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Reviews > Clothing > Pants and Shorts > Royal Robbins Zip N Go Pant > Test Report by Pamela Wyant

Royal Robbin Zip N' Go Pant

Zip N Go as shorts

Initial Report - April 2, 2009
Field Report - June 16, 2009
Long Term Report - August 11, 2009

Tester Information:

Name:  Pam Wyant
Age:  51
Gender:  Female
Height:  5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)
Weight:  170 lb (77 kg)
Waist:  35 in (89 cm)
Hip:  42 in (107 cm)

E-mail address:  pamwyant(at)yahoo(dot)com
Location:  Western West Virginia, U.S.A.

Backpacking Background: 

Pursuing a long-time interest, I started backpacking five years ago.  In addition to day-hiking and weekend backpacking trips I try to do one longer trip each year.  A couple of years ago I began a project to section hike the Appalachian Trail (AT), accruing a little over 250 mi (400 km) so far.  My backpacking style always seems to be evolving somewhat, and I like trying different gear and techniques.  I can probably best be described as lightweight and minimalist; cutting as much pack weight as I can without sacrificing warmth, comfort, or safety

Initial Report - April 2, 2009

Product Information:

Manufacturer:  Royal Robbin
Year of manufacture:  2009
Model:  Zip N' Go Pant
Color:  Chicory (Brown)
Size:  Women's 16 regular


Advertised weight:  not available
  Measured weight as pants: 414 g (14.6 oz)
  Measured weight of shorts 232 g (8.2 oz)

MSRP:  US$ 65

Product Description:

The Royal Robbin Zip N' Go Pant are lightweight convertible pants made of Supplex nylon.  They are relatively conventional in styling, featuring a 'classic rise' and 'action waist'.  Translation:  they sit at the natural waistline and feature a 4.5 in (11.5 cm) elastic section on each side of the waist.  One of the hang tags that came attached to the waist of the pants provides information about the properties of Supplex nylon - "Cottony-soft comfort", "Shrink and fade resistant", and "Faster drying than cotton".  A second hang tag lists some of the features of the pant, including that they "don't retain odor", are wrinkle-resistant and provide UPF protection.  The level of UPF protection is not listed.  I'm interested in finding out whether these pants are more odor resistant than other nylon pants I have owned, especially when worn several days in a row on backpacking trips.

Waist and pocket detail

Waist detail

The waistband of the pants is about 1.5 in (4 cm) high, measures about 35 in (85 cm) in circumference, and fastens with a traditional plastic button and buttonhole.  The pants have a single waist pleat on each side of the front.  The back has darts on each side, spaced about half way from the center to the side seam, and running from the waist band down about 3 in (7.5 cm).  The hang tag says the pants have a gusseted crotch, but is is more of a separate panel approximately 4 in (10 cm) wide that runs down the inseam, rather than the more traditional triangular shaped gussets that I am used to.

Gusseted crotch

Gusseted crotch

The pants feature two generously sized slash style hand pockets that are lined with a silky textured nylon in the front and mesh nylon in the back.  A 1 in x 1 1/4 in (2.5 x 3.25 cm) tag on the right hand pocket provides laundering instructions - "machine wash cool", wash colors separately", "tumble dry low", "remove promptly".  The tag goes on to mention the pants may be ironed with a cool iron if needed. not to use fabric softener, and to use non-chlorine bleach only. 

The pants also feature two relatively small cargo pockets (5 x 6 in/13 x 15 cm) on the front, just above the zip-off portion of the legs.  Both pockets feature a top flap with a 1/2 x 1 3/4 in (1.3 x 4.5 cm) strip of hook and loop fastener to hold the flap in place.  The right hand one also features a zipper closure.  The pants have a single hip pocket on the right hand side that measures approximately 6 x 6 in (15 x 15 cm) and has a flap and hook and loop fastener similar to the front pockets.  A small label with the brand name is located just above the hip pocket on the right side.

Leg zipper detail

Leg zipper detail

The pants feature zip-off legs, with the leg zippers covered by a hemmed flap of fabric on both the outside and inside.  The Zip N' Go Pant differs from other convertible pants I have used in that it does not have a zipper at the ankle to allow the pants legs to open up for pulling them on and off over shoes.  Instead they have a triangular gusset of fabric on the inside of the leg which is approximately 12.5 in (32 cm) high and 5 in (12.5 cm) wide at the hem, which narrows to a point at the top.  This fastens closed with three hook and loop fasteners of the same size as those on the pockets, which serve to expand the leg opening when needed, or hold it closed when a tighter fit is desired.  These are the first pants I've seen that use this method, and I am interested to see how well it works. 

The back side of the hems feature two buttons each, spaced at about 2 and 4 in (5 and 10 cm) from the outside.  An elastic loop sewn into the seam can be hooked across the buttons to tighten the hem of the pants.  This is another interesting feature to me as most other convertible pants I have owned either have a hook and loop fastener to perform this function, or they have 1-2 snaps.

Storage pouch hides behind this flap

Mesh storage pouch hides behind this flap on the leg

The zip-off portion of the left leg features an almost hidden mesh pocket that opens via a short flap with two hook and loop fasteners. This pocket can be turned inside out and used as a pouch to store both lower pants legs.  It features a 1.5 x 2 in (4 cm x 5 cm) tab on each side that can be fastened via a hoop and loop fastener to the belt loops at the waist.  The waist have five loops spaced so that the pouch can be fastened on either side of the waist, across the back, or in the front.  My normal hiking attire is convertible pants, and I normally keep the lower legs on while hiking, taking them off only for stream crossings.  I think the design of the built in pouch could come in very handy to fasten to my waist for crossings when I don't want the hassle of removing my pack and storing the pants legs in it.

Stored pants legs on waist band

The stored pant legs can fasten to the waist band in this pouch

And last, but not least, the pants feature a small mesh pocket hidden on the inside of the right hip.  This pocket appears to be sized to hold a small wallet or ID.  Unfortunately it does not have a zipper or any sort of fastener to keep the top closed, so I am a bit concerned that items I place in it could fall out, especially during bathroom breaks or when changing into or out of the pants at camp.

Hidden pocket inside hip

Mesh pocket inside right hip.  Shown with pack of 3 x 3 in (7.5 x 7.5 cm) pad of sticky notes for scale.

Trying them out:

After opening the button and unzipping the zipper, I anxiously pulled the pants on.  I've found women's pants can vary so widely in fit that it's always a bit of a gamble as to whether they will fit if I buy a pair without first trying them on.   I was happy to find that these pants are a perfect fit for me.  They are loose enough in all the right places (like the hips and thighs) without being sloppy; and snug in the waist without being too tight. 

The shorts portion have an inseam of approximately 7 in (18 cm), which is a very comfortable length for me, hitting about 6-7 in (15-18 cm) above my knee.  The hemmed flaps covering the leg zippers are well designed to keep them both hidden and to make them comfortable on the inside.  I have had some convertible pants where the zippers rubbed uncomfortably on the inside, but this does not seem like it will be a problem with the Zip N' Go Pant.

The overall length of the pants also is good for me.  I can fasten the ankle adjustment button and loop at either button to customize the fit depending on the style and thickness of the shoes or boots I am wearing.

Preliminary Impressions:

The Zip N' Go Pant seem to be well constructed with quality materials, even stitching, and sturdy flat felled seams.  The  features seem to be well thought out, balancing function with form.

The waist zipper and both zippers for removing the lower portion of the legs worked smoothly and easily and they do not seem prone to snagging.  The Supplex nylon fabric is soft to the touch and supple.

At this point, the only suggestion I have that might enhance the pants is to have a zipper on the hidden mesh pocket on the inside of the right hip to make it more usable for securing small essentials such as an ID or keys.

Field Report - June 16, 2009

Zip N Go Pant in Shenandoah National ParkField Locations and Conditions:

In mid-April, I wore the Zip N' Go pant on a short (3 mi/5km) overnight backpacking trip in southern West Virginia, on a trip where a friend and I were teaching beginner backpacking.  Daytime temperatures were pleasant, in the mid 70 F range (around 24 C), and overnight temperatures were around 40 F (about 4 C).  The weather was clear, with only a small breeze every now and then.  The trail was maintained, but rugged with lots of ruts, mud, roots, and elevation change.

In late April I wore the Zip N' Go pant on an overnight training at our local Girl Scout Camp.  Temperatures and weather conditions were similar to the mid-April trip.  I did not hike, but wore them while conducting a training on outdoor cooking and camping.

I also wore the Zip N' Go pant on a 6-day section hike of the Appalachian Trail (AT) in North Carolina, from Winding Stair Gap to Fontana Dam (approximately 58 mi/93 km), where I wore them daily, washing them mid-way through the trip when I stopped at the Nantahala Outdoor Center.    Daytime temperatures ranged from around 45 F (about 7 C) to around 85 F (about 29 C), with night temperatures about 35 F (2 C) to around 55 F (13 C).  The first day and early night were rainy and windy, and after that weather conditions were dry with only light breezes.   Terrain was rugged, with lots of rocks and roots and significant elevation changes (from a low of about 1700 ft/500m to a high of about 5300 ft/1600 m, and lots of ups and downs in between those extremes).  It seemed I was always either going straight up or straight down!

In early June I wore them on a car camping trip with an 8 mi/13 km day hike on the AT in Shenandoah National Park.  It seems we decided to travel the wrong direction (north to south), since we had lots of endless uphills and only a few downhills.  The weather was warm in the 80 F (27 C) range during the day, cooling down into the 60 F (16 C) range at night.


On all the trips I wore the pants in 'long pants' mode, which is the way I normally use convertible pants.  On the North Carolina trip, I had to do some rock scrambling, including a bit of scooting down on the seat of my pants.  So far the pants are holding up very well - they hardly look worn at all, even with the small amount of very rough use.

I haven't yet had them soaked on the trail, having worn rain chaps over them on the rainy day of my AT trip, but they dry quickly when washed.  I've found the pockets handy.  I typically keep my ID and a small amount of cash in the right (zippered) cargo pocket, where it rides very comfortably and is easy to reach if needed.  My camera fits into the left cargo pocket with the hook and loop fastener, which keeps it securely in place, yet still easy to reach for quick photos.  This leaves the hand pockets free to stuff a handkerchief, energy gel, or gloves.  They are even large enough that I can stuff a light weight wool beanie hat and the gloves in one pocket, which came in useful during my AT trip.  This let me take the hat and gloves off when I was hiking up a steep hill and getting very warm, yet still have them at hand when I topped the hill and started to cool off on the shady down hills, making it much easier to keep comfortably warm and not overheat too much.

One benefit of these pants that I had not thought about before this hike is that the mesh lining of the pockets provides a lot more ventilation than normal fabric pockets, which was great on some of the long hot uphills.  It was also good to dry my bandanna out more quickly.  The storage pocket on the leg also was useful to keep a 'dab rag' where it could dry out quickly.

I haven't yet been on a trip where I had to ford any significant amount of water, so I haven't tried storing the pants legs on the waistband yet.  Hopefully I will get a chance for a trip like that during the long term test period.  The thick fabric and hook and loop fasteners attached to the leg storage pocket is about the only negative I have noticed about these pants.  It doesn't bother me when walking, but when I pull the pants on and off it feels a little strange - stiff and bulky, but this is pretty minor.

I did have the lower hook and loop fastener on the right leg come loose a couple of time during my longer trip, which made the pants a little too floppy, so I quickly stopped and took a couple of seconds to re-secure it.  I rather like not having the metal zippers on the bottom of the pants legs - they feel a little more comfortable and it is easier to rip the hook and loop loose to widen the pants leg than it is to operate a zipper.

The fit of the pants has been very good.  I haven't bothered wearing a belt with them, but the waistband still stays up pretty well.  They are generous enough in all the right places, so that my range of motion is very good in them, even when doing a bit of rock scrambling.  (Unfortunately I can't say the same about my poor chaps which pretty much got trashed on the first day of my AT trip, but that's another story for another day.)

They also seem to have some odor-resistant properties.  At least I can stand to wear them for 3 days in a row without laundering, and I even considered not washing them during my 6 day trip, but decided I would probably be a bit happier if I at least got the sweat salts out of them!  So far there is no sign of either fading or sweat discoloration.


The Royal Robbin Zip N' Go Pant are working very well for me.  They fit great, have been durable even with a bit of rock scrambling use, and have very useful and handy pockets.  They also launder very well and have been resistant to fading or discoloring.  At this point, I'd have to say they are my new favorite convertible pants.

Long Term Report - August 11, 2009

Field Locations and Conditions:

In June I wore the Zip N' Go Pant on 3 day hikes in western West Virginia.  Each hike was about 3 mi (5 km) on old semi-maintained county roads or gas well roads.  Temperatures ranged from about 60-80 F (16-27 C).  Weather for these hikes was dry and overcast.

In late June I wore them on an overnight car camping trip in southeastern Ohio.  Temperatures were around 80 F (27 C) during the day, and 65 F (18 C) at night.

In late July I wore them 2 days of a 4 day Girl Scout camp.  Temperatures were in the 60-80 F range (16-27 C).  The weather varied from sunny to light rain to a heavy downpour.  The pants got a good soaking as I wore a rain jacket, but no rain pants.

This past weekend I wore them on a 4 mi (6.5 km) hike in Prince William Forest in eastern Virginia.  The weather was hot and muggy, with high humidity and temperatures in the mid 80 F (around 30 C) range.

I've also worn them approximately 10 days for casual use around the house or running errands.

Use and conclusions:

Small section of loose threadI have continued to wear the Zip N'Go Pant in pants mode on each hike.  In fact, I really haven't found the need to zip the bottoms off, although I did undo the zipper slightly around the front of my knees a couple of times for ventilation.  This is pretty typical for me for convertible pants.  I like being able to make them into shorts for stream crossings, but I like hiking in pants.  This summer's hiking just hasn't involved any stream crossings that couldn't be rock hopped, so I never found the need to convert the pants.

I haven't done any rock scrambling since my Field Report, but the hike in Prince William Forest involved a small amount of high stepping in a couple of rocky areas.  I have noticed one small section of loose thread, about 1/2 in (1.5 cm) just to the back of the crotch gusset in the seat seam, which I will repair with a bit of machine stitching.  Otherwise the pants show no signs of wear or fading and look nearly as good as new, even after four months of use and around a couple dozen trips through the washing machine.

With the light hiking shoes I've been wearing lately, I found I could just unfasten the elastic loop from the button and pull the pants off and on over my shoes without having to unfasten the hook and loop closures at all.  With thicker shoes or boots, I can unfasten the hook and loop to facilitate this procedure.

The pockets of these pants have been very satisfactory.  I can store a camera in either the front patch pocket or the side slash pockets, and the zippered front patch pocket on the right side is great for storing my ID, credit cards, or a few dollars and some change.  A single slash pockets will hold even a bulky key ring and a bandanna.  I've enjoyed the cool mesh backing of the slash pockets, which seems to help keep me cooler in muggy weather.

The fit of the pants has been excellent.  They are roomy in all the right places (like the hips and thighs), and fit well in the waist.  The articulated knees and gusseted crotch make it easy to stretch my legs higher for a tall rock in the trail, or to bend comfortably to gather and treat water.  The pants fit so well that I never found it necessary to wear a belt, which I count as a plus for comfort under a pack and simplicity in dressing.

Lately I've been keeping the elastic loop around one of the buttons as I hike, and I have not had any further problems with the hook and loop coming loose when I didn't want it to.

About the only downside to these pants is that sometimes I notice the bulk of the tabs attached to the mesh storage pouch on the lower left leg.  Since I never really converted the pants to shorts, and only do this occasionally when I hike, I am considering simply cutting these tabs off.  That way I could still stow the pants inside the pouch and use it for storing a dab rag, but it wouldn't be as bulky, and I could simply stow the pouch in a pocket of my pack.

The pants dried quickly (within 30 minutes or so) when I was caught in a soaking rain.  While they were slightly clingy when soaking wet, they weren't too uncomfortable as temperatures were warm.


The Zip N' Go Pant have become my new favorite outdoor activity pants.  They fit great, have very usable and handy pockets (including a convenient zippered security pocket) and have been durable.  The dark color helps camoflauge dirt so they look clean a little longer, and they seem to be somewhat odor resistant.  I plan to not only continue using these pants for backpacking and hiking until they wear out, but I plan to purchase another pair or two to use for multi-day (non-backpacking) trips where I might want truly clean pants each day.  I'd love to see these same pants made in a non-convertible model for casual use when I don't want a zipper line visible on the pants legs.


Fit well
Useful and ample pockets


Bulkiness around storage pocket for pants legs

Thanks to Royal Robbin and for the opportunity to test the Zip N' Go Pant.

Read more reviews of Royal Robbins gear
Read more gear reviews by Pamela Wyant

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