Royal Robbins Zip N' Go Pants
TEST SERIES BY LARRY KIRSCHNER
INITIAL REPORT - March 29, 2009
FIELD REPORT - June 16, 2009
LONG TERM REPORT - August 9, 2009
asklarry98 at hotmail dot com
5' 9" (1.75 m)
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…
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)
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).
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:
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.
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
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.
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.
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
- Lots of pockets
- None at the moment
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June 16, 2009
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.
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.
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
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.
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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August 9, 2009
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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:
Things I wasn't crazy about with this gear:
- Fabric comfortable, wind resistant, and dries quickly
- Pockets, pockets, pockets!
- 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.
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Read more gear reviews by Larry Kirschner