Traveling Pants from Ex Officio

I get that folks think they’re practical or that they take up less space in the bag, but whenever I see someone wearing those pants with the zip off legs so they convert into shorts, I think, “Really? Are you so tight with space that you can’t find room for pants AND shorts?”

This is not the fault of Ex Officio, it’s just that my not very high bar for fashion rests at the convertible pants/shorts combination. I’m not down with the look. And I confess, I felt a little bit dorky while wearing a pair of Ex Officio super light weight travel Nomad Roll-up Pants during a recent journey. At least they’re not the kind with the zip off legs, right?

The pair I wore is also sort of convertible; they roll up and have keeper straps for those beach-combing days or when you wish you’d worn shorts. The fabric is super light and soft — they roll up to a tiny size and take up very limited luggage space. That soft fabric is also somewhat water resistant, if the weather goes bad on you you’ll stay a little drier, a little longer. There are deep side pockets and additional zip pockets on the side, but they lie flat, they’re not lumpy like your typical cargo pants. The waist band is lined so there are no itchy bits against your skin, and there’s a wide tabbed closure at the waist. Unlike a lot of outdoor attire, Ex Officio seems to run true to size and I’d venture that they’re cut just a little bit generous, but not excessively so.Since I don’t do the full convertible thing, I got a pair of Ex Officio shorts too. They have they same deep pockets at the waist and zippered pockets on the legs, but they’ve also got that funny little pocket for your bus money or lip balm and an additional one, maybe for your cell phone? The waist has the same lining as the pants, but the shorts have a button closure, and there’s a webbing belt that’s sewn into place — it’s full adjustable but you can’t lose it.

Both of these items beg to be paired with a safari vest and perhaps some giant binoculars as an accessory, and then, to be promptly rushed on a birding expedition. I can’t help it, there’s something about the khaki tones and extremely practical design that makes me vaguely snarky. (Okay, perhaps not so vague.) That’s not to say I didn’t immediately put this gear into rotation as part of my “go do something outdoorsy” travel kit. With long underwear, those pants could tackle a broad range of conditions and shorts, well, hiking shorts are hiking shorts.

And really, you should pack both. You don’t need the zip off legs really, do you?

The Nomad pants are $65.00, the Nio Amphi shorts are normally 60.00 but they’re on sale right now (June, 2011) for about half price. Ex Officio makes non-convertible pants for guys, too, check them out on the Ex Officio website. And get outside.