These soft shell pants will get you through this season, and many more to come. The durable fabric resists wear from ski edges and crampons. It is brushed on the inside for light warmth in freezing temps. Carefully placed storage pockets keep small items in place without interfering with your stride. They accept optional accessory suspenders and have an integrated belt with a snap and fly closure. The high-performance fabric resists abrasions, tears, and scuffs.
These pants have taken me from cool day hikes to very cold alpine hikes with extreme comfort and flexibility. The first time I wore them was on a day hike where I noticed their comfort level was greater than any pant I had worn before. Anxious to put them through more intensive testing, they accompanied me on a multi-day backpacking trip through the Buffalo National River. It was here that I really began to appreciate their simple features and durability.
The Cordura® fabric was far more resistant than I had originally expected. It has a soft, brushed finish that is impervious to thorns and other penetrating nuisances and is equally unaffected by abrasive rocks and tree bark. Even the typical dust and dirt collected while sitting around a campfire is easily brushed clean. Equally unexpected was how soft the inside of the fabric is compared to its rugged exterior. It’s like wearing flannel lined armour. The sizing runs a little small for me so I needed a Large when I normally would wear a Medium. It seems I fall right in the middle of their sizing and found the Medium to be too tight. The Large needs to be cinched down at the waist but the length is perfect. I chose black and have been pleasantly surprised at how little they show dust and dirt.
There are two zippered hand pockets that are deep enough that small items won’t spill out if left unzipped. They are even accessible while wearing a pack. The additional two zippered cargo pockets are placed far enough to the outside that heavy objects are barely noticed while walking or scrambling up an occasional boulder. I keep my not-so-pocket camera here and have actually forgotten where I had left it. The hand pocket lining is a breathable mesh, but it would be better if the cargo pockets were the same. They would vent much more efficiently from the lower pocket position than closer to the hips as they are now. There is just enough extra thigh room to allow for easy climbing without feeling baggy. And the zippered ankles hang easily over boots whether zipped or not. The only issue I have here is that the zipper isn’t high enough to remove the pants while wearing a boot. This has only been an issue in cooler weather where I start off with a base layer, but want to remove it after warming up. The built-in belt buckles easily and has never gotten in the way of my pack.
I have worn these during cold and damp winter days in the Ozarks as well as winter hiking in St. Moritz, Switzerland. They were perfect for the cool Italian coastline of the Cinque Terre and for more temperate Fall days along the Buffalo River. They are a great choice for all, but the hottest and wettest of conditions and the simple addition of a merino base layer will make them my first choice for even the coldest winter days. They are lightweight, easy to pack (though they never seem to make it into my pack) and seem to handle most situations with comfort and ease. Since they come with an Infinite Guarantee® I don’t expect to be replacing these pants anytime soon.
The manufacturer recommends machine washing in cold water and line drying in the shade. I wash them with the rest of my dark clothes and hang them to dry. The fabric dries very quickly and remains soft. There are no special storage requirements so they can be hung or folded and put away without any challenges.