Ask the Gear Guy

Convertible hiking pants for Philmont

convertiblepantsQ. Gear Guy, We’re going to Philmont Scout Ranch. Need suggestions for hiking pants (convertible to shorts) and hiking shorts for both me and my 15-year-old.
– John the Dad, Tinley Park, Ill.

A. Hey Dad! Convertible pants are definitely a great choice for backpacking and other outdoor activities because they’re so versatile and they save weight in your pack since they do double duty for pants and shorts. If it’s chilly or the bugs are-a-biting: wear them as pants. Get too hot? Zip ’em off to shorts. There are many different brands and styles, but a basic, affordable pair you should check out is the Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Pants ($60; They’re made of nylon so they’re quick to wick sweat, somewhat water resistant and provide UPF 50+ sun protection. Simple. Comfy. Affordable. A good choice.

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