What makes Montbell's new Trail Ridge Convertible Pants worth a second look?
I'm a fan of Montbell clothing, and my U.L. Down Inner Parka is nothing short of amazing at just 9.3 ounces (men's XL). I find their quality to be top notch, and these pants appear to be no exception.
This is what makes these pants unique. I've yet to find another manufacturer that offers lightweight men's convertible trekking pants with stretch fabric (these are 92% nylon/8% polyurethane DWR treated). I have some old REI pants that stretch, but they are heavy and hot...only to be used for the coldest weather. These lightweight pants have the right amount of give for the crazy positions we get our bodies into, and yet they are still as light as a pair of Columbia Silver Ridge II pants (both are about 14.8 ounces for a men's XL).
While some people only hike in shorts, I appreciate having pant legs when blazing through an overgrown section of trail. And of course it's a nice relief to zip the legs off when you are over heating. With an 11 1/2 inch inseam, you don't end up looking like you're wearing Richard Simmons style short-shorts either :-) Rather than having zippers at the bottoms of the legs to make it possible to remove them with your shoes on, these legs are just not tapered so they are quite wide at the bottom. I'm not so sure this will be widely accepted, but it's a lighter alternative than more zippers.
Most hiking pants are included with a belt, but I have to say this is about the nicest one I've seen. The buckle has a solid closure that won't come undone or loosen like others I have owned (Columbia), and the webbing is super thin (i.e. lightweight).
Zippers just add weight right? Yes it's true, but they also add utility, and in my UltraLight opinion you need the right balance. The 2 hand pockets and 1 each back and thigh pockets are about right for me. The pockets themselves are mesh, providing some added ventilation if you leave them unzipped. I like to carry certain things in my pockets so they are very accessible (1/4 of a pack towel, lip balm, mint soap, knife...), and the zippers give me that extra bit of security for these important items.
Montbell clothing tends to have an "athletic" cut, something I don't appreciate because I don't have the lean build of a runner. I went ahead and ordered these any way thinking they would be OK because of the stretch. To my pleasant surprise I found that they are not tight like a pair of 70's disco pants...hoot hoot! The waist sits low, and they don't feel like they are binding anywhere. The length is on the long side for this 6'2" hiker, and I will probably hem them to take about an inch out of the length.
Bottom line is I really like these pants, and I fully expect them to last a long time. Montbell is living up to its good reputation!