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Reviews > Clothing > Pants and Shorts > Royal Robbins Zip N Go Pant > Test Report by Larry Kirschner

Royal Robbins Zip N' Go Pants

TEST SERIES BY LARRY KIRSCHNER
Royal Robbins Zip N'Go Pants



INITIAL REPORT - March 29, 2009
FIELD REPORT - June 16, 2009
LONG TERM REPORT - August 9, 2009



TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Larry Kirschner
EMAIL: asklarry98 at hotmail dot com
AGE: 45
LOCATION: Columbus, OH
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 205 lb (92 kg)

I've been an intermittent camper/paddler since my teens, but now that my kids are avid Boy Scouts, I've caught the backpacking bug. I typically do 8-10 weekend hikes per year, and have spent time over the past few years backpacking the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico and canoeing the Atikaki wilderness of Canada. I like to travel "in comfort", but I've shrunk to medium weight, and continue to work toward going lighter and longer. With all of my investment into these ventures, I expect my wife and I will continue to trek long after the kids are gone…


INITIAL REPORT
March 29, 2009

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Royal Robbins
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Country of Manufacture: Vietnam
Manufacturer's Website: www.royalrobbins.com
Model: Zip N'Go Pants
MSRP: USD $65

Size tested: Size tested: Men's XL (waist 38-40 in/97-102 cm), 30" (76 cm) inseam
     Sizes available: S/M/L/XL/XXL (Full description of each size is provided on the website)
Color tested: Tundra (dark green)
     Other colors available: Jet black, khaki

Listed Weight: 15.7 oz (445 g)
Measured weight: 15.8 oz (450 g)

ITEM DESCRIPTION

RR be;t Royal Robbins Zip N' Go pants are lightweight hiking pants that have zip-off legs, such that the pants are easily converted into shorts. The pants have an elastic waist with a built-in adjustable web belt that can be adjusted to prevent the pants from falling down. The pants are made out of lightweight Supplex nylon, which is described as a quick-drying fabric providing "cottony-soft comfort" while being shrink and fade resistant. In addition, the fabric is wrinkle-resistant and provides UV resistance, although no UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) rating is provided. The fabric is also noted to be odor resistant.

The pants themselves have a gusseted crotch, which is a way of saying there is an extra fold of fabric that provides a little more freedom of movement that a typical pair of pants. The legs are also gusseted at the bottom, which I expect would allow me to remove the zip-off portion of the legs without removing my boots. The bottom gussets are held closed with 3 hook-and-loop strips which run vertically up the leg. The bottom of the leg also has a button and loop closure which would allow the bottom of the leg to be tightened. There are two different buttons for this purpose, which would allow the bottom of the pants leg to be adjusted to two smaller sizes. I presume that the pants are designed this way to either allow the bottom of the pants to be tucked into a sock or boot, or possibly to allow the pants to be wrapped tightly around a boot top to prevent dirt or rocks from getting inside (replacing the function of gaiters).

bottom of RR pants

The pants themselves have oodles of pocket, which I will describe in detail. In general, most of the pockets are not completely rectangular, reflecting the manufacturer's efforts to fit the pockets to the natural contour of a pair of pants. These slight irregularities are reflected in the ranges for most of the pocket measurements:

Pockets! pockets from the inside

Right back: There is a single pocket on the back of the right side, which is the place where I normally keep my wallet. This pocket measures 6.5-6.75 inches (16.5-17.1 cm) vertically and 5.25 inches (13.3 cm) across, and has a hook-and-loop closure at the top of the pocket.

Right front: There is a deep pocket in this location, which were I sometimes put my right hand when I am standing around. This pocket is 8 inches (20.3 cm) wide at the top and 6 inches (15.2 cm) wide at the bottom, with a depth of 11.5 inches (29.2 cm). This pocket has no closure. In front of this is a smaller pocket, measuring 5.5 inches (14.0 cm) wide and 5.25 inches (13.3 cm) high. This pocket has a zipper closure which is covered by a hook-and-loop flap.

Left front: The pockets on this side are exactly the same as the right front, except that the front pocket does not have the zipper.

for the belt hook Left leg: There is a pocket on the left leg below the zip-off line. This pocket measures 6.5-7 inches (16.5-17.8 cm) tall by 7 inches (17.8 cm) wide. This pocket has a hook-and-loop closure flat. Inside the mesh pocket is a small strap with a hook-and-loop closure which would allow the formation of a loop. After reading the product literature for the pants, I realized that the "official" purpose for this pocket is to serve as a stuff bag for the zip-off legs. The hook-and-loop strap is designed to be used to hook the pocket onto the back of the belt to facilitate carrying. After figuring this out, I thought it was a pretty clever set-up.

Left back: There is a small mesh pocket measuring 3 x 4.25 inches (7.6 x 10.8 cm) which is inside the back of the pants by the back of the left hip. I presume that this pocket is for valuables that I don't want to possibly lose.

One of the key features of these pants is the ability to zip off the lower part of the leg, converting the pants into shorts. The inseam on the shorts is noted to be 6.5 inches (16.5 cm), which is long enough to cover most of the upper part of my leg. The zippers are asymmetrical, meaning that after the legs are removed, they can only be reattached in one orientation. Also, the fact that the left leg has a pocket makes differentiation between the sides straightforward.

INSTRUCTIONS AND WARRANTY

RR pants - cleaning info Washing instructions are included on a tag on the inside of the pants. The instructions indicate that the pants can be machine washed in cool water, and dried in a dryer on low heat. Bleach and fabric softeners are not recommended for these pants. No warranty information is provided with the pants, and I was unable to find any on the website.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

I had never heard of Royal Robbins before applying for this test. After taking out and examining the pants, they seem to be quite well constructed. After putting them on, I can report that they fit quite comfortably and I like the way they sit on my hips. This tends to be a big issue for me when I try on pants, and I am quite pleased with the Royal Robbins pants. The fabric has a comfortable feel, like a pair of soft cotton slacks. There is plenty of room around the waist and in the crotch, and belt and its fastenings seem sturdy. I zipped and unzipped the legs a few times, and can report that the zippers seem fine. The zippers are a little on the small side and likely would not be usable with gloves; however, given that these are summer-weight pants, I don't expect that to be a problem.

pants zipper

TRYING IT OUT

Once I had the pants on, I went for about a mile walk (1.6 km) down to a coffee shop in town for a meeting. The weather was quite pleasant, about 55 F (13 C), and partly sunny. I sat inside the shop and had coffee for about an hour, and then walked home. The pants are quite comfortable to wear, with a nice comfortable feel and good breathability. With my experience with the pants so far, I will be excited to take the pants out on the trail over the next couple of months. I will be using them for hiking and canoeing, and they are nice enough that I expect to wear them to work a couple of times, and will probably even wear them for biking to work. I am interested to see how they hold up over the long run and if they can continue to impress me during "real" usage.


THE STORY SO FAR

    Impressive
  • Comfortable
  • Lightweight
  • Lots of pockets
    Concerns
  • None at the moment


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FIELD REPORT

June 16, 2009


FIELD CONDITIONS

During the past two months, I have worn the Zip 'N Go pants on two outings to Tar Hollow State Park, in central Ohio. On the first trip in early April, I wore the pants on a 10.5 mile (17 km) dayhike on the North Loop of the Logan Hollow trail. It was 48 F (9 C) to start, reaching a high of 63 F (17 C) on a sunny day with light winds. The trail was slightly damp but the footing was good. At the end of April, I wore the pants on an 11.5 mile (18.5 km) 2-day/2-night hike on the South loop of Logan Hollow trail, including a small side hike to get to the campsite. The weather on this trip was much hotter, with overnight lows in the low 60s F (16-18 C) and highs reaching 86 (30 C) during the two days. So far, I have not had the "opportunity" to wear the pants in the rain while on the trail.

In addition to this trail usage, I have worn the pants for business travel and at work to get some more time wearing them. On the first trip, I wore the pants on the plane flight from Columbus Ohio to New Orleans, where I arrived on a sticky April evening. The trip took me from there to Denver, where I wore the pants again on the last day of the trip. I had a few hours to kill, so I spent it walking around the city, going about 3 miles total on a 75 F (24 C) afternoon before hopping a flight home to Ohio. The other trips were to Washington DC in mid-June, and included 1 long (3-hr) airport delay, some long (1.5-hr) airport shuttles, and 2 x 1 mile (1.6 km) walks in DC. All told, I have worn them for about an additional 6 days in the work environment.


FIELD EXPERIENCE

On the North loop hike, the weather was cool at the outset, but the pants kept me plenty warm. As the day warmed up, I had no trouble with feeling too warm. The only thing I carried in my pockets were a bandanna and my camera, which easily fit into one of the front pockets. The trail itself was not in very good shape, with many fallen trees lying across it. I spent a decent amount of time climbing over or crawling under downed trees. The pants weathered the trail with no visible problems.

climbing over trees at logan trail

On the second trip to the Logan Trail (South loop), it started out warmer and got to be quite hot, as noted above. On this trip, I carried my bandanna, camera, and a bag of trail mix in the pockets. Despite the fact that my head and arms were hot from the sun, my legs stayed nice and cool. I was hoping that the south loop would be better maintained than the north loop, but this was not the case. If anything, it was in slightly worse shape, with not only downed trees, but also areas with a heavy brush cover. On Saturday afternoon, we had to bushwhack for about 1/3 a mile (0.5 km) down a slope to and along a riverbed to get to the campsite.

I wore the pants with the legs on while on the trail, but when we were done hiking for the day, I unzipped them to let my lower legs cool down. I flipped inside-out the pocket on the left lower leg and stuffed both leg pieces in. There were hook-and-loop closures on both ends of the inverted pocket, and I used these to clip the pocket onto the back of my belt. It stayed nicely, although one of the loops released after I sat on it in my hammock.

The next morning included a 0.5 mile (1 km) bushwhack to find a lost trail, after which we rejoined the main trail and had no further difficulties (except for the downed trees). When we finally got off the trail after 5 miles in the heat, I again took off the lower legs as I sat at an ice cream shop slurping my reward for the hard day's travel.

In my 'business' wear of the pants, I have not noticed any problems. I have actually carried more in the pockets when wearing the pants under these circumstances than I have carried on the trail. I typically carry my wallet in the back right pocket, keys in the front left, and cell phone, pager, and handheld device in some combination of other pockets or hooked to the belt. Although this weight sometimes causes the pants to slip down slightly, it has not been a significant problem. When I carry a pager and phone on the belt, it tends to cause the belt buckle to slide (to a looser setting) and the pants to sag. For this reason, I try to avoid clipping items to the belt. When the same items are carried in my pockets, there is much less of a problem. The only other issue I have noted is that my wallet has fallen out of the back pocket if I do not carefully close the hook and loop fasteners. This is not a problem on the trail at all, since I don't carry it in the backcountry.


WEAR AND TEAR

After both trips on the Logan Trail, I carefully inspected the Zip N Go pants for signs of wear, but was unable to find anything on the fabric or external seams. The only thing I have noticed is 1 or 2 loose threads in the pockets, but these have not caused any problems and I have not yet clipped the threads. The zippers continue to work easily, both for pulling the legs off and putting them back on.


FIELD IMPRESSIONS

So far, I REALLY like the Royal Robbins Zip N' Go pants! They are lightweight and comfortable. They have kept me warm in the cool weather, and keep me cool when the sun is shining brightly. There is plenty of pocket room for small gear or a bag of trail mix. The pants are so comfortable that they have become my preferred travel pants, and they are nice enough looking that they have not raised any eyebrows at meetings or conferences. I am looking forward to taking these on my upcoming 2-week canoe trip, and other upcoming outings.

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LONG-TERM REPORT
August 9, 2009


FIELD CONDITIONS

Over the course of the LTR, I wore the Royal Robbins pants on my 10-day backcountry canoe trip to the Quetico Provincial Park (Ontario, Canada) and Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (Minnesota, USA). The temperature on the trip was between 60 and 65 F (15.5 to 18 C) most of the time during the day, which included about 4 full days of rain, and another 3 days when it rained on and off during the day. The total trip covered 101 miles (163 km), including 34 portages covering 7.8 mi (12.6 km). I also wore the pants for biking to work (7 mi/11 km) once or twice in temperatures that were around 70 F (21 C) during the ride in, and close to 85 F (29 C) on the ride home.


FIELD EXPERIENCE

I wore the pants non-stop for 10 days while canoeing. I would put them on first thing in the morning and take them off after setting up camp in the evening if it wasn't raining. On the 3-4 nights when it rained, I left them on so my dry shorts wouldn't get wet. On about half the days, I wore the pants by themselves, but only once was it nice enough to use the zip-off feature and let my lower legs see the sun. On the other days, I wore the pants under a pair of rain pants all day. Although I'm wearing the Royal Robbins pants in the photo below, the picture shows why there aren't usually a lot of pictures of me on the trail.

Larry taking pictures

Overall, I think the pants were great for canoeing. As when hiking, I found them to be lightweight and comfortable. Given half a chance, they dried very quickly, although it took the bottoms sections longest. One afternoon I hung them in the wind for about 20 minutes, and they were completely dry. The multitude of pockets came in very handy, as I was able stuff my camera in one pocket, a granola bar in another pocket, parachute line in a third, and so on.

I found the hook-and-loop closures at the bottom convenient as it was easy to get the pants off over my boots when I wanted to change into dry clothes. However, I noticed that the bottom closure frequently was open and the fabric would often flop around my ankles when I was portaging the canoe. I tried to remedy this by using the loop and buttons on the bottom of the leg, but all that ended up happening was that I lost the buttons on one leg, as shown below. My feeling is that when the hook-and-loop material gets wet, it does not work very well. I felt the same thing happening when the material got dirty on the trail.

missing bottom buttons

I tried wearing the pants biking, but I only did it once or twice as I really didn't like them that much for this activity. The fabric of the pants is so thin that it didn't give me any padding from my bike seat. I also found that riding with the legs attached prevented me from feeling the wind on my legs. Thus, I would claim that the Zip N'Go's provide good wind resistance, which is a downside of using them for biking. Looking back, I never appreciated this while canoeing because the pants were always wet. This problem was solved easily for biking by riding with the legs zipped off, but I still didn't find the shorts comfortable.

As this test comes to a close, I wanted to specifically comment on the durability of the Zip N'Go pants. Through the course of this test, I have probably washed the pants 5 or 6 times, and they tolerated the washer with no problems. However, I gave them a careful inspection when I got home from my canoe trip. Aside from the missing buttons at the bottom of the leg, I noticed that the thread holding the waist button was starting to thin. Although it may be difficult to appreciate in the photo below, there are no threads running from upper right to bottom left. This is something that I will easily fix with a needle and thread, but it might have been trouble if this button had popped off while I was carrying a canoe over my head!

fraying button threads

Finally, I noticed some lines where the fabric had nearly torn on my left front pocket. I believe these came from having a foil-wrapped granola bar in that pocket, and then running over it intermittently while paddling on the left side. This clearly is something I don't suspect I would have seen if I had just been hiking in the pants.

wearing fabric


SUMMARY

I really like these pants for general wear and for trail wear. I found the fabric comfortable and durable, and the pants are nice enough that I can wear them at work without any comments. The multitude of pockets is a great feature, and the zip off legs work very well. I'm a little concerned about the button sewing, since I lost two off the leg and will need to re-sew the waist button before I go out again with them. Finally, although the hook-and-eyelet bottom closures are convenient, I found that the bottom one was frequently loose. For this reason, I might recommend to the manufacturers that they go back to a zipper at the bottom.

In summary, I will continue to use the Royal Robbins Zip N'Go pants on the trail for the foreseeable future. Their fabric, pockets, and overall comfort far outweigh my minor concerns about them.

Things I liked about the Royal Robbins Zip N'Go pants:
  • Fabric comfortable, wind resistant, and dries quickly
  • Pockets, pockets, pockets!
  • Roomy
Things I wasn't crazy about with this gear:
  • Although hook-and-loop bottom closures are convenient, they didn't stay closed all the time
  • Loss of buttons concerning

This concludes my report on the Royal Robbins Zip N'Go pants. My thanks once again to Royal Robbins for providing this equipment for testing, and to BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to participate in the evaluation process.


-larry kirschner

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