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 (www.thenorthface.com) 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.)
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.
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 www.UpaDowna.com.