Home / Gear Reviews / 5 Star Reviews / RailEiders Eco Mesh Pants: A Love Affiar

RailEiders Eco Mesh Pants: A Love Affiar

manufactured by:
Philip Werner

Reviewed by:
On March 4, 2010
Last modified:May 5, 2017


RailRiders EcoMesh Pants
RailRiders EcoMesh Pants

I just bought another pair of Railrider’s Eco Mesh Pants. This will be my 3rd pair and the 3rd year in a row that I plan on wearing them for hiking and backpacking trips.

Going through one pair of hiking pants per year may seem a bit extreme to you, but I really beat the heck out of my pants on 3 season, multi-day backpacking trips. Over the course of spring, summer, and fall I’ll wear one pair of pants for about 21 backpacking days covering about 300 miles per year.

That’s just for overnights. I also do a lot of long day hikes, so add another 20 days per year to that. So by the end of each year, my pants are so filthy that no amount of washing or soaking can get the mud or sweat stains out of them.

Note: This grew after I retired. I now hike over 100 days per year. 

The reason I love these pants is the venting. There are 27″ long zippers that the run along the outside of each leg and can be opened to ventilate your more delicate parts if you start to sweat between the thighs or along your calves. RailRiders is the only manufacturer that I know of that makes pants with these vertical vents.

I started wearing these pants two years ago, when I decided to give up wearing shorts for hiking to avoid tick borne illnesses. I know too many people who’ve contracted them. During those first two years, I sprayed Permethrin on my shirts and pants at the beginning of each season to kill mosquitoes and ticks that landed on the fabric. Sawyer sells Permethrin by the bottle and it really works.

This year RailRiders has done that job for me already, coming out with Eco Mesh pants that are pre-treated with Insect Shield. This is a longer lasting, commercial version of Permethrin, that lasts for 70 washings.

In addition to bug protection, there pants are extremely soft and quick to dry, making them great hiking pants. Priced at $84 a pair, they are expensive, but I love em.

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

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  1. I got one of Railriders' shirts for my upcoming desert hiking. I've heard nothing but rave reviews for the pants, so I'm hoping the shirts are just as good. They sure look nice, anyway. Unfortunately, I don't think mine has insect shield… that would be nice from what I hear about the bugs in the Sierras.

  2. So… I assume fro your comments that you end up wearing these instead of shorts. How hot/humid of weather do you hike in? I like the idea of wearing pants that can vent as well as shorts, but would be concerned that in extreme heat or humidity/rain they would be too much.

  3. How much do these pants weigh in your size? I'm looking for something lighter than my Columbia nylon convertible pants,(which weigh about 9 ounces), but I'm not having much luck.

  4. I work at an outdoors store in Washington, DC. We met a rep from Ex-officio and he explained the insect shield process of treating fabric with Permethrin. Apparently it is done under higher than normal pressure, so that the permethrin becomes more "binded" to the cloth. Theoretically this means that high pressure would be needed to unbind the chemical. I've never owned a pair, but thats the sales pitch they give. Also, I believe Ex Officio makes a pant that has a ventilation mesh panel up the inseam, although its not one that you can zip open or closed; its just always there.

  5. For some reason, they do not make a women's version with the side zip…

  6. I wore an eco mesh shirt when I hiked the Long trail two years ago. With all the rain and humidity, I could never get the sweat stains or the salt out of it, but I loved the shirt. Long sleeves to keep the black flies off and mesh along the arms. Same concept as the pants. Towards the end it felt like it was starched whenever I work it. Still got it somewhere in the house. :-)

  7. Aaron – I've worn them in the rain forest of Vermont – hot, humid, and often raining and found them fine. But if you're still ok wearing shorts and don't feel compelled to change to long pants, then these probably aren't for you at the height of summer.

  8. Evan – 11.9 oz in an XL.

    Jeff – that what I had always heard about the Buzz Off/Permethrin application process too.

  9. Naturegirl – they're local – like in woburn or something. Give them a call and maybe they'll do a special. They're a small company.

  10. MZ -- 44 th parallel

    Earlylite: Could you compare it to their

    Men's VersaTac-light model? Thank you.

  11. The big difference is the side zips. In addition, the VeraTac has extra reinforced layers, which I can tell you, feel weird and are too hot. I bought a pair of RR's Adventure pants at first, which have the same features, and didn't like them for this reason. Too heavy, too warm. Sweat too much. Never bought the VersaTacs. but they look they have the same issue.

  12. REALLLLLY thinking hard about purchasing a pair of these for my upcoming PCT thru-hike. My current (and brand spankin new) TNF Paramount convertible pants are looking more like they'll be my backup pair, at 17.5 ounces compared to the Eco Mesh's 9.7 ounces.

    Decisions… :)


  13. I'll definitely keep that in mind. My current hiking pants are showing the stains of hard use as well.

  14. I bought a pair of Eco Mesh pants a couple years ago and love ’em. With the ability to regulate temps via the zipper down the side, I haven’t been too cold or too hot in them–they’re “Just right!”

    I recently bought a couple of their shirts for my layering system.

  15. I also know many people with serious, chronic cases of Lyme disease and do all I can to avoid ticks including treating shoes and gaiters with permethrin hiking in long pants tucked into socks year round. This includes hot weather hikes in my very humid home state Mississippi and AT sections through Virginia this summer when highs were in the 90’s some days.

  16. Hey Phil, I’m looking to purchase a pair of Eco Mesh pants and I’m curious about the sizing. It looks like the waist is elastic on the side and I’m right on the cusp of two sizes. Small or Medium – I wear 32″ in jeans but some other shorts like RipCurl or Columbia I also wear 33″ and 34″ and rely more on my belt. How tight is the elastic on the side? My only comparison is generic REI Sahara pants and shorts which have tight elastic. Tight enough to make me stop wearing the Small’s I own.

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