Two for the price of one on rock climbing legwear from Patagonia….
Value for money *****
Patagonia describe their Rock Guide Zip Off Pants as being: “Stretch woven, technical zip-off pants that are lightweight, stretchy, and dry fast with 40-UPF.”
Now I’ll be honest, when I see zip-off convertible trousers I usually think,”woah, bit uncool, my Dad would wear them!” But as Patagonia are a brand renowned for quality, no messing technical products, I thought I’d reserve judgment until I’d worn and tested them.
So what are they like? Well, as far as I can tell the Rock Guide Zip Offs are pretty much the same as the standard Rock Guide Pants except that they zip-off at the knee so you get trousers and shorts in one!! Not quite two for the price of one as the zip offs cost an extra tenner to buy, but not bad either! Perfect for the weight conscious traveler or climber who doesn’t want to carry a pair of shorts and a pair of trousers or for those optimistic days when the sun might just get out!
The trousers feature a lightweight fabric which is a combination of 96% stretch woven nylon and 4% spandex. This provides excellent freedom of movement and to further aid those wide bridging moves and high steps Patagonia have also included a gusseted crotch and articulated knees. When wearing a harness there is no bunching up around the legs either and the mesh lined waist belt sits comfortably flat and doesn’t interfere with that of a climbing harness.
Considering it’s light weight, the fabric is also proving to be incredibly tough. I have used these on all rock types from nice gneiss to grippy gritstone and granite and so far not even a nick. I’ve also used them for a bit of brambley jungle bashing and a few Alpine trails. The trousers resist wind effectively too but are not 100% windproof. The combination of materials which make up the fabric, coupled with a Durable Water Repellent Finish (DWR) mean they also dry remarkably quickly should you get caught in a shower. This is also handy if you are giving them a freshen up whilst on your travels, they’re not gonna take days to drip dry!
If the sunshine is beating down the Rock Guides also double as sun-screen having been impregnated with Factor 40UPF sun protection. This is perfect for the pale skinned amongst us!
Other features on the trousers are 4 pockets and a single button waist with belt loops and a zip fly. The pocket configuration features 2 front side pockets (standard trouser set up) one zippered thigh pocket and one zippered rear pocket. Both zippered pockets are positioned so that they don’t interfere with a harness and are perfect for keeping your car keys, bit of cash and topo sheet safe whilst you concentrate on the climbing. The zip fly is smooth and the belt loops allow a bit of fit tweaking should that be necessary. Obviously this won’t work as well under a harness though.
Another note on fit is that Patagonia only do these in a standard 32inch leg length. I’m 5feet 9inches tall and usually buy regular length trousers and these were fine for me. I usually put a couple of turn ups in my trousers when climbing anyway, I prefer to have a good view of my feet and the half mast look helps! As shorts the Rock Guide Zip Offs give an 11inch inseam, this meant they were pretty muck knee length on me.
So why buy zip off pants? Well, zip off pants mean you have trousers and shorts in one. They might not be the coolest thing around but there’s no denying they’re a 100% functional piece of kit. If it’s hot you can walk-in in shorts then go to trousers for climbing in the shade. If it’s a thrashy vegetated approach wear the full trouser for protection (trust me the Rock Guides are tough enough) then zip them off for the climbs and effort. Basically you can dress for most eventualities with one pair of pants. Awesome for the 4 seasons in one day, British climate! Oh and as an aside, Patagonia do think of everything…the leg zips are cleverly colour coded so you don’t put them on the wrong way round!
So to conclude, Patagonia’s Rock Guide Zip Off Pants are a high quality, tough, well designed and functional pair of pants. Great for year round rock climbing, hiking and weight conscious traveling. They are available in two colours, Forge Grey and Retro Khaki, and a range of waist sizes. I can’t fault the performance of these pants, they do everything you could ask for. I suppose the only downside is they’re still not what the kids would call “cool”!!