There are a few pieces of gear that we’ve all had for years (or buy consistently year after year) just because they work so darn well. Mountain Hardwear promised that the Mesa convertible pant would provide that kind of experience, and for me that sets a very high level of expectation. I had a blast testing the Mesas during a backpacking trip to the Sangre de Cristo mountains of New Mexico.

Mountain Hardwear Mesa V2 Convertible Pants Features:

  • Mesh drain panels in pockets
  • Zippered side pocket, with key clip
  • Convert to shorts with an 11″ inseam
  • Full-length inseam gusset for mobility
  • DWR finish repels water
  • Apparel Fit: Relaxed
  • Weight 10.6 oz. / 299 g
  • Inseam Length 30,32,34″ / 76 cm
  • MSRP: $75


My Experience

The Mesas are a pretty straightforward pant as far as convertibles are concerned: a light, quick-drying fabric, five pockets and a DWR to keep rain showers out. The pants fit slightly tight through the thigh (or, at least, they will if you’re a cyclist) and tend toward athletic fitting. The right leg has a zippered pocket for security, though the zip is tough to open with one hand.

The athletic fit becomes something of a problem when you’re trying to drag a compass or multitool out of your pocket – I definitely encountered a little of what I call “fat-woman-in-jeans-trying-to-reach-cell-phone” syndrome with these pants. It’s not a big deal, and I’m perfectly content to shift easy-access items to the butt pockets or zippered cargo pocket.

Zippered side pocket with security hook

Zippered side pocket with security hook

For performance, I had mixed feelings about the pants. They move well in technical scrambles and I never felt encumbered by the pant – that full-length gusset is a must-have. However, I had a few issues with some of the other aspects of the product. For one thing, the DWR held up well until its first brisk scrub in a mountain stream, and then disappeared entirely (even when I got home and chucked them in the dryer to buck up the DWR). Moreover, the product fabric and stitching ran into failures as well – I ripped out the crotch with around 50 miles on the pant and there’s some failure of both fabric and stitching on the pants.

The ripped crotch is doubtless a result of the tight cut around the thigh, but I’m hardly out of the way as far as size is concerned: I’m 5′ 11″ and weigh 193 and, while I am a cyclist, there are definitely bigger quads out there. Overall, I’d call it an old-fashioned product failure, either due to poor design, poor manufacturing standards or poor quality control. Perhaps all three. The worn fabric and torn stitching, though, is completely unacceptable – these pants have around 70 miles on them, which is just a fraction of the miles that an avid backpacker can put on in a summer. Admittedly, $70 does not buy into the upper echelon of hiking lowers, but it’s in a price range where I would expect better performance.

One of several failures that these shorts experienced

One of several failures that these shorts experienced

Beyond these rather serious failures, I really like the pant design – they zip off easily, dry quickly and move well. I personally like their quad-hugging feel and I’m not too put off that I need to stitch up the crotch. Hardwear’s waistband feels good under a pack and the UPF 50 rating (an absolute must-have for me) keeps my legs pasty white. I just wish they held up better!

The Good:

  • Great fabric: light, cool and quick-drying
  • Security pocket is convenient, reasonably sized
  • Titanium color (tested) wears well in the backcountry – stains are a no-show

The Bad:

  • Poor DWR longevity after washing
  • Fabric failures in crotch and hem
  • Security pocket zip doesn’t pull easily enough

The Bottom Line

Mountain Hardwear promised me that these pants would quickly become an old favorite; while I did indeed love the fit and function of the pants, they simply don’t hold up well enough. Mountain Hardwear may do well to reconsider how tight they’re tailoring the thighs, since a lot of outdoorsmen are, well, muscular. Go figure. I really want to recommend these pants since I loved them before the failures started showing up, but in their current iteration I think I would give these pants a pass unless you want to buy three pairs in a season.

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About Author

Kevin Glover is an outdoorsman living, climbing and biking in Spokane, WA. Originally from the Nevada high desert, he moved to the PNW for its mild winters and allergen-free summers. He has guided throughout the Cascades and Enchantments for Peak 7 Adventures.

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