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Cannot find the right softshell pants, help!
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Steven Burkhead
(catinthehat) - F

Locale: Orange/LA Counties
Cannot find the right softshell pants, help! on 02/17/2013 13:39:29 MST Print View

Hi all!

I am generally a lurker and do not post much, but I have finally exhausted all my research and cannot find an answer to my question. Hopefully someone with more knowledge than I could help me out =)

I am looking for a pair of softshell pants for high altitude mountaineering (Rainier, etc.) and cannot find one with the criteria I am looking for which include:

1) No insulation. Just the softshell fabric, no fleece liners or anything like that. I hike very hot and prefer to control my body temp with baselayers.

2) 30" (short) inseam. Must have a "short" inseam option, my legs never fit into regular cuts.

3) Loops for suspenders or built in suspenders. I do not like having belts because they get in the way of my pack and harness, and generally I just do not like them for mountaineering.

I feel like I've been going in circles looking for a product like this for over a month and haven't found anything. If anyone knows of a softshell pant that meet these criteria I would love an opinion/recommendation!


*edit* I am a male but for some reason it says "F" next to my name and I cannot figure out how to change it!

Edited by catinthehat on 02/17/2013 13:44:27 MST.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Cannot find the right softshell pants, help! on 02/17/2013 13:45:35 MST Print View

-F means forum member, not your sex.

How about these?

They do custom work.

Edited by kthompson on 02/17/2013 13:46:28 MST.

Steven Burkhead
(catinthehat) - F

Locale: Orange/LA Counties
Re: on 02/17/2013 13:51:36 MST Print View

Thanks Ken for clearing that up. Hey that website looks promising! I did not even consider custom work!

John Whynot

Locale: Southeast Texas
Re: Cannot find the right softshell pants, help! on 02/17/2013 15:00:14 MST Print View

I like the Mountain Hardwear Warlow pants, but they don't meet your 3rd condition. For a belt, I used the "built-in" built off of a pair of hiking shorts. It was very thin, and didn't interfer with my harness.

The Warlow's fit very well (not baggy), had plenty of stretch, and were just right for a summer climb of Mt Baker...

Konrad .
(Konrad1013) - MLife
marmot scree on 02/17/2013 15:21:56 MST Print View

Marmot Scree fits every single point of your criteria. I'm assuming you can use belt loops as suspender loops.

Although they come in short, I find the size regular inseam to work for me (I have a 29.5" inseam)

Edited by Konrad1013 on 02/17/2013 15:23:15 MST.

Richard Reno
(scubahhh) - M

Locale: White Mountains, mostly.
REI Mistral? on 02/17/2013 15:26:12 MST Print View

They're not U/L (a little over a pound) and not waterproof, but they are comfortable, durable, and pretty good in the wind. Add a merino base layer and they work great for me anywhere between about 0 and 40 or so.

They don't have any accommodation for suspenders, though you could always sew on buttons, eh? I use a thin grosgrain belt, and it's never bothered me.

Edited by scubahhh on 02/17/2013 15:28:37 MST.

Marcel Bak
(Rzez) - F
Some ideas on 02/17/2013 15:34:55 MST Print View

Excluding first criterion - Patagonia Mix Master Pants. Despite some insulation (yes, I got "hot" really fast, I mean REALLY) and therefore added weight, these are my pants to go for winter conditions. Maybe too warm for -5 C and higher, but without baselayer for temps below -10 Celcius they are fantastic.

I have them in use for 4 years - skiing, snowshoeing, biking in winter etc. Love the fit, wind resistance, breathability, snow-shedding etc. Plus couldn't find better option as they were in WebSpecial for $90 :).

You may try to look for other pants made of Power Shield / Power Shield Pro (they come also in no-insulation versions) or Schoeller Dryskin Extreme fabric - check Montane, RAB, Patagonia, Mammut etc.

Nathan Hays

Locale: San Francisco
Kuhl Renegade on 02/17/2013 16:35:42 MST Print View

Love these. Hiking in 90+ degrees or to 30, they regulate heat extremely well. I used to switch between shorts and pants depending on temp, but I don't now. I've plogged 12 miles in snow - plenty warm. I've scorched up 2500 ft in 95 degrees and felt cool.

Excellent as windbreaker. Just enough stretch so it doesn't tug at the knees (articulated seams as well). Great pocket setups.

They run a little heavy at 13.3 oz in size 32, but I only carry these and silk longjohns for bed and if I'll be standing around sub freezing for too long.

David McBride
(VintageGent) - F

Locale: Galveston TX
Re: REI Mistral? on 02/17/2013 16:37:25 MST Print View

Another vote for the Mistral. I have a pair that I've worn on Rainer, and they performed splendidly, even in last year's June-uary conditions. Yes, it's true that they don't meet your third criteria, but, as Rick pointed out, you could easily sew on buttons for braces.

One caveat: I would advise trying them on in person if possible. I'm a fairly reliable 36" waist, but I had to get these in a 34" waist.

Steven Burkhead
(catinthehat) - F

Locale: Orange/LA Counties
Re: on 02/17/2013 18:42:32 MST Print View

Thanks everyone for the insightful replies! I love this community and it just makes this sport more enjoyable.

Seeing as how REI had the Mistral and Scree in stock locally, I went to try them on after my day hike today. Some interesting things to note, I am a 32 waist and the Scree was quite loose around the waist, and fit everywhere else pretty good (a "regular" fit) as far as I could tell. The Mistral in a 32 was spot on in the waist and a bit tighter everywhere else. It was still extremely comfortable because of the stretch, but it definitely is a more athletic fit (look like skinny jeans on me).

Is that how softshell pants are suppose to fit? My goto climbing gear for cold weather has always been base/fleece layers under a hardshell that was loose enough for a full range of motion on rock, so the athletic fit of the Mistral is something new to me. After ripping my second pair of hardshells this season, I figured it's time to give this "new" technology a try.

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: London, UK
Patagonia Simple Guide, Guide, and Alpine Guide on 02/17/2013 19:53:39 MST Print View


Edited by rmjapan on 06/19/2015 10:41:46 MDT.

Richard Fischel
you may want to look at soft shell ski pants on 02/17/2013 21:52:27 MST Print View

i've noticed a trend in climbing soft shell pants over the last couple of years that the cut is getting more like jeans and the waists are getting lower. that may work for some, but not for all.

soft shell ski pants will have a cut more relaxed and similar to what you are use to with hard shell pants, will be high waisted and have suspenders. i have a pair of cloudveil rayzar soft shell pants in schoeller dryskin. they aren't made anymore, but they show up for sale on ebay and some of the ski/climbing boards with some frequency. a pant that might also work is the mammut base jump or rab exodus . the ski style may be a little heavier than climbing soft shell pants, but you can save some weight by skipping the gaiters because most have protective patches to guard against spiking yourself with crampons and places to rig instep hold-downs. some of the ski style will also have zippered vent which the more simple (and lighter) pants will not have. if you aren't going to be spending much time on vertical ice or rock the more relaxed fit isn't as big an issue.

Konrad .
(Konrad1013) - MLife
fit of scree pants on 02/18/2013 06:12:08 MST Print View

Steven, screes are from 2 years ago (and before that I had another pair that were from 2007) and both fit me fine in the waist in a size 30. I wear a 30x30 in my jeans. Maybe they changed the cut or construction a bit since then. My screes fit a bit skinny too, but mobility has never been a problem even when I use them ice climbing (which I've done very little of). They do very well for winter hikes, snowshoeing and mountaineering (which I've done a lot of). How was the inseam length? Did you try a 31 to see how they would fit?

Steven Burkhead
(catinthehat) - F

Locale: Orange/LA Counties
Re: on 02/19/2013 20:27:21 MST Print View

John - I do like the design of the Warlows but I just can't stand using a belt for hiking/climbing when I have a pack and/or harness on!

Konrad - I really love the Screes and wish I could make them work. I tried on several sizes but whenever they fit my waist snug they are too tight around the thighs, or vice versa. My thighs are definitely larger than a typical endurance athlete so that may have something to do with it. Even then, I was willing to live with a slightly loose waist if I could have figured out how to attach suspenders. Unless I use mini carabiners or the like to go from the belt looks to the suspenders, there is just no practical way to attach suspenders to these. Too bad because everything else (including price) was great! Thanks for the suggestion.

Rick Reno and David - I liked everything about the Mistrals except they had the same suspender issues as the Scree, in addition to not quite fitting around my mountaineering boots. Thank though they are a nice pant otherwise.

Nathan - I actually own a pair of Renegades, and use them in my daily wardrobe. They ride a little too low on my hip however for what I'd like in the snow. I like my waist band above my belly button if possible for alpine climbing. Excellent pant otherwise!

Rick M - Patagonia Simple guides were nice, as well as the rest of their line of softshell pants. I really needed ankle zips though since I will use these pants on warmer weather hikes where I could be transitioning from softshells to my shorts underneath midday. Thank you for the suggestions.

Richard F - You are exactly right! Softshell ski pants appeared like exactly what I was looking for...except I do not want built in gaiters for my softshell layer =(. I spent days looking through the different options though. One thing I noticed was how many COLORS are available! Why can't our hiking pants have these options?? Thanks for the tip though.

Ken - I ended up going with your suggestion and just placed my order with Beyond Clothing. Instead of the Cold Fusion, I ordered the Steel Shock though. I liked their lower warmth rating and higher breathability. After a little digging, it looks the Steel Sock uses schoeller's dynamic fabric, which is what was used in the older version of the REI Mistral. If I am cold I would rather have the option of wearing heavier baselayers. Thank you very much for the website link, I do not think I would have come across their products otherwise.

I guess I'll find out if I made the right decision in about 5 weeks! Thanks again everybody for your suggestions!

Richard Fischel
beyond order on 02/19/2013 20:41:56 MST Print View

steven - let us know the results. i've almost pulled the trigger on softshell pants from them on more than one occassion.

Steven Burkhead
(catinthehat) - F

Locale: Orange/LA Counties
Re: beyond order on 02/19/2013 20:53:20 MST Print View

Will do! They will certainly be put through their paces this season once I get ahold of them. I can do detailed pictures and an initial impression review as well.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Cannot find the right softshell pants, help! on 02/19/2013 20:55:55 MST Print View

Well glad to be of help. Please do let us know how it goes.