You can’t always hike in neon-bright leggings! Just kidding, yes, you can, but sometimes it is nice to have pants with zip-off legs. We typically hike in the early morning, and it can be cold at first, but then as the day warms up, I’d like not over-heat in pants. I’ve had my eye on the Sunset Bay Cargo Zip Leg pattern for a while, so I’m thrilled to share all the details with you. These pants come with 8 extra-large pockets. Each pocket can hold an iPhone Pro Max with no problem. The legs zip off, and the bottom hem expands to fit over bulky shoes. I love everything about this pattern.
I used Taslan 2ply fabric for these hiking pants. The material is similar to a pair of the North Face hiking pants I had in the early 2000s. My pants are burgundy, and Ryan’s are dark teal. The pattern calls for 2-1/2 yards, but I needed 3 yards. The nylon fabric has absolutely no stretch but is breathable, lightweight, and water-repellant.
If you are looking for fabric with stretch, try out the Active Twill SP-9019 from Spandex by the Yard or Stretch Woven fabrics from Discovery Fabrics. Just note that polyester fabric has a greater tendency to have static, whereas nylon is much less prone to cling. I’ve stopped using the Active Twill from Spandex by the Yard. I love the fabric, but it is too clingy in our dry desert air.
When sewing with a Supplex-like fabric, it is essential to use a Microtex needle. I also found it helpful to increase the pressure on my foot and slow down my sewing speed. My machine skipped stitches if I didn’t have the fabric firmly pressed down.
Based on the size chart, Ryan and I fall within the LARGE range. My hips measure 42.5 inches, and Ryan’s measure 41 inches. Our waists measure 34-36 inches. These pants have a lot of ease built into them, so there is no need to go up a size if you are concerned. In the end, though, I used the size LARGE for myself and size MEDIUM for Ryan.
Here are the changes I made to Ryan’s pattern. The pattern is designed with an extra-long rise, and part of the instructions have you remove fabric along the waistline as needed after attaching all the pockets. I removed 1 inch from the center front and 1-¾ inches from the center back along the waist.
The waistband is mostly elastic, so normally having extra ease isn’t a problem. However, with all the pockets in the front and back, that extra ease has nowhere to go and causes a lot of fit issues if not removed. I removed the fabric from the center back and not the center front because that’s where the fit issues were located. Just above the back crotch curve (AKA bottom of the center back seam), I removed 1-⅜ inches. At the top of the center back along the waistline, I removed ¾ inches. This means the center back is less angled and more straight up and down. Ryan’s butt does not protrude a lot, so it makes sense to have a less angled center back seam.
The last alteration was adding 1-½ inches to the front crotch curve. The front crotch looks really short, but there’s a gusset I’m not showing placed between the front and back crotch. Even with that gusset, extra length was needed.
I needed to make very similar alterations to my pattern. I lowered the waistline 2 inches from the center front and 1-⅝ inches from the center back.
I removed an even ¾ inches along the center back, so the angle of the center back didn’t change. However, I did adjust the angle of the center front slightly. I moved the top of the center front inward about ¼ inches.
Even though I lengthened the front crotch curve by 1-¼ inches, I needed to remove ⅝ inches from the back crotch curve in order to get the crotch point centered on my body. If I didn’t make this adjustment, the pants would have been unbalanced and not stayed put.
In the end, our patterns are very similar. If you end up sewing this pattern, expect to make adjustments along the center back seam.
The only change needed for Ryan was adding 1-½ inches in length to his pant legs. Simple. I didn’t change the bottom zipper length that expands the cuff for easy pull-on over boots.
I made absolutely no changes to my leg pattern piece.
Here’s Ryan’s leg pattern versus my leg pattern.
I’m already planning on making a second pair for both of us. These pants are perfect for all of our outdoor adventures. I’ve never been able to comfortably wear hiking pants, women’s or men’s, because they never provide enough room for my front thighs. RTW hiking pants are designed for people who want the personality of looking like they are into hiking but who don’t actually hike. Ryan has also had the misfortune of not having enough room for his thighs or enough length for his height. Alterations to this pattern follow the standard alterations we have to make to any pattern: lengthen the front crotch curve, possibly shorten the back crotch curve, lower the waistline, and lengthen the leg.
These pants say they have a 32-inch inseam, but they give extra room to play around with the length, like the waistline. I didn’t need to make any changes to the pattern pieces and only needed to add 1-½ inches for Ryan. Usually, I add 3-6 inches in length to get pants long enough for him.
My only gripe with this pattern is how the bottom hem was drafted. The pant leg is tapered the entire way, so when the hem is folded up ¼ inch and then 1-¼ inch, the pant leg is wider than the hem. When you try and hem the pants, you have puckers in your hem because you are trying to fit the extra fabric within the narrower double folded hem.
Everything else about this pattern is lovely. The instructions are very clear and easy to follow. There’s a lot of topstitching with this pattern and many pattern pieces, and I figured everything out with no problems. The instructions are written for someone without a serger, so if you only have a sewing machine and it has a zigzag stitch, you are good to go.
If you do have questions about construction, I’d love to help!