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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pants? A quick drive by......

Jens in the stellar mixed chimney of Blue Moon, Mtn. Snoqualmie

It was pointed out to me this morning that I don't do much on pants here on the blog but a lot of writing on the top layers.  Fair enough.

More importantly I don't put a lot of thought into pant these days.  And I should.  I really should.

Everyone seems to worry about the heat loss from your neck and head.  Few worry about the heat loss from your legs.  Myself included.  Much warmth to be had by a thoughtful pant choice.  Obviously this subject needs some details filled in and the thought process behind them laid out.  For now it is just a drive by of the pants I do like and use.  More later.

I own one pair of Gortex hard shell bibs these days.  Haven't used them in years.  Still own them mind you, just haven't used them. And they are really nice Arcteryx Goretex bibs.

The basic rack climbing and skiing?  It is all soft shell but one.

Arcteryx Gamma LT, AR, SV, MX
Gamma LT is my most used pant, by a fair margin, winter and summer, climbing and skiing.  The LT is the only one of the bunch I have actually worn out and then replaced.

NWAlpine Salopettes
My idea to get Bill making these.  Used something similar back to the '70s.
I have them in the standard fabric NWA offers which is somewhere between the LT and the AR material but not as good as either.  Two more pair in different weights of insulated Neoshell.
Great bib pattern, stock fabrics and workmanship could be better.  Price point helps you ignore the flaws.
Worn out one pair of the original bibs.
Don't own the pant

Great fabrics.  Weird and over complicated design work.
North Wall pants......Polartec Power Stretch Pro?  Best material made for cold weather pants to date imo.  Still not thrilled with the design work.
Mixed Guide Pant.  Love the fit.  Close as I come to a hard shell that I actually use.  Wish they were more soft shell and less hard shell.  Others who know a lot more than me really like the combo of hard shell soft shell.  Vents that work.
Alpine Guide Pant...nice pant, nice fabric.
Weird as it might sound I bought  all the Patagonia pants because they fit me in the waist extremely well.  Cuffs on all of them are FUBAR though. in comparison to the other pants I use more.  Annoying that.

Easy to poke fun at lycra.  I really like the lycra based Dynafit Movement pant.  Even the white ones.   Lycra has its place in the mtns.   I own two pair of these and would use them everywhere they were warm enough or I could more fast enough.  If only they were easier to replace.  Thoughtful combination of pockets and lycra with wind blocks and a built in gaiter that really works.  Now I generally save them for fast ski days or sunshine.  Wish I didn't have to save them.  For the right weather and given the right fitness level by far my most favorite pant in the mountains.

Take a look through the photos here on the blog.  Most of these pants are well represented.
Base layers to go under them?  That is another story waiting to be told.


John said...

I ski in my Gammas and climb in the Alpha LT.

copper said...

I would love to hear more on your opinion about bottom base layers.

PK said...

On a semi-related note, has anyone noticed that Arcteryx pants stock are pretty thin at most retailers at the moment? I've checked all the usual suspects and then some, as well as brick and mortar stores, and there doesn't seem to be much available right now.

Perhaps Arcteryx's production cycle is such that they're behind in deliveries? Anyone have insight?

Joseph Mayfield said...

Looking forward to reading more about pants. I just bought a pair of Patagonia Guide pants and I've been a little disappointed with the missing zipper and the odd elastic, pull-string combo on the waist.

Also, while we're on the topic of things you don't write about much, I'd love to get your take on gear organization at home. Maybe even a picture or two of your gear closet, room, barn(?) or whatever.

Unknown said...

Great site!

Have you ever installed grommets for under the boot bungees on soft shell pants? If so, how'd it turn out?

FWIW- I just switched back to hard shell pants for skiing, OR Furio, they have some quarks but I've been really impressed with the fit and they're super comfy. I've had many 10 hour plus b/c days with them and I'm always dry at the end of the day. I wear lightweight wool under them and rarely vent the legs...but it's been cold.

Dane said...

Off to OR for a few days so better answers will have to wait, sorry.

Bungee? I do it to all my pants. Some that already have messed up systems that don't work all that well. I use a REI grommet kit. Works great. Just practice on something first setting the grommets before punching a hole in new pants!

Gear:30 said...

My "go to" pant this year (and last, for that matter) has been the NWA Fast Light Pant. I love the fit and features (or lack thereof). I use it for ski touring and climbing. I wear them with a light baselayer (Rab MeCo) when it's below 15F, and alone if it's above that. If it gets above about 30F, I prefer the Gamma LT Pant. I like the fabric of the Gamma better than the NWA, but I like the fit and grommets of the NWA pant better. The fit of the Gamma pant is my fault. I was a little heavier when I bought them and needed the large for the waist. The leg was baggier than I like. The medium size fits better in the leg, and now with a little weight loss, the waist does too, but I'm stuck with the large. Guess I should've thought about that before I got fat for a couple months.

Mats said...

What kind of bungee do you use with your grommets? I tried using some shock cord I got at REI on a trip up Rainier and they got beat up to the extent that they probably wouldn't last a second trip. Or do you use a new bungee on each trip? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dane,

Great timing on your pants article. I'm currently in the market for new soft shell ice climbing pants. I also know you are off to the OR for a few days so when you get back, I would like to get your opinion on the Arcteryx Gamma LT and AR pants.

From what I seen on various retail websites, the AR have a DWR treatment while the LT do not appear to have DWR. The AR does not appear to have a elastic cuff at the bottom, like the LT which could make it prone to snagging a crampon if you do not wear gaiters. normally, I do not wear gaiters. Those are just two differences I noted.



fulton said...

Hey Larry,
One thing the Gamma AR does have that keeps it from snagging on crampons is a hook on the front for your laces. I have both the LT and AR and I tend to reach for the AR's most of the time. Also obviously the AR's are a bit warmer. Hope that helps a bit.
Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Hey Fulton,

Thanks for the information on the Gamma LT and AR. Again, I'm only going from pictures, but the AR looks like a regular pant bottom with an internal gaiter. The LT looks like the bottom has an elastic cuff, that functions similar to a gaiter. If my observation is correct, the inside of the bottom of the AR would be prone to snagging a crampon on the inside of the pant, even with a hook on the front for securing to a boot lace. I would like to hear what think about my observation and your experience with the AR.



Anonymous said...

"Bungee? I do it to all my pants."

Have you come across any fabrics that couldn't handle DIY grommets? Do you do any kind of reinforcing for thinner/stretchier fabrics?

Think I'm going to give this a try...

Dane said...

Not yet..even the Gamma LT pants take a grommet and hold up well. Pants are gone in my experience before the grommet and cuff is.

Anonymous said...

I will admit to have been pouring over your blog recently as I try to get up to speed with winter alpinism which I am enjoying - no exposure just simple climbs to quiet places that are often very very cold - have been wearing a union suit wool undergarment, some arcteryx bombproof ski bibs - very pricey but been good and I have a few down sweaters and one soft shell a gamma - I dunno if mx or lt...its the pants that confuse me - I hate the powder cuffs on the 500 dollar arc bibs and sometimes the super thin merino union suit with hood ain't enough to keep my legs warm...I just thought I would throw in that there are some inexperienced folks (or one anyway!) really getting a lot from your blog so thanks...we just maybe don't know what R1 is or if those salopettes are undergarments or what...oh yeah I also have a rab belay jacket that I bought as a result of this site - it mostly lives in my pack but its nice to know its there and it is maybe my most important thing that allows me to dress a bit lighter otherwise.