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Pants for climbing/touring


Original Post
JaWiB · · Eugene, OR · Joined Sep 2012 · Points: 0

I'm hoping to do some winter ski touring in Washington/Oregon this year but I need some new pants. My current system is fleece pants with lightweight rain pants on top that now have some nice big crampon tears in them. For my spring trips last year, the fleece was always too warm and I usually didn't put the rain pants on because I have to take my shoes/boots off!

What kind of systems do you guys go with for winter touring? I'm thinking long johns, a softshell, and a hard shell, but is that warm enough or should I add another insulating layer?

Also, any recommendations on hard shells that don't break the bank? Seems like there aren't many options that have full zippers. Bonus points if they come in a bright color.

Max Forbes · · Vermont & Colorado · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 114

I almost never wear an insulating layer. Find a good pair of well fitting soft shell pants. For ice climbing, there's numerous cheep options. (MH, OR, Marmot, adidas Outdoor), don't skimp and buy something with kick patches. On warmer days, I wear a thin synthetic base layer, for colder, thick wool. I've been climbing in -20 temperatures and haven't had issues with cold legs. As you mentioned, the fleece is way to warm. For warm days touring this also seems to work well for me. On colder touring days, or pre-dawn, I typically wear a hardshell ski pant. Depending on how often you ski it's worth the investment in nice hardshells. I went for a 1/2 height bib. I prefer the hardshell for touring because the decent gets cold with all the wind, going up I'm usually running warm. If you don't want to own two pairs of pants, I'd vote softshell, more universal and comfortable. If it gets super cold you can always throw the fleece back underneath. If you are willing, mammut, OR, arcteryx and pataguci all make awesome options folks rarely regret.

Matt Zia · · Bozeman, MT · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 171

I run warm, so perhaps take it with a grain of salt if you tend to get cold easily.

I rarely wear hardshell pants in the backcountry whether skiing or climbing. I overheat in them pretty much no matter the weather and even if I unzip thigh vents. Also hardshells tend to be less elastic and tend to restrict your range of motion unless you get them baggy enough at which point they tend to attract ski edges and crampon points even more.

I really like the OR Cirque pants as an all-around softshell pant. Plenty stretchy and weatherproof enough, good set of features, very lightly insulated, and on the less expensive side of the spectrum. When the weather's good I tend to go out with just the pants, no base layer and very rarely a hardshell to go over. Works for me. Might work for you, every person is different.

Markuso · · Fernie · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 95

In the PNW I don't think I'd ever wear an insulating layer underneath my top layer of pants, I'd be way too warm. Even down to -20C when out touring or ice climbing I find just long underwear under a shell works for me.

I picked up a pair of Arcteryx Lithic Comp's on sale for touring last year. They are amazing, hard shell where you need it, soft shell where you don't, side zips to vent, and well fitted. They are quite pricey full price, but if you can find them on sale somewhere I'd recommend them for sure.

akafaultline · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 225

I really like arc'teryx procline fl. Wide enough for snowboard boots but tighten up for my Nepal cubes. I'm like others and rarely use a hard shell bottom. I used the proclines on baker, Shasta and numerous overnight and day tours in Alaska this past winter. Having the vents really helps too. In case of really crappy weather I bring a light rain pant with full side zips. I particularly like the rei pants made with event. They lack reinforcements but I end up wearing them so minimally it's worth saving the weight and I want event instead of gore Tex in the bottom since they will be going over a heavy soft shell pant.

I've used the proclines in the last winter in temps down to -15 Fahrenheit and just used a mid weight thermal under neath for days below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. As long as I didn't stand around to long at the top of something I was about to snowboard down I didn't get to cold. my wife has a down skirt that she will use between laps and man it looks warm-I just can't convince myself to do it. I didn't use the proclines much for ice climbing in temps below 10 degrees because the Patagonia north wall is a far superior option for that and I wish Patagonia would make them again.

ChapelPondGirl · · Keene, NY · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 20

I second the cirque soft shell pants from OR. I work outdoors and have 3 pairs of them that I rotate through. I beat the heck out of them and they have lasted. They're stretchy, a little on the thicker side, and almost completely wind proof. I wore them just yesterday bush whacking in a complete downpour for three hours and my legs were not wet.

Why would you put a hard shell over a soft shell? That I don't understand.

DavisMeschke Guillotine · · Pinedale, WY · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 210

OR Cirque Pant +3

Todd Anderson · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 160

All of last winter I used the BD Frontpoint Gore-Tex Pro bibs. You can read a more in-depth review from WildSnow here: wildsnow.com/17279/black-di…

With just a Patagonia Cap 4 baselayer, these worked great for all ski touring conditions last season until April or so. The full-length side zips are pretty great for venting on the uptrack, and a hardshell bib is pretty great for staying dry when you're wallowing through the steep and deep and/or it's raining.

These bibs in particular would be decent for climbing as well, since they aren't very baggy, have good range of motion, harness-compatible pockets, lace-hooks on the powder cuffs, etc. I just used lightweight softshell pants (Rab Sawtooth) with the Cap 4 baselayer for climbing, though, as well as for spring volcano skiing.

If you want one pair of pants for all your on-snow adventures, the OR Cirque or other heavywight softshell are probably a good bet. I think they would be too hot on a glacier in the late spring/summer, but maybe that's okay. I also think it's hard to beat a hardshell bib for winter/spring ski touring, as long as it has serious venting options.

ryanb · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2008 · Points: 85

Rab exodus pants with wool or cap 4 long underwear underneath are a great versatile option. The thigh vents are really nice and provide a lot of temperature range, you'll only need another layer if you're camping or making long stops.

Add a bottle of Granger's to keep the DWR in shape.

Don't buy a hardshell without a good warranty. I'd shop sales from reputable brands.

FosterK · · Edmonton, AB · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 40
akafaultline wrote:I really like arc'teryx procline fl. Wide enough for snowboard boots but tighten up for my Nepal cubes. I'm like others and rarely use a hard shell bottom. I used the proclines on baker, Shasta and numerous overnight and day tours in Alaska this past winter. Having the vents really helps too. In case of really crappy weather I bring a light rain pant with full side zips. I particularly like the rei pants made with event. They lack reinforcements but I end up wearing them so minimally it's worth saving the weight and I want event instead of gore Tex in the bottom since they will be going over a heavy soft shell pant. I've used the proclines in the last winter in temps down to -15 Fahrenheit and just used a mid weight thermal under neath for days below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
Concur - a softshell, near bib type pant and light to mid weight baselayer is plenty for me even on very cold days.
JaWiB · · Eugene, OR · Joined Sep 2012 · Points: 0

Thanks for all the advice! I decided get a pair of the Cirques and see how they do.

Tobin Story · · Woodinville, WA · Joined Feb 2010 · Points: 35

Good call on the OR Cirque. They'll serve you well for spring touring, and most days touring in the winter either alone or with a baselayer underneath. Depending on how much you like skiing in the rain/cascade concrete, a pair of hardshells with tons of venting like the Flylow Baker can be nice. No need to layer softshell + hardshell though, just pick one or the other.

tsherry · · Portland, OR · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 518

Another OR Cirque vote!

Matt Inoue · · CO · Joined Dec 2012 · Points: 90

Thin merino/synthetic baselayer + Arcteryx Alpha Comps (soft shell on groin and inner thigh, hardshell elsewhere)

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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