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wind pants as main hiking pants?
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Jon Christensen

Locale: Midwest
wind pants as main hiking pants? on 01/11/2008 22:25:47 MST Print View

Anyone hike with shorts and wind pants into colder weather like 32 degrees? Does that work or does it get to cold. I was thinking that could save some weight over my zip-offs. I know that they are not as durable but would they hold up if one was careful with them? Thanks for all your thoughts.

Craig Burton

Locale: Smoky Mountains
an alternative on 01/11/2008 22:46:53 MST Print View

Surprisingly I've never seen any recommendations on here of the particular setup I use, but I use all-purpose DWR outer softshells in weather down to the mid 30s (daytime). I no longer carry raingear, and I seldom carry an insulating layer for around camp or sleeping. This setup allows me to carry spare baselayers if I find it necessary.

I wear a pair of eVENT shoftshell pants that wick rain with ease, but aren't as friendly as traditional raingear when you put body weight on them (ie. sitting down on a wet log to adjust your shoes).

I also carry an old Marmot softshell which is heavier than I would like, that also has a DWR exterior (not sure which DWR), but I've never had a problem with wetness -- not even with a heavy pack putting weight down on my back. Of course the jacket has an attached hood as well.

Obviously your question was about traditional raingear as a sole outerlayer. Personally, I would not use this approach in temps in to the 30s because raingear has major breathability issues with no insulation. I don't like the idea of sweating in the cold with no insulation other than shorts.

Wearing full baselayers with just raingear would be another approach that I have never thought of; but I still don't think I would risk it down in to nighttime 20s.

R Yee
(lighter) - F
For those temps... on 01/12/2008 04:45:39 MST Print View

I find Schoeller Dynamic softshell pants like Montbell Trail pants (300g) or MEC Ferrata Simplex (410g) ideal. They insulate & resist light rain / snow much better than normal nylon hiking pants like Supplex or Tactel for similar weight. I've found their comfortable working range from about -3 to +22°C. They're all I used in both Patagonia & the New Zealand alps for everything except driving rain. Under continuous rain they'll wet out though & hardshell pants are needed.
Overall I've found softshell pants work better overall as a single solution than softshell jackets. Probably because of the differing heat generation/insulation requirements between torso & legs.

Neil Bender
(nebender) - F
Re: wind pants as main hiking pants? on 01/12/2008 08:13:44 MST Print View

I've done it for short 3-6 day trips with wind pants as light as 4 ounces (1.1 oz rip-stop nylon with ankle zips and bungie cord waste). Without additional leg insulation at 32 degrees you'll have to keep moving to stay warm. Light silk or poly long johns don't overheat under the breathable nylon, and work fine down to 20 degrees or even less if you are really working up a long climb.

Mine are home-made so if the light material gets trashed, I repair or just make another pair. The light material is slippery and doesn't stay well at the waist with just a bungie draw cord. In rocky areas I sometimes wear shorts over the wind pants to keep the seat from getting abraded, but this cuts down on the flexibility of being able to take them on and off. But legs don't seem to need adjustment as much with breathable fabrics.

So I'd say this is an option as long as you are on trails and not bushwhacking through scrub, thorny stuff, or rock scrambling, or if you don't mind thinking of them as disposable when using off trail..

Joshua Knapp
(Joshjknapp) - F

Locale: Northern Mn, Superior Hiking Trail
Re: wind pants as main hiking pants? on 01/12/2008 09:18:55 MST Print View

I use the sierra designs microlight pant. (6 oz). If it gets below 40 degrees or if I'm sitting around camp I ad a base layer.(caprilene). This will keep you surprisingly warm, is relatively breathable, and is also a cheap clothing option. I think I paid $25 for the microlights at REI. I may upgrade to the Golite whim pants or the reeds.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: wind pants as main hiking pants? on 01/12/2008 09:20:07 MST Print View

I tried using a pair of montane featherlite wind pants in combination with shorts and/or so featherweight tights. They were too fragile for me to wear continuously. Caviete is that I am hard on pants... I get less than a year out quality jeans I wear around town before I have a sizable hole in the knees. I am sure heavier weight windpants would be fine... but it sounds like that would defeat you "save weight" motivation.

In cooler temps (say 30-50F) I really like pants made of supplex or ultralight softshells such as Cloudveil's Inertia.

Below 30F I really softshell pants such as those that use a good weight Dryskin (there seem to be some dryskin which is closer to Inertia is weight/warmth) of light pile/pertex such as rab vapour rise trousers.

Edited by verber on 01/12/2008 09:22:52 MST.

Ryan Faulkner
(ryanf) - F

Locale: Mid atlantic, No. Cal
Re: wind pants as main hiking pants? on 01/12/2008 10:54:02 MST Print View

YOu might be interested in the Montbell stretch windpants.

they are light (5.6oz) super tough (ballistic nylon stretch fabric) with stretch, and have ankle zips, and two zippered pockets.

todd h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
Re: wind pants as main hiking pants? on 01/12/2008 20:44:14 MST Print View

Like a previous poster says, I've used this combo but at that temp I have a polyester thermal layer underneath. The windpants trap a layer of air between them & the poly's so I stay warm.

WITHOUT the poly's though, I would be cold.

Durability is good if you're careful, but sooner or later, most UL/SUL gear will suffer from a miscue. I can live with that.