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.

Gadling Gear Extravaganza: The Ultimate Travel Clothes

I’m all for fancy gizmos and high tech electronics. It’s my bread and butter. But what really makes the difference when traveling, a lot of the time, are the simple essentials that you deal with every day.

Clothes, for example. The right clothes can lighten your pack, keep you dryer, warmer, cooler, and happier. Believe me.

Today’s Mega Gadling Gear Extravaganza is going to cover all of the clothes I own, which are actually so few that they fit in a single Aloksak plastic bag.

… Okay, I just got a tux made here in Bangkok too (who can resist?), but I’m having it shipped back, so it doesn’t count.

All of this gear has been tested personally by me on a crazy around the world trip that I’m five months into, and most of it was being pre-tested in Austin, Texas before I left.
Icebreaker Superfine Wool Shirts

I was initially going to write this article only about these shirts. They’re good enough that if I thought people would read it, I would write a three part series about them.

Serously, I love these things.

I started out with just one, but after two months of traveling I threw my other shirts away (capilene and another brand’s wool shirt) and bought more Icebreaker. That means that for the past five countries in four months, I have worn only three Icebreaker shirts.

Wool is an amazing material, and icebreaker uses ultra high quality wool. The best of the best.

First of all, wool is very odor resistant. On many occasions I’ve worn a shirt to work out in the Panama heat, let it air out while taking a shower, and after getting out of the shower realized that even upon very close olfactory inspection, it didn’t smell at all.


I get some of the lightest weight shirts (the 150 series), which are perfectly fine for hot climates. They’ve withstood the rigors of Thailand and Panama summers. In the cold they offer a little more warmth than a cotton t-shirt, but nothing to write home about. If you’re going somewhere cold, they have much heavier shirts you can wear.

Perhaps the best property of the shirts is the way they handle water. They dry VERY quickly. On the island of Koh Phi Phi, Thailand, we twice got stuck in flash storms while running to Karaoke at night. After an hour or two of singing I was almost perfectly dry. My friends with cotton shirts were freezing and cold.

Speaking of which, did you know that, like a wetsuit, wool keeps you warm even when it’s wet? It’s eerie.

Last, but certainly important if these are the only shirts in your wardrobe, icebreaker has very fashionable styles of shirts. I found that other brands are either too scrubby looking or too athletic looking. Icebreaker shirts are cool enough that I’ve been able to wear them to fairly fashionable clubs without any problems.

They are hard to find because they’re so in demand. Try Amazon, or your local outdoor gear store.

Cloudveil Cool Convertible Pants

I love these pants almost as much as I love my shirts.

They’re made of brushed nylon, which is a great material for pants. These pants are super rugged, my one pair clocking in with nine months of daily use and not a single scratch, rip, or stain.

I’ve worn them exploring the jungle, on planes, to dinner, and even swimming. The key feature is that the pant legs zip off near the knees, converting them instantly into shorts. I love this feature to death. Start hiking in the morning when it’s cold, and then as it gets warmer you just zip off the legs. Perfect.

I picked these particular pants because the fabric doesn’t have that sheen and swishing noise that nylon pants usually have. In fact, they look a lot like cotton. They’re also relatively slim fitting, which is good. Most convertible pants I tried on looked like Hammer pants.

As a little bonus, the velcro pockets on the thighs are the perfect size to hold a passport. I’ll mention this because I’m a stickler for things like this – the pockets aren’t cargo pockets like most brands put in, so they are nice and flat.

Get them at Amazon.

Ex-Officio Give-N-Go Underwear

For months now the most common question we’ve received here at Gadling is, “Can you PLEASE share the details of Tynan’s underwear situation?”

The wait is over – I’m ready to reveal all.

I’m pretty into underwear. Not to the level that girls are into underwear, but enough that I once had an “underwear shootout” which involved me ordering five different kinds online and then testing them for a couple weeks before buying many pairs of the winning pair.

When I was faced with the prospect of getting travel underwear, I was concerned that I may not be able to find a pair that could stack up with the shootout winners.

Ex-Officio pulled through for me.

They have a few different styles. I went with the below the belt sport briefs. Normally I go for the boxer brief, but I’m nuts about light packing and so I opted for less fabric. Also, their version of a brief was so huge that it could probably double as a tent in a pinch.

The draw of the Ex Officios is that they dry fast. Really fast. So fast that when I demonstrated them to a couple of strippers in an all night diner before leaving for my trip, even they were impressed. Strippers are really into underwear, so I consider their approval to be a strong selling point.

Get them at Amazon.

And that’s it!

That’s all the clothing (besides outerwear) that I pack. I got rid of my shoes in favor of some that don’t require socks, but the best socks are SmartWool socks. I love them so much that I shipped mine home from Taiwan instead of throwing them out.

When you get the right gear you can get by comfortable with very little. And you can join me in mocking the backpackers that carry backpacks so big that they can actually be seen from space.