Gear and Gizmos
Choosing the perfect pair of travel pants depends on your travel style, climate, activities, and fashion preferences. Here is a guide to help you choose your own perfect pair of travel pants – with advice for both men and women. (See also: Choosing the Perfect Travel Wardrobe: A Woman’s Guide).
The first and foremost factor in choosing the perfect pair of travel pants is to know what you need them to do – or rather what you need to do in them.
And as is often the case – which combination of the above activities (and more) will you be doing, such that your pants need to adapt to multiple uses and scenarios?
Here are some standard characteristics of travel pants you might want to consider, depending on your travel style and activities:
Convertible pants (where the bottoms zip off to reveal shorts) are so common they’re a stereotype for travellers. They’re best suited to outdoor activities like trekking, and are ideal for adapting to multiple climates.
Personally, I don’t like convertible pants from a style perspective (for men and women). And practically speaking, I find the zippers more of a pain than they’re worth. A more stylish and practical alternative to convertible pants are the kind that you can roll up and secure with buttons.
Clothing Arts makes pick-pocket proof pants with loads of pockets. They’re ingeniously designed to help you carry your wares securely. Men have a few choices for style (including convertibles), and the women’s style can roll up.
Both my partner and I have these, and they tick all the boxes for travel practicality (material, style, and versatility). My partner loves his pants, with the many secure pockets.
However as a woman, I just don’t use pockets. Not enough women’s pants have pockets for me to have adapted to leaving my purse behind and confidently know where everything is stashed. Not only that, but the extra material of the pockets (empty, much less full) is not flattering.
Lastly if you have long legs, you’ll be out of luck with Clothing Arts. I ordered the tall version, and when I sit down the pockets bunch up resulting the the pants being too short – by a few inches.
Material is relevant for a few reasons. You want travel pants that are quick drying, wrinkle free, and – very important – comfortable. Colour is also important; choose a neutral colour that matches everything for additional versatility and usability.
Style is subjective, and dependent on your preferred travel activities. I’ve had pants that were practical for travel, but which I hated wearing because I felt like a box in them, or they were uncomfortable.
And this isn’t just a girly thing; most guys like to – and deserve to – rock it in style too.
You want to feel and look good in your travel pants, because chances are you don’t have a lot of choice on the road, and you’ll be stuck wearing them a lot.
Convertible pants are versatile for adapting to multiple climates. But you also want to consider versatility of situation and style; can you go from a Paris cafe or business meeting in the morning to a country romp in the afternoon and look/feel good doing both? You may have to search for the right pair of pants, but the answer is yes – you can.
Canadian traveler Dave Bouskill of The Planet D likes Bluff Works pants for their combination of style and function. “I love the comfort factor and they breathe really well so they’re good for many different situations. Also they don’t wrinkle! Which is a big seller for me. One tip is that they fit a little differently than normal pants so be sure to follow the guide on their site.”
For women, I find neutrality in style and colour increases versatility. One of my favourite pairs of pants for versatility are the Bianca by Anatomie Style, which have a lovely flare at the bottom, are very comfortable to wear, quick-drying and wrinkle-free, and can be dressed up or down at your pleasure. Although the site bills them as yoga/lounge pants, trust me – they are so much more.
Travel logic dictates that you leave your jeans behind. They’re too heavy and bulky, they take too long to dry, and they’re not ideal for outdoor activities like trekking (which demand a quick-dry material that keeps you warm if you’re caught in rain or snow and don’t want hypothermia).
But I – and other travelers I know – am willing to make a concession. I like a stylish pair of jeans, and I feel good in them. Almost more important than all this practical stuff, is that you must love your travel wardrobe, because it won’t be extensive and you’ll have to wear the same things repeatedly.
Do you have a favourite pair of travel pants? What are they, and why?