Steph: I can't remember the last time I went climbing in the UK mountains in anything other than soft shell trousers. OK, in the summer I plumped for the mega lightweight fabrics, but for the majority of the year, the Base Jump Advanced Pants were my first choice and, as the temperatures start dropping again, they are going to see even more action.
Fans of the original Base Jump Pants will no doubt be wanting to know what's changed to give them the Advanced tag. No need to worry too much – it's just cosmetic surgery with a nip and a tuck to make them fit better around the bum, and the seam has crept forward 2cm (1cm for men) to create a sleeker profile. Everything else stays the same.
The first thing I noticed about the BJAP was the very technical styling. The lovely, stretchy Schoeller FTC fabric is reinforced at the seat and knees and this gives them a pretty full-on kind of look that's definitely better suited to the mountains than the high street – they also have crampon patches on the ankles extending their use into Alpine terrain and of course, UK winter.
But despite this, I found them wonderfully comfortable – the face fabric is quite slick looking but the inner is soft and cosy and feels great against the skin – gliding easily, and providing a little insulation too. The mesh waist band adds to this luxurious feel and aids moisture management by allowing the perspiration to diffuse outwards.
Their real strength is they don't impede movement. They are lovely to walk in - you can almost forget you're wearing them – but when it comes to forcing my foot up onto a high hold, it's been my lack of flexibility rather than the fabric that's got in my way.
Breathability seemed good overall, although I don't usually suffer with perspiration much in the legs; and I found them very temperature tolerant, making them ideal for a Nepal trek and climb, where we passed through many different climate zones. The only restricting factor being that they are only available in black – not ideal for blazing sunshine. This will affect their performance for ski touring too.
The 3 x dry treatment took a decent amount of rain before allowing the fabric to wet out, and they certainly dry quickly when they do get wet – perfect for washing on treks as well as for those short, sharp showers where you really don't want to pull on waterproofs. They repelled snow well enough too, although I think they'd struggle with the more typical, wet Scottish/Welsh stuff.
"Their real strength though is the way they don't impede movement. They are lovely to walk in - you can almost forget you're wearing them..."The pockets are subtle yet useful, with 2 very deep hip pockets and a deep cargo style pocket on the right that is accessed with a vertical zip. The stretchy nature of the fabric means they'll take pretty much anything from a hat or gloves to snack bars or even a small guidebook or map.
Fit wise I found them pretty versatile, with a part elastic waist and belt loops (no belt though) and adjustable cuffs (gusseted with a Velcro tab) that works nicely with a variety of boots as well as bare ankles when rock climbing. They come in variety of sizes from EU32 to EU44 (see Tom's comments re Men's sizing) but there's only one leg length for each waist size and the 78cm (31”) seam of mine was a little long for me but would be fine for someone a little more leggy.
The other bonus is the weight - my size EU 36 pair weighs in at only 400g – impressive as they really are pretty tough. Overall I have found them fantastic all-round soft shell trousers, suitable for rock climbing, mountaineering, via ferrata, walking, and trekking/back packing – and they are definitely my first choice in anything other than really hot weather.
Tom: It would be difficult to add anything to Steph's review really apart from the fact that Men's BJAPS come in a better range of sizes with both long and short legs available – meaning they should fit just about anybody. And we also get a choice of colours, which is great as I would definitely rather not wear black on sun baked glaciers if I can avoid it – it might not actually be any hotter but psychologically it definitely feels it.
I'll echo Steph's comments on the ease of movement – I found them great on ice last winter, enabling high step ups when needed. And I also found the cuff secured so tightly around my boots that I could often leave the gaiters off – a definite bonus.
At £125, the Base Jump Advanced Pants aren't cheap. But I've had some of the originals for years and they're still going strong so I would expect the same from the latest model.
MORE INFO: on the Mammut Website.
Tom Hutton is an award-winning writer and photographer who lives in Mid Wales with his partner, Steph. He enjoys pretty much all styles of climbing, with a preference for long trad routes or mountaineering; and he also spends a fair bit of time walking, running and mountain biking. He's contributed to most of the UK's outdoor titles over the years and has also written a number of guidebooks.
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