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Best softshell pant for mountaineering?
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By superkick
From West Hartford, CT
Oct 20, 2011
Free Solo up hitchcock gully WI3
I have been searching for a good softshell pant for some time... there just seems to be a billion trillion options, so having some difficulty makign a decision. I have been using a MH Absolute exposure Bib the past 2 seasons and looking for a switch. These will be primarily used on Mt. Washington, and Mt. Rainier.

Anyone got any recommendations? Im looking for soemthing with a brushed or lightly insulated interior, that will match well with midweight bottoms. and breathes well/generously water repellant / windproof.

Pants I have been looking at:

Patagonia Alpine Guide pant
Arc'teryx Gamma MX pant
Marmot Durango Pant
Patagonia Backcountry Guide Pant
RAB Fusion Softshell

Thanks!

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By BryanV
From Fort Collins, CO
Oct 20, 2011
Ouray Ice Park
Those are all great options, but my favorite would have to be the Mammut Castor pant. Schoeller fabric that is waterproof and windproof. Super comfortable and warm. Brushed interior with welded pockets, Velcro gaiters and attachments for suspenders or belt. Vents for dumping heart too. I use it for ski touring, ice climbing and mountaineering.

Hope this helped.

bv
whiteknuckled.com

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By superkick
From West Hartford, CT
Oct 20, 2011
Free Solo up hitchcock gully WI3
How well do they breath being waterproof?

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By BryanV
From Fort Collins, CO
Oct 20, 2011
Ouray Ice Park
They actually breathe extremely well. I have never had any problems ice climbing or hiking. I usually have a pair of Mountain Hardwear Power Stretch tights on underneath as well. There are also welded zip vents on the thighs that have a mesh panel to keep out snow, etc. They dump heat fast.

bv

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By Dobson
From Butte, MT
Oct 20, 2011
The best? Beyond Cold Fusion, at least for cold weather.

I have used my Cold Fusion jacket and pants for over four years now. Very comfortable and breathable, and the fit is, of course, perfect. Durability has really impressed me: the jacket has been up at least a thousand pitches, (including countless offwidths), and has barely a scuff. I did break the zipper, but they replaced it good as new. I don't think the pants will ever wear out.

For warmer weather I prefer the Patagonia Simple Guide (discontinued). I am also planning on making a change to my Cold Fusions by sewing some padding into the knees. I use my knees a lot while ice climbing, so it should help the bruising.

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By superkick
From West Hartford, CT
Oct 20, 2011
Free Solo up hitchcock gully WI3
would a harness get in the way of the thigh vents? It looks like it might be a pain...

youve ice climbed in them though..so thoughts?

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By BryanV
From Fort Collins, CO
Oct 20, 2011
Ouray Ice Park
Ha, that's funny! I don't even know??? Never noticed. I think you can zip down easily to the leg loop, but yeah you might have another couple inches before the vent would be all the way open. That's crazy though, i have never noticed that. Good question.

I'll have to put those on when i get home and check that out. I'll update later.

bv

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By ChrisJoosse
Oct 26, 2011
on Pack Animal Direct
I'm on my second year of using the Rab Fusion softshell pants and I'm a fan. They breathe extremely well, and have kept me dry on long days in wet snow, rain, you name it. The waterproof knee/butt patches are very nice, the ballistic inseam cuff (protects nicely against ski edges, etc) is a very nice touch, the ankle gathers keep the snow out, regardless of whether they're on over AT boots or just gathered around your ankle above street shoes. The side zip allows you to dump heat while ascending such that the useful temp range on these is enormous.

The only thing they aren't, but which you're looking for, is windproof. For windproof, you'll want to look at laminate/membrane fabrics, and when you get there you'll likely lose a lot of your breathability.

Edit to add:
My experience has been that anything willing to claim to be 'windproof' won't be breathable enough to keep you dry if you're doing really sweaty work. There are lots of products out there that make varying compromises in the breathability-vs-waterproof/windproof scale of permeability, but that's just what they are- compromises. If you really need both done well, get a pair of softshell pants you like a lot, and get the lightest pair of full-zip pac-lite shell pants you can find on sale someplace, and layer the hard-shell over top as necessary.

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By Topher42
Oct 28, 2011
I really like my acteryx Gamma AR pants used them from Shasata to Jtree to winter ascents and Ice climbing. they breath well. I also heard the mix master from Patogonia was good. I'd say all good brands go with fit.

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By Tom Pierce
From Englewood, CO
Oct 28, 2011
I'll second Dobson above, Beyond clothing cannot be beat. Sure it may be a bit more expensive than a discounted, off the rack pair of pants, but you get so many custom features and of course a custom fit that comparing with off the rack stuff is IMO apples to oranges. On my winter softshells (with winter-weight Schoeller WB 400 fabric), I added on internal gaiters, a side crampon patch (ballistic cloth), zippered ankles, double fabric knees, hip zips for easy potty breaks, and suspenders. Also a choice of colors, and a custom fit down to the fraction of an inch. It always baffles me why climbers settle on "good enough" when custom just isn't an arm and a leg more. I have no affiliation with Beyond, just a big fan.
-Tom

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By superkick
From West Hartford, CT
Oct 31, 2011
Free Solo up hitchcock gully WI3
luckily any pants that are 30x30 are pretty much a custom fit for me.

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By Josh Allred
From Salt Lake City, UT
Dec 6, 2012
P3 on Nutcracker.
Beyond Cold Fusion is EXPENSIVE! I like the Gamma Lt from Arcteryx. When it is really cold I use a warmer base layer like the Rho AR or something.

Check out what Colin Haley used on his one day ascent up the Cassin.

Edit: Traded in my Gammas for Patagonia Knifeblade and have been very happy with the switch.

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By ColinM
From Escondido, CA
Feb 10, 2013
Capitol Peak
Check out OR's Alibi or Cirque pants.

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By Mike Belu
From Indianapolis, IN
Feb 10, 2013
Summit of Rainier.
ColinM wrote:
Check out OR's Alibi or Cirque pants.

I'm also a fan of OR. I've been hiking a lot this winter to tune in my gear for a mountaineering trip this summer. I got the OR Salvo pants and have been very happy with the windproof and breatheability of the gore windstopper material. They have a slim cut too. I found them on sale for about $140.

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By Cale Hoopes
From Sammamish, WA
Feb 10, 2013
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+1 Alibi or Cirque. Alibi = insulated, Cirque = not insulated. Alibi has larger built in Gaiter strip on the instep.

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By cbr
Feb 10, 2013
+1 on the OR Cirque. Climbed Mt. Washington in them a couple of weeks ago - amazingly wind proof in 70+ winds and very stretchy.

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By Matt Collins
From Chico,CA
May 30, 2013
tuolumne meadows
Does anyone have experience with the Mammut Courmayeurs?

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By Kari Post
From Keene, NH
Jul 14, 2013
Me climbing in Jamaica, VT. Photo by Rachel Squires.
I love the Patagonia Alpine Guide pant.

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By Geoffbrown
From Calgary, Alberta
Jan 1, 2014
Topping out on Middle earth, Mt. Andromeda
Direct Alpine also makes so pretty good pants
directalpine.com/

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By Ksween
From Wakefield, RI
Jan 2, 2014
I have been wearing the Patagonia Backcountry Guide pant for 3 years now Ice climbing in New Hampshire and Vermont and Mountaineering on Mount Washington and Mt Rainer. With only a a midweight baselayer pants I have worn these down to -15 and been comfortable climbing on 40 degree days. While not waterproof, the pants always feel dry, the softshell fabric sheds the wind rather well(though I do opt for a shell over them in windy subzero days) and stretch and move with you. The built in suspenders prevent the dreaded lower back gap.

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By Griffin Nosenzo
From Stanford, CA
Jan 3, 2014
North Peak between the top of the couloir and the summit.
My go to pants are the NW Alpine Fast/Light Pant. . They're just a shell though, no extra insulation. They're pretty stretchy, comfortable to move in. Only the one pocket, but it's been plenty for me. If you want a pretty simple, well made pant, I love them.

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By Max Forbes
From Burlington, VT
Jan 10, 2014
Ive been using the patagonia alpine guide pants for a while. The fit is kinda funky, and I wish they had loops for a belt, but as long as you can adjust them to fit snug these are excellent pants. I HIGHLY recommend them. I once wore them out on a soaking wet day of ice climbing, belaying several pitches in stright flowing water, and finished the day soaking wet. By the time I drove to the hotel (maybe half hour) and left them hanging for about 15 minuets, they were completely dry. But seriously these pants are great, and they really are an excellent soft-shell.

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By Ben Beckerich
From saint helens, oregon
Jan 10, 2014
About half way up the East Arete on Illumination Rock
Griffin Nosenzo wrote:
My go to pants are the NW Alpine Fast/Light Pant. . They're just a shell though, no extra insulation. They're pretty stretchy, comfortable to move in. Only the one pocket, but it's been plenty for me. If you want a pretty simple, well made pant, I love them.


I have the NW Alpine Salopette.. my favorite winter alpine pant. The fit is perfect- just enough to get into, but not tight, on my in-between-small-and-medium frame. I'll probably grab some F&L pants for spring this year, too.. I've just about worn my current Mammut softies down to nothing.

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