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Wind Pants not as popular as wind shirt?
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Dan Johnson

Locale: PNW
Wind Pants not as popular as wind shirts? on 03/15/2012 23:33:00 MDT Print View

So I've seen my fair share of gear lists and a wind shirt is almost always a staple items to have. But what about wind pants? They generally weigh very little as well and pack down very small. So why don't I see many of them on lists?

I ask because I love my wind shirt and I thought that I may love the pants too. Generally I only wear shorts but I'm wondering if I'm missing something by not having the pants too to wear at night or in the evening.


Edited by Seattle on 03/15/2012 23:33:48 MDT.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
durability and name on 03/15/2012 23:48:59 MDT Print View

a light softshell tends to be more durable and possibly breathes better ...

but dont let a name fool you ... something like my dead bird ramparts/pallisades are basically wind pants even though they dont call em such ... as well as a lot of other nylon pants .... including running ones like nike/adidas/target/etc which many people use outdoors but is too lowly for some BPLers ;)

the reality is that wind pants are very widely used, but since some arent made specifically for backpacking or by certain "recognized" manufacturers, we dont call em such

Matthew Black
(mtblack) - F
Re: durability and name on 03/16/2012 00:19:55 MDT Print View

John Abela wore Montbel Dynamo wind pants on two trips that I was along for and they proved to be incredibly durable considering their weight. I am uncertain how the fabric is treated but we were amazed to see John stand within inches of a camp fire and have multiple embers fly onto and then roll off the pants without leaving a mark. Really crazy to see that with synthetic fabric. They also resisted trail walking, etc. extremely well and were quite reasonably priced for the low weight and wind resistance.

Stephan Doyle
Re: Wind Pants not as popular as wind shirts? on 03/16/2012 01:01:39 MDT Print View

I don't need a wind layer's "insulation" for my legs.

Inaki Diaz de Etura
(inaki) - MLife

Locale: Iberia highlands
Re: Wind Pants not as popular as wind shirts? on 03/16/2012 04:51:16 MDT Print View

The legs are far more forgiving than the torso in all aspects: they don't need a wind barrier as badly when the conditions might demand one but also they tolerate well a wind barrier when it's not strictly needed. Many hiking pants are inherently quite windproof so a wind pant would be redundant.

The soft-shell concept (the real one) works very well for the legs. Unlike the torso, it's actually possible to find a do-it-all item and spare the layering.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Re: Re: Wind Pants not as popular as wind shirts? on 03/16/2012 07:32:33 MDT Print View

^ agreed, I can be comfortable in shorts above freezing (as long as my upper torso is sufficiently insulated)

I have some nice, light windpants (Montbell), but find I seldom pack them

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
Hot legs! on 03/16/2012 10:50:04 MDT Print View

In normal three-season hiking, your legs are the hardest working part of your body. All that effort is generating heat - lots of heat! It's not often you really need to trap that heat to keep your legs warm, unless conditions are bad.

Ben F
(tekhna) - F
Re: Hot legs! on 03/16/2012 11:09:18 MDT Print View

Even riding my bike in below-zero temps I often don't wear more than tights. Sometimes leg warmers. The hard part is keeping your feet warm.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Wind Pants not as popular as wind shirts? on 03/16/2012 11:19:46 MDT Print View

Almost any pants form a shell of some sort, varying in breathability and water resistance. I see several classes of pants used for hiking:

Ultralight wind pants: 3-4 ounces

Unlined track and running pants: 6 ounces

Rain pants: 7-12 ounces

Light nylon hiking pants with or without zip-off legs: 10-12 ounces

Light soft shell pants: 10-2 ounces

Mid-weight shot shell pants: 14-16 ounces

Winter weight soft-shell pants: 16+ ounces

Of course there are many variations and much overlap in these categories.

When I think of wind pants, I am looking at ultralight pants to be worn with something like running shorts, just as I would add a windshirt to a light base layer top. I'm sure some are more durable than others, but I doubt that any would survive rough conditions in the way that slightly heavier pants would. My experiments with wind pants found me paying a lot of attention to brush and stickers and sharp limbs, and great care in sliding over boulders or straddling blow-downs. Windshirts need a lot of caution too, but I'm not sitting or sliding on them and the trail is more open at shoulder level than at calf level.

By the time you add the weight of wind pants to light running shorts, you are within a couple ounces of a pair of typical zip-off pants. The only times I would find the shorts/wind pants combo to be effective is in hot summer weather or more desert-like conditions: great for the Grand Canyon, but not as versatile in the Pacific Northwest.

Also, if I were hiking in light shorts, I would be looking to my rain pants for more protection. In my local climate, if it is cold during summer hiking, it is probably raining anyway. The next step would be to add light base-layer long johns under my rain pants. Soft shell pants work better in the shoulder seasons.

As with windshirts, I would go for lighter colors so you can take maximum advantage of bug and sun protection as well as wind and cold.

Edited by dwambaugh on 03/16/2012 11:24:30 MDT.

Nigel Healy
(nigelhealy) - F

Locale: San Francisco bay area
Re: Re: Hot legs! on 03/16/2012 11:21:48 MDT Print View

Cold feet is practically the only reason to cover the legs.

+1 on legs don't need anything like as much coverage as the rest of the body, often happy just letting legs getting wet too, I have to be quite cold for the legs to not become sodden from sweat even in windproofs. Also the sweat output from legs is very high and the skin temperature still can be low so waterproof pants, I own some OMM Kamleika, can be easily "leaking".

I do carry a pair of Montane Featherlite pants to blunt the chill of summer rain for example. Often is all you need for light rain over some polycotton pants.

If its summer but a longer walking trip and walking potentially for many hours in rain I'll use more substantial, less likely to tear windproofs, very comfy to wear all day, but heavy for packing.

For biking in warm rain I use Rainlegs

does all I need, which is primarily to keep damp off the upper-leg area which where chafing could otherwise be a problem, til its so cold I need more than bare legs. One does look like a total dork though, if that is a concern.

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
RE: Wind Pants not as popular as wind shirt on 03/16/2012 11:53:49 MDT Print View

I always pack wind pants unless I know it will be real warm. Unless it's cold enough that I need to hike in long pants, I don't bring long pants, just the wind pants. And if I bring long pants I bring the wind pants anyway in case it gets cold and windy.

It's true I don't wear them as often as the wind shirt, but I use them a lot.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Myth on 03/16/2012 11:58:29 MDT Print View

I think its a bit of a myth that the legs dont require insulation, in incremental weather anyways

There are major arteries running along th inside of yr thighs ... In wet, cold weather i find that those get chilled quickly when the rain hits the thin nylon fabric and cools that area , this is less an issue with long boxers underneath or softshells

I can definately say that when climbing technical ground (more slowly) or on belays, long johns make a large difference around 30-40f ... And if you hit 0f, belay puffy pants are da bomb ;)

If yr moving fast or hard enough, you dont need much insulation anywhere regardless

The problem with layering on the legs is that its messy to adjust ... Which is why many compromise with softshell pants which provide a bit of insulation

Diane Pinkers
(dipink) - MLife

Locale: Western Washington
wind pants in PNW on 03/16/2012 14:28:04 MDT Print View

I do pack mine, and where I have used them most is in the shoulder seasons, or muddy conditions. For example, hiking in to Enchanted Valley last summer--misty rain, some outright showers, muddy trail conditions. My wind pants are lighter than gaiters. I didn't need rain pants under the trees, but my hiking pants were really muddy from the trail. In camp, I was able to unzip my hiking pants legs and throw on the wind pants while I made camp, and wear them to bed so my hiking pants were not in my down bag. They aren't waterproof, just water resistant, so I can't sit down on wet surfaces like I can in my rain pants, but they are much more breathable and comfortable if I need just a little extra while I hike. I've gotten hypothermia on that trail before, so I'm a little cautious about keeping warmer, and I don't sweat out much in the wind pants. I used a wind shirt too, as if I got deluged on it dried off pretty quickly once the shower passed, but was more breathable than a rain jacket. If it was steady rain, I'd wear the rain jacket.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Wind Pants not as popular as wind shirts? on 03/16/2012 15:22:31 MDT Print View

I could see them useful for chilly and windy conditions where the wind is ripping the heat out of your pants. However, your legs don't need nearly as much insulation as your chest, so I wouldn't see myself throwing them on that often for most 3 seasons conditions.

Eric Dysart
(ewdysar) - F

Locale: SoCal
MYO - Thru-Hiker kit on 03/16/2012 16:07:56 MDT Print View

I'm thinking about getting this kit. The finished pants seem sound light that it can't really hurt to bring them along.... I'd like an extra layer to help protect my down puffy pants in colder weather.

Edited by ewdysar on 03/16/2012 16:10:07 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: MYO - Thru-Hiker kit on 03/16/2012 16:10:51 MDT Print View

I used that kit. It's good.

Think carefully about size if you intend to use them over down.


Tim Zen
(asdzxc57) - F

Locale: MI
Re: Re: MYO - Thru-Hiker kit on 03/16/2012 16:15:49 MDT Print View

I read hip as waist. What a waste. I used one legs as an umbrella cover.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Winter/Shoulder on 03/16/2012 16:22:29 MDT Print View

winter (some shoulder season) was one of the times that I did actually use the wind pants a fair bit- they have good DWR on them and shed snow pretty well, slipped them over tights when needed snowshoeing or x-country skiing

but now I'm using a lightweight softshell pant for the majority of my winter/shoulder duties

Gerry Volpe

Locale: Vermont
wind pants on 03/16/2012 16:51:55 MDT Print View

For warm weather use I sometimes take windpants instead of rainpants(if not wearing convertables) or as camp/sleep wear instead of baselayer bottoms. They are not quite as warm as most baselayers but as pointed out I don't need much insulation on my legs, they are more versatile IMO, and in many cases lighter.

Edited by gvolpe on 03/16/2012 17:03:20 MDT.

Ken Bennett
(ken_bennett) - F

Locale: southeastern usa
Re: RE: Wind Pants not as popular as wind shirt on 03/16/2012 20:31:54 MDT Print View

+1 on Elliot, I always take my wind pants, often as my only long pants, since I wear shorts on the trail year-round. My wife made them for me from the thru-hiker kit, using a standard DWR ripstop. I might have her make another pair using Momentum.