Review By Anna
Banner Photo Cred: Chris Walden
Bottom Line: I would buy these pants at full price
Manufacturer's intended purpose: Trekking, climbing, ice climbing, big wall climbing, glacier walking, general outdoor use.
Actual Weight: 12.91 oz / 366 g
Mfg Retail: $199
These pants are fantastic. They have proven to be durable, protect me from the elements, and they look good doing it. Also, who doesn’t like wearing “exotic” european clothing available through only select retailers in the United States?
These pants fit true to size. At 5’6, around 150ish pounds, I ordered my usual medium. I have no complaints about the overall fit. They are snug in all the right places and just loose enough everywhere else for full freedom of movement. If you need to cinch them down a bit, there is a handy velcro system built into the waist to do just that. The leg opening is just wide enough to shove my La Sportiva Spantiks in on a cold day. They are a little long when I am not wearing shoes with a substantial sole on them. The manufacturer claims that each size up adds 2 inches to the leg length.
These pants have survived three seasons of hiking, scrambling, and ice climbing and show no signs of wear. I have found ice climbing to be particularly hard on clothing due to all the hard sharp pointy things dangling and sometimes flailing around. However, these pants don’t even show the typical snag marks mid thigh where unprotected ice screws dangle during an ascent. After three years, there are no holes or stains, despite my best efforts to mar these pants.
These pants are a lightweight non-insulated softshell. The inside of the fabric has a light, soft finish that provides minimal warmth. The finish does feel nice against your skin. I tend to insulate fairly lightly on my legs. I might be wearing three layers and my biggest puffy on my torso and just a windproof pair of pants with no base layer below and be fine. I have occasionally worn a base layer under these if I foresee standing around in the cold (belaying). Otherwise, these have offered excellent warmth to weight for me.
I once climbed up the heart of a glacial waterfall in these pants. I did get a little wet. Turns out I forgot to zip a pocket. Other than a damp pocket, I was more or less dry. While the water did not bead up, it evaporated off in about 5 minutes.
These pants will wet through in a sustained downpour. I was only climbing for about 5 minutes. For a softshell, these pants offer an outstanding balance and blend of breathability and water resistance. They are highly breathable and dry fast while offering a high level of water resistance for a short downpour or sustained light precipitation. Even when the weather warms, I find my legs to be cool and dry under high aerobic activity.
As far as windproofness, these pants offer a high level of protection. I have yet to feel the cold bite of the wind on our windy Alaskan ridge lines while wearing these pants.
These pants strike a great balance between being simple and being “feature-rich.” By that i mean, they have all the features I want without having excessive snaps and loops that I cannot fathom what their purpose might be.
Starting at the waist, these pants incorporate an adjustable Velcro waist band for days when you forget your belt. This increases versatility. Buy these pants a hair large and cinch them down on warm days when you are wearing no layers. On cold days, loosen the waist and throw whatever layers you need under these pants.
The 2 hip pockets and 1 butt pocket are nothing to write home about but get the job done. They all zip to keep your items secure. They are roomy enough to store your cell phone, wallet, snack bar, compass, etc. in without being overkill. There are two additional thigh pockets. Again, sized reasonably to be useful but not so big that the amount of stuff you can shove into them would become cumbersome. The right hip pocket has an interior pocket inside of it that keeps a cellphone or small wallet sized object from sliding around. I like to keep my cellphone here so it is easy to find to snap a quick photo despite whatever else i may have stuffed in my pockets.
The leg openings have two snap options, allowing you to make the opening a little or a lot smaller as needed. This is great for if you are say biking and don’t want to snag your nice pants on the sprockets. This is also great if you are post holing and forgot your gaiters: just snap whichever size fits snugly around your boots and off you go! There is also a clip in the front that you can clip to your shoe laces to keep your pants from getting pushed up. I have found these metal clips are painful if I step on them walking around the house before I leave for the day. This can be avoided by using the snaps on the leg opening to make the opening smaller and sit on my foot and off the ground.
Manufacturer Warranty (5)
Norrona offers a 5 year warranty on all of their products. I have not personally dealt with this process. Norrona promises to repair manufacturer defects within this 5 year time frame free of charge. If the problem is deemed to be due to wear and tear, they will repair at a “reasonable cost”. However, this process would involve shipping to and from Europe which would probably be more complicated than shipping to a US based manufacturer.
Overall, I love these pants. They look and fit great, are extremely durable, and are versatile. The only drawback is the price. Luckily, Norrona is becoming more established in the states and is going on sale more these days-check out Steep and Cheap-sometimes you can find them on sale there or on Backcountry.com. I elected to purchase these pants in bright orange. While I love the brightness outdoors, I sometimes wish I had opted for a more neutral color to wear around town. Overall, if you had to have one pair of pants for all of your cooler to cold weather pursuits, I would recommend these.