Hands-on Gear Review

Outdoor Research Ferrosi Review

Editors' Choice Award
Price:  $79 List | $78.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Affordable, very light and mobile, very breathable, comfortable
Cons:  The fit of the waist is off so needs a belt, sometimes //too// thin and breathable
Bottom line:  For versatility and comfort while hiking in any conditions, the Ferrosi can’t be beat.
Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
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  • 5
Material:  86% nylon / 14% spandex 90D stretch woven ripstop
Water Resistance:  DWR finish
Sizing (waist, length options):  W: 28" - 38"
Manufacturer:   Outdoor Research

Our Verdict

As the highest scorer in our comparative ratings, it is only natural that the Outdoor Research Ferrosi take home our Editors' Choice award for the Best Overall Pair of hiking pants. OR markets these pants as the perfect option for alpine climbing, but we would have to say that we enjoyed them the best for regular hiking. As a technical pant, they exceed the performance of the competition, garnishing high scores in multiple areas that we graded for. In particular, they were the single most breathable pant that we tested, thereby offering excellent protection from the sun while still keeping you nice and cool on hot days or sweaty hikes. We also love their affordable price! For an impressive hiking pant that will perform optimally across a wide range of conditions, check out the Ferrosi.

Fan of Convertible Pants?
If you love the Ferrosi pant, but like the versatility of convertible pants check out the Ferrosi Convertible Pant. This version turns into a pair of Ferrosi Shorts. For climbers looking for more durability, check out the Ferrosi Crag Pants with stretch Cordura reinforced panels in high abrasion areas (which may solve the durability issues we encountered with the regular Ferrosi pant.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Hiking Pants for Men


Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Andy Wellman

Last Updated:
Saturday
May 12, 2018

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The OR Ferrosi pants provide pretty much the perfect combination of attributes for nearly any outdoor adventure. They are made of 90D stretch ripstop fabric that is among the thinnest fabrics of any pant we tested for this review. We loved this fabric, as for us, it proved to be highly breathable, as well as absurdly stretchy and mobile - great qualities whether you are hiking or climbing. While the breathability of this fabric made these pants a perfect choice on warmer days, we suffered a bit wearing them out on chillier days where we were exposed to the wind. In these conditions, they didn't offer us nearly the protection afforded by a thicker pant such as the Prana Stretch Zion, our Top Pick for Climbing. For this reason, we wouldn't automatically crown them the king of alpine climbing pants, but we would be happy to call them the best pair of hiking pants we have worn.

One other small complaint we have about these pants is worth pointing out. The waist sizing seems a bit off to us. For this review we purchased our head tester pants that were 32" x 32" for an accurate comparison, and because that is his ideal size. We found that the waist on these pants is larger than your average 32", however, and noticed that there were customer complaints online about this same problem. For us, the remedy was wearing a belt, which works just fine in most instances, but isn't as ideal as a perfect, beltless, fit when wearing either a climbing harness or heavy backpack. Waist sizes are selectable at two-inch increments, but the inseam length is fixed at 32". So, we suggest you try sizing these pants down one notch but wish that OR would consider normalizing the sizing and inseam options for these incredibly popular pants.

Performance Comparison


The OR Ferrosi are the best hiking pants because they combine comfort  breathability  and versatility for all temperatures and seasons better than any other hiking pant.
The OR Ferrosi are the best hiking pants because they combine comfort, breathability, and versatility for all temperatures and seasons better than any other hiking pant.

Comfort and Mobility


When it comes to comfort, the Ferrosi pants ranked right up there with the most comfortable pants in the review, including the Prana Brion and Stretch Zion. However, when considering mobility, no other pant can match the light, supple, and hyper stretchy mobility afforded by these awesome pants.


We found the cut of these pants to be great: neither too tight and slim against our legs like the Patagonia Quandary, nor too baggy as to get in the way of our movement, like we found occurred with the Fjallraven Vidda Pro. The fabric is smooth against the skin, and the mobility offered is off the charts. Unfortunately, due to the size of the waist being quite a bit larger than advertised, requiring us to always wear these pants with a belt, we felt it was appropriate to knock down the score slightly, and so awarded 8 out of 10.

Whether hiking up an off-trail scree gully  or sitting down for a break to contemplate why  the Ferrosi are among the most comfortable pants we have worn.
Whether hiking up an off-trail scree gully, or sitting down for a break to contemplate why, the Ferrosi are among the most comfortable pants we have worn.

Venting and Breathability


These pants don't offer nearly the same amount of ventilation options as the REI Co-op Screeline, with its behind the knee mesh vents, or even the Kuhl Kontra Air, which also has a plethora of ventilation options. In head-to-head tests running uphill in the sun while sweaty, however, there is no doubt that due to their super light and highly breathable fabric, we felt cooler in the Ferrosi.


In addition to the most breathable fabric, these pants do have a couple of ventilation options. The two front hand pockets are partially lined on the inside with mesh. Additionally, there are cinch cords with buckles at the bottom of each leg cuff that allows one to pull the pants up above the calf or even knee and cinch them in place, a feature which is solid, and can provide welcome lower leg relief if you are suffering from the heat. We were surprised that on a couple of chilly and windy days, we even found these pants to be a bit too breathable. Regardless, we awarded 9 out of 10 points.

These are the most breathable pants we tested  but if that isn't enough to keep you cool  the best way to ventilate is to pull the cuffs up above the calves and cinch them in place with the cuff cinch cord. This setup works great for cooling off  and also stays in place easily while hiking.
These are the most breathable pants we tested, but if that isn't enough to keep you cool, the best way to ventilate is to pull the cuffs up above the calves and cinch them in place with the cuff cinch cord. This setup works great for cooling off, and also stays in place easily while hiking.

Versatility


While we found these pants to be very versatile for hiking, they were a bit less so for other activities. We thought they compared similarly to the Kuhl Kontra Air and Patagonia Quandary when it came to this metric, and so awarded 7 points.


For hiking and backpacking, we found these pants nearly unbeatable, as they are perfect for hot weather, mobile for any type of terrain, and have the extra options afforded by the leg cinch cords. However, despite being recommended for climbing, we found them to be a bit thin and fragile and would prefer to climb in the Stretch Zion. We put a reasonably solid knick in our pair knee-barring at the crag one day. Because of their thin nature, we wouldn't choose them for yard or housework and think they look a bit too tech for wearing out on the town.

The Ferrosi are versatile enough for literally any kind of hiking adventure  from short walks to epic thru-hikes. We didn't think they were quite as ideal for non-hiking usage. This photo is taken on a local trail above Ouray  CO.
The Ferrosi are versatile enough for literally any kind of hiking adventure, from short walks to epic thru-hikes. We didn't think they were quite as ideal for non-hiking usage. This photo is taken on a local trail above Ouray, CO.


Water Resistance


Compared to the competition, these pants do an effective job of shedding water, at least while the DWR coating remains in place. They didn't offer nearly the level of beading and shedding that we saw with our Top Pick for Water Resistance, the Arc'teryx Perimeter Pant, but thought that they did way better than the Brion or (gasp), the Mountain Hardwear Men's Hardwear AP Pant, which literally had no DWR coating.


With a gentle spritz that simulated a gentle drizzle or mist, the water effectively beaded up and fell off the front of these pants. Of course, in a full-on downpour, the water immediately soaked into the outside layer of nylon and spandex fibers but took a bit more time than most to soak all the way through the pants, so our legs were feeling the dampness. Made of very thin fabric, we noticed that they dried out very quickly as well.

With a light spritzing of water the Ferrosi pants do a good job of causing liquid to bead up and run off without soaking in. Add any more and it starts to absorb into the nylon fibers.
With a light spritzing of water the Ferrosi pants do a good job of causing liquid to bead up and run off without soaking in. Add any more and it starts to absorb into the nylon fibers.

Features


These pants have some useful features that all function quite well. They have five pockets overall — two front hand pockets that are lined with mesh, as well as a side pocket on the outside of the right thigh that includes a vertical zippered opening.


On the back, they have two pockets that both have horizontal zippered openings, great for securing belongings in the backcountry.

The side of the thigh pocket that is taped in place and has a vertically oriented zipper is a great place to stash a phone.
The side of the thigh pocket that is taped in place and has a vertically oriented zipper is a great place to stash a phone.

Unfortunately, they were one of the only pairs of pants we tested that did not specify an increased UPF rating, which is a bit of a shame considering they are so ideally suited for sun protection. On the other hand, their best feature was the already described cuff cinch cords that can be used in many different ways. In addition to providing ventilation, they can be used to keep the pants dry when crossing streams or to cinch the cuffs down around the tops of boots like gaiters. Considering the number of features, they weren't by any means on the level of the Kuhl Renegade Cargo Convertible, but what is included performs very well. 7 out of 10.

Shown here is the pull cord and buckle on the cuffs of the Ferrosi pants. When not being used  the buckle lives underneath a flap of fabric so that it isn't at all in the way.
Shown here is the pull cord and buckle on the cuffs of the Ferrosi pants. When not being used, the buckle lives underneath a flap of fabric so that it isn't at all in the way.

Best Applications


These pants are ideally suited to nearly any sort of hiking or backpacking, especially when you want protection from wind and sun, or in hot climates. They are also a great choice for traveling in, as they are very comfortable and light. They work fine for climbing but weren't our favorite, and we also thought they were a bit light for heavy duty work.

On a short day hike up into the alpine above Red Mountain Pass in spring  milking the sunniest aspects to find dry trails to follow  wearing the Ferrosi pants.
On a short day hike up into the alpine above Red Mountain Pass in spring, milking the sunniest aspects to find dry trails to follow, wearing the Ferrosi pants.

Value


Retailing for $79, they are one of the more affordable options in this review. Considering you are getting what we deem to be the best pant available for one of the lowest prices, we think these pants present awesome value.

This is a popular and out of the way ice climb in the winter  but in the spring it melts out and provides a great secluded getaway hike in the San Juans.
This is a popular and out of the way ice climb in the winter, but in the spring it melts out and provides a great secluded getaway hike in the San Juans.

Conclusion


The Outdoor Research Ferrosi is the highest performing technical hiking pant that we have tested, and is thus a very worthy recipient of our Best Overall Hiking Pant Award. It is supremely mobile, very comfortable, and above all, highly breathable. At a relatively low price, they also present a great value purchase and come highly recommended by us, no matter what climate or conditions you plan to hike in.
Andy Wellman

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Most recent review: May 12, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
  • 1
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  • 5
 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
 (0.0)
Rating Distribution
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5 star: 100%  (1)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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