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Reviews > Clothing > Pants and Shorts > Columbia Omni Dry Venture Pants > Test Report by Thomas Vickers

Columbia Sportswear Men's Omni-Dry Venture Convertible Pants

Initial Report - April 29, 2007
Field Test Report - July 17, 2007
Long Term Report - September 7, 2007

 

Thomas Vickers

39 years old
Male
5 ft 11 in tall (1.8 m)
175 lb (79 kg)
redroach@pobox.com
Southeast Texas, Houston Area


Tester Background:
I grew up in the piney woods of southeast Texas. Camping was a quick trip into the mosquito-infested woods behind the house. My style has evolved and over the last 4 or 5 years, I have begun to take a lighter weight approach to hiking gear (I still use sleeping bags and tents, just lighter versions). While I have flirted with lightweight hiking, I feel that I am more of a mid-weight hiker now. My philosophy is one of comfort, while carrying the lightest load possible.

Omni Dry Venture II Pants

 

Manufacturer Information:

Manufacturer: Columbia Sportswear

Website: http://www.columbia.com
Colors available: Trail, grill, fossil, bruno, sage

Sizes available:
Waist: 30, 32, 34
Inseam: 30 - 34

Year Manufactured: 2007

Weight : NA

MSRP: NA

Information From Tester:
(all measurements approximate)


Color: Sage

Pants Waist: 34 in (86 cm)
Pants Inseam: 34 in (86 cm)

Weight : 1 lb 2.70 oz (530 gm)
Weight (no legs): 11.80 oz (335 gm)

Tester's waist:
34 in (86 cm)
Tester's inseam:
32 in (81 cm)

Initial tester expectations:
My main question after visiting the Columbia Sportswear website was about the fabric of the Omni-Dry Venture Convertible Pants.  It is listed as "100% nylon canvas" which sounds really cool, but left me wondering just what it was.   Other than that, there was plenty of information about these pants, their sizing, and colors available all in one place. I felt pretty comfortable that these were going to be nice, light-weight, convertible pants.

Omin Dry Venture II Pants with no legs


Initial Report
April 29, 2007

Description from the manufacturer:

"One pant worn two ways. This summer essential first caught on with the backpacking set and soon spread to savvy travelers, kayakers, trekkers and more. It’s got good, classic looks thanks to its rugged nylon canvas fabric, and it has all the features that make it a must-have with outdoor enthusiasts everywhere. 100% nylon Omni-DryŽ Ridge Trek™ Lite canvas with 100% polyester trim. Active fit, UPF 50, and moisture wicking."

Tester's Description:
I doubt I can be as concise as Columbia when it comes to describing these pants because there is so much to share, so I will start with the basics.  The Columbia Omni-Dry Venture Pants are full length hiking pants that have zip off legs which allow them to convert into shorts. The fabric is soft and of a much heavier weave than I had originally expected.  This is not a bad thing because I associate lighter fabrics with being less durable. I may be wrong on fabric weight equaling durability, but at least I will feel secure in these pants.

The waistband contains two sections of elastic which are located on either side of the waistband.  I like the presence of the elastic because  my waist size fluctuates a bit on most hiking trips and it is good to know that there is some room for error in these pants. There are also five belt loops, which mean that I can wear a belt with these pants.  All to often I pack my pockets with small, but heavy items that tend to drag my pants down off my waist.  Being able to wear a belt means that I can have my pants held up at all times, not matter how much I have in my pockets.  

There are two rear pockets, which both seal with  hook and loop fastener.  They are fairly good sized with an opening 6 in (15 cm) wide and about 8 in (20 cm) deep.  There are also two side pockets. Inside the right hand side pocket, there is a smaller 'change' pocket that seals with a zipper. On each of the internal pockets, the inner part of each pocket is constructed entirely of a mesh. Last, but not least there are two cargo pockets (one on each leg) which measure  7 x 7 in (18 x 18 cm).  Each of the cargo pockets close with a fold over flap of fabric that is held shut by hook and loop fastener. 

On the bottom of each pant leg is a 12 in (31 cm) long zipper that zips upward towards the top, which I am assuming is for putting the pants on and taking them off with boots on.  

When converted to shorts, the Omni-Dry pants have a 10 in (25 cm) inseam. 

I also found no loose seams or strange dangling threads. The overall construction is very good and there are no noticeable flaws.

Impressions:
I have gone over and over these pants and they more than live up to what I was expecting. They are a heavier weight of fabric than I expected, but I find that reassuring rather than disappointing.  I can't wait to get these pants into the field and find out how they stand up to my testing.

I also noticed that there were several tags attached to the pants. One of these tags claims a UPF of 50 and another tag describes the "active fit" as pants that wear at or below the waist and the legs are straight cut from the thighs through the ankles.  

Test Strategy:
Here are some questions that I plan on using as a guide for my testing of the Columbia Omni-Dry Venture Pants:

CONSTRUCTION:
1. Just what is the 100% nylon canvas Omni-DryŽ Ridge Trek™ fabric? How does is feel against the skin?  

2.  What type of waist band do the pants have? Is there any elastic in it? Is there anyway to adjust the waist? Are there belt loops? 

3. How does the fly close? Zipper? Buttons? 

4. Do the cuffs of the pants have elastic in them? Draw strings? Any way of cinching them closed over boots? 

5. Are the high wear areas (knees, seat, etc.) reinforced in anyway? 

USE:
1. How fast do the pants dry?  

2.  How effective is it at blocking the summer sun? A UPF of 50  is claimed by Columbia. 

3. How well do they wick moisture? Their wicking ability is mentioned on the website. 

4. How water resistant are the pants? 

5. How cool are the pants (legs on) during the summer? 

6. Do I have a full range of motion in the pants? Shorts? 

7.  Can I take them off, put them on with my boots on? (Can this be done easily?) 

8. How well do the zippers work? Can the leg sections be easily zipped on/off while the pants are being worn?

9. Does the buttons/fly interfere with wearing a backpack with a waist belt? 

DURABILITY:
1.  How well do they resist stains?  

2. How long can it be worn between washings? How bad does it smell after prolonged periods of wear?  

3. How well does it hold up to backpacking/hiking? How durable is the fabric?  How durable are the buttons? Will they stay attached during the testing period?   

4. How prone to snags, pilling or tears are these pants? 

5. Are the leg zippers durable? Do they jam easily?


Final thoughts:
I am really looking forward to testing these pants. They fit well, they are comfortable, and they appear to be much more durable than I expect. I do have some questions because the website seems to differ from the pants (or the hang tags on the pants) on several items. Hopefully I can clear all of these questions up during the coming test.


Field Test Report
July 17, 2007

CONDITIONS AND LOCATIONS:
Temperatures:
76 to 96 F (24 to 36 C)
Locations: Sam Houston National Forest, W.G. Jones State Forest, and other locations in Southeast Texas
Activities: Dayhiking, trail running, 3-day extended hiking/backpacking, climbing.
Conditions: Humidity from 76% to 90%. Pouring rain to completely no precipitation.

Getting ready to run in the Venture Shorts

 

Wearing the pants:
I have spent many days in these pants so far during the field test phase of this test.   My first four days in them were long, 9 hour days in 86 - 90 F (30 - 32 C) temperatures at the local ropes course.  I prefer to wear long pants when I work at the course because there is a lot of climbing involved and I don't like scuffed knees.   It was here that I discovered that spending all day in the Columbia Venture Pants while wearing a climbing harness was not a bad thing.  My normal pants fit tighter than I am comfortable with and when wearing a climbing harness, there tends to be a lot of unsightly bulges.  I was happy to discover that the Venture Pants were loose enough in the crotch area that wearing the climbing harness was not as embarrassing as it normally is.

I have also spent three nights in the Sam Houston National forest with these pants and I am really glad to report that I can sleep in them, either as pants or as shorts.   There was no real limitation to my movement as night and this is good. I don' t like sleeping in too many clothes during the summer months, but I also don't want to ever have to bust out of my tent in the middle of the night to face man or beast without pants on.

One last note about my usual method of wearing these pants. I have evenly split my time in these pants between full length pants and shorts.  They are extremely comfortable in either mode and no matter which way I wear them, I always use a 1 in (2.5 cm) wide web strap as a belt.  This is a personal choice rather than a necessity.  The more stuff I stick in my pockets, the more my pants tend to sag around my waist, which annoys me. So I wear the belt at all times, just in case I get too much stuff in my pockets.   With six pockets, the Venture pants give me plenty of places to put things.

Legs on, legs off:
I have stated before that I have split my time evenly between wearing the Venture Pants as shorts and full length pants.  The summer heat here in Texas usually means that I prefer shorts, but with the intense amount of rain Texas has suffered through this summer the mosquitoes are in full force.  This means that in the mornings and evenings it is either pile on the insect repellent or put the legs on these pants.  I quickly learned that putting the legs on the pants was my preferred move.

I was out one morning day hiking and discovered that the bugs were probably going to drain me of all my blood within minutes, so I sat on a log and pulled the legs of the pants out of my daypack.  Without removing my boots, I had both legs attached properly and was ready to go within about four minutes. It was fast and easy, even with boots on.  The zippers on the sides of the legs made it very easy to open the lower leg portions wide enough to go over my boots without any snagging and the zippers that attached the lower legs to the shorts  connected and zipped up quickly and easily. 

Having worked with and worn other convertible pants, I think that the Venture pants are by far the easiest to attach and remove the lower leg portions on.  I did not have to stand up (everything was done sitting down) and there was no removal of my boots. 

Wear and tear:
I have been on trails and off trials and my main complaint about snags has to do with the cargo pockets of the Venture pants.  There are no visible rips, snags, or other wear signs, but as much as I love the cargo pockets' functionality, they seem to catch on every branch, vine, thorn bush, and door handle that I get too close too. 

I think this is due to the fact that these front cargo pockets are "bellow" pockets that can expand and this designs plainly makes them perfect for catching on things in the woods.  Despite this issue, I would rather have these two pockets than not have them.  They are handy for putting items in and they are handy for getting items out of, especially when I am wearing a pack and cannot access the side pockets on these pants without some effort.

Despite my heavy usage, I have only washed the Venture pants once so far.  I know this drives my wife crazy and I have to hide the pants when I am not wearing them or they will make it into her laundry basket. The good news is that I have not yet managed to permanently stain or stink them up. Yeah, I can put a sweaty body odor to them, but some airing out works wonders.  Washing is also a good idea.  I followed the instructions on the waist tag (machine wash cold on gentle cycle and dry on low heat) and the pants came out as good as new. 

Final thoughts:
I really like these pants. They have proven durable in a variety of activities and they are comfortable as well.  I also like the fact that they are marketed as convertible pants and this is a role that they fill very well. They are easy to convert and it doesn't take a ton of time or effort to change from one version to the other.

I also like the fabric, which is heavier than I am used to in hiking pants, but this is definitely a good thing.  It has stood up to plenty of bushwhacking and snags without any obvious damage.

Lastly, these pants dry fairly quickly.  I have never had them soaking wet on the trail, but they have gotten wet in spots from sweat and from kneeling/sitting on the ground.  Once I have gotten up or taken my pack off, the wet spots tended to dry within about thirty minutes. 

Long Term Report
September 7, 2007


CONDITIONS AND LOCATIONS:
Temperatures:
76 to 96 F (24 to 36 C)
Locations: Sam Houston National Forest, W.G. Jones State Forest, and other locations in Southeast Texas
Activities: Dayhiking, trail running,  2 and 3-day extended hiking/backpacking trips, rappelling and belaying.
Conditions: Humidity from 76% to 90%. Pouring rain to completely no precipitation.

The end is here:
After spending the last four months in these pants, I am impressed at their durability.  Despite my best attempts (and several serious snags) I have not seen a tear, rip, or snag anywhere on them.  The butt has gotten dirty and wet and there are no permanent stains there or on the knees.  Anything I have gotten on the Omni Dry Venture Pants has washed out easily.

Even though I have put the lower leg portions on and taken them off too many times to count, the zippers have not jammed or given out. 
Overall, these pants held up wonderfully to being worn at least twice sometimes five or six times a week and still look almost new.  I have them rough treatment and they bounced back time after time. 

Questions answered:

CONSTRUCTION:
1. Just what is the 100% nylon canvas Omni-DryŽ Ridge Trek™ fabric? How does is feel against the skin?
This fabric is much heavier than I expected, but soft. It feels great against my skin and it never abraded or rubbed me wrong.   

2.  What type of waist band do the pants have? Is there any elastic in it? Is there anyway to adjust the waist? Are there belt loops?
The waist does not adjust. There is elastic in the waistband and there are also belt loops. The waist was a bit loose for my taste, especially after a couple of days on the trail, but a web belt worked just fine to cinch it up.  

3. How does the fly close? Zipper? Buttons?
The fly has a zipper and a button type closure.   The button is not sewn on, but instead is an all metal item attached to a rivet of sorts. This means no stitching to come loose and no button to lose while on the trail. 

4. Do the cuffs of the pants have elastic in them? Draw strings? Any way of cinching them closed over boots? 
The lower cuffs on these pants have no type of closure.  The zippers on the lower legs narrow the cuff area considerably, but there is no way to cinch them closed over/around boots. This isn't something that bothers me about these pants. It would have been a nice extra, but as it stands, the Venture Pants are fully loaded as is.

5. Are the high wear areas (knees, seat, etc.) reinforced in anyway? 
I couldn't find any extra reinforcement on what I considered high wear areas. While this would normally turn me off as far as trail pants are concerned, the fabric used in the Venture Pants is heavy enough to take a great deal of wear. I expect that eventually I will rip or tear a knee or seat in these pants, but as of right now, that is in the distant future if it even occurs.

USE:
1. How fast do the pants dry?  

Fast. Really fast. I have worn them enough on HOT days to have them completely soaked with sweat and the pants usually dry within 30 minutes.

2.  How effective is it at blocking the summer sun? A UPF of 50  is claimed by Columbia.
I know that when I wear the lower leg portions there is no tanning going on near my legs.  The pants cut out all the sunlight on the areas that they cover.  My tan on my legs starts/stops at the bottom of the shorts.   For that matter, they cut out bugs as well. There were several occasions that I had to stop and zip the pants legs on in order to keep the bugs off. 

3. How well do they wick moisture? Their wicking ability is mentioned on the website. 
Their wicking ability is not something that I really noticed. I didn't have the chance to wear a base layer that might have gotten wet and allowed the pants to wick moisture away. In the Texas heat, I tend to make sure that I have no base layer worth mentioning (even in shorts) to prevent other types of discomfort.

4. How water resistant are the pants? 
In my view, they are not. The Venture Pants get wet when water hits them. Now if the rain/water stops, they do dry quickly, but from my experience they are not going to keep you dry in any sort of rainy situation.

5. How cool are the pants (legs on) during the summer? 
In 96 F (36 C) temperatures cool is a relative term.   I wore the Venture Pants as long pants on several occasions in the high heat and humidity of the Texas summer.  I did not ever feel that the pants were contributing to my suffering.  They were comfortable, even in the heat, and were great at keeping the sun and bugs off of me.

6. Do I have a full range of motion in the pants? Shorts?
Oh yes. I never had to deal with the Venture Pants binding or limiting my movement. The legs are cut generously enough that when I wore them as long pants I had no issues with my range of movement. I spent a good amount of time in a climbing harness while climbing in these pants (as shorts and long pants) and they were a pleasure to wear. No matter how I had to stretch, bend, otherwise become acrobatic as I climbed, the Venture Pants were never in my way.  

7.  Can I take them off, put them on with my boots on? (Can this be done easily?) 
This is really a multi part answer.  I can take them off and put them on over boots as shorts. It is a little more problematic (but not much) to take them off and put them on over boots as long pants.  It is really easy to put them on over my boots as shorts and then zip the legs into place. This is usually how I put the pants back on if I had to take them off at all on the trail.

8. How well do the zippers work? Can the leg sections be easily zipped on/off while the pants are being worn?
All the zippers work great. This includes the fly area and the zip on/off leg zippers.  There has been no jamming or catching of material when I used the zippers.  The leg zippers are also very easy to align and zip on/off while the pants are on.  The zippers on the cuff of pants are easy to use as well.  I was more than happy at the high level of performance and reliability that I got out of the zippers on these pants.

9. Does the button/fly interfere with wearing a backpack with a waist belt? 
Not at all. I never had any fly/waist band issues while wearing a pack over these pants. They were always very comfortable.  I did have some sagging issues when wearing a climbing harness for a prolonged period, but that was my fault versus a flaw in these pants. Not washing the pants led to the waistband being loose and this caused it to sag under my climbing harness.

DURABILITY:
1.  How well do they resist stains?
The Omni Dry Venture Pants are very stain resistant. I have dripped food on them, gotten mud and dirt on them, and my daughter wrote on them with a black marker.  Everything has washed out without any problems.  I can get them dirty, but I can also get them clean.  

2. How long can it be worn between washings? How bad does it smell after prolonged periods of wear?
I have only washed these pants three or four times in four months. The waist got a bit lose between washings, but there was no lasting odor build up.  

3. How well does it hold up to backpacking/hiking? How durable is the fabric?  How durable are the buttons? Will they stay attached during the testing period?
There are no buttons on these pants. The fly is a button/rivet situation and the pockets have hook and loop fasteners or zippers. Overall, these pants have held up well to pack wear and abrasion and general hiking wear and tear.   

4. How prone to snags, pilling or tears are these pants? 
They aren't. I have caught the cargo pockets a time or two on branches and such, but the fabric has tended to resist sticker bushes and other snagging plant life.

5. Are the leg zippers durable? Do they jam easily?
The leg zippers are also very easy to align and zip on/off while the pants are on.  The zippers on the cuff of  the pants are easy to use as well.  I was more than happy at the high level of performance and reliability that I got out of the zippers on these pants.

Final thoughts:
I really like the Columbia Omni Dry Venture Pants.  They held up to my trail abuse and didn't wear out. They are not only durable, but comfortable and stylish as well. These pants are one piece of the trail gear that I have no problem wearing out on the town if I have to. 

I had plenty of reservations about these pants when I started this test. I had a fairly poor view of the product and the manufacturer based on some insane prejudice, but I can honestly say that testing this item has reversed this.  The Venture Pants are well constructed and well designed for trail use.  They more than exceeded my expectations and convinced me that I might ought to get another pair. 



Read more reviews of Columbia gear
Read more gear reviews by Thomas Vickers

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