Rating: 3 / 5
Just bought these today and tested them in a thunderstorm tonight. My usual test sequence is based on recommendations from one of our members. 1. The sitting test applies about 10,000mm head; 2. kneeling in water quite a bit more. These simulate the worst conditions I would find in the field. 3. I also slap the wet surface to apply higher pressures and try to force water through the PU membrane. The Versalite pants are the first non-goretex WP/B pants to pass all three tests. Montbell claims the following for this "DRY LIGHT TEC" fabric;
Waterproofness: 22,000 mm(head pressure/cm^2)
Breathability: 12,000 g/m2/24hrs
Breathability is only half that of eVENT, but these are cheaper and lighter. My Mediums weigh in at a very light 178 grams (6.3oz). Poor breathability in pants is not as bothersome as in a jacket since the pants are worn less frequently, and my legs perspire less.
The pants have 12" leg zippers; good enough for trail runners. For winter use I have full-zip pants; these would be my 3 season rain pants. Incidently, the fabric feels very nice against the skin; almost like a fibrous material, not 'plasticky'. I could wear these over shorts without being bothered.
I will report back if there are any durability issues; but for now, I believe I have finally found very light waterproof pants at a reasonable cost; about $73(payed yen).
Here in Japan they come also in grey, which is a little cooler in the sunshine, and a welcome break from drab black.
I could give these a 4 saying that only eVENT rain pants should get a 5 for WP and breathability; but at this PRICE POINT, I believe these justify a 5.
EDIT: Took these on a three day alpine trek. They tore in several places when subjected to granite and ice crystals. No other rain pants I have tore like this, including my Montbell RainTrekkers. Maybe these very light pants are not durable enough for an alpine/mountaineering trip and should be limited to on trail walking . For trail use thier light weight and water resistance is a 5, for alpine use they failed (1), so the average in my experinece, is a 3. I can't return them of course, so I'll patch them and keem 'em in my bike panniers for rainy days.
The zippers were too short to get the pants on or off over my mid-height light hiking boots; another 6" on the zipper probably would have made that possible.
Sometimes UL is just NOT advised in a severe environment.