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Reviews > Clothing > Pants and Shorts > Royal Robbins Alpine Road Pants > Test Report by Brett Haydin

Royal Robbins Alpine Road Convertible Pants

Initial Report - June 2, 2017
Field Report - August 29, 2017
Long Term Report - October 31, 2017

TESTER INFORMATION

TesterNAME:            Brett Haydin
EMAIL:            bhaydin AT hotmail DOT com
AGE:                44
LOCATION:     Madison, Wisconsin, USA
GENDER:         M
HEIGHT:          5' 11" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT:         200 lb (90.70 kg)
CHEST:            42 in (107 cm)
WAIST:           36 in (91 cm)

I started backpacking in Wisconsin as a youth, being involved in the Boy Scouts programs. As a young adult, I worked at a summer camp leading backpacking, canoing and mountain biking trips. I now generally take short weekend or day trips. I plan several longer trips each year in different parts of the US, where I typically carry about 40 lb (18 kg). I prefer to be prepared and comfortable, but I have taken lightweight trips as well.

Initial Report

Product Information & Specifications

Alpine Road
Photo: From Royal Robin's website
Manufacturer: Royal Robbins
Year of Manufacture:  2017

Manufacturer's Website: www.royalrobbins.com
MSRP: $89 US
Listed Weight: N/A
Measured Weight Pants: 1 lb 2 oz (510 g)
Measured Weight Shorts only: 12 oz (340 g)
Color Tested: Khaki (also available in charcoal)
Size Tested: 36 in (91 cm) (also available in 30-42 even sizes)
Inseam: 32 in (81 cm)
Material: Alpine Melange Stretch - 6.5 oz. 66% Nylon, 31% Polyester, 3% Spandex
Warranty: 30 days, and only if purchased on manufacturer's website.

Other Details provided by Manufacturer

  • For trekking and travel
  • The new slimmer Active fit with stretch for durable contemporary performance
  • Zip-off convertible legs for pant-to-short flexibility
  • Gusseted crotch and articulated knees for increased range of motion
  • Zippered side utility pocket - cell phone size
  • Interior safety button and tricot lined waistband for cleaner fit
  • Adjustable cord lock at leg opening

Product Description

The Royal Robbins Alpine Road Convertible Pants are pants that are suitable for hiking and travel while having the convenience of removable legs to convert the pants to shorts. The shorts are made of a 4-way stretch, nylon-poly-spandex blend fabric that is both water-resistant and quick-drying. The pants have 2 rear pockets and 3 pockets in the front. The rear pockets are generously sized at 6.5 x 6.5 in (16.5 x 16.5 cm) and are open. The two front pockets are equally sized, but consist of a mesh fabric sewn on the interior of the pants. The hiker's right front pocket, also 3.5 x 5.5 in (8.9 x 14.0 cm), is a utility pocket made of the same material as the rest of the pants. Finally there is a 3.5 x 5.5 in (8.9 x 14.0 cm) zippered pocket on the hiker's right pant leg for even more easy access storage.

The pants have a snap closure at the top of the 6 in (15 cm) zipper. On the inside of the zipper is an interior button to help keep the zipper from coming open - how embarrassing would that be?! There are 6 belt loops that can accommodate a belt 2 in (5 cm) wide, maybe a tad more if it is a thin belt! The real highlight of these pants, for me at least, is the removable pants legs by way of a zipper that wraps around the entire width of the pants leg. The easiest way for me to tell which side is which is to look for the articulated knee and put that in front. The zippers attach on the outside part of the leg, but otherwise there is no other obvious way to tell them apart. There is also an adjustable cord lock at the bottom of the pants leg. 

Initial Impressions

The Alpine Road Convertible Pants are very comfortable out of the box. The fabric has a pleasant feel, not quite soft, but certainly not rough. The pants fit perfectly, which is always a plus. The craftsmanship is exceptional - especially the exterior where I could find no loose or hanging threads and flawless stitching. I've had the opportunity to wear the pants both for work and general use and for a couple of short day hikes and they are quite comfortable. I did find a couple of hanging threads in the interior, but nothing that looks like it would snag and pull any stitching out. I snipped them just to be sure.

Interestingly enough, I had to run from my car to the store in the rain and the fabric really does repel the water. I'll be interested to see what it is like for one of Wisconsin's day-long deluges. Royal Robbins calls the fit of the pants an "active" fit. Usually this means skinny, which I am not, but in this case I would say it is a close fit, but still loose. The 4-way stretch certainly contributes to any lack of claustrophobia as I can already tell that scrambling on rocks won't be a problem,

Reading the Instructions

Royal Robbins included a two-part hang tag with the pants. Aside from the UPC symbol on the back, there is some information on the company's vision. The hang tag states that I can return the product anytime if I am less-than satisfied. The online policy is much more rigid - 30 days tops and only if it unopened or unworn as well as only if I purchased it online from Royal Robbins. I hope I don't have test the warranty/guarantee! Otherwise I found the website full of all sorts of useful information about the company and its practices.

Additionally, the hang tag does mention that the pants provide UPF protection of 50+. The care instructions are included on a tag inside the pants. In addition to washing with cold water only, I am told to wash inside out and on delicate. I don't wash any of my clothes on delicate so this will be a break from my norm! Since this is wrinkle resistant, I should not need to iron the pants, but if needed the instructions say I can use a cool iron.

Field Report

Field Conditions

Colorado
Hiking in Colorado
Over the past two months I have been on three overnight backpacking trips. I have also worn the pants on seven day hikes for a total of 13 days of use in the field. However, I have worn the pants (or shorts) periodically throughout the week as my "go to" shorts. My first trip was an overnight to the Shawnee National Forest, Illinois to hike a segment of the River to River trail. I hiked a 15 mi (24 km) segment that was through a hilly, deciduous forest and beautiful river ravines. Temperatures were between 45 and 70 F (7 and 21 C) with some moderate precipitation (rain). It was rather muggy too!

My second trip was an overnight in Angeles National Forest, California along the Pacific Crest Trail. The trail was an 11 mi (18 km) hike from 6,680 - 9,138 ft (2,036 - 2,785 m) in rocky, alpine terrain. Temperatures were between 50 and 85 F (10 and 29 C) with clear skies the entire trip. There were some moderate wind gusts, but mostly just dry and hot. 

My last trip was to Padre Island National Seashore, Texas. I set up at the campground and took a 6 mi (9.7 km) hike along the seashore. It was sandy and hot! Temperatures were between 75 - 95 F (24 - 35 C). While humid, the coastal breeze made it comfortable, sort of!

For my other hikes, the majority were in my home state of Wisconsin, however I did two hikes in in Colorado after canceling a last minute overnight trip. All in all, I have been up mountains, through swamps, humid climate, arid climate, and just about everything in between!

Observations

These pants rock! During the first few weeks of use, the temperatures were much more mild so I was able to use them as both shorts and pants. In particular, along the River to River trail. Once the rain started to fall, I found myself cooling off a bit more, even with a rain jacket on. I put on some rain pants over the shorts and that was better, but once I set up camp I found I changed into the pants when the weather broke. There were a few light drizzles, but the pants shed the rain fairly well. When I put them on the next morning, they were not wet at all.

The pants have held up in the various conditions. So far there are no stains, rips or tears. This means I can still get away with wearing them around town! On that note, they are stylish enough that I can throw on a polo or camp shirt and feel comfortable socializing. Since the beginning of July, I haven't found much need to put the pants on. However the past few days have seen some cooler temperatures come in so I expect to use the convertible feature more.

I am quite happy with the cut and flexibility of the pants as well. Hiking in California and Colorado, and to some extent in Illinois, I hiked along some steep terrain. While mostly in shorts-mode, they were comfortable and I did not feel restricted. Another aspect of the pants that I like is the size and feel of the pockets. I know this can be an odd thing to like, but the front pocket on my right has an interior pocket the comfortably fits my phone. The back pockets are generously sized so I can shove my handkerchief in one and not worry about losing it.

On the few occasions that I have had to put the pant legs on, they have gone on relatively hassle-free. Sometimes I sleep in the shorts on the trail and waking up in the morning, groggy and bleary-eyed, I was still able to get the bottom sections on the right legs on the first try.

Long Term Report

Field Conditions

Over the past two months I have taken four more trips with the Royal Robbins Alpine Convertible pants. My first trip was to the Nicolet National Forest in northern Wisconsin, I hiked an out-and-back of 12 mi (19 km) through deciduous forest. Temperatures were between 60 and 85 F (16 and 29 C) with an afternoon/evening rain and mostly cloudy.

My second trip was an overnight in Cooper Lake State Park, Texas. Weather was warm, 65 to 85 F (18 to 29 C), with occasional rain. The trail was dirt-packed, with some small hills through a hardwood forest, some river gullies and some nice patches of fields. Overall I hiked about 6 mi (10 km) exploring the park.

Next I spent a night in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. On this trip we hiked 5.6 mi (9 km) through subalpine terrain. The trail was rocky, at times steep, and stunningly beautiful! Being fall, the overnight temps were at about 45 F (7 C) while the high was 80 F (27 C). We had no precipitation, but it was quite windy!

My last trip was to the Sand Ridge State Forest in Illinois. I hiked 7 mi (11 km) through diverse terrain of prairies, forests and grasslands with some moderate hills thrown in for good measure. The weather was certainly warmer than I thought for the time of the year with highs near 80 F (27 C). I had clear skies the whole time.

In addition to the backpacking trips, I have also worn the pants mid-week at work as well as numerous scouting trips in the woods. Overall, that adds up to 7 nights in the field and about 30 days' use.

Observations

The pants have served me well over the past two months. Hiking in Colorado, I saw the wildest swings of temperatures. However it was the windy conditions that made me want to "pants up" since it felt a lot cooler than it probably was! But I really liked being able to switch from shorts to pants without having to change outfits trailside. I used the pants much more during the fall than I had during the summer. I thought I would mix up the legs more often since there is no obvious marker for which leg is left and which is right, but having the stitching in the knees was ample enough for me. I could then just look at the zipper to see which side it went on.

One of the nicer features I found myself enjoying was the microfleece lining in the waist band. While a simple touch, I found that under the load of a pack, the waist band provided a small improvement in comfort. The lining also helps absorb sweat which also reduces the risk of chafing. While hiking in the rain, the pants don't stick to my legs either. Overnight, I hung the pants in my tent, which I could do more easily by taking the legs off, and they were dry in the morning.

Durability has not been a concern. The pants have no snags or other major signs of wear. This is surprising considering the buckthorn I cut my way through while scouting for hunting locations in the late summer. Overall, washing has been a breeze. There is one stubborn stain on a rear pocket that I can't seem to shake, but for hiking pants it certainly add character. And it isn't so bad that I can't wear it as casual wear. See the image below. The one feature I really didn't use was the elastic cuff cord. My hiking really didn't call for it. I could probably have used it in Colorado where the rocks get kicked up more, but it wasn't a problem frankly.


stainleg cufflining
A stubborn stainLeg cuffs can cinch to keep out rocksI love the fleece lining!

Summary

The Royal Robbins Alpine Road Convertible Pants have been great pants for hiking and general travel. They wear just as well in the backcountry as casual social settings and are wrinkle free! I love how easy they are to switch from pants to shorts. I will absolutely continue to use these pants backpacking in the spring, summer and fall.

Pros: Nice fit, comfortable fabric and convertible to shorts! I love the pockets and how the pants are water-resistant.  Pockets are well-sized and placed.
Cons: Conflicting return policies depending where I looked.

This concludes this test series. I would like to thank Royal Robbins and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to test the Alpine Convertible pants.





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Read more gear reviews by Brett Haydin

Reviews > Clothing > Pants and Shorts > Royal Robbins Alpine Road Pants > Test Report by Brett Haydin



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