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Reviews > Clothing > Pants and Shorts > Mountain Khakis Granite Convertibles > Test Report by Richard Lyon

MOUNTAIN KHAKIS GRANITE CREEK CONVERTIBLE PANTS
Test Series by Richard Lyon

Initial Report July 10, 2011
Field Report September 18, 2011
Long Term Report November 22, 2011


PERSONAL DETAILS AND BACKPACKING BACKGROUND

Male, 65 years old
Height: 6' 4" (1.91 m)
Weight: 205 lb (93 kg)
Waist 37 in (94 cm), inseam 34 in (86 cm)
Email address: montana DOT angler AT gmail DOT com
Home: Dallas, Texas USA

I've been backpacking for almost half a century, and regularly in the Rockies since 1986.  I do a weeklong trip every summer, and often take three-day trips.  I'm usually camping in alpine terrain, at altitudes 5000 to 13000 ft (1500 - 4000 m).  I prefer base camp backpacking, a long hike in with day trips from camp, but I do my share of forced marches too.  Though always looking for ways to reduce weight, I'm not yet a lightweight hiker and I usually choose a bit of extra weight over foregoing camp conveniences I've come to expect.

INITIAL REPORT
July 10, 2011

THE PRODUCT


MK Granite Creek Convertible PantsConvertible pants are a piece of clothing designed for hikers – trousers that allow one to wear them as trousers or, after undoing the zippers that encircle each leg just above the knee, as shorts.  Granite Creek is a mountain stream near maker Mountain Khakis’ home base of Jackson, Wyoming.

Manufacturer: Mountain Khakis
Website: http://www.mountainkhakis.com The photo at left comes from this website.
Weight, measured: 20.0 oz (567 g)
Waist, listed and measured: 38 in (97 cm)
Inseam, listed and measured: 34 in (86 cm)
Available sizes:
These pants are available in even waist sizes from 28 to 44 inches (71-112 cm), also 33 and 35 (84 and 89 cm).  Inseams of 30 and 32 inches (76 and 81 cm) are available for all waist sizes; some also are available in 34 and 36 inches (86 and 91 cm).  The Granite Creek Convertibles are listed only in the Men’s tab.  
Color: Birch (tan).  Also available in Ash (grey), Earth (brown), and Pine (green).
MSRP: $79.95 US
Material: 6.3 oz treated brushed nylon, rated UV 50+
Related Products: Mountain Khakis offers non-convertible pants and shorts made of the same material, also named Granite Creek.  Each of these is also available in a Women’s style.


FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Fit.  Like every other pair of pants or shorts from Mountain Khakis that I’ve owned, the fit suits me very well.  The legs are not too blousy, not too tight. The fit at the waist and in the seat is comfortable and neither confining nor loose.  I’m between waist sizes and, as usual, I sized up to avoid a tight fit, so that I can tuck in two shirts if I wish.  My waist size allowed me to choose one of the longer inseams.  With these the cuffs sit atop my hiking boots with a very slight break, just as I like them.

Right front pocketFeatures.  At first glance I thought that Mountain Khakis had abandoned a signature feature, the double right front pocket, but then I realized it had only been modified.  Instead of a divider between two compartments of the slash pocket, there’s a single “normal” pocket and a vertically zippered separate pocket just to the right.  The Granite Creek Convertibles have three additional pockets: a standard left-side slash pocket, a zippered rear pocket on the right hip, and a cargo pocket on the left side, just above the zipper that can convert the Convertibles to shorts.  This last pocket has a rectangular flap fastened by hook-and-loop patches at the corners.  Just under this flap is a zippered compartment separate from the cargo pocket.  All in all, ample storage room for camera, pocket knife, mobile phone, and car keys, the latter two safely stowed inside zippered compartments.

Another hallmark of Mountain Khakis’ flagship product, the Original Mountain Pants, is heavy canvas fabric.  In contrast, the brushed nylon of the Granite Creek Convertibles is a featherweight.  This fabric’s hand is soft and not a bit scratchy against my skin.

I first thought that the straight-leg cut of these trousers gave them a slightly bell-bottomed look, but measuring indicates this is not the case – the diameter at the cuffs is slightly less than at the knee.  

The Convertibles are cinched at the waist with a metal button on which is imprinted the manufacturer’s name and logo, at the top of a zippered fly.  Around the waist are six belt loops, each two inches (5 cm) long and double sewn at each end.   

Color-coded pant legsConversion from trousers to shorts and back is easy and intuitive.  The lower sections are side-specific and (a nice touch) color-coded (zipper and adjacent fabric) accordingly: right side the color of the pants, the left grey.  When stripped of the lowers the cuff of the shorts comes about two inches (5 cm) above the top of my kneecap.  Each lower section has a ten-inch (25 cm) zipper on the outside to facilitate donning or doffing the pants (or just the lower sections) without removing one’s footwear.

Appearance.  Either as shorts or trousers the Granite Creek Convertibles look like outdoor wear – rugged and functional.  A friend said that from a distance of twenty feet (6 m) they looked heavy, heavier than they felt to the touch.  Certainly they appear suitable for the “fish / travel / hike / fireside” identified by the manufacturer as their uses.  I’m looking forward to testing this claim.



WHAT I LIKE


Nylon material, said to be water resistant.  Not like my other Mountain Khakis pants, which are cotton and thus in my opinion not suitable for backpacking.

Pockets.  Many of ‘em, and all well located.  I especially like the three zippered pockets, as I can be paranoid about losing car keys or passport.

Fit.  Just right at the waist and cuff and everywhere in between.  

WHAT I DON’T

Haven’t found anything yet.

FIELD REPORT
September 18, 2011

I’ve spent several weeks in Montana this summer, and I’ve worn my Mountain Khakis Granite Creek Convertibles on most days.  That’s not simply devotion to this test – these pants have become a personal favorite.

FIELD CONDITIONS

The Convertibles have seen eight backcountry days – four day hikes mid-July, at all times as shorts, and a four-day backpacking trip in Yellowstone National Park in late August, during which I zipped on the bottoms in the evenings around camp.

All day hikes took place in fair weather, with high temperatures about 85 F (30 C), at elevations from 6000-7000 feet (1500-2000 m).  These were on well-established trails.  Following my usual custom I kept my cell phone in one zippered front pocket, car keys in the other, wallet in the rear pocket, and camera in the other right front pocket. 

Big Horn PassMy backpacking trip was along the Big Horn Pass trail in Yellowstone, in typical late summer Montana weather – highs about 90 F (32 C), down to 40 F (5 C) at night, and mostly sunny with a brief thunderstorm, peppered with pea-sized hail, every afternoon.  From our base camp we hiked to Big Horn Pass itself, elevation 9110 feet (2777 m), on one day, and to a midway point on the trail to Fawn Pass, slightly lower in elevation, on another.  I did some scrambling on this trip, but most of the terrain in this section of the Park (the upper reaches of the Gallatin River) is broad meadows, so I cannot claim real bushwhacking.  The only constant hazard was the “hitchhiker” burrs from the weeds along the trail.  Often caught in my socks but never on the Convertibles.

I wore the Convertibles as shorts under GORE-TEX waders on two days, the first about 75 F (25 C) and overcast, with a couple of rain showers, the second hot (about 95 F/35 C), clear, and windless until a one-hour thunderstorm cooled things off late in the afternoon. 

Around home the Convertibles, as shorts, were a wardrobe staple on weekends in the little time I spent outdoors in this record-setting Texas summer – seventy days when the mercury exceeded 100 F (38 C).


PERFORMANCE

As I said, I like ‘em.  Certainly my favorite feature is the pockets.  I like cargo-type shorts in general for hiking because of the many pockets, but these stand out even among others that I own.  The three zippered pockets provide safekeeping for items I can’t afford to lose, and all pockets are deep enough so that each will hold common pocket items, in my case camera and bandana and maybe a snack or two. The pockets’ size means I don’t notice their contents when I’m hiking; everything fits comfortably but nothing seems to slide around.

The Convertibles convert easily.  The color-coding on the zippers really helps in low light.  No sticky zippers yet; once I set the tooth in the slot it’s been simple to run the zipper pull around my leg. 

The Convertibles’ fabric remains intact, with no noticeable abrasion from the rocks and logs I’ve sat upon on my hikes.  It’s also comfortable enough that I wear them in the front country despite my preference there for natural fibers like cotton and linen. 

As with other trousers and shorts from Mountain Khakis that I own (one of them reviewed on this site), the Convertibles run true to size.  The company does not offer options on rise, but its standard fits me quite well, thank you. (I usually have to put up with a bit of play in the seat on other manufacturers’ models.)

I have cleaned the Convertibles five or six times.  They are treated as part of my regular laundry, tossed in the washer with other clothes (sometimes other synthetics, sometimes with cotton items too).  If an area (usually the cuffs on the side pockets or the hem of the shorts) is noticeably dirty I might apply a drop or two of detergent directly.  They are dried in the dryer on medium heat, again with the rest of the wash – no special treatment.  So far I’ve seen no loose threads or other deterioration, and no shrinkage.     

All in all, excellent performance, and still no complaints. 


LONG TERM REPORT
November 22, 2011

FIELD CONDITIONS

Bechler crossingI’ve worn the Mountain Khakis Convertibles on a four-day, three-night backpack on the Shoshone Lake, Bechler River, and Bechler Meadows trails in Yellowstone Park, Wyoming and Idaho, in early October, and on numerous dayhikes in Montana, Wyoming, California, and Texas.

We had Indian summer temperatures on the Bechler hike; it never got much below 40 F (4 C) at
night, and several times approached 80 F (25 C) during the day.  However it rained every day, from gentle sprinkles and ground fog on the first two days to heavy showers on our final morning.  All trail was established and in good shape, but a couple of long stretches of this 30-mile (50 km) hike were through waist-high brush that closed in on the trail, and both those stretches were wet with rain.  On the first two days I hiked in the Convertibles as shorts, zipping on the bottoms in camp as the sun set.  Here I am crossing the Bechler River on the second day.

The latter two mornings were damp and chilly enough to start out in the Convertibles as pants, but after the first brush with the brush I removed the bottoms and donned EPIC rain pants over the shorts.  The previously mentioned photo shows the last “bridge” over the Bechler.  The next three crossings were made the old fashioned way, by wading through.  The rain pants were stowed for these fords. The second ford was daunting – strong current and water deep enough almost to be teacupped (water reaching a very sensitive part of my anatomy).  Here I am emerging from that one, with my shorts quite damp. 

Bechler fordOne dayhike in the Rockies was cool enough for long pants, so the Convertibles’ bottoms stayed on.  On all other hikes I followed my standard practice of hiking in shorts.  Temperatures on these hikes ranged from 45 F (8 C) to over 100 F (38+ C).  On only one day did I meet with rain – a steady drizzle for a couple of hours.  I didn’t have rain pants with me that day, so I had another chance to test the Convertibles’ water repellency.

I’ve continued to wear the Convertibles as shorts for chores and as casual wear on Texas weekends, all of which have been dry.  

PERFORMANCE

The wet weather and damp brush along the Bechler trail gave me the opportunity to see how the Convertibles performed when wet.  They are definitely not waterproof (and are not claimed to be so), but they wick water away exceptionally well.  They never felt saturated and heavy, even after a hour’s hike through the grass before I topped them with my rain pants.  And they dry very quickly.  They were completely dry an hour after the rain stopped in the Bechler Meadows (temperature about 65 F/18 C), and even more quickly on the rainy dayhike (75 F/24 C). 

I especially like the Convertibles, as shorts, for backcountry fishing.  I’ve never packed waders or a full fishing vest on an overnight or longer trip; they are too heavy and take up too much pack space.  Since they dry so quickly, I don't mind wading in to the point where the Convertibles, as shorts, get wet.  Six accessible pockets are just right for streamside essentials - a small tackle box, fly patch, reel, and hip flask.  My final photo, also from the Bechler hike, shows me casting at a bend in the Meadows, with the Tetons in the distance. 

Bechler fishing Otherwise my observations echo those in my Field Report – great fit, lots of easily accessible pockets, no shrinkage or stretching after another twenty days’ use and four more washings, easy to add or subtract the bottoms. 

After all my use I cannot say they look like new; here and there are small smudges that laundering hasn’t removed and a few spots where burrs or brush have nicked the fabric. These pants got very dirty in Yellowstone, and here and there stained with huckleberry juice and tree sap.  All of that washed away.  Mountain Khakis’ workmanship and materials are still intact – no loose threads, sticky zippers, or loss of shape. Backcountry use has given them some character, that’s all.  And I doubt the nicks or smudges would be visible had I chosen as darker color. 

All in all a terrific pair of convertible trousers in my opinion.  I remain a dedicated Mountain Khakis wearer.

WHAT I LIKE

Pockets.  I can’t articulate exactly why, but the Convertibles’ pockets are just right.  Not too many, just the right size, three of them zippered, and all easy to access even when wearing a backpack.

Quick-drying fabric

Great fit

Durable

SUGGESTIONS

Only one – I'm hoping Mountain Khakis will someday offer
cotton shorts with the cargo pocket.  I’m a natural fibers guy and would like a pair for summer use in the front country. 

ACKNOWLEDGMENT


My Test Report ends here, with a repeat big “thank you” to BackpackGearTest.org and Mountain Khakis for this testing opportunity.










Read more reviews of Mountain Khakis gear
Read more gear reviews by Richard Lyon

Reviews > Clothing > Pants and Shorts > Mountain Khakis Granite Convertibles > Test Report by Richard Lyon



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