Review: Patagonia Quandary Pants

I’ve mentioned previously that I am not a fan of pants specifically designed for travel purposes.  For my most recent international trip to Egypt, I had to bite the bullet and buy some lightweight travel pants because the weather over there would have made jeans way too uncomfortable (it got up to nearly 110 degrees Fahrenheit in mid-day) and shorts were inappropriate for certain parts of the tour.

Several months before the vacation, I made a visit to our local outdoor clothing store and tried on several of their travel pants.  The ones that I eventually settled on were the Patagonia Quandary Pants in the Forge Grey color.  They retail for $79, come in both men’s and women’s versions, and can be found online or in many outdoor specialty stores like REI.

Here’s what they look like:

I chose these because they fit well (the most important characteristic) and they’re basic without too many frills.  After wearing these for a couple of weeks, my observations are below.


Pros:

  • They’re light weight.  With my single bag packing approach, I want to minimize the weight of my luggage without sacrificing quality.  These pants don’t weigh much.  Due to the nylon/spandex fabric being light and thin, they also dry much faster than regular cotton pants after a quick hand wash.  I had no major problems with the pants drying overnight (though read on for a minor issue related to this subject)
  • They have decent structure.  What I mean by structure is how sturdy they are.  For example, a pair of thick cotton jeans is the ultimate in structure; these pants aren’t anything like that, but they’re not as weak and floppy as several other travel pants I’ve owned in the past either.
  • Odor resistance.  Despite the massive amount of sweating that occurred in the hot north African weather, the pants actually smelled pretty decent after a full day’s wear.  I still washed them regularly, but they didn’t retain much odor at all, especially compared to cotton pants.

Cons:

  • There’s a goofy side pocket on the right leg that looks weird and out of place.  I guess one could use this pocket to store some extra cash or a credit card, but I would have preferred if the pocket wasn’t even there to begin with.  I don’t need a leg pocket in my jeans, and I don’t need one here either.
  • Sizing issues.  You will absolutely want to try these on first before buying them.  I’ve owned several pair of Patagonia shorts over the course of my adult life, and a size 30 fits me perfectly.  With these pants, a size 30 is too big and I had to resort to wearing a belt so the pants would stay up.  For some reason, these pants do not come in a size 29 which I think would have been perfect, but they do make a size 28.  I don’t know why a 29 waist doesn’t exist as an option.  Also, there are many internet reviews out there complaining about the thigh width being too narrow.  I didn’t have this problem, but this is also another great reason to try on clothing before buying for the first time, especially when the pants cost nearly $80.
  • The legs will likely need tailoring.  The Quandary Pants comes in 3 inseams (lengths):  short, regular, and long.  I got the short length and they were still too long, so I had the pants professionally tailored and the length is now perfect.  Because these are made of a nylon blend, they won’t shrink in the washer/dryer, so no need to worry about that.
  • The pockets and waist take longer to dry than the rest of the pants.  There’s more material in these specific locations, so the pants do not dry evenly.  It takes a few more hours for the thicker pocket areas to dry, as well as the material around the waist.  Make sure you check before you put them on for the day.  One thing I did that helped them dry faster was to turn the pockets inside out before hanging them up.  This exposed those problem areas to the air and resulted in quicker drying times.
  • The pants look odd if you have lots of stuff in your pockets.  Due to the thin material of these pants (and to be fair, all quick-dry travel pants have this pajama-like characteristic), if you put objects in your pockets like a wallet, keys, or your phone, then the pocket contents sway excessively while you’re walking around.  It looks and feels weird, like your thighs are sloshing back and forth.
  • There’s a useless tie cord around the waist.  I’m guessing that the purpose of this thing is to cinch it tight so that the wearer has no need for a belt, but the cord is too thin and too stretchy to serve that purpose.  It does nothing of value, so I cut mine out so the cord ends aren’t dangling all over the place.  Another thing that could easily have been omitted.

Overall the Quandary Pants are decent for what they are:  lightweight travel pants that dry faster than regular pants.  Even though they’re thin, they feel more substantial than other light travel pants I’ve tried, and the overall quality is good for the price.  If you’re ever in a situation where you need long pants in hot weather, then these are a solid choice.

However; they still feel like you’re wearing pajamas and are no substitute for a pair of regular cotton jeans.  Other than very specific travel scenarios like visiting a hot weather country that is predominantly Muslim with a conservative dress code, I would much prefer traveling with a pair of jeans.  Jeans are sturdy, versatile,  don’t need to be washed too frequently, and are still my number one choice for travel pants.

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