REI Co-op Sahara Convertible Hiking Pants Review – Your Ultimate Trail Companion?

Discover the versatility and comfort of the REI Co-op Sahara Convertible Hiking Pants, perfect for a range of outdoor activities and changing weather conditions.
REI Co-op Sahara Convertible

REI Co-op Sahara Convertible

Explore the Versatility and Comfort of REI Co-op Sahara Convertible Hiking Pants for Any Adventure
The REI Co-op Sahara Convertible Hiking Pants offer exceptional versatility and comfort with durable construction, making them a great value for diverse outdoor activities, despite some limitations in waterproofing and fit for certain body types.


Design & Versatility
Comfort & Support
Durability & Performance
Waterproofing & Breathability
Value for Money


  • Versatility
  • Breathability
  • Durability
  • Weather resistance
  • Comfort and fit
  • Practical features
  • UV protection


  • Not fully waterproof
  • Temperature limitation
  • Zipper placement
  • Fit for some body types


Brief Overview

The REI Co-op Sahara Convertible Hiking Pants are designed to meet the versatile needs of outdoor enthusiasts. These pants are not just another pair of hiking trousers; they offer the functionality of transforming into shorts, making them an excellent choice for a wide range of outdoor activities. Whether you’re embarking on a multi-day hike, tackling a challenging trail, or simply enjoying a day in the wilderness, these pants aim to provide the comfort and adaptability you need.

Initial Impressions and Context of Testing

Upon first inspection, the REI Co-op Sahara Convertible Hiking Pants impress with their lightweight yet sturdy construction. The material feels durable, suggesting it can withstand the rigors of the great outdoors, while the design hints at thoughtful features that prioritize convenience and comfort. I tested these pants over several weekends in varied conditions—from the scorching heat of desert hikes to the cooler, breezy environments of high-altitude trails. This testing context allowed me to assess their performance across different climates and terrains.

The convertible aspect of these pants immediately stood out. The zippers at the thighs are strategically placed for easy conversion from pants to shorts and back, promising quick adjustments as the weather changes. Additionally, the pants feature multiple pockets, which are essential for hikers who need to keep small essentials within easy reach.

In summary, the REI Co-op Sahara Convertible Hiking Pants appear to be a versatile and practical option for hikers seeking adaptability and convenience in their outdoor gear.

Technical Specifications

Key Features and Technology

The REI Co-op Sahara Convertible Hiking Pants are packed with features designed to enhance your hiking experience:

  • Convertible Design: The pants easily convert into shorts with zip-off legs, offering adaptability for changing weather conditions.
  • Moisture-Wicking Fabric: Made from a lightweight, quick-drying nylon blend, these pants help manage moisture, keeping you dry and comfortable.
  • UPF 50+ Sun Protection: The fabric provides excellent protection from harmful UV rays, making them ideal for sunny hikes.
  • Durable Water Repellent (DWR) Finish: This coating helps the fabric shed light rain and resist stains, adding an extra layer of weather resistance.

Design and Materials

The REI Co-op Sahara Convertible Hiking Pants are thoughtfully designed with both functionality and comfort in mind:

  • Material: Constructed from 94% nylon and 6% spandex, the fabric strikes a balance between durability and stretch, allowing for a full range of motion.
  • Weight: These pants are lightweight, reducing the burden on long hikes without compromising on durability.
  • Waistband: The integrated belt and partially elastic waistband provide a secure and adjustable fit, enhancing comfort during extended wear.
  • Zippers and Pockets: High-quality zippers are used for the leg conversions and pockets, ensuring longevity and smooth operation.

Practical Features

The pants include several practical features aimed at improving the hiker’s experience:

  • Pockets:
    • Two Front Hand Pockets: For quick access to small items.
    • Two Cargo Pockets: With secure closures, ideal for storing maps, snacks, or other essentials.
    • One Rear Pocket: For additional storage needs.
  • Articulated Knees: These provide better mobility and comfort, especially when scrambling over rocks or steep terrain.
  • Gusseted Crotch: Enhances freedom of movement, reducing chafing and improving comfort during long hikes.

Overall, the technical specifications of the REI Co-op Sahara Convertible Hiking Pants reveal a product designed with the hiker’s needs in mind, offering a combination of innovative features and robust materials to support a variety of outdoor adventures.

Performance Evaluation

Fabric Performance

  • Breathability: The REI Co-op Sahara Convertible Hiking Pants excel in breathability, thanks to their lightweight nylon-spandex blend. During high-intensity hikes, the fabric efficiently wicks away sweat, keeping you cool and dry. The breathability is particularly noticeable during strenuous ascents or in hot climates where overheating can be an issue.
  • Waterproofing: While not fully waterproof, the pants feature a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish that provides effective protection against light rain and splashes. In my experience, the pants held up well during unexpected showers, keeping me dry long enough to find shelter or put on more substantial rain gear.
  • Durability: The fabric’s blend of nylon and spandex ensures these pants can withstand the rigors of hiking. After several hikes through dense brush and rocky terrains, the pants showed no signs of significant wear and tear. The reinforced stitching in high-stress areas, such as the knees and seat, adds to their longevity.

Weather Resistance

  • Heat: The pants perform admirably in hot weather. The option to convert them into shorts is a significant advantage, providing instant relief from rising temperatures. The fabric’s UV protection (UPF 50+) also means you can stay protected from the sun’s harmful rays.
  • Cold: While these pants are not insulated, they can still be effective in cooler weather when paired with a base layer. The nylon material does a decent job of blocking wind, which helps retain some warmth.

Practical Features

  • Pockets: The pants come equipped with multiple pockets that are both functional and well-placed. The two front hand pockets are deep enough to secure small items, while the two cargo pockets, featuring secure closures, provide ample storage for maps, snacks, and other essentials. The rear pocket adds another layer of utility, perfect for items you want to keep safe and out of the way.
  • Zippers: The quality of the zippers is notable. They operate smoothly and are robust enough to withstand frequent use. The leg zippers, in particular, allow for easy conversion from pants to shorts without any hassle, even on the go.
  • Adjustments for Comfort and Utility: The integrated belt and partially elastic waistband ensure a snug and adjustable fit, enhancing comfort during long hikes. The articulated knees and gusseted crotch further improve mobility, making it easier to navigate challenging terrain.

In summary, the REI Co-op Sahara Convertible Hiking Pants deliver excellent performance across various metrics, including fabric breathability, weather resistance, and practical features, making them a reliable choice for diverse hiking conditions.

Fit and Comfort

Sizing and Fit

The REI Co-op Sahara Convertible Hiking Pants are designed to accommodate a wide range of body types. Available in various sizes, including regular, tall, and short inseams, these pants offer a tailored fit for different heights and body shapes. The sizing generally runs true to size, though it’s always a good idea to try them on or refer to the sizing chart for precise measurements.

The pants feature a partially elastic waistband that provides some flexibility, ensuring a snug fit without feeling restrictive. This elastic section, combined with the integrated belt, allows for easy adjustments on the fly, which is particularly useful if you lose or gain weight during long hikes.

Comfort During Various Activities

  • Hiking: The pants excel in providing comfort during extended hikes. The articulated knees and gusseted crotch enhance mobility, making it easier to scramble over rocks and navigate uneven terrain without feeling constrained. The fabric’s stretchiness adds to this comfort, allowing for a full range of motion.
  • Climbing: For climbing activities, the pants perform admirably. The durable yet flexible material resists abrasions from rock surfaces, while the articulated design ensures that the pants move with you, reducing the risk of chafing and discomfort.
  • Camping: During camping trips, the pants’ versatility shines. The convertible feature means you can quickly switch to shorts during warmer days and revert to full-length pants in the cooler evenings. This adaptability reduces the need for multiple clothing items, saving space in your pack.
  • Day-to-Day Wear: Beyond outdoor activities, the REI Co-op Sahara Convertible Hiking Pants are comfortable enough for everyday wear. The lightweight fabric and relaxed fit make them suitable for casual outings or travel, offering practicality without sacrificing style.

Special Features for Enhanced Comfort

  • Breathable Fabric: The pants’ moisture-wicking properties ensure that sweat is efficiently managed, keeping you dry and comfortable even during intense physical activity.
  • Integrated Belt and Elastic Waistband: These features provide a customizable fit that adapts to your body’s movements, preventing the pants from slipping or feeling too tight.
  • Convertible Design: The ability to zip off the lower legs and convert the pants into shorts adds a significant level of comfort, particularly during hot weather or when crossing streams.

In conclusion, the REI Co-op Sahara Convertible Hiking Pants offer a comfortable fit that adapts well to various body types and outdoor activities. The thoughtful design elements, such as articulated knees and a gusseted crotch, combined with practical features like an adjustable waistband and breathable fabric, ensure that these pants provide comfort and versatility on the trail and beyond.

Pros and Cons


  • Versatility: The convertible design allows for quick transformation from pants to shorts, making these pants suitable for varying weather conditions and activities.
  • Breathability: The lightweight, moisture-wicking fabric ensures excellent breathability, keeping you cool and dry during intense hikes.
  • Durability: Constructed from a nylon-spandex blend, the pants are durable and resistant to abrasions, ideal for rugged terrains and frequent use.
  • Weather Resistance: The DWR finish provides effective protection against light rain and wind, adding a layer of weather resistance.
  • Comfort and Fit: Features like articulated knees, a gusseted crotch, an integrated belt, and a partially elastic waistband ensure a comfortable and adjustable fit, accommodating a wide range of body types.
  • Practical Features: Multiple pockets, including two front hand pockets, two cargo pockets, and a rear pocket, offer ample storage for essentials. High-quality zippers enhance the overall utility.
  • UV Protection: The UPF 50+ rating provides excellent protection against harmful UV rays, making them ideal for sunny hikes.


  • Not Fully Waterproof: While the DWR finish offers some water resistance, the pants are not suitable for heavy rain or prolonged wet conditions without additional waterproof gear.
  • Temperature Limitation: These pants are not insulated, limiting their effectiveness in very cold weather without layering.
  • Zipper Placement: Some users might find the leg zippers slightly uncomfortable or noticeable, especially when wearing the pants as shorts.
  • Fit for Some Body Types: While the adjustable features accommodate many body types, individuals with unique proportions might still find the fit less than perfect.


The REI Co-op Sahara Convertible Hiking Pants have many strengths, including their versatility, comfort, and durability, making them a solid choice for most outdoor enthusiasts. However, they are not without their limitations, particularly in extreme weather conditions. Overall, these pants offer a balanced blend of functionality and comfort, suitable for a wide range of hiking and outdoor activities.

Comparative Analysis

When comparing the REI Co-op Sahara Convertible Hiking Pants to the Prana Stretch Zion II Pants and the Patagonia Quandary Pant, several key differences and similarities emerge.

The Prana Stretch Zion II Pants are renowned for their exceptional comfort and flexibility, thanks to the proprietary Zion fabric, which is both stretchy and durable. Unlike the Sahara Convertible Pants, which focus on versatility with their zip-off legs, the Stretch Zion II Pants prioritize a streamlined design without conversion capabilities. This makes them slightly less adaptable to changing weather but superior in comfort for continuous wear. The Prana pants also feature a ventilated inseam gusset, enhancing breathability and movement, which is comparable to the Sahara’s articulated knees and gusseted crotch.

The Patagonia Quandary Pant, on the other hand, stands out for its environmental credentials and solid performance in diverse conditions. Made from a blend of recycled nylon and spandex, these pants offer a similar level of durability and stretch as the Sahara Convertible Pants. However, the Quandary Pant includes additional features such as a water-repellent finish and a slim fit design that caters more to those who prefer a more tailored look. While both pants provide UPF 50+ sun protection, the Quandary’s more streamlined design and slightly heavier fabric make it better suited for cooler conditions compared to the Sahara Convertible Pants, which excel in warmer, variable weather due to their convertible nature.

In conclusion, while the REI Co-op Sahara Convertible Hiking Pants offer unmatched versatility with their zip-off design, the Prana Stretch Zion II Pants and Patagonia Quandary Pant each bring unique strengths to the table, such as enhanced comfort and environmental sustainability, respectively. Your choice would ultimately depend on whether you prioritize adaptability, comfort, or eco-friendly materials in your hiking gear.


The REI Co-op Sahara Convertible Hiking Pants stand out as a highly versatile and practical option for outdoor enthusiasts. Their convertible design, excellent breathability, and durable construction make them ideal for a wide range of activities and conditions. With thoughtful features like articulated knees, a gusseted crotch, and multiple secure pockets, these pants offer both comfort and functionality on the trail. While they may not be fully waterproof or the warmest option for cold weather, their adaptability in changing climates and overall value for money make them a strong contender in the hiking pants market.

For those seeking a reliable, all-purpose pair of hiking pants that can handle everything from sunny day hikes to unpredictable weather, the REI Co-op Sahara Convertible Hiking Pants are a solid investment. They are particularly well-suited for hikers who need versatility and durability in their gear, ensuring comfort and protection throughout their outdoor adventures.

Further reading