soft-shell pants reviews

Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible Pants.

Review: Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible Pants

Soft-Shell Hiking Pants
Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible Pants
$99, 11.5 oz. (men’s 30×30)
Sizes: men’s 28-42, women’s 0-18
backcountry.com

I lived in the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible Pants on three multi-day hikes that put them through quite possibly the widest range of three-season weather most backcountry wanderers might ever see: trekking hut-to-hut for a week on Iceland’s Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls trails and several dayhikes around the country, where cold wind and periods of light rain accompanied us almost every day; on a nine-day, nearly 130-mile hike through the High Sierra in August, mostly on the John Muir Trail, in temps ranging from the 40s to high 60s Fahrenheit, strong wind at times, and one hour-long rainstorm; and on a five-day, 43-mile backpacking trip in the Wind River Range in the week before Labor Day, where we had dry, sunny days ranging from the 40s to the 60s F with moderate wind some days.

And over those two dozen or so days, these pants were the only bottom layer I needed about 98 percent of the time.

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Review: Westcomb Recon Cargo Pant

Westcomb Recon Cargo Pant.
Westcomb Recon Cargo Pant.

Soft-Shell Pants
Westcomb Recon Cargo Pant
$240, 11 oz. (men’s small)
Sizes: men’s S-XL
moosejaw.com

With heads bowed against the steady rain and driving wind, we plodded uphill toward the Grand Col de Ferret, a mountain pass at 8,323-foot (2537m) marking the border between Italy and Switzerland on one of the world’s great multi-day treks, the Tour du Mont Blanc in the Alps. Throughout that July day when the weather ranged from light rain to a wind-driven tempest, I never wore rain pants, only the Westcomb Recon Cargo Pant. I also wore them at other times on that nine-day trek, in light rain, cool wind, and in milder temperatures and sunshine, and through heavy rain and thunderstorms and temps in the 40s and 50s Fahrenheit on a 39-mile, mid-September backpacking trip in Wyoming’s Wind River Range. All of those situations demonstrated how these three-season soft-shell pants excel when the weather turns foul.

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Gear Review: Patagonia Knifeblade Jacket and Pants

Patagonia Knifeblade Jacket
Patagonia Knifeblade Jacket

Winter Jacket and Pants
Patagonia Knifeblade Jacket
$379, 1 lb. 2 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-XL, women’s XS-L

moosejaw.com

Patagonia Knifeblade Pants
$299, 1 lb. 1 oz. (men’s small)
Sizes: men’s XS-XL, women’s XS-L
moosejaw.com

Skiing up Pilot Peak in Idaho’s Boise Mountains, on a day of clouds, light snow and wind, and temperatures just below freezing, I kept my jacket on—something I almost never do when skiing uphill (unless it’s much colder), because I invariably work up a good sweat. And I did it repeatedly, because of the breathability of my Knifeblade Jacket, which moves moisture so efficiently that it never got more than slightly damp inside. I’m updating this review because the Knifeblade once again impressed me so much on that recent day of backcountry skiing.

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Gear Review: Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible Pants

Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible Pants
Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible Pants

Soft-Shell Pants
Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible Pants
$89, 11 oz. (men’s 32)
Sizes: men’s 32-38, women’s 2-14
moosejaw.com

For most summer and fall backpacking trips, unless I expect really wet conditions, I wear zip-off, nylon trail pants because they’re lightweight, dry fairly quickly, durable, and inexpensive. But when I’m heading to a place where I could face a wide range of weather, including wet and cold, I want pants that repel water better and dry faster than run-of-the-mill nylon pants. And waterproof-breathable rain pants are so hot to hike in that I rarely wear them. For me, the solution is a zip-off, soft-shell pant that’s light enough for summer. On a seven-day, hut-to-hut trek through Italy’s Dolomite Mountains, where almost daily we encountered on-and-off rain, wind, even some hail and wet snow, and temperatures ranging from the high 30s to around 60° F., the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible Pants shined.

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Gear Review: Westcomb Recon Cargo Pants

Westcomb Recon Cargo Pants

NOTE: See my updated review of these pants here.

Trekking Pants
Westcomb Recon Cargo Pants
$200, 13 oz. (men’s small)
Sizes: men’s XS-XXL, women’s XS-XL
westcomb.com

One of the best pieces of advice I got this year was when a friend recommended these soft-shell pants to me for a weeklong, hut-to-hut trek in Norway’s Jotunheimen National Park in July.

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