I've always felt that the measure of a good pair of trousers is that you don't think about them. By this I mean that they don't make you too hot or cold, they don't rip at the mere sight of rough rock, and they fit well. I was looking forward to trying out Patagonia's Alpine Guide Pants, which are marketed as a 'go anywhere' mid weight soft shell pair.
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Charlie Boscoe testing the Patagonia Alpine Guide pants
UKC Gear, Jul 2011
© Charlie Boscoe Collection
I have to admit that after wearing them for ski tours, big alpine routes, long Himalayan expeditions and numerous rock climbs over the last few months I have now admitted defeat! There is inevitably some slight wear to the knees, and I did manage to put some very small holes around the ankles by catching my crampons, but overall they have been incredibly tough. I find that in less durable clothing I am slightly conscious of not doing too much damage, but in the Alpine Guides I was able to climb without a second thought about wear and tear - an important consideration.
Having tried the Guides out in plenty of different temperatures and situations I can say that I found them good for all but the hottest of days. The key with this type of clothing is that it keeps you cool when you're going uphill and warm when you're standing around. I felt the Guides did this pretty well. They are also pretty water repellent, keeping out rain showers and enabling you to sit on snow for long enough to have a bite to eat without getting a wet backside.
"...No sooner had the trousers emerged from the packaging than they were being put to the test on a typically brutal route on the Aiguille du Peigne..."
I'm pretty thin so I can make most things look like a potato sack, but the Guides were a great fit – snug but not tight enough to restrict any movement. The waistband is unrestricting and elasticated at the back, which allowed me to move freely. The system for changing the size of the bottom of the trousers is excellent too. You can choose between an ankle gripping gaiter (for soft snow), a normal straight cut, or a wide cut to accommodate a ski boot. With a zip and two buttons, the system is easy to use and also secure enough that you don't need to worry about the legs coming undone and letting snow into your boots.
Overall I thought that Guides are a superb piece of kit – versatile, tough and smart looking. If you're looking for an all round soft shell for ski touring, long alpine routes and expeditions, then look no further.
Find one here: UKC: UK Patagonia Stockists List
About Charlie Boscoe
Charlie Boscoe is a skier and climber based in Chamonix, France. In between running his successful blog on Chamonix climbing conditions he also heads up expeditions and has recently lead a group up Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest mountain. You could say he has started the 'Seven Summits'. He likes Rugby, but we don't hold that against him too much.
UKC Articles and Gear Reviews by Charlie Boscoe: