Primarily designed for use on low-level trails from late spring through summer and into early fall, the men’s version of Columbia’s Silver Ridge Convertible Pants are extremely lightweight, very breathable long trousers with legs that can easily be removed to transform them into shorts when you want to air your legs. They lack stretch and a few other features that would vastly improve their performance, but they are made from fully recycled material, and as a pair of fair-weather pants for walking on non-technical terrain, they’re perfectly functional and not overly expensive.
Lightweight and breathable
Made from recycled material
Good sun protection
Come with a belt
Lots of colorway options
Little thermal protection
Low protection from prickly and stinging undergrowth
Shallow hand pockets
No zip on the bottom of the legs
“Body skimming” fit tight in women’s version
Sizing runs a bit small
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Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Utility Convertible Pants: first impressions
Having already tested a Silver Ridge shirt I was looking forward to testing these Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Utility Convertible Pants, which are made from completely recycled fabric. However, one of my advnture colleagues had reported some serious negative issues with the sizing and cut of the women’s trousers, so I did wonder how I would get on with them – or whether I’d even get them on.
• List price: $70 (US) / £70 (UK) / €80 (EU)
• Style: Long, lightweight hiking pants with removable legs
• Gender specificity: Men’s & women’s
• Sizes: XS-XL waist with short, regular and long inseam lengths available
• Materials: 100% recycled polyester
• Colors: Stone Green / Black / City Gray / Grill / Tusk / Ancient Fossil / Collegiate Navy / Light Rain / Delta
• Compatibility: Three-season day walking, hiking and trekking
Happily, when they arrived I discovered that the “body skimming” fit that makes the women’s trousers look and feel so ridiculously tight doesn’t seem to have been applied to the men’s version. While not as loose as some other hiking pants I’ve tested, these trousers don’t feel restrictive. It’s worth noting, however, that even Columbia admit the sizing tends to be a bit small, and they recommend going a size up if in doubt. (I also found my regular length test pair a little short in the leg.)
The major selling point of these very reasonably priced pants is that they’re a two-in-one garment: long trousers that transform into shorts if and when you choose to remove the legs. Color-coded, for ease of organization and reassembly, the legs simply unzip from just above the knee.
Columbia’s Silver Ridge Convertible Pants come with a belt – albeit a pretty rudimentary one – but the trousers also feature a semi-elasticated waist, so a belt isn’t strictly required if you get the sizing right. However, as we have noted, getting the size correct can be tricky.
Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Utility Convertible Pants: on the trails
I’ve been testing the Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Utility Convertible Pants for several weeks, during which time I’ve been using them pretty intensively while walking and hiking across a range of terrain, from semi-urban trails to remote, craggy coastlines and moors.
Overall, while I haven’t been blown away by them, I have found the pants to be a comfortable and reasonably functional pair of fair-weather walking trousers, which breath well in warm conditions, and feel light on the legs.
The weather has been warm during the testing period, and I have really appreciated the ability to remove the legs and air my legs when the sun is out.
However, the addition of a small zip on the bottom of the legs would make taking them on and off a whole lot quicker and easier, allowing you to keep your footwear on while you make the transition from long pants to shorts. This feels like a real omission.
Also, while I love the fact that the main material is 100% recycled, there is no elastane content in these pants, so there’s no stretch in the legs at all, which is pretty restrictive when you’re climbing over rocks and stiles.
They offer excellent protection from the sun (UPF50), but being very thin don’t shield you from prickly plants and stings. These trousers are not water repellent either, but because they’re so thin, on the few times I was caught in downpours they dried out very quickly, so I didn’t really count this as a negative.
These pants have six pockets: two on the rear, a pair of hand pockets at the front, a right thigh pouch that closes with velcro and a left thigh pocket accessed via a vertical zip. On test, I thought the hand pockets were a bit too shallow (things occasionally fell out when I was sitting in a low car seat), but I really liked the vertical zip on the left thigh pocket, which is the perfect place to stash some cash and/or a credit card. Neither thigh pocket is big enough to take a sheet map, but you can easily carry a smart phone.
Author of Caving, Canyoning, Coasteering…, a recently released book about all kinds of outdoor adventures around Britain, Pat has spent 20 years pursuing stories involving boots, bikes, boats, beers and bruises. En route he’s canoed Canada’s Yukon River, climbed Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro, skied and mountain biked through the Norwegian Alps, run an ultra across the roof of Mauritius, and set short-lived records for trail-running Australia’s highest peaks and New Zealand’s Great Walks. He’s authored walking guides to Devon and Dorset, and once wrote a whole book about Toilets for Lonely Planet. Follow Pat’s escapades on Strava here and instagram here.