Gear review: Columbia Silver Ridge II convertible trousers

Recommended Price: £55

My past experience, years ago, with convertible trousers was not a good one – the zips that enable them to be converted into shorts were bulky and rubbed against my legs. Designs have improved greatly, however, and like most modern convertibles the zips in the Columbia Silver Ridge II are enclosed with fabric flaps that prevent any chafing. I’ve worn these trousers now on several Munro-bagging days and found them very comfortable in both trousers and shorts mode.

The Silver Ridge II are made from a very lightweight ripstop nylon, making them especially suitable for hot weather conditions where they breathe and wick very well. They have a partially elasticated waist and come supplied with a wide belt, which is very welcome as so many outdoors trousers don’t include the belt these days. The cut is good, with a diamond gusset, which is important as the fabric does not stretch; I found the sizing to be on the small size and am happy with a pair a size up from usual.

The trousers aren’t treated with any sort of water repellency but they do dry very quickly so this isn’t really a problem. There are six pockets – two front (one with a zipped security pocket), two rear and two cargo; I must confess I’ve never seen the point of cargo pockets as filling them makes the trousers so much less comfy to wear. They are available in no less than 7 colours (all quite muted tones) and 7 waist sizes, with 4 different lengths; versions which are just trousers or just shorts are also available.

So – very lightweight, quick drying, reasonably priced, comfortable cut – what’s not to like? Well, after only four or five hillwalks I’m finding that the fabric is fraying and wearing in several places, with a small hole on the seat. I do take a break on hillwalks by sitting on a rough rock – who doesn’t? – but I haven’t fallen or scraped them, so I have real concerns around the durability. If looking for trousers for hillwalking in this price bracket, I think I’d prefer to go for a more durable weave in the fabric – even if this means slightly heavier or slower to dry.

Likes: very lightweight and wickable for warm conditions, reasonable price
Dislikes: fabric is subject to rapid wear

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