scouts-l Mail Archive for June of 2000: Zip-Off Cargo Pants
Rick Seymour (Rick@KUDU.NET
Sun Jun 25 2000 - 23:20:39 CDT
Rich Locke writes:
>Now let me get this right....
>The rest of us will not have the use of a piece of functional
>outdoor clothing because a Scout won't accept responsibility
>for his personal gear? Do I have that right?
Frustrating, isn't it? ;-)
Some day in the far distant future the BSA Scout Program may adopt the
present Venture policy of offering a standard Uniform but allowing each
individual Unit to vary according to their needs. This practice seems to
be working fine for Venture, with most Units in my area using the kewl
Official green shirt with a pair of charcoal BDUs.
In the meantime, why ask outsiders to approve what your Troop's PLC decides
to pick as its Troop "Activity" Uniform? *wink* *wink* :-/
We have been using various brands of olive-colored Nylon Zip-Off Cargo
Pants for 3 years now, ever since we phased out our BDUs. We found that
the 40% cotton content of BDUs (like Official Scout Pants) is not really
suitable for outdoor Scouting activities. We belive that a good Uniform is
most important outdoors, where *real* Scouting takes place. A practical
Uniform that SCREAMS "High Adventure" promotes group cohesiveness and will
add noticeably to the effectiveness of your efforts at recruitment.
For a comparison chart of some of the different Zip-Off brands see:
Some additional points:
A. "They Might Loose Them!"
1) In the past three years, no Scout in the two Troops with which I work
has lost a zip-off section. Yet. This may not be typical, but the Troops'
Personal Responsibility Index Ratings are both average: about 2-4 unclaimed
white socks per 10 Scouts per weekend tent-campout in good weather.
2) Since the cheapest Zip-Off pants on close-out sale are less than half
the price of Official Scout Shorts, a Scout could lose ALL FOUR of the leg
sections from 2 pairs of Zip-Off pants and still end up with two pairs of
superior shorts for the price of one Official pair of BSA Shorts. The
difference is that he will continue to wear the Zip-Off shorts with pride.
3) Irresponsibility is a variation on the theme that boys hate 30-year-old
Official Scout Pants because they reject Scouting's core values. Recognize
these objections for what they are: excuses, not reasons. This
frame-of-mind betrays the underlaying hostility of some people to
Baden-Powell's revolutionary idea that if you give a boy real
responsibility, he will try his best to live up to your expectations. This
was radical stuff a hundred years ago under siege in Mafeking. It is just
as radical now. Don't be distracted.
B. Zipper Concerns:
1) None of the brands pictured on The Kudu Net have "puckered" along the
zipper. This includes the generic budget varieties that were on sale for
as little as $16 at Camp-Mor and Kids-R-Us last summer.
2) We haven't had a zipper wear out yet.
C. Hem Concerns:
1) Shorts hemmed above the knee include: Kids-R-Us, Eastern Mountain
Sports (EMS--made by Columbia), and Recreational Equipment Incorporated
(REI--not yet pictured). No youth or adult leader has mentioned being
irritated by any of these above-the-knee hems.
2) The Nesi "AG" Model "Zip-Off" Convertible Cargo Pants are hemmed well
below the knee. In addition to the zipper, they also have a shock cord
system at this location (as well as an additional shock cord at the ankle).
I wore a pair of these pants for two weeks before signing off on an order
for 42 pairs. I never found the "heavy" upper hem annoying as some have
suggested. The moving parts also stood up well to repeated washings.
The Nesi Cargo Pants were suggested by our new SPL. These proved to be a
clearly superior pair of well-designed High-Adventure pants. At $28 (in
bulk on sale) they put to shame the best of both REI ($55) and EMS ($60).
The pants are over-sized making them attractive to youth and practical as a
shell layer in cold weather.
Someone proposed that the lower sections would not match the upper portions
after repeated washings. I have an unworn (with store tags) pair of the
EMS (Columbia) Zip-Offs that still match a pair that I have worn for three
years. Nylon does not appear to fade.
Except for the inferior REI model, most zip-off cargo pants come in an
extra-long length with different elastic band, shock cord, or draw string
arrangements at the "cuff" to regulate the length. See the photographs at
The Kudu Net.
F. "Why complicate things"?
1. Scouts should always dress in layers while camping to avoid hypothermia
or "hyperthermia" (to maintain homeostasis). The first rule of laying is
"Take a layer off BEFORE you break a sweat / Put an extra layer on BEFORE
you feel a chill." The genius of design in Zip-Off pants is that you can
convert from a pair of long pants to shorts without having to disrobe or
even take your boots off!
2. Nylon Zip-Off cargo pants should be required for all High-Adventure
activities, but they are mighty convenient for the game period of your
weekly Troop meeting as well.
3. A good Troop Activity Uniform can clinch the deal for boys who visit
your Troop to decide if they want to join Scouting. I hope to video tape
the reactions of guests when our Scouts zip-off the lower sections as their
game period begins. One new boy once asked his mother if they could stop
at Kids-R-Us on the way home that night. It is simply not true that 21st
Century Boys are turned off by the idea of wearing a well-designed,
practical Scout Uniform.
G. Additional Pointers
1) Your best bet this year is to look for nylon zip-offs in your local
retail stores. That is where our SPL found the Nesi brand, as well as an
additional cheaper style similar to last year's generic Kids-R-Us design.
2) I have not been able to locate these Nesi pants on the Internet, but
I'm sure they are there somewhere. When searching for nylon zip-off pants,
note that some web sites use the term "convertible" pants. Let me know if
you find anything with the right color. "Forest green" or "pine" is not
even close to the olive color of Official Scout pants.
3) As noted on The Kudu Net, the availability of nylon zip-off
(convertible) pants in an olive color is subject to the whims of style.
Columbia is not making that color at all this year. I have written to both
the corporate sales and the kids departments of most of the major retailers
and manufacturers suggesting that there is a potential market of millions
of Scouts who need olive colored nylon "Activity Pants" each and every
year. There is no interest anywhere in this vast but unorganized market.
4) As far as I know the only mail-order source of olive-colored Zip-Offs
this year is REI. Their material is the softest-feeling nylon that I have
ever seen, but the hemmed length alone is enough to disqualify them from
contention. Add to that an annoying, BSA-style elastic on the waist and
you have a surprisingly inferior product. Ugh!
There IS plenty of functional outdoor clothing out there in the right
colors, Rich, and plenty of Scouts that will "accept responsibility" for
their personal gear.
They simply would never think of calling it that.
Yours in Scouting,