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M Ultralight Down Pants: Light, Warm, and Versatile

by Will Rietveld

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Article Summary:

An ultralight sleeping system is a core component of an ultralight backpacking gear kit, and it requires careful planning so the components are coordinated with each other and appropriate for the expected conditions. This article is the second of four articles covering the insulated components of an ultralight three-season sleeping system capable of handling colder temperatures. Such a system - consisting of an ultralight down mummy-style sleeping bag, down jacket, and down pants - minimizes weight while providing maximum warmth and versatility without compromising safety or comfort.

This article will focus on down pants for campwear and sleepwear. Why down pants? Because down is the most thermally efficient insulation for its weight, so down pants provide the most warmth for their weight (assuming thin shell fabrics and minimal features). The ultralight down pants reviewed in this article weigh between 6.8 and 8.4 ounces for size Large.

This article reviews and compares three ultralight down pants that I consider to be suitable for ultralight backpacking: the MontBell Down Inner Pants, PHD Minimus Down Trousers, and the Western Mountaineering Flash Pants. Note that there are several warmer down pants available besides the ones selected for this article. However, most of them are targeted to mountaineering or the "hook and bullet" sports, and they are simply heavier. Many of these have lower fill-power down, many use heavier fabrics to provide more durability, and they often have leg zippers to allow them to be put on easily without taking boots off. These features are nice when they are needed, but they are overkill for ultralight travel and add extra weight.

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