fjallraven Vidda Pro is similarly loaded with pockets. We are also partial to pairs that streamline their offerings but have high-quality execution. This tier includes models like the REI Activator 3.0, which has a nice set of well-positioned pockets, the Royal Robbins Alpine Road, which includes a hearty snap and french fly for extra security, the Mammut Runbold, which has flaps that protect the front pocket zippers from rain, the Arc'teryx Gamma LT, which comes equipped with a sleek integrated belt, and the Mountain Hardwear Chockstone/2, which also benefits from practical pockets.

A feature unique to the Quandary is this drawstring on the inside of...
A feature unique to the Quandary is this drawstring on the inside of the waist belt that helps make micro-tuned adjustments to the fit, and helps you avoid needing to wear a belt underneath a pack waist strap. You can also see the mesh wicking material inside the waist belt designed to allow sweat moisture to evaporate quicker.

Having the option to roll up the legs and cinch them down around your calf or above the knee when the weather gets warmer is useful. The REI Activator 3.0, REI Sahara Roll-Ups, and Royal Robbins Alpine Road all benefit from this add-on as well.

The Vidda Pro are by far the most burly and durable pant that we...
The Vidda Pro are by far the most burly and durable pant that we tested for this review, and also have a ton of large pockets for storage. We think they are ideal for hunting or other bushcraft.

Conclusion


The pants you wear can make or break how much you enjoy your adventure. And with so many options on the market, the challenge can be deciding which ones to buy. However, we hope that this expert review helps you make your next pants purchase and enjoy whatever the trail throws at you.

Sometimes, the comfort of a pair while at rest is just as important...
Sometimes, the comfort of a pair while at rest is just as important as how they feel on the move.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Ben Applebaum-Bauch & Andy Wellman