insect shieldGo from double-duty travel pants to triple duty with these Insect Shield treated convertible pants from ExOfficio that keep the bugs away.

For the last couple weeks I’ve been traveling around the tropics in Southeast Asia, a place where mosquitoes are rife and you don’t just get itchy bites out of the deal. There’s a chance you can get something really nasty like Malaria, Dengue Fever, or Japanese Encephalitis. You can get shots and take some really powerful medicine for two of these. But none are 100% effective or even close to 100% safe—the side effects can be nasty. So the best way to avoid any kind of disease that comes from mosquitoes, especially for long-term travelers, is to limit the number of bites you get in the first place.

These Ziwa Bugsaway pants aren’t the answer by themselves, but every layer of protection helps your odds of staying healthy a little bit more.

I’ve used quite a few items treated with Insect Shield and they’ve worked well. It’s got the chemical you can spray on your clothing already baked in and it won’t wash out. As in it’s promised to be effective for 75 washings or so. Not many people even wear their travel clothes enough times to get up to that number, so figure you’re set for a very, very long time.

Besides that main feature, these have all the qualities you’d expect from a good ExOfficio pair of travel pants. They’re super-lightweight and compact small in your bag. They’re wrinkle-resistant, quick-drying for washing on the go, and will protect you from the sun. They’ve got plenty of handy pockets where you need them, some secured with Velcro. There’s a zipper on the bottom that enables you to zip off the pants legs (or put them on) without taking off your shoes. Handy.

One extra thing I like is that you can buy these with a shorter inseam: 30 inches. That’s great since these don’t roll up well and nylon pants tend to drag on the ground if they’re too long.

The Bugaway Ziwa convertible pants come in two colors and retail for around a hundred bucks direct from ExOfficio. Yes, that’s a serious chunk of change, but if it were between that and missing work/vacation for three weeks while you sweated in bed and felt like your whole body was wracked with pain (the dengue fever experience, for what I’ve been told), would it be worth it? I’m wearing them at dusk each day back at in the hotel courtyard just in case…

I’ve been wearing these in Thailand and Cambodia and haven’t gotten one bite below the waist yet, so far so good. With their light weight and packability, they’ve been a breeze to carry along in the backpack.

Shop prices at Backcountry and Summit Hut, and in both places you’ll also find a women’s version. You can save a few bucks and ditch the knee-level hems with the regular non-convertible version.

Don’t miss a review! Get the RSS feed or like Practical Travel Gear on Facebook.