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Reviews > Clothing > Pants and Shorts > Columbia Omni Dry Venture Pants > Test Report by Tim Coughlin
I have been an active backpacker for 29 years, with experience hiking in many parts of the continental United States and Canada. Most of my time is spent in the Northeast, especially the Adirondack region of New York State. I practice lightweight and ultralight philosophies when backpacking. I’m a seasoned veteran to three-season backpacking, and have been expanding my experience outdoors to include winter backpacking. I am an avid four-season dayhiker.
Description of Omni-tech from the Columbia website:
"Omni-Tech technology is waterproof, breathable, seam sealed, guaranteed. We start with an invisible DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish made to keep water beading on the surface. And we apply the highest quality available - designed to be at least 80% effective after 20 home launderings. Then we add one of our breathable Omni-Tech coatings or laminates to the underside of the fabric. Lastly, we seal seams for complete protections."
The result - fabrications for use in a wide variety of exceptional, waterproof/breathable garments.
The test series begins in the middle of the Spring season. Temperatures are warming everyday. Currently, average daily temperatures are around 70 F (21 C) during the day, with lows of 25 F (-4 C) at night. It rains often this time of year. The test will continue through the summer months. Based on treks already confirmed, testing will include treks in and around Western New York, the Adirondack Mountains, and the Rocky Mountains. Expected temperature extremes will vary from a high of around 100 F (38 C) to lows near current nighttime temperatures of 25 F (-4 C).
The Omni-Dry Venture II Convertible Pants arrived in 'new' condition without any discernible flaws. The pants are very much what I expected from my research of the Columbia website.
I was really surprised with the weight of the fabric used on the Omni Dry Venture II Pants. These are the heaviest weight nylon-based material I have ever seen used on clothing. It really reminds me of a heavy cotton canvas. It is quite robust.
From the picture, the waist of the Omni Dry Venture II Pants (from here on referred to simply as the pants) shows some of the very interesting features of these pants. There are a total of five (5) belt loops surrounding the waist. The loops can easily accommodate my 1.5 in (3.8 cm) wide belt. Also visible is the left-side waistband located in the hip area. There is another one on the right side of the pant not visible in the picture. The stout fastener can be seen as well. The fastener is the button/hole type, but the "button" is a heavy duty raised metal button riveted to the pant. The label can be seen on the back of the pant.
From the backside of the pant, the rear pockets can be seen. Both pockets are held closed with a hook-and-loop fastener located just below the top, centered in the pocket area. The wide belt loop centered in the rear of the pant can be seen as well.
The side, or hip pocket is visible here. Notice the pull tab; it is made of plastic. The pocket is held closed by a small hook-and-loop closure located on the underside of the pocket flap. The pocket bellows when loaded, yet stays close to the leg when there is nothing in it. There is a pocket on both legs.
The picture on the right shows a security pocket located on the right side of the pant behind the normal pant's pocket located just below the waist. The pocket is as big as the other pockets, with the added zipper that enables the pocket to be sealed. There is also a pull on the zipper.
Here, you can see the pocket itself. This is a shot of the pants turned inside - out. The pockets are constructed of the mesh material. As the picture shows, the pockets are quite large.
Here the zippers are partially unzipped near the knee area of the pant. If the zippers are opened completely, the lower pant leg can be removed and the pants are then worn as shorts.
This picture shows the zipper at the very bottom of each pant leg. The lower portion of the pant leg contains a zipper to allow the removal of the pant leg without removing the boots. The zipper is rather long, continuing from my ankle to almost the top of my calf muscle. The zipper is easily accessed and operates smoothly.
My initial impression of these pants is I really like them. They are very comfortable to wear. During this past week since their arrival, I've been wearing the pants almost continuously. I do not find them to be real loose, except for the zip-off lower leg. The lower leg is much looser than what I'm used to. My guess is these are cut this wide to accommodate pulling them on and off over boots. I will be commenting more on this in the next report.
I'll be interested to see how well the pants stay up with my pack and hipbelt on. I definitely find them more comfortable with a belt on, but I do not like to wear a belt under a pack's hipbelt. I probably should have gone down a size in the waist too. The pants I'm testing are 36 x 32, and I probably should have gone a size smaller in the waist. The length fits me well.
Test treks included a 3-day trek to the Pine Creek Gorge in Central Pennsylvania. This area is also called the “Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania”. The trek included the entire West Rim trail as well as some side hikes. Total mileage was about 35 mi (56 km). Temperatures ranged from 50 – 85 F (10 - 29 C). Conditions varied from sunshine to thunderstorms.
The Allegheny National Forest included a 2-day trek of about 16 mi (26 km). Temperatures ranged from 42 – 60 F (6 - 16 C). Conditions for this trek were cloud covered.
There have been numerous dayhikes during the Field Testing phase as well. Total mileage is about 50 mi (81 km). Dayhikes ranged from 2 – 10 mi (3 - 16 km) in length. Conditions varied from bright sun to pouring rain. Temperatures were typically around 75 F (24 C).
I have tested the pants wearing a variety of different packs, ranging from a light lumbar pack, a light daypack, a child carrier, an internal framed pack and my external framed expedition sized pack. I have found the pants to be very comfortable.
The side leg pockets are very accessible, regardless of the type of pack I was wearing. The hook-n-loop fasteners securing the pocket flaps hold very well; yet, are easy to operate with one hand.
The security pocket located in the right front pocket of the pants is difficult for me to gain access to, although this is not necessarily a bad thing since it would be difficult for a thief as well.
I don’t use the rear pockets too much. I don’t like the little hook-n-loop tabs, they are difficult to align with something in the pocket and don’t hold very well. I prefer to simply keep the pockets empty and secured.
I need to wear a belt with the pants, or else the pack weight tends to pull the pants down on my hips. I have found a flat canvas belt that works great and offers very little problems with any of the hipbelts I have tested. The belt is 1.5 in (3.8 cm) in width and fits nicely through the belt loops on the pants.
I don’t like the way the lower leg simply hangs; it seems flimsy to me. It catches easily on my boot top too. I would prefer some stiffness around the ankle area. To their credit, the pant legs stay over my boots for the most part, but this is due
Juy 18 – 30, 2007; Philmont Scout Ranch, New Mexico. This was a twelve-day backpacking trek covering a little over 100 mi (160 km) through the Sangre de Cristo mountains with the Boy Scouts. Elevations ranged from 8,000 – 12,000 ft (2400 - 3600 m). There was plenty of rain, especially early on, with temperatures ranging from 38 F (3 C) at night to a high of 100 F (38 C) during the day. There were also many days and nights of clear skies.
Multiple day hikes throughout July, August and September. I averaged 2 hikes per week with distances averaging around 5 mi (8 km). I wore the Venture II Pants on virtually every hike – sometimes in “pants” mode and sometimes in “shorts” mode. Conditions tended to be great – it’s been an awesome summer, although there were a few times when it rained.
Long Term Field Experience
I have been very pleased with the performance of the Omni Dry Venture II pants throughout this test series, including long term testing. The Venture II pants were the only pants/shorts I used on my trek through Philmont. In fact, they were the only pants I brought. They looked so nice and performed so well earlier in the test series; I decided to use them as my travel pants as well! I was concerned that they might not look too great on the return trip home after the trek, but after a quick trip to the laundromat, they looked as great as when I started.
I need to stress that in Phimont I did not simply backpack. Everyday included activities. Some of the “abuse” I subjected the pants to included: horseback riding, rock climbing, spar pole climbing, bushwhacking, berry picking, caving and swimming. These pants held up great. Even now, they still look good.
Over the summer, I’ve worn the Venture II in “shorts” mode a lot more than as full length pants. I was expecting to find some fading to the main pants as compared to the removable legs, but this has not been the case. It appears these pants have not faded over the last four months of testing – I am very impressed!
I really like the Omni-Dry material the pants are made from. As I’ve said before, this material is very robust. It is the heaviest nylon-based garment I own. I believe this has led to its incredible durability. The great thing about Omni-Dry is that although the material is robust, it still dries very quickly. This important phenomenon occurs whether the pants are wet from precipitation or perspiration. The pants dry quickly, without the aid of sunshine or campfire.
After months of testing, I’ve decided I like the fit. The “Active Fit” is a bit more fitted and I like that. There is plenty of room for any activity and there is tons of room in the legs. I was concerned early on with the lack of snugness at the bottom of the legs. I worried the pant legs would rise above my boots and get stuck, allowing access for ticks (big problem in this area). This has NOT been the case. The pants on me are a bit on the long side and never rise above my boots.
Putting the legs on and off in the field is no problem, nor does the material get caught on the zippers. The zippers have functioned perfectly every time I’ve either put the pant legs on or off.
I’ve washed the pants in the field and in the washer. They “clean up” nicely. I’ve had tomato sauce spilled on them, got pine sap on the leg and spilled grape Kool Aide on them. Upon inspection, I cannot find any discernible stains after four months of testing.
I tested the green color – called Sage in the literature. I really liked it. It wasn’t too hot in the hot weather, looked good even after several days of wear, covered the dirt nicely, and still is holding the color nicely.
I questioned the accessibility of the security pocket in the Field Report. But, after spending nearly two continuous weeks on the trail, I fell in love with this feature. At the beginning of my trek, I placed two important keys in this pocket. I zipped it closed and forgot about it. Because of its location, I didn’t really notice the pocket when accessing the “regular” front pocket while wearing the pants. At the end of the trek, my partner was in a panic trying to remember from two weeks previous where he left his key. Mine were right where I left them!
About the only feature I really didn’t like too much was the elastic waist. It caused the pants to feel too loose on me. I always need a belt to keep them up with a pack on, or if I jump into a stream. I would prefer a fixed-size waist.
All in all, these are great pants!
Thank you Columbia and BackpackGearTest for the opportunity to test the Omni-Dry Venture II Convertible Pants.
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Reviews > Clothing > Pants and Shorts > Columbia Omni Dry Venture Pants > Test Report by Tim Coughlin
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