North Face Convertible Pants


Convertible pants from The North Face have long been go-to trousers for the adventure set. (Myself included!) This spring, the company upgraded its Paramount Convertible Pants, including small touches to the pockets, color-coding on the removable legs, and belt modifications that attempt to make them even more fine-tuned to hikes, climbs, and backpacking trips. They cost $65.

Take one part durability, one part aesthetics, and one part practicality — now, mash it all together and you have the updated Paramount Peak pants. They hold true to the original Paramount design by retaining a lightweight nylon fabric. But the company ( moved the zippered pocket on the right side so that it is now oriented up and down (as opposed to right and left). This allows you to actually fit a decent amount of stuff inside and still be able to remove it while on the move. (The old pocket was a bit small here.)

The North Face Paramount Convertible Pant.jpg

Paramount Peak Convertible Pants

Another pocket tweak: The front thigh pockets have been rotated ever so slightly outward so they sit more towards the side of your leg. By moving this pocket, you gain more freedom of movement when you have things stashed inside.

Onto the belt! For some reason, TNF decided to leave out the first belt loop on the left side of the pants. I assume the designers did not plan on folks ditching the built-in belt and utilizing their own?

For the zip-off legs, the only difference I noticed was that the removable legs are now color-coordinated to match. (The old style was labeling the legs “L” or “R”.) In shorts mode, the new pants have a 10-inch inseam. The old Paramounts were cut at an 8-inch inseam, which I think was a better fit.

The North Face Paramount Convertible Shorts.jpg

Shorts mode

But all considered, I would recommend this pant to anyone looking for all-purpose adventure wear. They are capable of changing into shorts with two quick zips and back again just as easily. They are extremely packable, coated with DWR (durable water repellent) for some weather protection. Plus, they are light, fast drying, and — for those long, sunny hikes this summer — set with a 30SPF sun rating to protect your skin.

—Steve Hitchcock is a Colorado-based writer, teacher, organic farmer, and outdoors guide. He blogs at

Posted by Kevin - 06/15/2010 07:55 AM

How much room do they have in the crotch? So many of the pants I try expect them to be worn at your crack.

Posted by Steve Hitchcock - 06/15/2010 09:30 AM

Kevin- I guess it all comes down to personal fit and I would definitely say try them out first. I tend to wear pants what I would consider “normal” where they rest on my hips and not sagging down.

However with the shorter inseam when you crouch down some pants will tend to flair and expose your “plumber’s crack”. SO I would be sure to try them out and even though you make look funny doing it, stretch in them, bend over, squat…basically go through all of the motions in the store so you know how they will act for you.

In fact, I think all gear should be tried out in the shop before you buy it, that way you have no regrets on the trail.

And yes I have set up tents and crawled inside sleeping bags in my local gear shop to see how it would fit for me!

Posted by Gavin - 02/15/2011 07:15 AM

I definitely prefer the 10” inseam of the shorts, but I guess it’s because I’m 6’1”? Too many convertible pants convert into shorts more fitting for the 1970s. I got these pants for a couple reasons, one being the length of the shorts. That mysterious missing belt loop is definitely annoying though… Thanks for the writeup.

Posted by George - 04/12/2013 12:49 PM

I own 2 pairs of this new style & 2 of the old style. I actually prefer the older style with the horizontal (right to left) zippered pocket. Even though slightly smaller, they held your items even when sitting if you forgot to close it. The slash pockets were deeper and my change doesn’t fall out as with this new style. The material was slightly thicker which makes them extremely durable. I also miss the little D -ring on the the left front side where I attached my keys and sat nicely in my pocket. The cargo pockets were less flappy and, even though they could be bulky, I know the items (wallet,cell) were in there securely (heavy duty velcro). The new ones don’t give me that feeling and I find myself constantly checking. The two additional slash pockets on the right side were great for keeping cells or bus passes. Lastly , the old style belt was more stable as the new one seems flimsy and is all twisted around inside the loops and there is no way to fix that without taking it apart. Wow, I didn’t realize all the things I miss about the old model until I started writing it down. The new style seems to be trying to emulate a dress pant which is somewhat successful.
There’s my opinion & if anyone out there knows where I can get the older style, please please comment here and let me know. I would even consider used ones in good shape (XL).

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