Gear Guide 2012: Arc'teryx Palisade Capri

Short pants that offer a blend of performance and style.

“I love capris for hot-weather hiking and daily wear,” says our gear editor, who wore the Palisade while backpacking in Chile, bouldering in Massachusetts, and cycling through downpours in Vietnam. “And these offer the ideal blend of style and performance.” Because they stop just below the knee (inseam is 19”), they offer more protection from sun and brambles than shorts, but with more air-conditioning than full pants.

Fit is superb, with a slightly low-rise waist that gives them a fashion-forward style and an integrated belt that eliminates gaps. A brushed polyester lining prevents chafing beneath a pack. Articulated knees* and gusseted crotch allow for full freedom of movement, and two zippered cargo pockets are big (they secure a map or GPS) but low profile, thanks to pleats that keep fabric from ballooning. Two open hip pockets and minimal seaming throughout give the pants an appealingly casual look. The three-season softshell fabric (94 percent nylon, six percent spandex) beads up light drizzle, resists abrasion, and features four-way stretch that facilitates high-stepping and helps the pants maintain their shape after days of wear. $129; 7 oz. (8); 2-14; arcteryx.com

*Articulated Knees: Intricate sewing and extra fabric panels mimic the shape of the joint for uninhibited bending.