So I shelled out on some expensive waterproof trousers.
They're mint. The first two days I wore gaiters and they were protected from any nicks. Third day, didn't bother with gaiters and put two small holes in them. I start off walking carefully. But after hour 5 when tired and on scrambling/climbing complex terrain I'm more likely to nick them.
Do you folks have really good technique or is this the way it is? Have you found any ways to deal with this? Is wearing gaiters all the time the way to go?
I'm knock-kneed, I have never had to really think about it. Not that it's any help to you I guess!
'So I shelled out on some expensive waterproof trousers.'
That's your problem there
Occupational hazard for most of us weekend warriors. My shell trousers are covered in repair tape around the inside ankles and knees/thighs where the small tears and wear happen. I try to buy out of the bargin bins when passing. The Rab factory shop at Alfreton, the Berghaus shop at Gretna and Mountain Equip have clear outs. I don't feel so bad putting a hole in something I've bought at less than half price.
You seen the way John Wayne walks into a gunfight? That's the swagger needed as a winter climber to avoid rips.
Ah nice tips I didnt know about this. Do they have stuff in the bargin bucket all the time or do you need to go during specific times?
"Everything is 'consumable' and repairs only add character."
Personally I wear fairly hefty Cordura Goretex gaiters, but still get caught by ice screws on the thigh. When I put a burn in the sleeve of my then brand spanky new Point Five Goretex down duvet on its first outing I was a bit miffed, but the spinnaker tape I slapped over it is still in place 40 years later...
Walk like you just got off a horse?!
Feet slightly apart, toes slightly pointing outwards, step shorter when slogging fast through deep snow to avoid putting front points into the back of your calf muscle, it hurts.
inexpensive nylon gaiters. Not too tough, though ! when you do spike 'em, you want them to rip a bit rather than trip you up. If that fails, gaffer tape the holes.
It's luck of the draw really. I find Rab expensive for the shell salopettes, rarely much on heavy discount. ME often has returns with repairs or nothing wrong with them and Berghaus often has stock. I think you can contact Rab and ask before driving over but the other 2 I don't know. Montane have a factory shop at Durham if you're over that way and a website somewhere you can check stock. Sportpursuit often have great deals.
I'm naturally pigeon toed. One of the main reasons I eventually gave up on any serious idea of winter/alpine climbing!
> Never been a problem in my breeches. Good idea weren’t they?
Rohan Striders, or Super Salopettes sprung to mind...
I see to have a gait that seems to avoid crampon damage to trousers but my last pair of softshell trousers ended up with a hole in the back of the knee where I caught them with the other crampon whilst climbing.
I tend to buy hardshell winter kecks second-hand so if I damage them I am not too bothered. I got a pair of Paramo Aspira trousers on here for about £40 which were riddled with pre-existing holes so I didn't feel remotely precious about them.
part of winter drill is the discipline of attention to detail. That, in all but certain conditions, includes gaiters before crampons, to protect not only my trousers but also an extra layer on the lower leg that might just catch a point before it penetrates my leg. As I'm a bit older now I might choose to put on the gaiters and walk to warm hands up a little more before crampons go on if there is significant chilling wind. Crampons may go on before a little before I need an axe likewise to allow warmup as an axe in numb fingers isn't much good.
Less of a problem later on when the days are less cold but we've been having windchill of -10 or more in the Lakes recently and that means even more attention to detail.
(a) walk like John Wayne
(b) invest in a roll of duct tape
(c) don't sharpen your crampons unless you are climbing ice
(d) watch out when you are tired and descending on uneven ground in poor light the discipline for (a) and your general coordination tend to slacken off and a few nick is your trous is perhaps the least of your worries
(and wear gaiters)
One of the many reasons why I've not bought hardshells since about 2008. Good tough softshells are:
- Less likely to tear (being much stretchier)
- Easier to repair (sew the hole, maybe a dab of seam grip)
- Look better/function better even with a million fixed holes than a hard shell
- much cheaper.
And then the other reasons: better range of motion, more breathable, comfier, warmer, cooler.
Only wear waterproof anything when you really need it. Good softshells are normally enough / better. If I must wear waterproofs and crampons then best to wear gaiters. Its worth getting hard wearing waterproofs too IMO.
Are there any days you regret not having hardshells Alasdair? Ice climbing in Finland and elsewhere in Scandinavia I did most of it in softshell troos but since back in the UK I've often ended up using hardshell trousers just because it's possible you get rained on while walking in and out and wind rather than low temperatures is central to how cold you feel in the UK much more so than in Finland at least.
Having said all that, when the forecast is dry, I have used my now over a decade old 40 quid Decathlon softshells and found them excellent on UK winter routes. brilliant. https://lightfromthenorth.blogspot.com/2013/03/simond-alpinism-pants-review.html
Seamseal glue or iron or repair tape (you can just get a roll of the stuff they use for seams on waterproofs very cheaply).
https://outdoor.mcnett.eu/seamgrip/ clean area first, for holes or large tears selotape the front first then repair back, when dry remove front tape and glue front. The repair lasts forever and is flexible. They make a very similar product that is made for repairing holes and tears in neoprene! You make a layer of glue surrounding the area over the fabric.
> Only wear waterproof anything when you really need it.
Yep, although once place where you invariably do need them (not so common in the UK) is pure ice climbing on steeper, complicated ice falls where invariably you end up under run off from icicles above. That moment when you move your feet up in to the monkey hang position, just before you pull up on tools, so your thigh is horizontal and gets hit by water coming down from above - instantly your whole thigh is soaked! Yuck.
Yeah I've had problems before on euro ice with softshell gloves too. TBH though its not normal for me to wear waterproofs (other than gloves) on euroice unless I expect a lot of drippage. My softshell jacket and trousers are pretty repellent of any drips.
> So I shelled out on some expensive waterproof trousers.
Use cheap gear, I use old ski racing pants with tarpaulin bits stitched to protect against crampons, perfect, no need for waterproofs or gaiters, they are warm and snow proof. All gear gets trashed, the best like my cheap ski pants lasts for 50 years.
I've not failed on a winter day out due to softshell trous, that said, I am much less inclined than I used to be to go out on days where I know I need to walk in via rain / sleet then hit the freezing level.
I have failed on an ice line on Skye due to getting too soaked in a softshell jacket, went back the next day in a hardshell and got it done, but it was sending down a fair bit of actual water! I suspect if I was doing a lot of drippy ice like the type you've mentioned, I'd maybe stretch to donning something properly waterproof, but I find a pair of stretch fleece leggings under tough winter weight softshells keeps the worst out and then dries again really quickly.
I suppose I have to be honest with one thing though - it's been so long since I tried climbing in hardshells that I can't actually claim to have recent experience of both. Doubt I will either so long as jackets are £300/£400+
I was just reflecting this weekend at how my Patagonia Ascentionist jacket is still just about holding together after 12 years of:
Many days ski touring, 20+ long alpine routes, 40ish mixed routes in Scotland and various other duties. I've replaced the wrist velcros and stitched a few tears, but it was still performing ok on the weekend. Most of my partners (admittedly who have done a lot more mixes climbing than me...) have been through about 4 or 5 jackets each in the same time. I think it will be retired during/after this season though.
Get a roll of Betrafol tape off Ebay- it's amazingly sticky repair tape that's used for sealing building insulation. It's not cheap but a roll will be fixing your ripped trousers for years. I tend to apply it to the inside of the ripped garment, making it look tidier...
(Tried to include a link to the tape on Ebay but ukc won't let me)
> ... When I put a burn in the sleeve of my then brand spanky new Point Five Goretex down duvet on its first outing I was a bit miffed, but the spinnaker tape I slapped over it is still in place 40 years later...
40 years? A mere whippersnapper... Try 60:
Thanks for that... impressive! , Recognisably the same model jacket 'cept mine is a ripstop Grotex prototype from 1980. (I'd rather have had the plain nylon... but don't let it hear me ).
The John Wayne walk to keep the feet apart stops the snags.
Iron-on seam seal tape repairs cuts that do happen: