Gear Shed

Q:

What pants should I get for a three-day summer backpacking trip?

I’m going on a three-day backpacking trip in the Catskills in upstate New York this summer and need a pair of pants for the trip. Something light and breathable, yet tough for abrasion resistance on scrambles. I would also like a bit of water resistance, and a quick dry time if they do get wet. Lastly, I would like something that can pack small if I decide to also carry a pair of shorts with me.
—Sam
Woodstock, NY

The Continental Pant     Photo: courtesy, Patagonia

The Continental Pant

A:The thing is, Sam, pants aren’t apt to be that comfortable in a northeastern summer. It’s likely going to be hot, humid, and sticky—hardly weather for pants that are heavy enough to keep out brambles and protect legs during scrambles.

Still, there are two routes you can go. One is a fairly light pant that affords you some leg protection and water-repellency but doesn’t weigh you down. Patagonia's Continental Pant ($75) is made from a durable polyester/nylon blend that’s light but tough. These pants have a water-repellent treatment so light rain will bead up and run off. And of course they offer excellent sun protection. A good all-around summer pant.

Another nice light pant is the ExOfficio Nio Amphi Pant ($70). A bit lighter than the Continentals, but they still offer decent abrasion protection, along with water-repellency and good breathability. Plus they have cargo pockets.

On the somewhat heavier—and more expensive—end, take a look at Arc'teryx’s Gamma LT pant ($169). These are a light soft shell pant, which means they are warmer than a pant such as the Continental. But they’re remarkably breathable, and super-comfortable when scrambling or engaging in other activities that require a lot of agility. Plus they are tough as nails. Nice pants.

Hope that helps. Have a great trip!

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