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GREAT GEAR by stephen regenold Fresh-Air Pairs

A versatile selection of pants to keep you happy while outdoors.

FROM THE WAIST UP, most people know how to dress for activity in the outdoors, be it a wicking shirt or a fleece. But you probably give pants far less emphasis than the upper half of the outfit when you’re dressing for an adventure outside.

Some focus on your leg-wear can

net comfort, weather protection, and performance gains as you step and stride up a mountain or along a trail. From flannel-lined trousers to

zip-off “convertible” pants, the outdoors industry offers a lot of options for the

legs. Denim blue jeans are a no-no for any serious activity. So look to nylon- based pants, softshell fabrics, and canvas for better performance with wind, rain, and the steady motion of hiking. These five pants picks represent a span of options. Pull in one leg at a time, and button up. With any of these products, your lower half will thank you for the upgrade. ¿

STEPHEN REGENOLD is editor and founder of



These normal-looking nylon pants feature zip-off legs to allow for a quick conversion to shorts when the weather is warm. A two-zipper system (one up the side, one around the thigh) lets you take the legs off without sitting down. And color-coded zippers make it child’s play to tell the right leg from the left when you’re putting your “pants” back on. Fabric is rated to UPF 50+ for sun protection.


RAIL RIDERS ECO-MESH $86, RAILRIDERS.COM Rail Riders promotes these nylon pants as made for “the desert, jungle, or backcountry.” Sporting a neat design—the pants include zip-open vents along the outside of each leg—they’re made of thin, breathable nylon, and they dry quickly if soaked on a hike. The lightweight fabric and extra airflow allow explorers to wear the Eco-Mesh pants in hot climates instead of shorts. Bonus: Every pair features an embedded Insect Shield treatment to discourage mosquitoes, flies, and ticks.


SOFTSHELL JEANS $188, THUNDERBOLTSPORTSWEAR.COM Sewn one by one in an Oregon factory— and made of a pricey Schoeller softshell fabric—Thunderbolt Sportswear’s namesake pants mask their technical properties with a handsome design. At a glance, they appear to be made of black denim. But they boast a stretchy, water- resistant fabric embedded with special “nano-size particles” that eschew dirt and are touted to “self-clean.”

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