Sunday, April 28, 2013

How To Choose Pants for The Trail

I found these Columbia GRT trail pants at a thrift store for $6. Of course I couldn't pass them  up. They are perfect for a long trail, or even just hanging out.
I'll take these on the CDT.
Ok, here's the breakdown in desirable qualities for trail pants.
Number one: They must fit! Too big or too small is no good when you're living in these, hiking 20 mile days, weeks on end.
Number Two: weight. These brand name pants weigh a mere 9 ounces. My fitted blue jeans weigh 18 ounces.
Number three: fabric content. Cotton will not dry, chafes when wet and fades. Hot sun destroys natural fibers. These Columbia pants are 100 % Nylonpolyamide- a strong ultralight fabric.
Number four: color. You can't pay me to wear pink on the trail, much less a baby blue, red or other non stealth color. Blending in to the scenery could be a life or death situations. Studies have proved that bears are attracted to bright blue. During hunting season, I will have something bright, but otherwise, no.

Number five: pockets. You need pockets for things like maps, toilet paper, chap stick, a small knife, maybe a snack or two. Pockets can save you from endless searching for the right tool, like a GI can opener (which I take on a knife ring) for times you find a little trail magic inside a sealed can.
Number six: and some will argue its farther up the list, but quality. You can replace clothing while on the trail, like in a mail drop, but there's nothing like dependable gear when your heading through wilderness. These pants are in perfect condition. All the zippers work and there are no holes or breaches in the seams, seat or knees.
Other considerations: While these pants have zip off legs, I seldom use that feature. Most zippers on a desert trail will eventually fail if sand and grit is not kept out of the teeth. To facilitate a difficult zipper, remove all sand and grit, then apply a wax based lip balm. I've sucessfully restored several zippers that way.
An elastic band assures the pants stay up if you don't want to wear a belt, and really, who wants to wear a belt hiking? The loops are handy for clipping your "ultralight" tool kit, kept on one lanyard, to prevent loosing it.
I have used North Face's trail pants for quite a few thousand miles. They look and feel similar to these olive green Columbia pants. I'm pretty lucky to find these perfect pants at a second hand store!
Always bring needle and thread/ dental floss for repairs. Check out my youtube videos for gear repair and other ideas at

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the breakdown on the pants! I have a grey pair of zipoffs I was thinking about taking on the trail, that have these features. Did not know that bears were attracted to blue.