The Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants take the Editors' Choice Award for the best overall model in our hiking pants review. They are great for a variety of adventures. These technical pants exceed the performance of the competition, garnering high scores in several metrics. They have an understated but practical set of pockets and features. Also, these pants are the single most breathable model that we tested, keeping us cool on hot days while offering quality sun protection. Though they aren't remarkable in high winds, this is a pair of hiking pants that perform well across a variety of activities.Editor's Note: This review was updated on October 26, 2022, after testing the latest updated version of these pants.
Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants Review
Cons: Waist fit is loose, not great in cool weather
Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
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Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants
$89.00 at REI
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$85.00 at Amazon
$56.99 at REI
|$50.97 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Airy fabric, very comfortable, maximum mobility||Supple and mobile, DWR coating works great, fair price||Look good, don't stretch, cinch cords in ankles||Durable, integrated belt, leg roll-up snaps||Simple design looks good, comfortable, affordable|
|Cons||Waist fit is loose, not great in cool weather||Not many pockets, slim fit may not be awesome for larger adults||Stiff, most pockets don't have zips||Not much ventilation, few pocket zippers||Minimal features, not water resistant|
|Bottom Line||Our favorite pant and the most comfortable and breathable pair that we tested||An awesome pant for 14er day hikes and chilling at the brewpub afterwards||A true enigma, these pants look great whether you find yourself in the wilderness or at the office||A hardy model that easily crosses over into multiple outdoor recreational activities like climbing due to their relaxed fit and stretchy material||A solid pair of everyday pants that are also good for hiking or climbing|
|Rating Categories||Outdoor Research Fe...||Patagonia Quandary...||Royal Robbins Alpin...||Prana Stretch Zion...||Prana Brion II Pants|
|Comfort and Mobility (35%)|
|Venting and Breathability (20%)|
|Versatility and Style (15%)|
|Weather Resistance (15%)|
|Specs||Outdoor Research Fe...||Patagonia Quandary...||Royal Robbins Alpin...||Prana Stretch Zion...||Prana Brion II Pants|
|Weight||12.2 oz||10.0 oz||13.8 oz||13.3 oz||12.0 oz|
|Material||86% nylon, 14% spandex; 90D stretch woven ripstop||94% nylon (62% recycled), 6% spandex||66% nylon, 31% polyester, 3% spandex||95% recycled nylon, 5% spandex||95% recycled nylon, 5% spandex|
|Water Resistance||DWR finish||DWR finish||DWR finish||DWR finish||DWR finish|
|Sizing (Waist, Length options)||W: 28" - 42"
L: 30"- 34"
|W: 28" - 40"
L: 30", 32", 34"
|W: 30" - 40"
L: 30" - 34"
|W: 28" - 42"
L: 28" - 36"
|W: 28" - 42"
L: 28" - 36"
|Sun Protection||UPF 50||UPF 50||UPF 50||UPF 50||UPF 50|
|Convertible, or option available?||No, but convertible version available||No||No||No||No|
|Pockets||2 hand, 2 back, 1 thigh zip||2 hand, 2 back, 1 zippered thigh, 1 coin||2 front, 2 rear, 1 cargo||2 hand, 2 back, one left cargo, 1 coin||2 hand, 1 front coin, 2 back|
|Waist Strap/Fasten||Button and zip fly||Button and zip fly||Button and zip fly||Button and zip fly with waist cinch||Button and zip fly|
|Other Features||Drawcord cuff closures, side zip pocket||Front and back knee articulation, gusseted crotch, slim straight fit||Gussetted crotch, tapered leg, cinch cord at cuff||Ventilated inseam gusset, roll up leg snaps, adjustable waist tightening strap||Gusseted crotch, belt loops, mesh pockets|
Our Analysis and Test Results
We love the unique blend of materials that go into these pants. It produces a product that offers plenty of stretch while you are on the move and breathability that you wouldn't expect from synthetic clothing. These pants have a super simple 'convertibility' feature in the cuff — an elastic cord that you give a quick pull once you pull up the legs. Though they aren't perfect, all in all, this is an excellent pair of hiking pants. They take the crown on comfort, mobility, and breathability, making them a top-tier choice overall.
Comfort & Mobility
When it comes to comfort, these pants ranked right up there with the best of them. However, when considering mobility, no other pants can match the light, supple mobility afforded by these awesome pants.
The cut of these pants is great. They have articulated knees and a gusseted crotch. We found the fit to be 'regular', that is, neither slim nor baggy. The fabric is smooth against the skin, and the mobility this pair offers is second to none. One understated comfort feature is that the inside of the waistband has a strip of soft, felty material that reduces rubbing and abrasion if you have a backpacking waist belt clipped around them.
One drawback to the fit of this pair is the waist sizing. We suppose that this model is designed to be worn lower on the hips, but we felt like we really wanted a belt with this pair, which is less than ideal while wearing a climbing harness. It does come with traditional belt loops, so it's not a huge deal, but you might want to try sizing these pants down in the waist.
Venting & Breathability
It is breathability that really carries these pants. On warmer days, we felt like we were getting the sun protection we needed while retaining way less heat (and sweat) than we would expect while wearing a pair of hiking pants.
In terms of ventilation, the two front hand pockets are partially lined with mesh on the inside, as is the thigh pocket. Additionally, the bottom of each leg cuff has an elastic cord that allows the wearer to pull up and secure the pant legs above the calf or knee. Though not wholly comparable to a convertible pair, this feature offers a solid, simple solution when you need to cool down in the heat.
Though these pants have only a couple of features that could be considered venting points, in our head-to-head testing, running uphill revealed that their super-light and highly breathable fabric more than made up for it; ultimately, we felt cooler in our Ferrosi pants. Our only critical note is that when the wind whips on chilly days, these pants are a little bit too breathable.
Versatility & Style
This model provides an excellent combination of attributes for many outdoor activities. This pair features an 86% 90D stretch ripstop nylon and 14% elastane blend, the airiest-feeling material of any pant that we tested, making them great for both hiking and climbing. They are the perfect choice on warmer days and good in the late summer and early fall, just as the weather is about to change. On multi-day adventures, we wouldn't hesitate to keep them on as a pair of in-camp pants or even use them as a pair of on-trail pajamas.
The Ferrosi pants are perfect for hot weather and offer the extra options afforded by the leg cinch cords. If you need a pair of cooler weather pants, we would look elsewhere — the material on the Ferrosi is just too thin to provide serious wind protection. They can also get pretty beat up while climbing. On the other hand, we think they look pretty good. A little on the tech side but we wouldn't hesitate to run weekend errands in them.
These pants do an effective job of shedding water, at least while the DWR coating holds up. They don't offer nearly the level of beading and shedding that we saw with other models but noted that they still perform admirably.
With a spritz that simulated a drizzle, the water effectively beaded up and fell off the front of these pants. In a full-on downpour, water soaks into the outside layer of nylon, so our legs got wet. On the plus side, when the clouds part, their thin fabric dries out very quickly.
These pants have just a few simple features, but they all function quite well. There are five pockets overall — two partially mesh-lined front hand pockets, as well as a side pocket on the outside of the right thigh that includes a horizontal zippered opening. We found that the front pockets were adequately deep, and appreciate the subtle but thoughtful angle of the thigh pocket zipper, which makes it easier to open and close with one hand.
On the back, these pants have two open pockets with no zippers. We didn't mind not being able to close the rear pockets in the backcountry — we found that we rarely used them and when we did it was to temporarily hold a bandana or some small object to free up our hands. However, wearing them around town, we would like to be able to close them for peace of mind when walking around with a wallet.
These pants also come with a 50+ UPF rating, which means that they are ideally suited for sun protection. Another somewhat unique feature these pants offer is the elastic cinch cord at each leg cuff. Not only does this give the wearer another option for cooling down, but the cord can be used to keep the pants up when crossing streams or to cinch the cuffs down around the tops of boots like gaiters. Though the Ferrosi is not the most feature-packed pair, we are still pleased with what they do offer.
Should You Buy the Outdoor Research Ferrosi?
The Outdoor Research Ferrosi is a high-performing technical hiking pant. This model allows for a high degree of mobile, it is very comfortable, and highly breathable. Whether you are out on a day hike or a multi-week adventure, they will keep you cool and comfortable while on the move. Though we have some questions about long-term durability, they are one of our favorite options out there.
What Other Hiking Pants Should You Consider?
Though you can't go wrong with this model, if you want to add a little more style to your hiking wardrobe, the Royal Robbins Alpine Road and the very simple Prana Brion II are phenomenal options as well. For colder weather pursuits, we'd beef up with the REI Activator 3.0. For wet weather, we recommend the Arc'Teryx Gamma LT.
— Andy Wellman & Ben Applebaum-Bauch
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