This advice will sound odd given what I’ve recommended for everything else:
The best travel pants are a pair of regular cotton jeans.
“What? Regular cotton jeans? I thought you said no cotton”? you protest. Yes, cotton jeans. Not the most ideal piece of clothing for travel, I know, but unfortunately I have yet to find an acceptable substitute for a good pair of jeans.
My personal choice for long pants during normal times of leisure (any situation where I’m not at work) is jeans. I think that’s also true for a lot of people. My fashion style is fairly simple and non-pretentious, and I’ve never been a fan of wearing chinos or khakis or anything resembling that look outside of an office setting.
So knowing my personal placid pantaloon preference, for me travel pants of the quick dry variety simply do not do the job. At all. In the past, I have tried touring with several different brands of long quick-dry material pants, ended up hating the look and feel of all of them, and never wore them as a result. And if you’re not gonna wear it for whatever reason, it should stay at home.
I am constantly on the search for a great jeans substitute, so if I find one, I will let you know. Right now as of this writing, I haven’t found anything that works for me.
The nice thing about jeans is that you can get by wearing them multiple times without washing, and by strategically choosing when to wear them (usually at night when you’re not likely to sweat all over them), you may only need to wash them once or twice during your entire trip. The washing routine is the same as all the other stuff, the only difference being that jeans take quite a bit longer to dry. If you prefer to vacation in warm weather locales like I do, you may not even need to take jeans with you.
I’ve found over the years that one pair of jeans is usually sufficient. If I’m vacationing someplace cold, which is not too common for me, then I’ll take two pairs.
There are a handful of companies that make jeans comprised of a cotton/polyester blend. They may dry a tad quicker than regular jeans, but even these models are composed mostly of cotton, so I doubt the benefit is that significant. It’s the same issue as the cotton/poly blend shirts; you have a product that tries to compromise and ends up inheriting the negative qualities of both.
But the bigger problem is that because these blended material jeans are relatively uncommon, finding a pair that both fits properly and looks good is a challenge. Most companies make only one style of travel jeans in one color, and if that style doesn’t fit your body then you’re out of luck.
One other issue that applies specifically to me and likely some of you readers is that some of the companies that make travel jeans don’t make them in my size. An example of one such company that came up recently is Ex Officio. I stopped by one of their stores at the Atlanta airport during a layover to buy a replacement set of their excellent boxer shorts and decided to check out their travel jeans. They seem decent – better, in fact, than most travel jeans I’ve eyeballed in the past – but the smallest waist size they make is a 30. I’m a skinny guy and normally wear either a 29 or 28 in jeans; size 30 looks ridiculous on me. I have a hard time finding normal cotton jeans as it is and usually have to resort to buying them online due to lack of availability in brick and mortar stores, so I wasn’t that surprised.
How about you? Have any of your readers found any solid travel jeans that you’d swear by? If so, I’d love to hear about it.