Prana Stretch Zion II Review

We tested the Prana Stretch Zion II and this is our verdict.

June 26, 2023
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The Prana Stretch Zion II pants, an update on one of Prana’s fan favorites, are extremely comfortable and versatile, with enough handy features to keep outdoorsy people of all kinds happy. They’re stretchy, rugged, and water-repellent, too! Still, their relatively high cost and low breathability may keep some buyers away.

Product Overview

Prana Stretch Zion II

prana stretch zion II
Pros

✅ Stretchy and comfortable

✅ Extremely versatile and rugged

✅ Useful features like cuff snaps and cinch belt

✅ Plenty of room in the thigh and seat

Cons

❌ Waist runs slightly small & doesn’t stretch

❌ Not super breathable

❌ Not especially stylish

❌ Not cheap

KEY SPECS

  • Weight: 13.3 oz/pair
  • Material: ReZion™ recycled nylon blend stretch performance fabric
  • Type of Pants: Roll-up
  • Features: Webbing adjustable waistband, left thigh zipper cargo pocket with double entry, concealed zipper coin pocket with elastic key loop, mesh-lined pockets, back patch pockets with flap at back right pocket, ventilated inseam gusset, snap roll-up feature at hem

The Prana Stretch Zion II pants completely won me over thanks to their ruggedness, comfortability, and stretchiness. They can take a beating in all kinds of outdoor activities and still hold up wonderfully. I’ve never been able to get excited about hiking pants before, but the Stretch Zion II did the trick. I really appreciated that the thigh, seat, and inseam were roomy without feeling baggy or causing chafing and irritation. I also liked the low-profile pockets and the neat cuff snaps for holding the legs in place when rolled up.

I would absolutely recommend them for spring and fall hiking, climbing, and scrambling. But while they have lots of strengths, their main shortcoming is their relatively low breathability. For this reason, I would not recommend them to people looking for the right pair of pants for summer excursions to the woods or the crag.


Performance Test Results

prana stretch zion II review performance score graph

How We Tested:

I tested these pants in southern Michigan in April and May, in temperatures ranging from 45 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. I wore them out in the rain and on clear days, on several different hiking trails as well as around the city and while working.

Weight: 7/10

Because Prana Stretch Zion pants are designed to aim at the intersection of lightweight, versatile, and rugged, they fall in the middle of the pack when it comes to weight at 13.3 ounces per pair. The Outdoor Research Ferrosi pants were the lightest of the group we compared, at 10.7 ounces, trading some ruggedness for increased breathability over the Zion. (Ditto for the Mountain Hardware Chockstone pants, at 11 ounces.) On the upper end of the weight range, the Black Diamond Notion pants come in at 14.5 ounces, followed by the Fjallraven Keb Trousers at a whopping 21.5, making them more suitable for long alpine traverses than casual day hiking or weekend backpacking.

The weight of the Prana Stretch Zion comes primarily from the pants material itself, a recycled nylon stretch blend. There are very few frills, save for the soft snap buttons for rolling up the legs and the cinching belt on the hip. Only the left leg has additional pockets beyond the standard hip pockets, and even those are relatively flat and unobtrusive. The pants feel weighty enough to take a beating but not so weighty as to be inconvenient or noticeable on the trail.

I think Prana hit the mark nicely here. I don’t think I’d wear them out hiking in the height of summer heat, given their thickness and lower breathability, but I tend to run hot, so your mileage may vary. With the exception of the Fjallraven Keb Trousers, which boast extra thigh pockets and knee pad insert sleeves, all the trail pants we compared in this category are similarly minimal in design, so the weight differences come down almost exclusively to the material.

hiker wearing prana stretch zion II

At 13.3 ounces for each pair, they sit in the middle range in terms of weight.

Price: 7/10

There seems to be some consensus among outdoor brands about what a good pair of reasonably light hiking pants should cost. Five of the eight models we compared--Prana Stretch Zion, Kuhl Renegade, Outdoor Research Ferrosi, and Mountain Hardware Chockstone--all retail for between $95 and $99. That’s not cheap, but in theory, a pair of pants in that range should last a long time. The Pranas we tested feel built to last, and there are a decent number of useful features without being over-designed, both of which help justify their price tag. Ultimately, they perform as well as you’d hope for a pair of pants that cost nearly $100.

There’s a steep dropoff from that middle range to the low end, with the Columbia Tech II coming in at just $60 and the REI Trailmade at $69.95. The Columbia Tech II pants in particular are a great value buy: a low price, a sleek no-frills design, and an emphasis on a range of motion and sun protection. Conversely, you have to be an REI member to cop the Trailmade pants, and the bulky black thigh zipper looks really clumsy, although they do come in a wider range of colors than most.

As with just about every other category here, the Fjallraven Keb Trousers are the major outlier, with a price tag of $235. They’re not for the weekend warrior, even if you do have the cash to burn, as they’re heavyweight pants meant for serious alpine trekking.

hiker wearing prana stretch zion II

At $95, the Stretch Zion II is built to last and performs well for a pair that cost nearly $100.

Warmth: 7.5/10

I found the Prana Stretch Zion II to be warm enough to keep me comfortable in the wildly variable Michigan spring but not so warm that I was overheating on the occasional sunny day. I think these would likewise be a great choice for fall excursions in a variety of climates. Given their stretchiness and generous thigh/seat, you could also easily wear a base layer under them in the wintertime. That said, I suspect that these pants might stray toward being a little too warm for any long-term summer hiking, particularly in exposed areas.

The product description boasts improved ventilation and breathability over the original Prana Stretch Zion; not having worn those pants, I can’t swear to that, but if that’s the case I would hate to see how the original model fared in hot weather. There is some ventilation in the inseam of the Zion II, but really the best way to cool down in them is to make use of the cuff snaps and roll the legs up. (Obviously “rolling the legs up” is not new pants technology, but the cuff snaps do make sure they stay rolled up, which is a nice touch.)

close-up feature prana stretch zion II

The Prana Stretch Zion II is warm and cozy enough to wear with its improved ventilation and breathability.

Material & Durability: 8.5/10

These pants are made from the company’s ReZion™ recycled nylon blend stretch performance fabric. It’s a medium-thickness material that feels like it’s built to last while still being stretchy enough to suit a variety of uses. The Stretch Zion pants are also treated with a PFAS-free water-repellent finish that in my experience really works. Trickles of water run right off them, and I wore them several times out in light rain without them getting noticeably wet or heavy. When I submerged the lower legs in a lake they were tolerably dry again within twenty or so minutes of walking. They likewise held up nicely in windy conditions.

The 95% stretch nylon of the Prana Zion II is similar to many of its competitors, such as the Kuhl Renegade (95%), the REI Trailmade (96%), OR Ferrosi (86%), and Mountain Hardware Chockstone (88%). Some models eschew nylon for polyester, including the Columbia Tech II (96%) and the Fjallraven Keb trousers (made of the company’s own G-1000 eco-fabric, a blend that includes 65% polyester).

Black Diamond Notion pants, meanwhile, are made of a 97% stretch cotton twill blend. After extensive testing with the Prana Stretch Zion II pants, I know that I definitely wouldn’t mind if they were a little lighter and more breathable. That said, their current thickness makes them feel really durable, and I have little doubt that they can take a long-term beating without coming apart or diminishing in quality.

hiker wearing prana stretch zion II

Fit: 8.5/10

These pants have a relaxed fit, with a straight leg through the opening. They come in both standard and slim styles. They can stretch quite a bit, making them suitable for a variety of uses, and are roomy in the thigh and seat without hanging loose or ballooning.

I was able to walk, run, jump, wade, and scramble in them without bunching or chafing, which was a nice surprise given the thicker material. The one part of the pants that don’t stretch is the waistband, so if you’re on the cusp of two waist measurements, I would recommend sizing up, especially if you’re going to be tucking in a base layer top or adding thick base layer bottoms.

I typically wear either a size 33 or 34 depending on the brand, and in these pants, a 34 still fits me pretty snugly, though not uncomfortably so. If a style is important to you, I should say that the plain straight leg of the Stretch Zion II can look a little dorky.

You can get a nice taper with the Kuhl Renegade and Columbia Tech II, and the Black Diamond Notion has an elastic cuff that adds some shape to the legs, but these are just plain old pants. For everyday use, I have actually preferred to roll them and snap the cuff buttons in place, which I think looks better.

close-up feature prana stretch zion II

These pants have a relaxed fit and they are useful for a variety of uses because they can stretch quite a bit.

Breathability: 6/10 

Easily the biggest knock on the Prana Stretch Zion II is their comparatively low breathability. There are three small ventilation holes on the inner thigh of each leg, and the easy snap buttons on the cuff do allow you to get some airflow going. But overall, these are not as breathable as competitors like the OR Ferrosi or Columbia Tech II.

They’re certainly not suffocating, and this is a small gripe in light of their overall comfort and versatility. But the thickness, ruggedness, and stretchiness of the fabric do mean trading some breathability for a guarantee of long-term use. In general, I think these are great spring and fall trail pants, but if you need pants for a summer hike you would probably want to choose something else.

hiker wearing prana stretch zion II

I believe these are excellent trail trousers for the spring and fall but look elsewhere if you require pants for a summer trek.

Comfort: 9/10

These pants are extremely comfortable, though they may not look it at first. My most recent excursion in them was mushroom hunting, and I was just as happy to be wearing them on the long drive to the trailhead as I was bushwhacking through raspberry cane and burn debris. Slim-fit pants don’t work for my thighs and I was happy to find the thighs of these pants, in the standard fit, to be really roomy--though the Prana Zion II does have a slim-fit option if that’s your thing! They’re generous in the seat and inseam as well, although not so much that there’s extra fabric bunching up anywhere.

I tested them in a variety of settings over the course of a few weeks and didn’t experience any chafing or discomfort the entire time. They’re amply stretchy, though without sacrificing much in the way of ruggedness. You can move freely through any number of activities in them--I even shimmied up into a tree or two during my outings--and they’re very forgiving. T

he only non-stretch part is the waistband itself, which is pretty common for this type of pants, though I think it would be nice if Prana and other companies did start to favor a more elastic waistband. (The Columbia Tech II pants, in contrast, do offer this.) This stiffer waist and generally low breathability were the only things I could find not to love about the comfort of the Zion II.

close up feature prana stretch zion II

Design and Features: 8.5/10

The Prana Stretch Zion II pants are relaxed-fit, straight-leg pants with a woven straight waistband. They have two standard mesh pockets (including a hidden zip with a key loop on the right), two rear pockets (the left is open, and the right has a flap closure), and a pocket on the left thigh with vertical and horizontal zips.

The pants close with a button and a zippered fly, and there is a built-in cinching belt to the right of the button that can tighten the waistband. (There are also standard belt loops, which seem sort of pointless as a result.) The pants have a gusseted inseam with three small vent holes on each inner thigh. One unique standout feature is the set of button snaps on each lower leg, to hold things in place if you want to roll the cuffs high.

All of these features work nicely in concert to create a pair of pants that’s just as good for walking the dog or around the grocery store as it is out on the trail. You don’t really notice that you’re wearing them--the button, zippers, and other external features don’t poke, prod, or obtrude--which is all I’m looking for in a pair of pants.

hiker wearing prana stretch zion II

The cinching strap is a nice addition, as it forecloses on the need for a belt if you’re wearing the right size, and the gusseted inseam means there’s plenty of room for bending, stretching, and scrambling in them. The pockets lie flat and aren’t so roomy that you’d be tempted to overload them, but you could also easily slide a hiking wallet and a snack bar or two into any of them. The cuff buttons are low profile and you don’t feel them at all from inside the pant legs.

The hiking pants we compared all mix and match a variety of similar features, ranging from the ultra-minimal Mountain Hardware Chockstone (two side pockets, one rear zip pocket, cinch belt) and Columbia Tech Trail II (two side pockets, two back pockets, one zip pocket) to the maximalist Fjallraven Keb (all sorts of pockets, kneepad insert sleeves, suspender attachments, wide vent zips).

Other competitors have their own unique and noteworthy features: Black Diamond Notion pants come with scrunched elastic leg openings and a no-button tie-closure, and Kuhl Renegade Rock Pants are available in three different styles including “Klassik” straight leg, tapered fit, and chino. (For what it’s worth, I would have loved some options like this on my Stretch Zion pants; the straight-leg look isn’t as sleek and stylish as the modern hiking world demands.)

close up feature prana stretch zion II

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About Sam Schild

By Sam Schild (aka “Sia,” pronounced sigh): Sam is a writer, thru-hiker, and bikepacker. You can find him in Denver when he’s not out exploring in the mountains somewhere..

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