Prana Stretch Zion Pant Review - Best Backpacking/Hunting Pant of All Time?

Prana Stretch Zion Pant

There are very few pieces of gear that I am excited about enough to call them the 'end all'.  However, after 2+ years wearing the Prana Stretch Zion Pant, I am ready to wax poetic about what we feel are the single best outdoor pants around!  The Stretch Zion pant is only offered for men.  Ladies?  Check out the Prana Halle Pant for the closest equivalent.

Prana Halle Women's Pants

Prana Halle Women's Pants
 
Check Price on Amazon
 
Check Price on REI

 

Prana Stretch Zion Men's Pants

Prana Stretch Zion Men's Pants
 
Check Price on Amazon
 
Check Price on REI

Specs

  • Made from Stretch 'Zion' performance woven fabric with durable water repellent (DWR) finish
  • 97% Nylon / 3% Spandex
  • Price - $89
  • Weight - 14 oz
  • UPF 50+
  • Abrasion resistant
  • Wrinkle resistant
  • Quick dry
  • Mesh pockets
  • Ventilated inseam gusset
  • Angled dual entry cargo pocket
  • Streamlined adjustable integrated belt
  • Roll-up leg snaps
  • Standard fit

Testing

I have worn the Stretch Zion pant nearly every day (except in the hot summer months) for the last two years, wearing them to work, to church, and out in the backcountry.  I have logged hundreds of miles in them, backpacking and hunting throughout Montana and Wyoming.  They are such good pants that I only wear denim jeans when the Stretch Zion pants are in the wash.  I am wearing a pair right now as I am typing this.  I may never take them off!  There isn't a single piece of gear in our entire backpacking gear list that we use more often.

Features

Stretch Zion Integrated Belt


Integrated Adjustable Belt

The integrated belt is one of our favorite features of the Stretch Zion.  Little details like this set these pants apart from the others.  Why is the integrated belt a big deal?  It means that you don't have to wear an uncomfortable (or comfortable for that matter) belt and have your pack hipbelt digging that pant's belt into your hips!  The integrated belt isn't perfect (IE it can slip over time), but it holds well enough to be very useful.  The buckle is also small enough in size so that it won't dig into your body when you are wearing a backpack.  The belt is adjusted simply by pulling it to tighten (same design as backpacking hip belts).

Durability & Breathability

Stretch Zion pants are fairly light and breathable.  For reference, a pair of my 30x32 Stretch Zion pants weighs in at 14.5oz, and a pair of my 30x32 denim jeans weighs 44% heavier at 21oz. The Stretch Zion pants are definitely more durable than other lightweight hiking pants I have tried.  I am always surprised at how little they are affected by off-trail scrambling and backpacking in general.  I own two pairs, one in green and one in tan.  Both colors resist staining and don't accumulate very much dirt and grime over the length of a week long trip.  They also don't tend to accumulate odor.  If you find they are getting a little ripe on a trip, the material will dry quickly after a wash session in a creek.  The backs of the lower legs (bottom 4 inches) is reinforced with a double layer of fabric to help keep your pant heels area from fraying.

I have found the Stretch Zion pants to be quite breathable during summer hiking conditions.  I typically backpack at higher elevations (9-11k ft), where the temperatures rarely get over 80 degrees.  They would likely be too heavy for sustained hot-weather travel.  The ventilated gusseted crotch and UPF 50 qualities help to stay comfortable and protected in alpine country, as well as in town.

The legs have roll up snaps (Capri pants anyone?) as well.  This feature is useful when you are trying to keep your pants dry when crossing small streams.  I don't find myself using this feature very often, but it is nice to have when the situation arises.  Rolling the pants up shortens them by about 8 inches. 

Pockets

The Stretch Zion front pockets are around six inches deep, and are made from a lightweight black mesh material.  The mesh holes are quite small, so you don't have to worry about losing small items.  The pockets are deep without being overly deep.  I have never noticed the pockets, which means they are probably designed correctly!  All other pockets on the pants have solid interiors.  The right rear pocket has a flap with the ends sown down to help keep your wallet or other items from slipping out.  I suppose if you are left handed the flap may be on the wrong side.  On the left outer thigh, there is a cargo pocket.  This pocket has two zippers, one at the top under a sown down flap, and one on the front.  The cargo pocket is approximately 6in x 6in in size, and is large enough to accommodate a small cell phone.  I don't find myself using this pocket very much, and generally just stick my cell phone and other items in the front pockets, which are generous enough to easily slip your phone in and out.  For reference, I use an iPhone 7, which is 5.4 inches long.  Also, the cargo pocket is stylishly designed and doesn't look like a stereotypical cargo pocket.  All told, the pockets are well suited for backcountry travel.

Backpacking vs. Hunting Use

For general season backpacking use, these pants are versatile enough to be used from March through October.  If you pair them with a Smartwool Men's Merino 150 Baselayer Bottom, they can be used during colder weather and also in the winter for 'warmer' activities like snowshoeing.  They have enough stretch and room so they don't constrict the 'boys' when you are crouched down to enter your tent, filter water, or stalk a bull elk in archery season.  When backpacking, they are the only pair of pants we use (no backup redundant pair of pants).  In fact, on some trips I never take them off!  They are so comfortable that I wear them inside my sleeping bag for an extra layer of insulation.  Plus, then you are already wearing them in the morning - a huge advantage when you roll out of the tent on a cold morning.  Who wants to put on pants in a cold cramped tent?  The Prana Stretch Zion is durable enough to handle scrambling over scree and talus fields without showing abrasion or ripping.  They shed dirt well and after a week in the backcountry they don't look insanely dirty.

For hunting, they are an ideal pant for September and October.  This timeframe coincides with archery season and early rifle season in most states.  Can you get by without camo pants?  Sure you can!  Many hunters can attest to their use for hunting.  They can easily handle off trail deadfall scrambles, and are breathable enough for a hot, early September hunt.  They are also cheaper than some of the hunting pants from premier brands like Stone Glacier, Kuiu, and Sitka.  Plus, the fact that they aren't camo means you can wear them to the office!

Cons

I suppose the Prana Stretch Zion pants aren't perfect.  Here are a couple things to consider before you pull the trigger.

  • May be too heavy for hot environments.  However, as they generally heavier than most hiking pants, they are also more durable.  A fair tradeoff in my opinion.  Anyways, if you are hiking at altitude (over 6k feet), the temperatures don't get blistering hot anyways.
  • Some people complain they are too baggy and have 'bell bottoms'.  This hasn't been my experience.  For reference I am 5ft 10in and weigh 155 pounds.  I like the looser fit and the fact they fit easily over bulky hiking boots.
  • The integrated belt loosens over time.  This can be an issue.  However, I don't find it to be such an problem that I wear a belt to compensate. I do tighten them up several times a day.

Bottom Line

If you can find a better pair of backpacking and early season hunting pants, please tell us ASAP.  We feel these are the best pants available for general outdoor camping, backpacking, and hunting.  They are exceptionally comfortable and durable.  The Prana Stretch Zion Pants are worth every penny of their $89 price.  Read more Amazon reviews to see why they are so exceptional.

Prana Halle Women's Pants
 
Check Price on Amazon
 
Check Price on REI

 

Prana Stretch Zion Men's Pants
 
Check Price on Amazon
 
Check Price on REI

Disclosure:  We were not provided a pair of pants for review, these were bought with our own money.

 

Backcountry Gear Guides

Make sure to check out our other Gear Guides!

2 comments

  • Thanks for the feedback Ryan, I agree the buckle slips more than I would like. It doesn’t look like the Psiphon pants are available anymore?

    Shaun Durkee
  • The greatest flaw of the Stretch Zion pants is the integrated buckle. Constantly needs re-adjusting, especially when backpacking. If this were to be the perfect pant, they’d replace it with the same system found on the Arc’teryx Psiphon FL pants: a metal hook attached to an elasticized band that you slip over sewn on loops. Never, ever needs adjusting, is lightweight and low profile.

    Ryan

Leave a comment

Name .
.
Message .

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published