Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.
Issue link: http://bg.aba.org/i/753549
22 Birder's Guide to Gear | November 2016 Adventure Pants ing horizontal bulges on each thigh. Quite a few styles are small in the crotch area, which can be quite embarrassing, espe- cially while seated. Though you can purchase on Amazon, I would only do so if the clothing is "Prime Eligible". Amazon Prime is a membership service that insures hassle-free and fast re- turns. If you do not have a Prime mem- bership, go to the clothing manufacturer's online store, and work with them directly. You will more likely have a hassle-free re- turn experience if the pants you ordered do not fit as expected. You can also find more options for different body types, such as short, tall, and extra-large sizes. One Brand Does Not Fit All Currently, my favorite brand for my body type is Columbia. The material is so soft that it's almost like wearing pajamas. Flaps of material on the inside of the pant leg prevent the zipper from chafing your skin. The material is stretchy and spreads well when I sit down, avoiding the "muffin-top" look. Unlike quite a few styles out there, the pants hang lower on my hips, rather than being a high-waisted style. These pants dry very quickly, and a quick toss over a shower curtain or hotel hanger will smooth out most wrinkles. There is a pe- tite women's version online, meaning I can find a pair that doesn't bunch at the ankles. Special Considerations for Women When I started asking around about feel- ings on trousers that convert into shorts, my male friends were under the impres- sion of "Whatever is on sale and in my size works for me." It's my experience that women have a much more complex relationship with adventure pants, and as useful as they can be in the field, it's not a straightforward relationship. Most of the women I interviewed were of a simi- lar mind. Female bodies function differ- ently and have weight distributed in ways that most men do not. Some women have thicker thighs, some rounder bellies. It's a challenge to find a pair of pants that can be roomy enough for ease of movement in the thighs while not being overly roomy in the belly area. Or perhaps you will find a pair of pants that fits in the waist, only to have assumed that the only people wearing them would have the body of a triathlete. The zippers had no coverings, so they chafed the thighs. And most egregious of all, the material was a humidity-trapping sauna that remained wet for hours. To top it off, they were high-waisted and scrunched at the ankles. The I Dream of Jeannie look is not something any professional person cares to rock while on the clock. Perhaps the designer thought this was a way to keep ticks out, but with this design, once any- thing with six to eight legs crawls up, it's not coming out until you take off your pants. How To Shop After I finally found a pair of adventure pants that worked for me, I started asking around. I'm five feet tall and built like Joan Holloway on Mad Men: I'm a very specific body type. I was curious what others found to be the best pants. The bottom line is that quite a few people like the idea of adven- ture pants, but many of us struggle to find something comfortable that fits well. Half the problem is finding a pair that is the correct length. Outdoor stores that have them in stock generally have only the "average" sizes and lengths available to try on. Being on the shorter end of the spec- trum and a size 14, I've discovered that my size is rarely in a store, but it is online. And quite frankly, I'd rather try clothes on at home where I can incorporate some of my other outdoor accessories and go without a sales clerk trying to get me to purchase a puce button-down vest because, "OMG, you look so cute, and, like, you look like you're under 30!" A great place to start your search for ad- venture pants is Amazon.com. Just about every major brand is sold on this shopping site. There are extensive reviews from us- ers, and many include their height and weight with the review. A few even include specific measurements for their waist and hips as well as a photo of them wearing the item. This can give you an excellent idea whether a pair will work for you. Amazon reviewers are incredibly candid and will warn you of problems that may arise like "muffin-top thighs", a phenomenon that can happen when you sit. The material may stretch, but the zippers do not, creat- them be too long in the leg. That said, more than one woman has found that men's styles are the way to go. Because there is more than one female body type, and because I tend to avoid men's pants, I asked some female birder Adventure pants allow you to keep warm in 40-degree mornings and then stay cool when temperatures push into the 90s later in the day. Photos © Bill Stiteler Continued on page 24