Baja (Corbis)
Gear Guy

Which hiking pants can stand up to Baja’s thorny plants?

I like to hike in Baja where the vegetation includes some of the nastiest plants I've ever met. Do you have a recommendation for the toughest pants to wear? Jon Pacifica, California


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I was in Baja for a bit last fall and was struck by how completely aggressive the foliage there can be. I think we came across one plant that didn’t have enormous spikes growing out of it. One guy in our party inadvertently leaned against a cactus to keep his balance and drove a spike between two fingers, where it remained until he got home and a plastic surgeon could fish it out (close to nerves).


Baja Baja

Anyway, there’s the threat of spiky plants. But there’s also a great deal of heat, very hot heat, in Baja. So the obvious choices—chain mail, for instance—aren’t practical. Same for motorcyclists’ pants made from Cordura, which is very tough stuff. It’s too hot, and they cost $200 or so.

One option: Chainsaw chaps. These are made from Cordura or similar material—some even use Kevlar—to provide excellent protection across your thigh and shin. Yet they’re open in back so you get pretty good ventilation. The Sawbuck Kevlar Chap sells for $75, and is available at places such as CSP Outdoors, a construction-safety store (they’re a Yahoo site; just do a search for CSP Outdoors and it will pop right up).

Then again, lots of people manage in Baja just wearing shorts. So by taking a little care, and carrying a good thorn kit, you might get along just fine. And be a lot more comfortable.

The votes are in: Check out the winners of Outside‘s 2006 Gear of the Year awards, including the year’s hottest backpack.

From Outside Magazine, April/May 2021
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Lead Photo: Corbis