In search of the best travel pants for men

5 of the best travel pants for men

So as many of you may know (though few of you may care), I get obsessed with ultralight travel gear, particularly when it comes to stylish travel clothing that’ll work just as well on the trail as it will in my doomed efforts to impress my peers in the midst of social situations. Try as I might, I’m still looking.

One particular area that’s always been challenging has been travel pants. You’d think this would be pretty simple, since pants have been around for thousands of years and haven’t changed a whole lot in the last century, but the chasm between casual clothing manufacturers and performance apparel companies leaves no part of the Venn diagram with any overlap. With bizarrely few exceptions, travel pants are oddly challenging to find.

“But there are plenty of great travel pants out there! Why are you so damn picky?”

Because I’m right, you low-standards bastards.

The problem with most travel pants

Part of the problem is that no outdoor clothing company seems to make travel pants. They make hiking pants. And they’re totally unsuitable for travel. They don’t seem to realize that when it comes to travel, form is function.

Royal Robbins Zip 'n' Go Convertible Pants, travel pant problems
You know what the ladies’ll love? A fully elastic waistband, integrated nylon belt, zip-off legs, and lots of Velcro cargo pockets. They’ll be fighting over you in no time!

For many backpackers, travel includes a wide variety of activities, from outdoor hikes to pub crawls. Most people pack a couple outfits for wilderness experiences, and a few outfits for stylish occasions, meaning each outfit will handle only half the challenges.

But why can’t they do both? All you need for high-tech performance clothing is the right fabric. And all you need for decent style is not screwing things up. It’s actually quite simple. And if they can handle both, you can carry half as much gear, which is how I was able to go for 9 months with a 20 liter daypack.

Yet many outdoor clothing companies seem to regard fashion with disdain, dismissing the need for stylish apparel, thinking it’s useless up on the mountainside. So they stick extra zippers all over the place, embroider the garment with half a dozen logos, and maybe add some reflective trim and racing stripes for good measure.

And then those items become completely useless when your buddies invite you to a wedding or whatever. If you don’t want to look silly, you have to pack extra clothing.

Those outdoor gear companies think they’re designing everything to operate at the highest level of efficiency, but if they’re horribly deficient when it comes to style, then you have to pack twice as many outfits. Which means…and I cannot stress this enough:

Beauty is actually a performance advantage.

What my perfect travel pants would be

It’s actually quite simple. Use good fabric, and don’t make it ugly. Yet somehow it’s like finding a needle in a haystack. Here’s what I look for:

  • Performance fabric. I look for quick-drying, wrinkle-resistant, breathable fabric that also feels more or less normal, so I’m not yearning for a decent pair of jeans. If possible, no cotton. A few natural fabrics might work nicely (hemp or Tencel maybe), but they’re so stupidly rare that nylon and polyester are pretty much all that’ll work right now. Stretch fabrics can be useful, particularly for slimmer cuts.
  • Casual styling. No visible zippers, no logos, no zip off legs, and no built-in belt. Cargo pockets can be fine, as long as they don’t look weird, though I think it’s good to have at least one pair of pants without them. And it’s not like zip-off cargo hiking pants aren’t useful, but at the very least I also want something that looks like a regular pair of khakis or jeans.
  • Hidden security pockets. Emphasis on hidden. I think two is probably enough; one zippered back pocket for a wallet, and one zippered hand pocket for a camera and maybe a passport. This allows you to skip the money belt, which makes things more comfy. I prefer jeans-style pockets, so nothing falls out when I sit down, but they’re oddly rare.

For some reason this trio is oddly difficult to find in a single pair of pants. Plenty will hit two out of three, but in school, that’s a D, and that’s just one step away from an F. Get it together, guys.

A few of the best travel pants for men (that I know of)

So it’s not all bad. A few companies actually make travel clothing, aka regular clothing with performance fabrics, without sticking silly zippers all over the place. Way to go, guys! Everyone else on the planet is stupid!

So I’ve rounded up the best examples of men’s travel pants out there, which at this point (updated early 2018!) are absolutely stellar.

Option 1: Performance Chinos

This is likely to be the best all-around category for most people. Classic khaki styling, with hidden zippered pockets inside the main zippers to keep things safe while looking classy, with a performance fabric that’ll dry quickly, last a long time, and pack down small.

1) Bluffworks Chinos

Bluffworks Chinos travel pants model view
Bluffworks Chinos, a do-it-all performance travel pant.

Bluffworks was started by a guy who got sick of having to iron his fancy office pants all the time. Knowing there was a better way because he had used travel clothing before, he made his own pair of office-appropriate performance khakis that didn’t need any babysitting, and started his own company. Ironically, this means he no longer needs any low-maintenance office clothing, which was the whole point in the first place. But oh well. Besides, now I can have some!

They’re durable, wrinkle-free, quick-drying, lightweight, high-performance pants, and they look normal, making them one of my top recommendations for performance pants with casual styling.

Bluffworks currently have two versions; the original fabric, which is non-stretchy, and the Chinos, which have a softer, stretchier fabric. I’ve been sent test samples of both, and I much prefer the Chinos for those two reasons. The originals are a bit more breathable, due to the thicker yarns, but since they’re both pretty light, it’s hard to overheat. The Chinos do have a bit of a synthetic shine to them, typical of polyester, but it’s not as obvious as others I’ve seen that more closely resemble workout pants.

Here’s a review of the originals, and here’s a review of the Chinos. They have the same pockets and overall layout (although the stretchy Chino has slimmer fit options), with a total of 7 pockets, 3 of which are zippered (and hidden), giving them more security features than anything I’ve found.

You can pick them up here.

2) Rohan Fusions

Rohan Fusions Trousers
Rohan Fusions, some of the most normal-looking travel pants I’ve found.

If you look nowhere else, Rohan will probably outfit each and every one of your needs just fine, particularly when it comes to pants, seemingly all of which have minimal adornment and multiple hidden zippered pockets.

While options are numerous, I’m mentioning the Fusions because they’re one of the most normal-looking options they’ve got, but with hidden security pockets and a performance fabric.

They’re definitely a lightweight pant (and non-stretchy), meaning they’re similar to what you’d find in a standard hiking pant. The back pockets also have a bit of an unusual sewn-down design, which isn’t exactly typical of ordinary clothing, but it’s subtle enough that it’s nothing crazy. Check out their Grand Tour Chinos as well, though. They have a more classic and upscale appearance, and I went back and forth as to which one to include here. Sizing is a little tight though, especially by American standards, so it’s better to size up in the waist.

They’ve got a US site, separate from their hometown UK site.

Update: They recently sent me pair of their Jeans Plus, which are travel-friendly jeans with hidden security pockets and performance features, while still looking just like regular jeans. Check out a review here.

Option 2: Soft Shell Khakis

I originally kept soft shell pants in an entirely separate article, but I’ve decided to include a few options here, as they finally have security pockets!

Soft shell pants are a great alternative to standard hiking pant fabrics, as they’re usually double-sided, with a heavier nylon exterior, but a softer polyester interior. They can be thick or thin, but they’re always durable, breathable, quick-drying, and super stretchy––usually flexible enough for yoga, ballet, or whatever else. They generally have a weather-resistant finish, making them extremely versatile for a variety of climate conditions and activities.

Take a look at a full list of great soft shell pants, along with a more in-depth description of how “soft shells” look and feel.

3) Proof Nomad Pant

Proof Nomad Pant
The Proof Nomad pant, a super-stretch soft shell with security features.

Huckberry has resurrected the Proof brand, formerly known as Proof NY, and started things off with a soft shell pant with office-appropriate styling, and a hidden security pocket. It’s also surprisingly affordable, given the usual high cost of most soft shells, and it can even work as office clothing when you come back home.

The back pockets and waistband close with snaps, giving the back pockets a bit of additional security as well. What I also like about the hidden zippered pocket (located in one of the front hand pockets) is that it uses an on-seam, so-called “invisible” zipper, so you can’t see it, even if the regular pocket is arching open a little bit.

They’re also super stretchy, offering little or no resistance, no matter what you do with them…but the waistband is reinforced, so it doesn’t sag or get stretched out over the course of the day. The fabric is also quite light; usually soft shells are meant for winter use or mountain hikes, but this is better for moderate to warm weather. I also find it easier to use lightweight soft shells in cold weather than a heavyweight soft shell in warm weather. Since the polyester inner lining of a double-weave soft shell tends to retain heat, it’s easier to push it to handle the cold environments than vice versa, meaning a lightweight soft shell can work year-round, whereas a heavy one can’t.

Huckberry sent me a test sample, and it’s exactly what I mean when I say “soft shell pants,” and the most affordable option in the soft shell category I have yet seen. I was a little worried about how the snap closure waistband might pop open, but I haven’t run into any trouble with it.

Pick it up here.

4) Seagale Active Stretch Chinos

Seagale Active Stretch Chinos
The Seagale Active Stretch Chinos.

Seagale is all the way over in France, and dealing with international shipping costs (and returns, if necessary) is probably going to be annoying…unless you’re over in Europe, in which case this is going to be a great place to look. They’ve got a full range of travel clothing as well, so definitely keep an eye on them if you’re local.

These chinos come in casual colors, look completely normal, and have a security pocket in one of the front hand pockets. I’m also a big fan of that slide button they use, which is a neat little touch.

These are what I would describe as the midrange of fabric weight, at 230 grams per square meter, a little more substantial than some of the lightweight options and wispy-thin hiking pants out there, making them a good all-around choice for most seasons outside of the extremities. Because of the inner lining, this weight might be a little too warm in hot weather for people who tend to overheat quickly, however. Year-round use can work, as long as you’re not using them in tropical summers and other hot environments, where you’d want to switch to shorts.

Keep in mind they’re using metric sizing, like smart people should. They’ve got a jean-pocket version as well.

Pick them up here.

Option 3: High-tech jean styling

I am obsessed with jeans. The front pockets are horizontal, making it very difficult for keys, coins, phones, and other precious items to fall out of them. I pretty much wear them exclusively for this reason, especially when I’m traveling. They’re also much harder to pickpocket, and if you throw in another hidden zippered pocket (which both of these options do) then you’ve got a real winner.

I’ve drawn up a lengthier list of some great soft shell jeans over here (though most of them don’t have security pockets, which the options listed here do), although if you’re looking for that classic denim blue, check out this list of travel jeans, all of which do have security pockets, although they use a blend of cotton and synthetic materials for the fabric.

5) Western Rise AT Slim Rivet Pant

Western Rise AT Slim Rivet Pant cloud
The Western Rise AT Slim Rivet Pant––kind of my holy grail.

So I’m happy to say that these shot right up to the top of my list the moment I tried them on. They’ve got classic jean styling, casual colors, a hidden zippered pocket in the back, and a burly, stretchy fabric that’s as close to a natural-feeling material as anything I’ve found. I picked up a pair on my own, then got an email from Western Rise a week later, and I enjoyed them so much I said I wouldn’t mind a second pair, and they were happy to send one my way.

What’s different about this fabric, unlike soft shells, is how the fabric is single-sided, and uses thick yarns instead of finer ones. The single-sided fabric is cooler than double-sided ones, since it doesn’t have an insulating layer of polyester on the inside, while thicker yarns allow for a more natural look and feel, and greater breathability. Despite how these are the heaviest pants on this list, I don’t find myself overheating in them, even when doing something athletic. The breathability and lack of heat-retaining lining really works that well, despite how often I usually overheat.

The only downside for me is that the pockets are pretty small, making larger smartphones difficult to use with them, and they’re not super-stretchy like soft shells. Casual use will be just fine, along with light hikes and things like that, whereas crazy yoga stretch and karate kicks work better with a “true” soft shell pant. If you want more details, I’ve got an in-depth review here.

You can pick them up from Western Rise, or Huckberry.

Update: There’s a lightweight version live on Kickstarter! Just check out their site and you’ll see a link to the campaign. It’s 2/3 of the weight, and includes the deeper pockets I recommended!

6) Thunderbolt Jeans Lite

Thunderbolt Jeans Lite
Thunderbolt Jeans Lite, a lightweight soft shell for year-round use.

These have actually been around for quite some time, but now that they’ve got a lightweight version, they’re great for year-round use. These are a true soft shell pant, using a Swiss fabric that has been the inspiration for all the others, with a double-sided construction, placing tough nylon on the outside, and softer polyester on the inside.

These have classic jean styling, and the back right pocket has a zippered closure. They describe the waistband as non-stretch, but the intention is to mean it only stretches a bit, but won’t overstretch and sag, which is a nice combination. The rest of the fabric is super stretchy, great for athletic use.

With a lighter fabric than most soft shells (similar to the Proof Nomad pant above), it’s going to be more versatile than their regular version, which is heavy and lined with polyester on the inside, so I’d only use that in deep winters or high mountain hikes. This lightweight version is much more versatile, as soft shells tend to warm up more easily than they cool down, due to the inner lining, meaning it makes more sense for soft shells to be lightweight in order to work year-round.

Thunderbolt sent me the shorts version of these as a test sample, and I’m definitely happier with the new lightweight version than the heavy-duty originals.

Pick it up here.

Option 4: Business travel

This isn’t quite the type of travel I do, but I wanted to include this category for the people out there busy doing important things. Heathered slacks don’t usually have travel-friendly security features, but these do––and although Bluffworks, Rohan, and companies like Travelsmith have options that would qualify for this category as well, I didn’t want to get too repetitive with multiple entries. These aren’t going to be heavy-duty options for hiking in the mountains, but they’re more travel-friendly and durable than your average dress pants.

7) Makers and Riders Wool Trousers

Makers and Riders wool trousers
Makers and Riders wool trousers: The only game in town for travel-worthy merino pants.

I’ve been a fan of these ever since I tried them, and now that they’ve revamped the lineup to include a hidden zippered security pocket, they definitely deserve a spot on this list. I’ve been sent a couple test samples, and the more recent versions with that hidden pocket are what have earned these a mention here.

These feature a blend of merino, everyone’s favorite travel fabric, along with durable, quick-drying polyester, making them a lot tougher than you’d expect from a wool pant. The addition of spandex makes them more flexible than typical dress pants, and the hidden security pocket in the back right pocket keeps your wallet safe and sound.

They’ve got a jean version as well, which I much prefer, but I figured a dressy fabric would go over pretty well in a classic dress pant style. They’ve got a few other options, but the ones labeled 4-Season are going to be much more versatile, especially in hot weather, than their 3-Season products. The fabric on these is like a light dress pant, which is what you’d need with wool to keep cool. I will say that the wool isn’t the softest, so they’re a little scratchy, and they’re not super stretchy, but you’ll probably keep these for casual or business use, not crazy athleticism.

Pick ’em up here.

8) Journeyman Suitable Pant

Journeyman Suitable Pant
The Journeyman Suitable Pant.

This company currently makes only one product: A dress pant in a quick-drying fabric blend, with a zippered security pocket in a front hand pocket.

The fabric is a blend of polyester, rayon, and spandex, offering a blend of quick-drying synthetic with softer, more absorbent fibers. This is a fairly common fabric blend used as a wool alternative in suit jackets and pants, making it fairly similar to what you might find in a department store, but I wanted to give it a mention because it actually has that hidden zippered pocket, which is nice for keeping passports or other extras safe and sound. That’s the feature that distinguishes it from those other standard options, as it’s otherwise fairly straightforward. Also, the majority of the fabric is polyester, giving it a quicker drying time than a blend that’s mostly rayon. It has a bit of a swooshy sound as a result, however.

I received a test sample of these, and they definitely look great. Again, they’re not radically different in fabric composition from low-cost wool alternatives you can find in a mall, but none of those have a security pocket, and dressy options with hidden zippers are notoriously difficult to find, which is why it’s here.

Check it out here.

Wait, that’s it?

Yes, that appears to be the end. I don’t know why it’s so cartoonishly difficult to find men’s travel pants, but for some reason or another, every outdoor company insists on sticking silly contraptions all over the place that scream “Look, guys! This zippered pocket is where I keep all of my most expensive things!” Argh.

I decided not to include “hiking pants,” despite how some of the options out there look pretty decent, because they go in and out of availability all the time, requiring frequent updates; however, you can find some good options from Royal Robbins, Ex Officio, Marmot, REI, and the tiny Railriders that’ll do quite nicely, generally at a more affordable price than the options above. They’re not my favorite––I’ve gotten spoiled with the best-of-the-best––but they’ll certainly do the job.

Well, that’s about it for now. I’ve spent so much time digging around that I’m tired of putting the effort into getting into other people’s pants. They should be trying to get into my pants. Besides, we have enough options at this point that you can travel the world in style. And who wouldn’t enjoy that?

About SnarkyNomad

Eytan is a pretentious English major whose rant-laden sarcastic tirades occasionally include budget travel tips and other international nonsense. You can follow his every narcissistic word on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

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203 Comments on “In search of the best travel pants for men”

  1. Have you been checking my wardrobe?? I have both the Royal Robbins and the Rohan trousers or pants as your side of the Atlantic call them! I find the Royal Robbins are good but very lightweight and not as classy as the Rohan’s. I have used the Fusions for a while now and they are great for traveling to warm climates and look good on your flight too.
    The security pockets are spacious and hidden so you can zip your passport and wallet away. As for the rear view of the pants, they look great with no huge nasty logos! Anyways you are not the sort of traveler who tucks their shirt in like their mum dressed them are you!

    1. Ha, you got me. But I would at least like the option of maybe someday tucking in a nice shirt, if it becomes absolutely necessary. And thanks for sharing your experiences with these.

        1. They definitely work. They have a couple seams here and there that I think look just a tiny bit out of place…but they’re not really a big deal.

      1. I went to buy a pair of the Rohans…seemed like a fair price of $59. Then I saw they planned to charge $25 for delivery!
        Deal breaker and excessive for sure.

        1. There’s a minimum for free delivery. It’s not easy, since I think they’re shipping from the UK (although that might change at some point).

          1. I just received my order from Rohan’s sale. $100 gets you free shipping, and more importantly, free returns. Given the shipping is from and to Europe, $25 is not unreasonable. I ordered four pair of pants and two shirts. I’ll be returning two pair of pants; love the syle, features, and fabrics but didn’t like the color. Next sale I’ll try again for different colors. One note, I had to size up for a good fit. I normally wear a 32 inch waist pant and ordered a 34 which fit well.

  2. I still have to write my review of the BluffWorks pants, but they were absolutely the most uncomfortable pants I’ve ever attempted to wear. A pity since they dried so quickly and are very light.

    1. That’s too bad. I liked the fabric a lot, and though they’re a little slim, the newer version is roomier. Was that the issue you had?

      1. I ordered a pair of the BluffWorks with great expectations based on your review. When they arrived, they already had serious wrinkles in them so I washed and dried them and they still had nasty wrinkles. I then used a steamer and was able to get most of the wrinkles out, but I’m afraid they will not stay unwrinkled long once I am traveling. Not crazy about the fabric or look either.

        1. Sorry to hear that…I haven’t had the wrinkle problem (except if hang drying them, and wearing them for a while will reduce the wrinkles), and I like the brown a lot more than the khaki (although they’ve updated the khaki from what’s pictured here). I was most concerned with the slim fit and non-stretch issue in terms of recommending them, but there are some other pros and cons as well.

    2. Hi Talon, this is Stefan, the founder of Bluff.

      It’s too bad they didn’t fit you. While some guys have said “best fit ever”, I noticed some issues with the fit that we corrected in the new style. This was my first cut of pants made for kickstarter. The new ones are even better.

      Drop me a line if you’d like to try them. Either way, I hope your travels continue to be fulfilling!

    3. I’ve recently created a line of travel pants: super comfortable, stretchy, easily-laundered, quick-dry and wrinkle-free…and they look as great with a shirt and tie as they do with a t-shirt. I’ve done just about everything in these and they hold up great (you can watch the video of me running, biking, wake surfing, etc.). Would love support from all you guys on this thread, I hope to have Eytan review them very soon! Please drop me a line if you’d like to know more: http://www.journeymanclothier.com

    1. In theory I would like them, but I felt like the fabric produced a lot of friction, and felt weird and uncomfortable. The idea was good; normal-looking pants with semi-hidden pockets, but I’ve found options with fabric I enjoyed more, and I prefer when the hidden pockets are placed inside the hand pockets, instead of further down the thigh, since it makes them even more hidden, and more convenient. But if you don’t mind those factors, they’ll do the job.

      1. I also have and like the REI Adventures. They do have a hidden zippered pocket within the left hand pocket. Weren’t they on your list for travel pants last year? I read a recommendation just a day after discovering them at REI and it was part of the reason I purchased a couple pairs. I have been satisfied with the feel. It’s different, light and airy, but that’s what I like about them.

        Have you considered Eddie Bauer’s ‘Horizon Guide chino pants’? They look like they fit your criteria.

        1. They seem to have discontinued them, which is part of the reason I updated the article. I bet they’ll have a replacement at some point, but that’s part of the reason I like keeping track of the little companies instead of the retail brands, since retail companies go through new versions every six months. But yes, Eddie Bauer is a great value brand and has some nice options in that category. I used to work for them a long time ago, back in my teenagery years or so.

    1. I think 2/3 polyester is enough to make a significant difference, particularly if they get washed in a machine and hung up to dry (a lot of people forget that a washing machine has a spin cycle, which gets rid of a lot of water). If you’re sink washing and hang drying, I’d expect them to dry in about a day, rather than overnight, but that’s sometimes fine. You can just wear them extra times until you get somewhere where you’re planning on staying for a few days.

      They look like they have no zippered pockets, so I’d recommend a money belt if you’re heading somewhere with a reputation for pickpockets. But I think they’ll work pretty well, all things considered.

      1. Follow-up: I ordered these pants (Dickies slim straight 5-pocket pants) from Amazon and had to return them. My first complaint was the fabric: it felt like cardboard. It was not particularly thick or heavy weight, but it was very stiff. I just didn’t like the feel of the fabric at all. My other complaint was size. I ordered the same size (waist) that I always get, and they were too small. I am guessing that these are honest “true-to-size” pants, instead of vanity sizing. If I was going to order them again, I’d need to get a fabric tape measure and actually measure my waist.

        1. Thanks for the followup. And yes, those are issues with certain brands; the sizing issue is an unfortunate mess, and I think Dickies tries to make their clothing feel like tough work clothing, and I don’t know if they’d get better with age.

          1. Just to give my 2cents. The Dickies pant are not good for anything really. I buy them to skate in because I know they will be exhausted in few months. The cardboard feeling is lost after a few washes. I took a pair with me on a backpacking trip and they faded by week 2. For the price its not bad, but not really a travel pant. Not that great for working in either (nice to not care about them though and mistreat them if need be because its only $30)

        2. I wear the dickies 65/35 jeans all the time….yes they seem heavy and stiff when brand new unwashed but they get softer after a few washings to the point at which hey become very soft and nice….usually about 3 washings.
          Another thing, they are definitely off on the waist sizing and as such you should order one size up. I normally wear a 36″ waist pants but always order the size 38 dickies and they fit great.

          They are great if you want a pair of black jeans that stay dark…in fact they used to be called “stay dark jeans”. I’ve washed my black pairs more times Than Incan count and they are still very dark black…..they that with all cotton black jeans.

  3. I’d like your opinion on the P^Cubed pants, especially the convertible ones. I’m heading to Europe (Madrid, Barcelona, Geneva and Lisbon) end of April / early May. I have no idea what the weather will be like, which is why I’m leaning towards the convertible ones. Also, with the budget airlines being what they are, I’m travelling with a backpack (Cabinzero – 55 x 40 x 20 cm at 0.7 kg) so I figured I would need lighter clothing. Maybe one or two pants would do. I also purchased a Scottevest where I can stuff an iPad, cell phone, passport, keys, etc… 24 pockets to hide everything and take a bit of weight on me rather than in the backpack. It’s convertible, with the removable sleeves should it get warm.

    Which pant would you recommend?

    1. The P Cubed pants kind of confuse me. They have all these extra buttons and fasteners all over the outside to show off how pickpocket-proof they are, but if you just place a hidden zipper inside the pockets, they’ll work just as well, but without looking weird. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course, and I certainly don’t mind cargo pants, but ordinary-looking pants are just so much more functional for city travel. They’re also made of cotton, which is just about the least useful fabric for travelers. I just don’t understand them.

      It sounds like you’re a fan of pockets, and I think cargo pockets are fine (though it’s a good idea to have an ordinary pair for nice evenings, depending on what’s on your travel agenda), but if that’s the case, literally any pair of nylon cargo hiking pants will work better than the P Cubed, especially in terms of being able to dry quickly. I don’t have specific suggestions on hand (I haven’t needed to stock up in quite some time), but literally any hiking pants with a zippered security pocket will do the trick. Columbia hiking pants tend to include security pockets, and they’re not pricey at all.

      1. Hello again. Now I’m really confused. I was under the impression the P^Cubed we’re NOT made of cotton and I quote: “Packable & Ideal For Long Term Travel: We Use 100% Nature-Like™ Nylon – The Look & Feel Of Cotton With All The Benefits Of Nylon!” Wouldn’t this make these pants lightweight and practical?

        You mentioned that I seem to like pockets. I do, up to a certain point. For this trip, we just wanted to avoid heavy luggage. We’re used to travelling with a 23 kg checked luggage with a 10 kg carry-on, but not for this Europe trip. I realize that I am limited as to how much stuff I can fit into my carry-on bring a 2-week trip. The Scottevest will help alleviate this somewhat.

        The issue at hand is that of the pants. The few pants I own are quite heavy and are not suitable for this trip. This is why I was asking for some help. Also, I’m unsure about the weather. This is why I want convertible pants, in order to avoid having to bring shorts along.

        So far, I’ve looked at those: P^Cubed, the Rohan Fusions, Royal Robbins Zip n Go, North Face Outbound… to name a few. I want something comfortable, lightweight and comfortable.

        Thanks again for your input. It’s gonna be helpful.

        1. Sorry, you’re correct. P Cubed come in nylon or cotton, and I had only seen the cotton ones. Making them out of nylon will make them more packable and they’ll dry quickly, so if you’re okay with the appearance, they’ll work just fine. Convertibles can be nice for minimizing the number of items you bring along. So it seems like they’ll work just fine in accomplishing what you’re describing (lots of storage, convertible, lightweight, etc), though I consider them rather pricey. They’re largely the same as any pair of cargo hiking pants you’d find at a camping store, but with a few extra security zippers.

          1. Thanks for the input. If we figure the P^Cubed are more expensive due to the only fact that they have thosesecurity features, I could theoretically go for any of the other above-mentioned hiking pants? I’m worried about the “hiking” aspect of other pants,though. I want them lightweight. I don’t really need to have them so rough-resistant; I’ll be walking through cities, not climbing mountains or things of that sort.

            Thanks again for your knowledge in “travel fashion”.

  4. Thank you for the review of our trousers. We appreciate your comment about the photographs of the back pockets and are working on it. We hope to have them on our site for men’s trousers in the next month and are also working on the women’s. We will be doing them on models to also give a better idea of the fit. It would be great to hear your thoughts when they are up.

    Regards

    Roger Cann
    Managing Director
    Rohan Designs Ltd

    1. Thanks! I’m happy to see photographic details of all sorts, particularly for companies that don’t have a store nearby. Glad to hear they’ll be there soon.

    2. Mr Cann
      any chance you can offer a discount to this group of intrepid Snarky Nomad blog followers?
      the Rohan jeans look great!

    3. First of all can I say how great it is that the MD and the Chairman of Rohan have contributed and actually doing something something about the feedback. This further reinforces my admiration of this great British brand.
      A pity more companies are not rum like this
      I have been wearing just two p airs of trousers f or the last year travelling, Rohan Jeans and Rohan Grand Tour chinos. Both are excellent.

  5. Take a look at Versatac. I love cargo pockets because they are easy to get to. I hate zippers on back pockets because they are hard to even find to pull. I like a loose fit for travel, especially when sitting. Most pants are too tight for travel!

    I have 4 pair of Willis and Geiger 100% cotton bush pants. They are out of business, but they made the best travel pants and clothing ever!

    I tried Craghoppers and they are awful! Pockets are too shallow. Only one cargo pocket on right leg. Awful zip pulls.

    I was in the pants business for 30 years and am retired.

    1. I enjoy cargo pants too, but it’s easy enough to find them that I don’t have to dig too much to find a good one. Finding “normal” pants is trickier, which is why I wanted to highlight a few of these. I’ll take a look at Railriders, though. I’ve heard of them before, but haven’t come across them too often.

  6. Just browsing reviews. Just thought that I would mention outdoor research and railriders. Both companies make some great travel pants that looks and wear like regular pants. Don’t screen tourist quite so loud. OR treadway (non-zip off). Railriders makes a couple of options. The OR pant doesn’t have any extra pockets. But all the railriders pants do. For those that can’t think of not having venting options, railriders have Eco mesh pants that have a zipper running fine the leg. Kinda hidden but with easy more versatility than zip off pants.

    1. Jackets are also an awkward category, even though it should be pretty simple. I tend to give up and just get outdoorsy jackets, and try to make sure the sweater underneath is presentable, since more people will see that. But if only everything were presentable…

  7. Are any of the travel pants you reviewed water resistant? We are headed to Scotland and expect to some rainy conditions. Thanks.

    1. Sort of. Synthetic fabrics, like nylon and polyester, all work basically the same way: They’re incapable of actually “absorbing” any water, so any water that rains on them is just sitting on the surface of the fiber, where it can dry more quickly than it can from natural fibers, like cotton.

      This doesn’t mean they can’t get wet; they can still get soaked, but they’ll dry more quickly. However, the vast majority of hiking pants also include a water-repellant finish, called a DWR (durable water repellant). This is what makes water droplets bead up and roll right off the fabric. This finish isn’t permanent, so it’ll wear off eventually, but you can buy spray-on water repellant treatments like Nikwax, so they’ll work pretty much like new. I’ve found it’s good to keep a bottle of this around at home, and spray it on before each trip, which will probably last for several weeks, or even months, and you can also spray it onto clothing that doesn’t include the DWR, or renew rain jackets that have lost their finish.

      Looks like the Royal Robbins is the only one that comes pre-treated with this finish (it’s actually Teflon coated), but I think it’s fine to just buy whichever one you want and reapply the DWR as needed, since it also comes in handy for other things, like jackets.

  8. Thanks so much for the article, I’ve been looking for presentable travel pants for some time. My question on sizing for Rohan and Bluffworks pants, if I measure my waist with a tape measure I get a number about 2 inches larger than the pants size of say a pair of Levis. With Rohan and Bluff Works, do I order up or do their pants run true to the measurement of the tape?

    1. This is an issue known as “vanity sizing,” which is why all my clothes seem to have different numbers. But I’ve measured both the Rohans and Bluffs that I have, and the waist on each is about half an inch or one inch bigger than their stated size (depending on how carefully I lay them flat to measure them). Keep in mind that this measurement will vary a little after a long day of wearing them, but it sounds like they’ll be a little slimmer than the jeans you’ve got.

  9. Check out outlier pants (and their clothes in general). They look good and are amazing for travel. Expensive, but last longer than any other pants.

    1. I looked at the Outlier website and they have interesting products. The OG’s are a possibility. In the mean time I ordered a pair by Bluff Works and two pair by Rohan and did my best guess as to the sizes. I love ordering off the web if I know my size and hate doing that if I am uncertain. That said, I don’t like trying clothes on in stores either. The OG’s could use the zippered security pocket like the Bluff Works and Rohan have. I’m off to Spain this summer and I feel strongly about the added measure of security. Certainly not foolproof, but it will deter the amateurs.

      1. Yeah, that’s how I feel about it too. I’ve never had to deal with pickpockets, but the zippered pockets also just mean cash won’t fall out when you recline. It’s just a great added bonus.

  10. I poked around a bit on Rohan’s web site and they seem to do a decent job of making travel clothes in general, for example shirts. Shirts, especially long sleeve shirts, are not quite as bad, but similar to pants, in that they scream “I just walked out of REI.” Stupid vents, too much velcro and rucksack sized pockets – you can always tell by the pockets. I have a few shirts by Ex Officio because they were the closest thing I could find to something that resembles a dress shirt if you close your eyes and use your imagination. Rail Riders makes one model which is passable but most firms do not.

    1. Yeah, I’ve never understood why people don’t just use buttoned pockets, particularly the kind that have a downward-pointing flap, which would allow you to conceal a zipper there anyway. Nothing says “I’ve got cash right here” like a visible security pocket.

  11. I have a pair of Hidden Cargo Pants 2.0 in black from Scottevest. They are 100% cotton, which I know will make them more difficult to dry and produce more wrinkles, but they are the most comfortable and best fitting travel pant I have tried. The extremely deep front pocket in a pocket places my passport just above my knee, which I think will deter pickpockets well. The fiesta waistband provides some give but doesn’t look like “old man pants” and they are treated for water and stain resistance. I’m ordering another pair in pebble. I was looking for pants to wear on our trip to Paris and Barcelona this summer, but these look good enough to wear everyday.

  12. Got the Rohans and sent them back. Got the Bluff Works and sent them back. In the end I wanted to like them more than I did, neither brand really fit me well. I bought some dress trousers from Travel Smith which look like normal dress pants but made of microfiber and they should be fine. I bought some pants from Rail Riders and they will also work. Both products could be improved, but both will work and both fit.

    1. Yeah, fit is going to be subjective, so there are all sorts of little factors that might work or not work for certain people. Hopefully you’ll find The One.

  13. Best travel pants article I have yet to come across on the web, thanks!

    I know you mentioned “vanity sizing” a few posts up, but just curious if anyone else has had any experience with the Rohan Fusions. Along with being .5-1 inch larger than the stated size, do you know if these pants tend to stretch like jeans? Since their sizing goes up 2 inches at a time, I am skeptical to size down and order some pricey pants that don’t fit.

    Thanks again for the knowledge.

    1. I’ve tried a different pair from Rohan (the Jeans Plus) and they were a little on the slim side compared to what I’d expect from a “relaxed” fit. The Fusions don’t include any spandex, so stretchiness will be quite minimal. Sizing up is probably a good idea if you’re in between sizes.

  14. Thanks for this …..

    I just ordered some bluffworks as well as the Rohans….

    My go to pant so far has been the LL Bean Pathfinder Canvas Pant. You would never know it’s a cargo because the cargo pockets are flat (flush) and the canvas is light weight.

    LL Bean Patherfinder Canvas

    I am always looking for good travel pants that I can wear to dinner or go for a hike.

      1. Oh yeah – forgot. I like them as they are comfortable, don’t wrinkle, and have utility without looking like a utility cargo pant.

        I ordered the Bulffworks and Rohan – looking forward to trying them out on my next trip.

        1. Those Pathfinders don’t really top the decent looking bar. Though there are worse, these are pretty bad.

  15. Just ordered my husband a pair of Bluffworks due to your review. He travels often for work where he must hike around and inspect dams, plus we often travel over seas. I despise the zip off, multi-pocketed pants that are similar to my 5 year old sons favorite options :) I adore the idea of great looking, quick dry, wrinkle free pants. I hope I love these (ok, I hope he does too) so that we can stock his closet with nice looking pants.

    I would never have known this was an option! So thank you!

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