Royal Robbins Women's Zip N' Go Pants
Test Series by Sophie Pearson
Initial Report - March 31, 2009
Field Report - June 9, 2009
Long-Term Report - August 11, 2009
Name: Sophie Pearson
Height: 5' 8" (1.71 m)
Weight: 180 lb (82 kg)
Email address: sophiep3 at gmail dot com
Location: Tampa, Florida, USA
I first started backpacking as a teenager in England. I did a
28-day trip in the Arctic, but most of my backpacking experience
has been weekend to 10-day trips, in a range of terrains and climates.
I am a volcanologist so I also do day hikes carrying loaded packs over
intense terrain. Nowadays I am generally in sub-tropical climates. I
am heading increasingly towards ultralight packing, and unless I am
sharing I use a bivy. I try to pack around 20 lb (9 kg) for long
weekend trips but have carried over 50 lb (23 kg).
These are lightweight, convertible hiking pants that are a great fit other than a slight tendency to go up my bottom.
The pants have 2 hip pockets and 2 cargo pockets, one of which has a zip closure as well as a flap closure.
The pants have one open, internal mesh pocket but I don't think it would be comfortable to put anything hard like a driver's license in there.
The convertible pants have zips to remove the legs. There is also a pocket on one leg.
The pocket on the leg turns inside out to form a stuff sack for the pant legs. So cool!
The legs have 2 buttons and a loop to make the legs narrower. They also have three hook and loop closure strips in a pleat that allow them to be widened to fit over boots.
March 31, 2009
Manufacturer: Royal Robbins
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Size: 14 regular
Color: Jet black
|Weight||N/A||14 oz (400 g)|
|Waist||32.5 in (83 cm)||35 in (89 cm)|
|Hip||42.5 in (108 cm)||42 in (107 cm)|
|Inseam||32.75 in (83 cm)||31 in (79 cm)|
|Short inseam||6.5 in (16.51 cm)||6 in (15 cm)|
Metric conversions for the listed details were calculated by me. Lengths were to the best of my ability when I was wearing the pants (hence the larger waist size). The pants also come in khaki and chicory colors (a kind of mid brown). Sizes available are 2 to 18 in short, regular and long.
The Royal Robbins Zip N' Go Pants are convertible, lightweight pants designed for the outdoors. Zips just above the knee allow the pant legs to be removed or attached as the environment and climate warrant. The pants are made of nylon with a button and zip closure and 2 patches of elastic in the waistband. They have 6 external pockets - 4 at the front, one on the leg and one at the back. They also have an internal mesh pocket attached to the waistband. The pocket in the leg also doubles as a stuff sack and
has hook and loop closures on the sides so that the pocket can be attached to the belt loops of the pants. Each leg is straight fitting but has a pleat with 3 pieces of hook and loop material that allow the legs to be opened wider. On the bottom of the pant legs there are 2 buttons and a loop which allow the pant bottoms to be pulled in tighter.
The pants come with 4 tags, two of which show the size, one talks about 'Supplex, the cottony-soft comfort' material that the pants are made of, its shrink and fade resistance and its quick-drying ability. The fourth tag also mentions these things, but includes more information from the website, about odor resistance and gusseted legs and crotch. The washing instructions are sewn in and are pretty typical - machine wash cool, wash colors separately, tumble dry low and remove promptly, do not use with fabric softener.
On first inspection these pants look like good quality, but fairly standard convertible pants. However, I quickly discovered features that I really like - the pocket in the left leg converts nicely into a stuff sack for both legs, the hook and loop closures on the legs mean that they extend enough to fit over boots, and the hip pockets are deep and don't zip, making them more comfortable.
These pants are a nice fit, and appear to be true to the size listed on the website. They are pretty much perfect around my waist and hips (although I am planning to lose weight, haha!) and I think that the elastic in the waist will mean that they will still fit if my weight fluctuates. The length is really good and they reach well over my boots. At the back they do go up my bottom ever so slightly, but I have found that with pretty much every
pair of pants I own. They do not feel constricting at all when I move. The zips to connect the legs to the pants are at a good height - the shorts are not too long but long enough to be presentable. They also have material on either side of the zips hopefully meaning that they won't rub on my skin as an old pair of hiking pants used to do.
The pockets appear to be conveniently placed and a good size. Other than the internal pocket, they all have mesh fronts and material backs. The 2 in the front at the waist are just open, while the others all have a flap of material that attaches to the body of the pants with hook and loop closures. It wasn't until I read the information on the website that I noticed that the pocket on the right leg actually zips closed as well, a nice touch for things that need to be kept more securely. The internal pocket seems a bit funny to me - it is made entirely of mesh and does not have any type of closure. I suppose that it is to keep things hidden and secure, but as it sits near the waist I can't imagine it being comfortable with anything solid in there. I will see
if I find a use for it!
I am a big fan of convertible pants, especially in hot climates, but have found that it can be a real pain taking them on and off. The pant leg removal and attachment is standard, with zips, but the extendibility of the leg bottoms means that I do not have to take my boots off to take the legs off. The two legs are not interchangeable, but I cannot imagine that it would be comfortable with the pocket on the inside anyway! The pleats that allow the legs to extend are on the inside, which I find a bit strange, but I guess that is because of the pocket. Or maybe so that they don't come open by getting caught when trekking through things? I can't imagine that I will use either of the buttons to make the bottom of the pant legs smaller, as I generally like flared pants and maximum air flow when I am hiking. However, if I hike in colder environments and/or somewhere with ticks or other things that keep getting up the pant legs, I guess it would be useful. I do really like the stuff sack/pocket feature on the one leg. When turned inside out to form the stuff sack, the pocket easily fits both pant legs. It has pieces of material on each side that have hook and loop closures so that they can be attached to a belt loop. As the pocket is big and bulky I don't think I will want to attach it to my waist belt, particularly if I am wearing a backpack (which I pretty much always am if I am hiking). It is nice to have a convenient place to keep both legs together though, and I can attach it to my backpack for convenience and space when I am hiking.
The material of the pants is very light, and other pants I have had of that material have definitely been quick drying. I have never heard the manufacturer's claim about not retaining odor before though, so I will definitely be checking on that as well (chili anyone?!!) They also tout that they are wrinkle resistant, which would be really nice, except that they already look a bit wrinkled. I am not generally fussy about wrinkles, but will try to be for these! Another interesting feature about these pants is the gusseted crotch and legs. The gusseted leg is the pleated extensions that have the hook and loop closures, definitely a good idea as it means that I don't have to take my boots off to change my pants to shorts. The gusseted crotch is a separate piece of material in the crotch, that is identical thickness and material to the rest of the pants. Supposedly it is to redistribute stress to allow greater flexibility of motion and make it less likely to tear them. If I can tell any difference from my old, ungusseted pants I will let you know in the field report in approximately 2 months, along with any new features and durability issues. Please check back then!
Hiking in Myakka River State Park the pants got their first introduction to armadillos (and rattlesnakes)!
Although I put on weight before the hike up Big Frog Mountain, the pants are still a comfortable fit.
June 9, 2009
The first time I wore the pants was on a three day kayaking / wedding extravaganza. I wore them for one of the days, when we did 5 miles (8 km) of kayaking. I didn't wear them to the wedding though! Temperatures were between 44 and 84 F (7 and 29 C). My first time wearing them for hiking was a two day trip to Myakka River State Park in west Florida. Temperatures were between 69 and 91 F (21 and 33 C), with severe afternoon thunderstorms. We hiked 11 miles (18 km), passing 5 ft (1.52 m) rattlesnakes, baby gators (but no parents) and so many armadillos! The other trip I wore them on was a three day whitewater rafting/hiking trip on the Ocoee River and Big Frog Mountain in Tennessee. We hiked 23 miles (37 km) over two days, with elevation changes of over 2000 ft (610 m). Temperatures were between 51 and 78 F (11 and 26 C) with no rain, but an abundance of ticks and noseeums.
The first thing that struck me about these pants is just how good they are at wicking away moisture. I don't know if it is because my other pants are all so old, or these really are superior. I have a sit-in kayak and normally my bottom and legs get extremely soggy, but wearing these pants the moisture just fell right off, and they dried in a second. Fantastic!
I love the fit of these pants. I have put on 10 lbs (4.5 kg) since I started this test and the pants still fit comfortably. When they first arrived in March I wondered if I could have got a size larger, so I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least, when they still did up and I could breathe and sit down in them after putting on the weight! I think the elastic in the waist band must really help there. They are also surprisingly forgiving when it comes to movement. I have never had a pair of pants that I don't notice when I am wearing them hiking. My comfortable pair tend to fall down, and my others restrict movement going uphill. These do neither. They are also a great length, which never happens for me as I am not the skinniest, and have short legs for my height. I wouldn't object to more space across the hips, but can't have everything!
I have mixed emotions about the pockets. I love the way that the legs fold into the leg pocket, and have used that frequently. It is great to keep the legs together, but not really to attach to the waist belt as I always have some kind of pack on my back, and it looks silly! I really like the middle pockets too, they are big enough to stow my camera, the things in there don't bang my leg, and with the zip I can put credit cards or other important things away securely. However, the hip pockets are totally inaccessible with a waist belt on. They also sit very flat on my hips, so I can't put anything bigger than a small cell phone in there comfortably, not even my wallet. The leg pocket is also a bit too low to be used unless all the others are full. I have not wanted to use the internal mesh pocket as I don't fancy rooting around in my underwear to get to my things (or so it would look)! I would probably use it if I was doing fieldwork in Nicaragua though, as they have a lot of problems with bandits and the pocket is well hidden. I will try to test it to see how much it can hold, or if it is comfortable.
The extensions of the legs mean that they easily fit over all the boots I have tried them with. This is a huge selling point for me as lacing boots takes ages and it can be so hard to get them comfortable! The hook and loop closures in the pleats stay fastened no problem. However, I tried wearing the pants bell-bottom style and provided some amusement as the legs stick to each other. I didn't notice it when I first zipped off the legs, but they don't seem to fit switching the right and left so I guess that is how they are meant to be. It means that the pleats have to be closed otherwise they get annoying, but the pants are loose enough to still get ventilation. I did button up the bottom of the pants in Tennessee where we had an abundance of ticks. On the tighter of the two buttons they were still not really tight, but I did not get any ticks and some of my friends did so I guess it worked! The buttons are quite small so are a bit fiddly.
The pants are not currently showing any signs of wear, despite wearing them through some pretty thorny underbrush. I have washed them four times, and dried them once. They don't wrinkle as much as my 9-year-old pair of hiking pants, but their wrinkle-free capabilities haven't really hit me. I haven't worn them for enough days in a row yet to see if they do absorb odor, but they are certainly not any smellier than any others I have. These pants have quickly become my favorite pair, and I am looking forward to seeing how they fare over the next two months!
Hiking past the biggest rapids in our part of Florida (!) I decided to try keeping the legs attached to the waist belt. Not an unqualified success.
Other than loose threads in the button hole, on the pant leg pocket and around the waist belt the pants have lasted very well.
Wrinkles fall out of the pants fairly quickly. Left is the pants, which were worn for 2 hours, right is the legs that were not.
August 11, 2009
The pants have been on three overnight trips and numerous day trips, all in central Florida. Temperatures ranged between 51 and 95 F (11 and 35 C), but were usually above 70 F (21 C). Humidity was anywhere up to 100%, rarely below 40%. Outdoor sauna anyone?!!
The pants have continued to hold up well over the last two months. Quite a few loose threads have developed, but nothing has broken, fallen off or worn thin. Where I have been keeping things in the hip pockets they are now slightly baggier than they were, but not much. They have continued to feel extremely comfortable and not restrict my motion. Since the field report I have lost weight so I am actually below when I started the test overall, and the pants are definitely the best fit now. The hip pockets have space in them and the waist belt doesn't need the stretch elastic to fit. Even so, I prefer something looser for kayaking. They are certainly not uncomfortable, but I prefer a looser waist band when I am sitting, and also a lower one so that I can wander round in just a bikini top and shorts at the beach. These are definitely too high-waisted for that, but I take that as a trade-off for the fact that they stay up really well.
I finally got around to trying out all the different pockets, and I was pleasantly surprised. I put my driver's license and debit card in the inner mesh pocket during a day hike, and promptly forgot about them. It wasn't all that easy to put them in there or take them out, but I managed to do it in public without drawing attention to myself, and even when sitting down I couldn't feel the cards. This would be nice for going to dangerous areas, but for around Tampa I doubt I'll use it much.
I found that the distribution of weight in the outer pockets made a big difference. I never use back pockets so that one didn't really make any difference, other than that the opening is in the same location as the inner mesh pocket, so hides the fact that there is something hard and credit card shaped down my pants! With the front pockets I found that the lower ones could not hold as much as the hip ones, but were much better for heavier things like cameras. When I put my camera in the hip pocket it sat over the front of my hip where my leg bends, so banged my leg with every step. The camera still worked great in the lower pocket, and a cell phone and car keys weren't noticeable in the hip pocket. I therefore think that the hip pockets are great for day hikes, but a bit useless for backpacking.
I tried putting the legs in their storage pocket and attaching the pocket to the waist belt as the manufacturer suggested. The pocket is great, but was not so good when attached. The waist belt loops are all in the wrong place, so either the pocket looked like a bunny tail, or it sat over my hip and got in the way when I swung my arm. I think the belt loops would need to be moved around so that the pocket could sit between the two. It didn't look horrifically bad, but I doubt I will carry them that way again.
When it comes to odor and wrinkle resistance, I wouldn't write home about it but they do seem slightly better than my other pants. In the outdoor sauna that is Florida in the summer, I get very sweaty very quickly and my top was stinking but the pants didn't smell any different to when I put them on. That is definitely nice, but I've found that there is always some item of clothing that gets smelly so it's not worth worrying about. To me it's part of the experience! The pants do get wrinkles in them, but they fall out much quicker than any of my other clothes. The pants had been poorly folded on my shelf for a while and after 2 hours of wearing them there was hardly a wrinkle in them. It was a definite contrast with the pant legs, which I did not take out of the pocket until I took the picture on the right.
The Royal Robbins Zip N' Go Pants are light-weight, convertible pants that are extremely comfortable and have a couple of nice features like a pocket to put the legs in when not using them, and a zippered cargo pocket at the front. They have remained comfortable with some pretty large fluctuations in weight, and will certainly remain my go-to hiking pants for as long as they last
Never constricted my motion or fell down
Shorts are a good length
Forgiving with changes in weight
Leg pocket makes it easy to keep all components of the pants together
Front pockets are accessible, a good size and one can be zippered for security
Inside pocket can be used to hide a credit card and ID when hiking
They dry really quickly
They have developed a few loose threads
The waist belt loop positioning makes it awkward to attach the leg pocket to it
The hook and loop closures on the inner leg mean that they stick to each other when open
The hip pockets are inaccessible with a backpack on
Many thanks to Royal Robbins and to BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test the Royal Robbins Women's Zip N' Go pants.
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Read more gear reviews by Sophie Pearson