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Best Convertible Hiking Pants

I’ve tried hiking pants from a number of different manufacturers like REI and RailRiders, but the ones I like best are EMS’ cargo zip off hiking pants. The price for these pants is $55, but EMS often has them on sale.  At 16 oz they are not the lightest hiking pants you can find, but their versatility and durability easily makes up for the few extra ounces. They are convertible pants, in that the legs zip off just above the knee, which extends their range of use in a wide variety of weather conditions. They are also made from nylon so they dry easily and remain quite cool in hot weather. They include a lightweight nylon belt which helps to keep them up even when you backpack is trying to push them down.

EMS Convertible Hiking Pants

I own two pairs of these pants. My favorite features are the number of pockets they have and the durability of the zippers. There are 3 different pockets on the front of each leg. One is a deep open pocket long enough to hold a map. The second closes with velcro and the third with a zipper. I find it incredibly convenient to store and segregate different types of supplies in these pockets so that they can be easily found and so that they don’t contaminate one another…like bug dope and the cap to my water filter. There are also two back pockets that close with a velco tab.

Another big plus are the durability of the zippers. I’ve owned convertible pants from other manufacturers like Ex-Officio only to have their zippers stop functioning after less than a year. The zippers on these EMS pants are a little heftier and have never failed me over multiple backpacking seasons. On tan colored pants, the zippers are color coded to make matching the bottoms and the tops easier. Each leg also have a boot zipper about 12″ long making the legs easy to remove without taking off your shoes.

Disclosure: The author owns this product and purchased it using their own funds.


  1. Thanks, I am looking to find the best quality pants for the best price, I will check for these. Just a side comment, everytime that I have gone into an REI store there’s always a young kid working that I ask for help and they act like I’m bothering them, and they don’t look or sound like they knows anything about the product. Ever have that experience? How is EMS for helpful service? Thanks, Joe

  2. Can a regular belt be used easily with these pants?

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