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Hands-on Gear Review
The North Face Paramount 3.0 Review
Cons: Fabric not as soft as some, few storage pockets
Bottom line: A simple, no frills pant that is comfortable for hiking.
The North Face Paramount 3.0 pants are an updated version of the popular Paramount Peak 2.0 pants that we have previously worn, reviewed, and loved. They are a bit thinner, lighter, and have a sleeker fit than the older version, updates that we think lead to a better overall hiking pant, and which make them an excellent choice for all climates, something that couldn't be said about their very warm predecessor. While we chose to review the standard pant, these pants also come in a convertible version for those who like the added versatility.
With only a single zippered side pocket, they do not have the enormous carrying capacity that comes with dual cargo pockets, but in exchange, they are more comfortable for walking long distances and look nicer for wearing around town. These pants were solid in nearly every way, and they ended up as the fourth highest overall scorer in our review, with above-average scores for every metric that we assessed for.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Hiking Pants for Men
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
In many ways, the Paramount 3.0 pant is like a mirror image of the Patagonia Quandary pant. They are both very affordable and have a sleek, straight-legged fit. They each have only one extra pocket, an angled zippered pocket perfect for a smartphone or a couple of trail snacks on the upper side of the right leg. They both employ a small percentage of stretchy fibers to increase functional mobility, and they are both nice enough looking for use around town as well as on the trail. If there is any difference between the two, it would be the fact that the fabric used in the Quandary pant felt slightly smoother and softer against the skin, and the DWR coating was also somewhat more useful. Otherwise, these pants are remarkably similar and are two of our favorite pants for simple day hikes.
Comfort and Mobility
We loved the fit of the thin, but not too thin, Paramount 3.0 pants, which weren't nearly as baggy or cumbersome as the older version of this pant that we tested last year. They fit our head tester almost perfectly but were ever so slightly tight at the tops of the thighs where they joined with the hip flexors. This was easily offset by the 4% elastane blended into the nylon which gave it the perfect amount of stretch. On the other hand, the nylon fabric wasn't as soft and smooth as we found with the similarly synthetic Prana Stretch Zion. We found them to be roughly equal to the KUHL Kontra Air when it came to comfort and mobility and gave it 7 out of 10 points.
Venting and Breathability
The thin, light, stretchy fabric found on this pant did an adequate job of keeping us cool during hikes in the desert of Utah as well as during our comparative breathability and venting testing. It also has fully mesh lined handwarmer pockets, as well as rear pockets. The single zippered side pocket also has a mesh liner that aids with ventilation. Finally, a soft, wicking fiber lines the waist, and is designed to absorb moisture from sweat and help it wick and evaporate faster. Despite not having a ton of features aimed at ventilation, we thought the Paramount 3.0 was an excellent choice for wearing in hotter weather, and rated it the same as the KUHL Renegade Cargo Convertible, which had far more zippers that could be opened to release air, and the Patagonia Quandary. 7 out of 10 points.
The Paramount 3.0 was one of the more versatile pants in this review. While we chose to test the standard version of these pants, we also want to point out that a convertible option is available for those who love that added versatility. We thought these pants were optimal for cooler weather, but also functioned reasonably well in the heat. They are decent in a light rain, but we would opt for the Arc'teryx Perimeter Pant if we knew that we were likely to encounter a lot of wet weather.
These pants are ideal for day hikes and camping, as well as traveling and wearing around town. They weren't our first choice for climbing in, and they seem a little light for intensive outdoor work. While we wouldn't wear them quite as often as the Prana Stretch Zion, we think they are a bit more versatile than the KUHL Kontra Air. We awarded 8 out of 10 points for versatility.
Once again, the Paramount 3.0 was one of the more effective hiking pants for water resistance. Of course, none of the pants we tested was on par with a dedicated rain shell hiking pant, but in the case of this one, it handled a light misting and gentle rain quite well. In our shower test, the DWR coating eventually caved after a prolonged dousing, when water began to run down the inside of our leg. This happened with most of the pants we tested, however, and we thought that only the Arc'teryx Perimeter and Patagonia Quandary actually had more effective DWR coatings. As long as you aren't going to get soaked, we thought these pants handled the rain pretty well. 8 out of 10 points.
Much like the feature set found on the Patagonia Quandary, the best way to describe the features found on the Paramount 3.0 is "simple and effective." Our favorite feature is the included waist belt, comprised of a band of thin nylon webbing and a low-profile plastic buckle that wraps around the waist entirely in its sleeve. While there are also regular belt loops sewn in place, we like this feature because it allows us to carry a pack without needing a belt, a setup that is far comfier.
It also has the standard dual front handwarmer pockets as well as double rear pockets, and the single side zip pocket like the one found on the Arc'teryx Perimeter. This simple pocket setup doesn't have as much space as found on cargo pants, but we like its sleek design and think it looks better. We always had plenty of space for what we needed at hand while out on day hikes. With a small selection of striking features, we awarded this pant 6 out of 10.
The North Face Paramount 3.0 is an ideal pant for day hikes in either cool or warm conditions. If we were looking for a pant for long backpacking trips, we would probably choose the versatility of the convertible option instead. We think these pants are nice enough for wearing around town, but they wouldn't be our first choice for working or climbing.
The Paramount 3.0 retail for $90, a few dollars more than the most affordable hiking pants in our review, but since they are one of the higher scorers in our overall ratings, we still think this presents excellent value and would be happy to own these pants at this price.
The North Face Paramount 3.0 is a simple hiking pant that scored well compared to the competition in this review. They are affordable, comfortable, and do a reasonably good job at protecting one from the rain. While their nylon fabric wasn't quite as comfortable against the skin as our top scorers, this was rarely something we noticed during a hike, and these are a pair of hiking pants we would happily recommend to just about anyone.
— Andy Wellman
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