What should be a versatile hiking pant is poorly suited for steep climbs, wet weather and overgrown trails, while the cut won’t work for most bodies
2-in-1 shorts and trouser design
Thighs run too tight to be functional
No weather protection
Fabric a little thin to offer protection against thorny bushes
Pockets aren’t very functional
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Columbia Silver Ridge Utility Convertible Walking Trousers
Given that the word “utility” is used in the name of these hiking pants, you might expect a rugged design built to withstand both the elements and abrasive rocks surfaces, but the reality is that these are a lightweight pair of summer hiking pants. They do easily convert into shorts by zipping them off just above the knee, which as Columbia points out makes them versatile for changing weather conditions and trails, but their lightweight and breathable composition really makes them best suited for warm days, regardless of whether you go full leg or not.
• List price: $70 / £70
• Gender specification: Men’s and women’s sizing available
• Sizes available: 28 - 44 Men’s US, 28 - 40 Men’s UK; 2 - 18 Women’s US, 6 - 20 Women’s UK
• Materials: 100% recycled polyester
• Weight: 6.7oz / 190g (Women’s US 4)
• Colors: Black, Stone gray, Ancient Fossil, City Grey, Stone green, Tusk
• Best use: Hiking
The fabric is 100% recycled, so they have good eco creds, and it’s rated with UPF50 sun protection, but sadly they don’t do much to protect your skin against thorny bushes or even a light rain. That said, they are super quick drying when wet. They are listed as having a relaxed fit, we found them to run small around the thighs and with zero stretch, this made them difficult to hike on an incline in. Fortunately, they have belt loops so you can size up. There are five pockets, but none are very functional since they are all a bit shallow and tight and none have a zip, though the left side thigh pocket will fit a regular sized smartphone. All in all, though the price is decent, we think there are better budget options out there.
Columbia Silver Ridge Utility Convertible Walking Trousers
I’ve been wanting a pair of convertible walking trousers for ages since for traveling, it’s nice to have a pair of pants and shorts in one, however after testing these out on a cross country walk, I think I may have to keep looking.
Here’s how they performed:
Sizing and fit
I usually wear a US 4 (UK 8) in hiking pants and historically, Columbia clothing is always too big for me in my regular size. So when they sent me these trousers in a 2 (UK6) I was actually quite pleased. However, because of the very odd dimensions of these pants, things didn’t quite work out.
Basically, these fit me nearly perfectly around the waist and hips, with a little breathing room, but for some reason the thighs are really tight. I don’t know if you can tell from the pictures here, but I’m not exactly known for my hefty thighs. In fact, in 42 years this is the first time I’ve ever tried on trousers where the thighs were too tight, and as far as I know I haven’t dramatically changed shape.
Now, if I had tested my usual size, I assume there would be more room in the thighs, but then I think I’d have my usual Columbia problem of them being too big around the waist and hips, although at least there are belt loops to solve that problem. Anyway, the end result is that while Columbia describes these as having a generous, relaxing fit, I can’t imagine them working on anyone who doesn’t have a bigger waist and extremely scrawny thighs, which doesn’t describe most hikers. But by all means, try them on yourself and see what works.
Comfort and stretch
Because these were a bit tight around the thighs, they weren’t the most comfortable to wear, but that aside, they are reasonably comfortable. The fabric doesn’t rub or chafe anywhere.
However, the lack of stretch is an issue, especially with the odd, tight thighs. It means I couldn’t actually test these out going uphill because I can’t step up in them easily (though they did stretch out a little with wear) so I had to wear them for a long distance walk instead. They were fine for standing upright or walking on the flat, but for actually climbing mountains, I’d need a bigger size or some elastane.
Breathability and weatherproofing
The good news is that these trousers are plenty breathable, with a nice, light fabric that is quite comfortable for sweaty days. So much so that I never needed to unzip and turn them into shorts. They are rated with UPF50 sun protection for bright days, but I have to think that most decent hiking pants provide good sun protection anyway so I’m not sure that’s a true selling point.
The bad news is that they don’t have any waterproofing or windproofing at all, so when it started raining I was quickly soaked through. The good news? They do dry in a flash. However, I’d save these for warm, dry days.
Storage and protection
Sadly, storage is another place where these pants fall short for me. They have two hip pockets, one back pocket, a thigh pocket and an unspecified very long rear thigh pocket that seems to only exist so you can carry a ruler on a hike. None of the pockets are zipped, though the thigh pocket has a Velcro flap, and all are two shallow and tight to really be of any use, though I was able to carry my phone in the thigh pocket. Also, annoyingly, every time I went to the bathroom I later discovered that the back pocket had turned inside out and was flapping in the breeze behind me.
Because these trousers are so thin, but the fabric feels like it might offer a little protection from abrasive rocks and branches, I did try brushing against a thorny bush in them only to discover that they offer no protection. Overall, for a basic pair of hiking pants I think you can probably find a more robust pair at a similar price point that will fit your thighs.
Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.