scouts-l Mail Archive for June of 2000: Zip-Off Cargo Pants
Rick Seymour (Rick@Scouter.Net
Sat Jun 24 2000 - 12:51:04 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? ;-)
But really, Rich, you ask the wrong questions!
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 many Units 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 Nylon Zip-Off pants for 3 years
now, since we phased out 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" also promotes group cohesiveness back home and
adds greatly to your recruitment efforts.
For a comparison chart of some of the different Zip-Off brands see:
I haven't had time to add the following counter-points to The Kudu Net:
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. The difference is
that he will continue to wear the Zip-Off shorts with pride.
3) Recognize the objections for what they: excuses, not reasons. The
"They Would Only Lose Them" mentality 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 progressive now.
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 either, btw.
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).
2) The Nesi "AG" Model "Zip-Off" Convertible Cargo Pants are hemmed below
the knee. In addition to the zipper, they also have a shock cord 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
clearly a superior pair of High-Adventure pants, at $28 (in bulk on sale)
putting 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.
E. 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 ours, and a cheaper style as
well. 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, while others use
"zip-off." Let me know if you find anything with the right color. "Forest
green" or "pine" is not even close.
2) 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.
3) 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.
There is plenty of functional outdoor clothing out there, and plenty of
Scouts that will "accept responsibility" for their personal gear, although
they don't call it that.
Hope this helps!
Yours in Scouting,