The summer and early-fall months bring all sorts of conflict for a guy with Raynaud’s syndrome. On one hand, the sun’s out and it’s nice and warm for hiking. On the other hand, occasional breezes can chill your legs mighty fast if you’re in shorts all the time. The Mountain Khakis Equatorial convertible pants are a great way to solve that problem.
Convertible pants are nothing new. The idea of having pants that zip off at the knee has been around for decades. And Mountain Khakis isn’t the only company to make them. It’s just that they make a darn good convertible pant.
As I mentioned in my Cruiser pants review, Mountain Khakis prides itself on making apparel for serious hikers and climbers. Fortunately the company has a knack for making technical clothes that works for the rest of us, too. A quick look at the specs is a great example. The pants use an abrasion-resistant material with UPF 50+ and DWR. They weigh just 2.7 ounces yet have six pockets, two of which are zippered. They use reinforced heel cuffs that have snaps at the bottom to tighten or loosen the legs near the ankles.
It all sounds pretty serious. It’s not. It’s convenient. And thoughtful. And a good recipe for convertible pants that meet the needs of technical and non-technical outdoorists alike.
Take the UPF and DWR aspects, for instance. Blocking 99 percent of the UV rays is good whether you’re scaling a mountain or on a casual hike. Water resistance is useful on a through-hike or when kayaking on a still lake. Even the breathable and lightweight material serves a purpose for everyone, whether you’re actively managing ounces or just don’t want to sweat like a pig.
The best feature of the Mountain Khakis Equatorial convertible pants is always going to be that they’re convertible. I wore the Equatorial convertible pants on multi-day camping trips, two-hour hikes and lake kayaking. The convertible aspects were convenient in each case — especially for a guy with Raynaud’s. When it was warm I could relish the temperature and switch from pants to shorts in 15 seconds. If I started feeling cold, I just reconnected the legs. The UPF and DWR were just “value adds,” but they were valuable.
For instance, while I was out in the sun, I knew the UPF would protect me regardless of the activity. And the DWR shed water like a champ whenever my son splashed me with his kayak paddle.
The pants are so lightweight and breathable that I never overheated, even with the pant legs on at 85 degrees. But being able to quickly convert the pants to shorts was handy when I needed to pull the kayak into the water. The zip-off legs were convenient when I got warm hiking uphill, too.
As with the Cruiser pants, the Mountain Khakis Equatorial convertible pants come in “normal” sizes. By that, I mean you select your waist and inseam size, not a brand-random Small, Medium, Large or XL. I know that’s not normally a thing to point out, but it’s so novel — and so refreshing — that I’ve just got to give Mountain Khakis kudos for that.
However, the two hiccups I noticed with the Equatorial pants are also similar to the Cruisers. I think they may be common across Mountain Khakis’ pants, so I’d be curious to hear from others. Issue One: they’re labeled as “relaxed fit,” but below the knees was about 2x wider than it needed to be. Even the ankle snaps didn’t really help that much. (See my left leg in the photo above. That girth was there even with the snap snapped.) Issue Two: they tend to make a crunchy swishing sound when walking. I didn’t find this obtrusive while camping or kayaking, but hiking in Mt. Hood National Forest or the Columbia River Gorge can be a quiet experience, so the sound interrupted that sense of natural calm.
Still, neither of those is a deal-breaker. I really enjoy these pants’ features, and the UPF and DWR makes them a perfect fit for being outdoors in variable or unpredictable weather. If you’re in the market for a pair of convertible pants for your fall hikes, give the Equatorial convertible pants a whirl.
The Mountain Khakis Equatorial convertible pants were provided for review. All opinions and words are my own and honest, and the article contains no affiliate links
Mountain Khakis Equatorial Convertible Pants
- Easy removal and reattaching of pant legs, without zipper snags
- A few zippered pockets keeps keys, ID and miscellaneous stuff safe
- Natural waist/inseam sizing is a great attribute
- Really lightweight and easy to pack down
- Kind of baggy down on the lower leg area
- Sound like crinkly warmup pants when walking
- Ankle snaps are a pain to snap together