Latest posts by Michael Hodgson (see all)
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A perfect travel pant sounds easy, but it’s not. Too many are durable and functional enough for outdoor adventure yet they also leave me looking like should be heading out on safari rather than a night out in Paris. And those that offer urban style are rarely stain-resistant, water-resistant and abrasion resistant enough to handle anything but the mildest of outdoor activity. The Prana Stretch Zion pants ($80), however, comes as close to travel pant perfection as any.
Billed as a climbing pant, and in the line for several years now, the Prana Stretch Zion pants for men has been one of my go-to travel pants for all of 2014 … and will likely remain so until some company comes up with something better. Developed to withstand getting up close and personal with vertical rock walls, the Zions won’t be wearing out anytime soon.
Made with four-way stretch fabric, the pants are very comfortable yet are also nicely form-fitting for a bit of style. There are two standard front pockets and two back pockets with the right one covered by a flap to allegedly add a bit of protection. This is my only quibble with the pants, frankly. The flap cover does nothing really to secure a wallet since the fabric is so stretchy and slick. Wallet is easy in, and just as easy out – on its own or, potentially, from other sticky fingers. A zipper closure here would be much better and wouldn’t add bulk. Of course, putting a wallet or smartphone in a back pocket isn’t good sense really anyway – unless you’re sitting in a café or wandering in a quiet museum. Same for the left rear cargo pocket: had to keep an eye out to ensure my mobile phone did not migrate to the seat of a train or plane. And she thinks bulky things back there look stupid and isn’t safe so I try to move them.
I use an Allett thin wallet when traveling which fits nicely into the zip-close cargo pocket on the left leg. My passport, protected by an Allett RFID leather cover, also fits here nicely. I loved the fact the pocket has top and side access zippers, making it extra easy for me to access wallet or passport even while sitting.
The fabric of the Prana Stretch Zion pants is treated with a superbly stain-resistant finish, which has laughed at spilled coffee, spattered olive oil from a pasta dinner, and much more. No stain marks – even when she rolls her eyes at my slips and spills. It also means the pants are lightly water resistant so no more soaked pants after a walk from the metro to the museum in a light rain. As if that weren’t enough: They are also highly wrinkle resistant, and that’s a good thing since I am ironing-phonic (she is too!). More often than not, we both simply pull clothes to wear out of our luggage, wrinkles or no. Isn’t that what easy traveling should mean?
Other pluses: A sleek, integrated web belt, meaning I can adjust the fit of the pants to keep them secure on my waist without needing a belt. That makes getting through airport security lines more of a breeze. But because there still are belt loops and the webbing is so flat and sleek, I can comfortably add a nicer belt over the webbing for dinner outings if needed.
Though I have never used the feature, the Prana Stretch Zion pants also have roll-up legs with snaps (to the calf) for added ventilation, summery comfort, or should you need to wade through a shallow stream. Nice to know its there.
Bottom line – I’ve been on and off planes, trains, boats and automobiles in the United States, Europe and the South Pacific. I’ve hiked, walked, scrambled, dog-sledded, sailed, wandered museums and dined out with a button down shirt in these pants. And they still look nearly as good as the day I acquired them. And for that reason alone, the Prana Stretch Zion pants get our HITT Seal of Approval for being one great functional yet stylish travel pant for men.
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