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Female travelers tend to generally agree on their opinion about convertible pants for women: disgust. The mere thought of wearing them makes them dread traveling. Why do women hate them and men love them?
To answer that question, Harry Jarvis, the editor of new men’s blog Travel Gear for Men, shares why most men can’t live without these travel pants.
Read more about the pros and cons of convertible travel pants for women!
Why Men Love Convertible Pants
Convertible pants, those pants with zip off legs that become shorts in seconds, have often garnered as much criticism as praise. Generally people either love them or hate them, and it’s usually right down the gender line.
While most women cannot stand them, most men seem to find them indispensable. But why? Here’s one guy’s insight as to why he loves convertible pants:
Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Convertible Pant
I’ve had the same pair of convertible pants, or zip-offs, for nearly 4 years. I’ve brought them hiking, camping, trekking, and traveling. They’ve seen thick undergrowth and arid desserts.
They’ve made it though mosquito-infested forests and rushing rivers. They have not one rip, tear, hole, or broken zipper. I’ve had my fair share of bad falls and road rash, and I could still call them “like new.” That alone makes them worth the buy for me.
Carhartt Men’s Force Extremes Convertible Pant
From the time I wake up to the time I tuck into my bag, I have these pants on. I love my desert hikes, so the mornings are cold and the days are hot, so I switch back and forth regularly.
When I’m up in mountain valleys, I zip on the legs in the morning to keep out the chilly wind, zip them off in the midday sun, then back on around dusk when the mosquitoes come out.
No matter where I am, I don’t need to change pants. Then again, the ultra lightweight material means I can bring two if I really want to.
prAna Men’s Stretch Zion Convertible Pant
Are they waterproof? Not exactly. These pants are, however, both water resistant and quick drying. They won’t clog up like jeans or cotton pants, and odds are if your’e going swimming in them they’ll dry before anything else you’re wearing. I’ve waded through countless rivers, and have had my pants dry before my wrung-out shirt.
The lightweight material cuts through all but the most bone chilling wind while still being breathable, and therefore temperature regulating. Oh and did I mention that new ones have SPF factors of 15+. Rain, shine, snow, or hail, they’ve never failed.
ExOfficio Men’s BugsAway Ziwa Convertible Pants
Apart from its most obvious feature, the zip off leg itself, these pants are designed for usefulness from top to bottom. Most come with sturdy nylon clipping belts for precise and easy adjustment. Ample pockets, two hand, two back, and two cargo, give you space for everything.
I generally have my travel wallet in the zipped cargo pockets, a packet of tissues in my back pocket, a light snack in my hand pockets, and a multi tool in another pocket. Sub pockets are great for emergency cash, a lighter, or a spare key.
As most come with Velcro or zippers, everything is secure. Finally, the zip off legs have a zipper running up the side, so they can be slipped on and off over your boots.
White Sierra Trail Inseam Convertible Pant
Men usually aren’t too worried about stains, especially in their hiking pants. But all the same, I’ve been able to remove sap, blood, juice, grass, mud, and paint.
A quick wash is generally all you need, and even a quick dip in a lake or stream can refresh them for the next day. I wouldn’t say they’re completely odor free, but I can wear them 3 times as long as any other piece of clothing before they need a change or wash.
So while some may be able to knock off a few points for style (with more and more companies making them, new fits and designs are becoming popular), no one can deny their usefulness.
They are simply the best all around pair of pants for the variety of environments you might run across. I know that if I had to bring just one outfit with me, I’d be wearing these.
Columbia | Carhartt | prAna | ExOfficio | White Sierra
Don’t forget to check out the new travel blog: Travel Gear for Men! How do you feel about convertible travel pants for men? Find out what TFG recommends as the best travel pants for women!
What are you favorite convertible pants for travel? Share them below!
For more Men’s packing list and gears, please read:
- 10 Travel Gifts for Men He’s Sure to Love
- Men’s Carry-on Packing List for Europe
- The Five Most Popular Travel Shavers for Men
If you found this post on why men love convertible travel pants helpful, please share it with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Thanks for reading!
Author Bio: Harry has been living the dream traveling the world since 2010. Like many others what was supposed to be a ‘career break’ has turned in to a completely new life. A professional Scuba Diver and Editor of Travel Gear For Men, Harry has the passion and experience in helping guys choose the right gear for their adventures around the world.
Maybe I’m weird but I love zip off pants. They are perfect for traveling and fishing. My husband bought them for me
Thank you for sharing Bonnie!!! What brand do you own?
I’m a woman that loved them at first sight many waves ago. I even got a pair for my roommate. When I first showed him the cargo pants I was sporting, he didn’t quite understand my enthusiasm in another pair of pants. I demonstrated a quick changearoo down on the beach. I happily packed the legs right into their OWN pockets. When I glimpsed the envy and admirationt his eyes. I promptly whipped out his very own set in the same color. We were the first, south of the pier to have them We are geeky die hard surfers. It was like some cool magic trick! I still have the shorts and one pant leg. One of my favorite pictures of my HB and I, I. Wearing those army green zip aways.
I discovered convertible pants at Costco a few years ago and wear almost nothing but now. They’re practical, comfortable, and are perfectly acceptable for all but the most formal events.
Hi Ray, thank you for sharing why you like to wear convertible travel pants with us! ?
Where is the part of the story about why women don’t like them? Oops… The title is all I saw and the initial paragraph but that’s it. Did you forget to go into that topic? Hahahaha!!!
I love the Prana Monarch convertible pants because it fixes all the things that I hate about most other convertibles.1. They convert into knee-length capris, so they still offer some protection. But it cools you down more than just rolling up your pants. And as capris, they still have the zippered pocket on the side for my phone and ID2. They have a slim fit so they’re flattering, and they look pretty much like normal pants/capris except for the slight bulge where the zipper is.3. They are a slightly thicker fabric that holds up well to bushwhacking. It makes them a little uncomfortable in hot humid weather than thinner pants, but that’s when you’d zip them off into capris to get the airflow anyway.4. The fabric is also pretty stain resistant and dries quite quickly. 5. They come in tall, regular and petite sizes. So if you’re short like me, the petite capris still hit at the knee.
I absolutely love these pants and can’t recommend them highly enough. I have worn them on everything from beach vacations in Brazil to backpacking in the mountains of California.
Wow they sound great! I’ll have to check them out. Thanks!
This is so funny—and so accurate! The last time I went backpacking was two year ago, and I bought a (very expensive) pair of travel pants. Tons of pockets, totally un-tearable, slate grey—excellent for adventuring. And much to my girlfriend’s dismay—we came home, and I never took them out of the rotation! I looooove them.
Ha that sounds about right! what are your favorites?
My favorite was a pair of Northface pants which I am—no lie—wearing right now! They look a lot like the Colombia pair you have at the top of the article. I think (or at least, I tell myself) that they don’t look as “try hard” as the beige ones—the beige ones look like they’re trying to be khakis, which is kind of silly. Grey, I think, makes them a little more rugged.
Know what I wear them for most of all, though? Laundry day. They’re a great thing to wear when everything else is dirty, and I need to to hike it to the laundomat!
That’s a great point – laundry day! Thanks for commenting 🙂
I always found the convertible pants (as a woman) to just be uncomfortable. Maybe because I have big thighs but whenever I would sit down or squat in them, the zipper for the zip-off part would dig into my legs! They were the right size in the waist, but too small in the leg apparently (but the next bigger size was WAY too big on my waist so I couldn’t get them). I had them for trekking in Fiji, but I mostly just wore plain hiking pants that didn’t zip off because of the mosquitoes anyway. They were a big ol waste of money, in my eyes.
They do end up being a big waste of money especially if their “functional” convertible option never gets used. Plus they can also be expensive which can’t even be justified because they’re not cute. Thanks for sharing!
That is exactly the problem with them. Why are they all cut slightly snug around the thighs??
It seems to be like a fashion thing because all women want to put a ring on their thighs – that’s how they feel.
Why not cut the shorts more like a Bermuda?
I don’t find the convertible pants I’ve owned to be that rugged. They don’t protect against thorns or cacti very well. They aren’t warm enough for me in anything but warm weather. I also hate the way their lose fit snags on everything while hiking. Another issue is that they usually have an inseam that’s just a tiny bit too short for me- just so that in the store I think I can live with it, but then once I’m wearing them in real life it’s annoying. (And I’m not THAT tall, I’m 5’9″.) And appearance wise, I’d only ever consider them for hiking type travel, I wouldn’t be wearing them to dinner in Barcelona or anything. My favorite hiking option right now is athletic tights with regular old denim shorts. The shorts basically contribute pockets. The tights are more weather flexible than my convertible pants, they don’t catch on things, and they provide better deflection of thorns, better scrape protection from rocks, etc. If it’s super hot and brush isn’t really an issue, I just off n’t find the convertible pants I’ve owned to be that rugged. They don’t protect against thorns or cacti very well. They aren’t warm enough for me in anything but warm weather. I also hate the way their lose fit snags on everything while hiking. Another issue is that they usually have an inseam that’s just a tiny bit too short for me- just so that in the store I think I can live with it, but then once I’m wearing them in real life it’s annoying. (And I’m not THAT tall, I’m 5’9″.) And appearance wise, I’d only ever consider them for hiking type travel, I wouldn’t be wearing them to dinner in Barcelona or anything. My favorite hiking option right now is athletic tights with regular old denim shorts. The shorts basically contribute pockets. The tights are more weather flexible than my convertible pants, they don’t catch on things, and they provide better deflection of thorns, better scrape protection from rocks, etc. If it’s super hot and brush isn’t really an issue, I just take off the tights. Fashion wise, I pick black or gray ones, and then I dont mind wearing them in town either.
Ok so party of that comment got duplicated oddly. Not sure why..
Hi Rika, Have you checked these out? https://travelfashiongirl.com/best-travel-pants-for-women-function-and-fashion/. These are pants that you actually can wear to hike and for dinner in Barcelona 🙂 I LOVE THEM plus they’re super comfy!
Nice post. I think the idea behind convertible “zippy” pants seems to be more of an appeal than the actual useability of them. As a woman traveler, I love the idea of two pants in one, but rarely turn my Merrel convertibles into shorts. Maybe if a designer were to design some really fashionable convertibles, we would zip them off more often.
That’s exactly why I don’t use them anymore. If I don’t take advantage of their “convertible” function, they’re useless. I now use these instead and absolutely love them! https://travelfashiongirl.com/the-best-travel-pants-for-women-function-and-fashion/
Aside from the fashion issue, girls’ shorts are usually a lot shorter than guys’ shorts, meaning that if a girl had zip-off pants, the shorts might not be long enough to include cargo pockets, or at the very least, they’d be much smaller, and therefore somewhat less useful.
It also means that what a girl gains from zip-off pants (an extra pair of shorts, but without taking up any extra room) is significantly less of a weight and size savings than what a man gets…which is also a pair of shorts…but he’ll save twice as much space, because subtracting one pair of men’s shorts is twice as significant as subtracting one pair of women’s shorts. More or less.
So there’s a reason why men like them more than women like them, and it’s because they have more to gain, alongside the fact that they might care less about their appearance.
What’s annoying is that it would be effortless to make high-quality hiking pants that would be indistinguishable from ordinary pants, but only a handful of people actually make them. Oh well.
Yes! Great points. The major benefit of these pants is the extra (or single) pair of shorts. For us girls, though, we never use the shorts part because the length fits us in an unflattering place so they’re pretty useless. Which brand do you prefer?
As a women I do love the convertible travel pants. I have 3 pair from Columbia the Silverridge version. A good thing they recently added was an adjustable waist. My hips are bigger in porportion than my waist so this has been very helpful. One thing I think they fail on for women is the pockets. I want pockets big enough to store the pants legs in if I don’t have my backpack/bag with me. The men get these huge cargo pockets but the women only get one. I want equality.
That’s a good point. Pockets are essential and might make the pants look a little better with a more cargo look. Thanks for commenting!
If they make them in a size that will fit you, order mens size and then you’ll get the pockets.
Two words – Macabi Skirt.
And by the way, pants with roll up cuffs work just as well and are made out of the same material as zip offs. But they are aren’t nearly as ugly.
Great tip, thanks!