Friday, August 22, 2008

Zip-Off Pants

Oh, our mailbox is just brimming with such interesting questions from BirdCouple devotees!

We recently received this email from Doris in Port Clinton, PA:

Dear BirdCouple,
I love your blog! Read it everyday!

I have a somewhat strange question that I hoped you could help me resolve. I recently went birding with my local birding club and it seems that the vast majority of birding participants wear zip-off pants.

Please be assured that I am not asking you some sort of kinky question. I am referring to the zip-off pants that exist as long pants but have a zipper capability that allow them to become shorts.

Anyway, I wondered if this was standard birding equipment. Or is it akin to the boxer/brief issue?
I have my Alpen Binoculars , my field guide... but do I also need zip-off pants?

Thanks and keep up the good work!

Doris- first, we want to congratulate you on birding with your local birding club. Local birding clubs are a great way to learn tons about birds and birding.
In general, birders are really nice people who will be delighted to show you a new bird and teach you about birding.

Regarding the zip-off pants issue....

I, too, have contemplated purchasing zip-off pants, as I don't own a pair right now.

I went deep within the BirdCouple files to answer your question and found that ...
Well... it depends...
Here we find Cute Husband and Van, who teaches biology at Gunnery wearing jeans.

Not zip-offs.

Now, this was taken in February in Maryland and I was there.

It was cold. Zip-off pants are thin.

In the month of October we met Frank Caruso, Professor of Plant Pathology at U Mass in Cape May.

I was there.

It was unusually warm for October. Frank is sporting jeans. Cute Husband, zip-offs.

Peter Kaestner, #5 in the world for most birds seen.
Unusual mild August weather.
Zip-off Pants Man.
Dan Haas, of Nervous Birds.
I don't recall ever seeing Dan is zip-off pants. Although, Dan is also a musician. I have never seen Billy Idol or Britney Spears in zip-off pants.
Well, not these kind of zip-off pants.

Pete Dunne, October (with the scope over his shoulder).

No zip-offs, but note other birders sporting them. Paul Baicich, author of A Guide to the Nests, Eggs, and Nestlings of North American Birds.

Paul wears jeans.
I'll test this tomorrow when I bird with him in 80 degree weather.

New birders at Keswick Hall. I don't see any zip-offs.

North Dakota. Jeans 3. Zip-offs 2.

So, Doris, the zip-off pant issue...

My theory is that the wearing zip-off pants is a deeply personal issue.

It may be weather dependent. It may be a birder's creative license.

But, our research shows that jeans are also acceptable birding attire.

Doris, I think the best advice we can give you is to keep birding and keep wearing some sort of pants while birding.


John B. said...

I don't wear zip-offs, but I do wear super lightweight pants in the summer. They prevent sunburn and discourage the ticks, mosquitos, and other biting arthropods. I could see some advantage to zip-offs, but usually I wear pants if I want pants and shorts if I want shorts.

Nervous Birds said...

I must admit... I've recently joined the ranks of zip-off pant wearing birders. I like them just fine. But, if I'm really honest here, it's all about the pockets.

They've got better pockets.

I did drop my pants (*the lower half) the other day, revealing my mosquito-bitten calves, after a long day of birding. But, once I go where the ticks are, it just don't matter... those pants are not getting unzipped until I return home.

My $.02 cents.

Hey... if you can, make plans to go to Hart MIller Island with me (and my friend Chris Murray) on Saturday.

Think about it.

Love to BirdCouple!


elizabird said...

To be a birder does not mean you must lose a sense of fashion.
It is okay to not look like a birder to be in the field. Sure there are times when it makes sense to wear zip off pants and the vest and the silly hat. But if you want to go into the field in a Jackie O scarf and skirt that is fine. It depends what kind of birding you are doing .
Girls it is okay to feel pretty and put together while birding.

As long as you wear good binoculars that is all one needs to be a birder--mine are Leica.