Monday, September 5, 2011

Here’s a quick review that’s a bit different from the reviews I usually do. I typically focus on the techy gadgets that save you money, and the things that make your camera perform better. So why not talk about something that makes ME perform better? An article of clothing that over the last six months has become an essential piece of my kit.
I’m in love with REI. In case you didn’t know, I’m also keeping up another blog for climbing and the progress I’ve made since starting in December 2010. Anyways, my college roommate got me hooked on bouldering and shopping at REI for any and all outdoor equipment. Which includes the Prana Stretch Zion Pants that I’m reviewing today.
Originally, I picked them up to climb in and for travel. I wanted something light and breathable, but durable. Kyle (that roommate I mentioned) liked older versions of the pants and even donated a very worn in and slightly tattered pair for me to try. I Liked them enough to end up buying two more pairs about six months ago (March-ish?). The fit was great. However, if I still had my legs from when i ran track in college, my quads would never fit in these pants.
I also found the cuffs to be massive. I had them tapered down to 7” and now they fit perfectly.
The thought of using the pants for my videography/photography work didn’t occur to me until I helped with a music video that was out in grass fields that we had to hike into and through to get to the specific shoot site. I knew it would be hot, but I needed to protect my legs from stinging nettles and such. The pants were amazing. I didn’t get to hot carrying parts of a jib, and the pants didn’t get mangled by the sticker bushes catching on them constantly, or even stained from sap. I’ve used them on every shoot since except for the music video we shot in pacific city… nothing was going to keep my pants on that day. ;)
The versatility of the pockets is what you’d expect from cargo pants. They hold tools, batteries, data cards, you name it. They’ve stood up to the abuse I’ve asked of them and still look new. I’m pretty certain they’ll be around for a long time to come.
Oh! And for travelling (remember, I want to practice travelling light?), these pants roll down into an extremely small area taking up very little space in my bag. Probably… 3 pairs of Zion’s take up about the same room as a pair of Jeans. That’s a lot of space saved when I only want to take a camera bag and a backpack.
Some cons to consider… REI only has two lengths of pants: 30 and 32, so you super tall people might be out of luck. The button snaps that the pants have when you roll up the ankles are alright, they might be troublesome but I’d rather have them, then not. And the waist is cinched down by a little piece of fabric that goes through the waistband. If the plastic on that were to break, it could make tightening the pants very frustrating (the newer model of the pants, however, do include belt loops. Which is a very nice improvement.)

Final word? I’m in love with these pants. My goal is to build a photography kit that’s affordable without sacrificing durability. Which includes the clothes I wear. Because the more durable my pants are, the less often I have to replace them. Plus, Prana’s attention to the environment and their impact on it is something I can appreciate. I highly recommend these pants for your shoots and projects. Definitely consider checking them out.

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