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Gear Guy

What are the best pair of desert pants?

I’m going to be in Syria this summer, and want to find a good pair of non-convertible desert pants that aren’t too tight around the ankles. Any ideas? Tyler Arcata, CA

A: Well, to find the right pair of pants for summer weather in the deserts of the Middle East, the main thing to look for is that they breathe well and do what they can to keep you cool. They need to be tough, too. Deserts tend to be full of prickly things and sharp rocks.

You might try ExOfficio’s Vent’r Pant ($70). They’re a very light but durable pair of pants designed with ventilation in mind. Fast-drying nylon fabric, cargo pockets, treated to repel the sun. The ExOfficio Take Over pant ($78) is similar, but a little bit heavier, with reinforcements in key areas such as the knee. Both have a "regular" cut at the ankle, but you could carry a simple elastic band or something to snug them up.

You can find similar pants from other makers. Patagonia, for instance, has the Borderless Trek pants ($75), a comfortable travel pant made from nylon with a bit of Spandex for stretch. Cotton has its advantages when it’s hot and dry—Patagonia’s Custodian Pants ($69) are made from cotton canvas that is tough but also very comfortable.

Lastly, you’d be fine with REI’s Sahara Cargo Pants ($50). Same specs as the others, really—light nylon fabric, comfortable cut, built for hot weather. Plus plenty of pockets for important stuff.

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