My man… have you had trouble finding pants to travel in?
It seems like guys have only two options: comfort or style.
Which do you choose?
- Comfortable, functional, and durable: Typically this means active, outdoors-y pants meant for hitting the gym or hiking in forests. If you get soaked in a rain storm, they dry quickly. The pockets are big, so you can stuff them with muffins at your hostel. And they are baggy, so your “boys” have plenty of space in cramped bus rides, airline seats, or cars. But there is a problem… you kinda look like a tool.
- Fashionable and stylish: After traveling, you want to go meet some people… maybe even a lady, AND having nice pants helps. A good pair of jeans, khakis, or other trendy pants will help you fit into a local bar or club. Some places might not even let you in wearing those Other Comfortable Travel Pants. But these pants usually end up just sitting in your backpack most of the time and they are heavy to lug around.
So… I’ve been looking for the perfect travel pant for years and I’ve almost found it.
I know what you are thinking…
“Benjamin, just bring two pairs of pants.”
And to you, I say, “Touche.” You are a smart dude, of course.
But I’ve done that and it works, but I want a lighter a pack. I carry all my stuff on my back, including camera equipment, so I’m always looking for ways to lighten my load. Jeans can be pretty heavy too. They weigh about a pound, and if I wear my backpack for hours every day, that weight really adds up.*
This is why I experimented with my One Travel Pant Solution.
For over 150 days, I wore only one pair of pants.**
It wasn’t by design at first, but after my “nice” pants had split down the middle, instead of rushing out and buying a new set, I just kept the one pair. Thank Niall Doherty and his article on wearing one pair of pants for inspiring me.
I was in Stanley, Idaho at the time and had 5 months of traveling ahead of me, so I figured I could play the whole “I’m an adventure sort of guy” card. Although pretty quickly it became an experiment on how long I (and these pants) could last.
Without further ado, here are my beloved pants:
Here’s the skinny on these pants…
They fit well, when so many other’s are so baggy, I feel like a rapper. The material stretches, but not so much that I feel like I’m wearing yoga pants. The pockets have zippers, which will USUALLY keep your passport/wallet safe (although my girlfriend’s passport slipped thru in Mexico). The color doesn’t look too “outdoorsy” and they zip down into shorts.
If you are the sort of dude who is into Pant Details (like the percentage of polyester/spandex blend or what the UPF rating is, then go here.)
They look pretty good, right?
And the pants passed my Durability Test.
Here’s some of what they’ve been through:
- Swam and hiked the Sawtooth Mountains.
- Withstood the playa dust at Burning Man.
- Hitchhiked from Stanley, Idaho to Missoula.
- Greyhounded from Missoula to Banff.
- Climbed snowy mountains and rode mountain bikes in Banff.
- Hitchhiked from Banff to San Francisco.
- Survived falling in love at a drag show in SF
- Rideshared to San Diego
- Bussed to Mulege on the Baja
- Climbed small mountains and tried to swim in the Sea of Cortez (rocks were covered in barnacles)
- Hitchhiked across the USA again (San Diego to Jacksonville, Florida)
In total, I’ve had these pants for over a year and a half, and I’ve hitchhiked over 4,600 miles and have traveled over 10,000 miles in them.
With the right maintenance, they could last another big trip too.
But we already knew how tough and durable they were though, right?
Well, I’ve also taken them to some fancier places like…
- A nice Thai restaurant in Dallas with some friends who know a lot about RVs
- Hip bar in San Francisco with dudes who don’t have much stuff, a good blogger, and a zen family man.
Oh and… my girlfriend at the time rarely complained about them (odor or aesthetics).
But I’ll admit… they aren’t the fanciest pants ever.
You probably shouldn’t go to a job interview in them or meet up with Kirsten Dunst for your date. BUT for travel pants, these can take you almost anywhere (most people forgive a traveler for looking a tad un-stylish).
In fact, according to my very accurate and unbiased calculations, REI’s Endeavor Convertible Pants will help you rank 4.3 points less on the Toolness Scale (see below).
Here’s why these pants rule:
- The Material: The pants are 11% spandex, which is enough to give you room to move and shake without being yoga pants-y. The material is thin enough to breath and dry quickly. Yet, isn’t as thin as those “plastic feeling” active pants. Add in some wind and sun resistance and I’m pretty sure you will dig the material.
- The Fit: Most travel pants are too baggy. Unless you are touring with Rick Ross or want to fit in with the senior citizen crowd, go with pants that fit you well.
- The Functionality: Pocket zippers are essential for the traveler getting in and out of cars (or other forms of transportation). There are also zippers on the side bottom part of the leg (see picture), so you can make your pants shorts without taking your boots off. They also have different colored zipper material, so you know which leg goes with which leg.
But these pants aren’t perfect. Here’s why these pants suck:
- The Price: These pants go for 109$ from REI, which is pretty steep. It is tough for me to invest large amounts of money in clothing, when I know that any point in my travels, they could be ruined.
- The Style: Let’s face it, any type of “convertible” pant isn’t all that stylish. Convertible pants always make it seem like you are off to go bird watching and you are 50. If someone could hide the zippers completely, I’d be happy.
- The Fit: I’m no skinny jean-loving punk rocker, but I like my pants to fit. These are still a little too baggy for me.
If you want to travel with one pair of pants and you have an extra 100$ lying around, then these could be your new favorite pants.
EXTRA: Potential Business Idea for You:
Make trendy clothes for traveling dudes. There is still a big gap between the clothes I like to wear and those that are the most functional. Maybe you could change that? Or maybe you just know some clothing places I don’t?
Do you have a piece of travel gear that you love? Please share in the comments.
Or maybe you want to know about another piece of gear, I haven’t mentioned. Ask any questions below or shoot me an email at benjamin(at)adventuresauce(dot)com.
- Your friend,
Ps. Join our Posse of thoughtful adventurous types and get 5 lessons about traveling.