Leg Wear for winter

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 GarethKelley 28 Nov 2023

Hi all,

So, I'm trying to find some decent trousers for Grade I / II, maybe III winter climbs over this coming winter.

In the past I've used relatively cheap fleece lined softshell trousers by a company called Tacvasen. They're sold on Amazon. They fit well enough and they're fairly warm but they're quite bulky and restrictive. They're fine for hiking and walking but for something a bit steeper and rockier something a bit lighter and free would be ideal.

I've done the usual Googles, and most people talk about Salopettes of some description. And these seem to fit the bill. But also searching for salopettes brings up a lot of searches for Ski Pants. Are salopettes and ski pants the same thing?
Is there such a thing as quality budget kit in the world?
I am a fan of "you get what you pay for" and "if you pay cheap, you pay twice" so I don't mind spending the money on decent kit. I just don't want to break the bank to play in the snow

Also, if anyone can recommend any decent hard shell overtrousers, preferrably with long or full length side zips that would be awesome. I bought some Regatta ones going back a while, but they're so baggy that they're just awkward to wear and move around in.

Thanks in advance all.

 it624 28 Nov 2023
In reply to GarethKelley:

Layers are my preference, as you would on the torso, because there's very little winter climbing without a walk-in. Depending on precipitation, temperature and wind I'd wear a combination of long underwear (merino wool or polyester, sometimes sold as skiing thermals), a pair of softshell trousers, and a long-zip hardshell overtrouser. If there's a decent depth of snow, gaiters are also useful - over the softshell, under the overtrouser.

Rab torques are great all-round softshells for summer and winter climbing/walking, and on a cold but dry and windless day, they might do you fine as a single layer, especially for an easy route where you won't be climbing slowly or stopped to belay. On a really cold/wet snow/windy day, or a route where you might be belaying for an hour, long underwear goes on to add warmth, and then the overtrousers.

For overtrousers I have a mid-cost set of Berghaus somethings (I'd probably go to Alpkit these days). You want something with a long (at least 3/4) zip that you can get on over B2s and is preferably a single bonded layer to reduce bulk. I don't worry about how warm they are, they're just a wind/water stopper. Don't get fancy salopettes, you'll inevitably cut them on rock or crampons at some point, so just get something functional and put some duct tape in the first aid kit. A top zip pull to vent on the walk in is good too.

 LucaC 28 Nov 2023
In reply to GarethKelley:

After years of Scottish winter I swear by Vapourise Guide (or whatever the latest version is called) with goretex over the top. I think it's the best combo I've found. 

Longjohns with Paramo comes in second for when it's raining in the car park and I have to go work.

 mattc 28 Nov 2023
In reply to GarethKelley:

long johns with hard shell over the top generally in Scotland you will be getting wet at some point. You want something waterproof with no insulation and not to wide at the ankles. Look for something like these. 

 Sealwife 29 Nov 2023
In reply to GarethKelley:

Fleece lined leggings from Primark (£9.99 a pair, super-stretchy, very warm, long in body so keep your kidneys warm too.)  They work easily as well as power stretch fabric but are about 1/5 of the price.  

Something windproof and waterproof over the top.

 ExiledScot 29 Nov 2023
In reply to GarethKelley:

Over the years I've switched from heavy duty soft shell, to thinner trousers with waterproof salopettes over the top, which I'll wear from the car park, unless it's warm spring like weather. Venting and temp regulation done on the upper body walking in. The key is finding some trousers that fit well, you might pay a little more, but what you wear underneath doesn't need to be high end or expensive. I'd just try lots on, waist fit, not sagging between the legs, knee flex etc...and see what feels right, if in a big store, don't be embarrassed to ask if you can go up their stairs, it's the drag or lack of when leg lifting that makes all the difference. 

 midgen 29 Nov 2023
In reply to GarethKelley:

Just Mountain Equipment Kinesis trousers most of the time, unless it's likely to be grim and wet, when I'll have Tupilaks over the top.

 Sharp 29 Nov 2023
In reply to GarethKelley:

I really don't know where all the mountaineering salopettes have gone. Keela do a reasonably priced pair and I think ME have options (but expensive). Like you said, when you search for salopettes it's mostly ski wear that comes up and there are very few softshell ones around. Search for bibs as well, not all manufacturers call them salopettes. 

I have a pair of thin softshell salopettes which I put on over leggings or thermals, but they're quite heavy and bulky and not massively waterproof. 

OP GarethKelley 29 Nov 2023

Thanks so much for the responses, very much appreciated!
Time to get window shopping

 TobyA 29 Nov 2023
In reply to GarethKelley:

I've found basically two systems which work for me.

1: Hardshell

Any old longjohns. Wool is less smelly, but they wear out too fast in the crotch area. Synthetic, say Helly Hansen Lifa, dries quicker, never wear out, but really smelly for multiday trips.

Hardshell "pants" (i.e. over trousers) or bibs (salopettes). The best pair I've ever used and am still using are but Alpkit or Decathlon/Simond for the best value I'm sure.

This system works best if you know you are going to walk in or out in rain, and if its stormy when climbing.

2: Softshell

Any old longjohns.

Decathlon standard winter weight softshell trousers with shoulder straps. Cheap, last forever, warm, not sweaty. I'm still using these ones after 10 years nowt wrong with still.

I can't remember when I last used them, if ever, but I may chuck lightweight full side zip waterproof troos in the bag as well, just in case the forecast is wrong and it storms with higher temps and sleet, wet snow or rain hits. But generally on day trips you can trust the forecast and leave them out. A bit of drizzle as you walk back the last bit to you car won't trouble the soft shell pants at all. 

Softshell system is cheaper, less sweaty, more comfy and probably harder wearing. 

OP GarethKelley 30 Nov 2023
In reply to TobyA:

That's really useful advice Toby, thank you very much.

My own layering system for winter walking/hiking has been very similar. Merino wool leggings, cheap (Tacvasen from Amazon) fleece lined soft shell trousers and waterproof over-trousers in the bag just in case.
I think basically I need to find some better waterproof trousers/over-trousers as the ones I've got have an elasticated ankle cuff but they're far too baggy. And if wearing with crampons surely would get shredded.

Thank you for your thoughts. Very much appreciated.

 olddirtydoggy 30 Nov 2023
In reply to GarethKelley:

We use the Simond Alpinism softshell salopettes. Gaiter on the ankle, cheap and sheds snows very nicely. We add the hardshell if the snow goes wet but this can be a bit heavy with 2 heavyweight trousers on. I've found longjohns and hardshell a bit cold but then I do run very cold naturally.

 slawrence1001 30 Nov 2023
In reply to GarethKelley:

I personally highly rate the ME Kinesis pants with a separate waterproof layer on top if needed.

They are genuinely the most comfortable trousers I have ever owned and have a perfect level of insulation for most winter activities.

In reply to GarethKelley:

This will likely decay into a list of all the trousers available, everyone has their personal preference and no one has tested them all. 2 options which work for me:

1. Old and unfashionable, pile/perfect salopettes. I found the Montane ones better fitting than buffalo. Toasty warm and you stay dry. Easy to vent. Often too warm for the walk in, walk in in shorts and don troos in Corrie.

2. Brynje long johns, with Simond soft shell trousers. Shell trousers if needed. Sweatier than above, less venty, versatile. The underwear is particularly fetching.

 timparkin 30 Nov 2023
In reply to GarethKelley:

a pair of Rohan tights or Powerstretch (depending on the cold), Vapour Rise pants over the top and then a pair of ME Makalu pants (which at 75D are nearly in the Lhotse/Tupliak 80D goretex but at less than half the price). Slim fit ankle and full length zips... 


OP GarethKelley 30 Nov 2023
In reply to olddirtydoggy:

Thanks for this.
I did try to find some of the Simond Alpinism Salopettes as I'd seen them recommended elsewhere but it seems they're discontinued.
Decathlon do sell a new Simond Mountaineering trousers. Not sure how these compare to the previous Alpinism salopettes but they do look good.

Appreciate your thoughts though.

OP GarethKelley 30 Nov 2023
In reply to Ennerdaleblonde:

Hey, thanks for the response.

I figured it might turn into a clothing thread but there seem to be a lot of people with similar opinions and brands and this is useful to me.

I appreciate your thoughts on your clothing systems though, very useful. I find the soft shell trousers to be quite sweaty, especially with a hard shell over. But not uncomfortable.

My aim was to improve my kit beyond the softshell trousers, although they do seem to still be strong contenders.

Thank you

OP GarethKelley 30 Nov 2023
In reply to timparkin:

That's awesome, thanks Tim.

I'll take a look at those!

 leon 1 30 Nov 2023
In reply to GarethKelley:   These used to be called Simond Alpinism Pants (??) and have the internal gaiter and braces Superb value

Post edited at 13:53
 olddirtydoggy 30 Nov 2023
In reply to leon 1:

This info is correct, I will also confirm that these trousers are the renamed alpinism trousers. In stock.

 ExiledScot 01 Dec 2023
In reply to GarethKelley:

A point to note regardless of your end choice if the trousers don't have them, you can buy little hooks to stitch onto the inner gaiters, helps keep your feet dry and drafts out. 

OP GarethKelley 01 Dec 2023
In reply to leon 1:

Thanks buddy, that's awesome. I hadn't spotted those, I only saw the salopettes Decathlon were selling.

OP GarethKelley 01 Dec 2023
In reply to olddirtydoggy:

Thanks mate, I'll definitely take a look!

OP GarethKelley 01 Dec 2023
In reply to ExiledScot:

Ahh awesome, that's good to know.
Do you mean the little hooks that grab one of the boot laces to keep the gaiters down?

 ExiledScot 01 Dec 2023
In reply to GarethKelley:


 Siward 01 Dec 2023
In reply to GarethKelley:

I've not read the rest of the thread but back in my impecunious youth I used to wear a pair of polyester tracksuit bottoms under polycotton army trousers (think kiwi trousers) which in anything other than rain were great. In snow they were really quick drying, warm and cheap.

 Dave the Rave 01 Dec 2023
In reply to GarethKelley:

I had a similar thread but it’s archived.

In the end I resisted the buffalo and went for some ME braced overtrousers, the Karakoram pant.

Wore them tonight up Moel Famau with some old Ultrafleece trousers underneath, and was just warm enough  at -4.

With some long johns under the pair, they will be a good winter combination.

 DizzyT 02 Dec 2023
In reply to GarethKelley:

Ron Hills with and old trusty pair of salopettes (ME; triple point ceramic) I picked up from Gaynor sports in the later 90s. One or two duct-taped crampon punctures but otherwise bombproof. 

OP GarethKelley 02 Dec 2023
In reply to Siward:

Thanks bud, that's very reasonable and fair. Maybe I'm overthinking it with trying to find the perfect clothing.

Appreciated 🙂

OP GarethKelley 02 Dec 2023
In reply to Dave the Rave:

Got ya Dave, thank you.

I think what I'm actually trying to find is some leg wear that's a bit more of a snug fit. I have some cheap fleece lined soft shell trousers but they're quite loose around the legs, and some waterproof over trousers that are stupidly baggy.

The problem is that my family and I are built like the cast of the hobbit. Short legged, rotund waisted.and heavy shouldered. Finding any trousers that fit is always a battle 😂

Appreciate your thoughts though, thank you.

OP GarethKelley 02 Dec 2023
In reply to DizzyT:

Thanks bud, much appreciated. I am starting to see a trend with quality brands for decent trousers.

Thanks mate.

 HomerTheFat 03 Dec 2023
In reply to GarethKelley:

I have fairly slim legs and have tried a lot of different stuff. A lot are just too baggy and flappy on me. I love the ME G2s and if they fit you, they are awesome.

Like others, I have two approaches.... 

Softshell days: Patagonia Guide or ME G2 trousers (let's not call them Pants) with Arcteryx Betas on top of needed. Some leggings underneath if it's really cold. The Betas are good with full side zips.

Mega days: Montane Powershell fleece leggings with Arcteryx Beta AR on top. This is rarer for me and is used if it's bloody awful. The Beta Ads do not have full side zips - they go on to stay on.

 PaulJepson 03 Dec 2023
In reply to Sealwife:

> Fleece lined leggings from Primark (£9.99 a pair, super-stretchy, very warm, long in body so keep your kidneys warm too.)  They work easily as well as power stretch fabric but are about 1/5 of the price.  

A few years ago I was talking to Mike Thomas (IFMGA guide) about this and he also swore by the fuzzy Primark tights with a hardshell over the top. Though I guess guides don't often have to worry about working up a sweat with how fit they are vs their clients. 

I wouldn't worry too much about the waterproofness of your hardshell trou either; I've found that it tends to wear out pretty quick on trousers vs jackets with how much they get ragged around and how much more movement is demanded of them with walking. 

I got a pair of old Berghaus hardshell trousers, probably from the 90s, and still use them now. 

Just be careful you look at climbing salopettes rather than ski ones. The ski ones have a very different cut and are often insulated. They're designed for people to get lifted to the top of a hill where they will then slide down, rather than goretex armour for back&footing up granite chimneys whilst you're blasted with spindrift! 

 nathan79 03 Dec 2023
In reply to GarethKelley:

Are you aware of Keela? They're Munro/Munro Pro salopettes might be worth looking at. Or for a regular trouser (or pant) with braces their Alpine Advance trousers.

Generously sized so you'd likely need to size down for the snugger fit. As a plus they're available in short leg lengths

 Doghouse 04 Dec 2023
In reply to nathan79:

Are Keela similar to Paramo?

 vizik 04 Dec 2023
In reply to GarethKelley:

get some waterproof mtb trousers, they're cut narrower around the calves so less chance of crampon nicks, and seem to be more hard wearing than typical mountaineering trousers - and cheaper. I got some bib ones from madison that I wear thermals with underneath.

 HardenClimber 04 Dec 2023
In reply to GarethKelley:


High waisted Paramo trousers. If it is going to be cold some merino 3/4 length leggings (150 or 200g) under it (but only if it is cold). My first choice.


Some heavyish trousers (about 600g) to walk up, and then add Goretex salopettes if needed. Might favour this if there is a lot of uphill walking and it is 'warm'. (with a Paramo jacket....)

 nathan79 05 Dec 2023
In reply to Doghouse:

No in that it's more like a membrane system, yes in that it's on the heavier and warmer side of things.

OP GarethKelley 06 Dec 2023
In reply to HomerTheFat:

Appreciate your thoughts buddy, thank you

OP GarethKelley 06 Dec 2023
In reply to PaulJepson:

Thanks Paul.

I'm finding what you mention about the difference between skiing and climbing salopettes being different. I tried some on at Go Outdoors over the weekend and the skiing ones didn't really allow easy movement. I don't know anything about skiing as I've never been, but the skiing ones were too restrictive for climbing.
Not to mention far too long for my short, round build 😂

OP GarethKelley 06 Dec 2023
In reply to nathan79:

Thanks Nathan, I'd never heard of Keela. I'll definitely check them out.

Thanks bud.

OP GarethKelley 06 Dec 2023
In reply to HardenClimber:

Thanks for your thoughts on this, much appreciated!

OP GarethKelley 06 Dec 2023

So, having seen all your replies, for which I'm very grateful, it looks as if I've been overthinking the layering process, or rather suffering from GAS (gear acquisition syndrome). Would you guys generally agree that;

A, Insulated or Merino base layer and decent hard shell trousers are generally enough for most winter climbing days?

B, In cases of very cold conditions, Insulated or Merino base layer, soft shell trousers with hard shell over.

C, Base layer and mountaineering salopettes.

Does that get me somewhere close?

Thanks again for everyone's replies. Very much appreciated.

In reply to GarethKelley:

> Not to mention far too long for my short, round build 😂

If you are not an off the shelf size, and considering Keela and Paramo, both those companies do alterations.

Also, if Paramo type is for you, an alternative is Cioch Direct (a small Skye based company) who do their own ranges of clothing using the paramo materials. They do make clothes specifically to size (perfect fit is their term) as well as almost any one off alteration anyone would ever want. As you would expect though, the perfect fit/specific alteration spec are not cheap, but I’ve known a few friends that have found it useful and cost effective over the long term.

 Exile 06 Dec 2023
In reply to GarethKelley:

I use power stretch tights under pretty solid soft shell trousers (Patagonia guides I think - not available any more) or the same tights under some ME waterproof trousers (Karakorum?) I usually take both with me and decide just before leaving the car if I'm in hrs or soft shells for the day. Whichever set I choose goes on at the car and stays on all day - I moderate heat through changing what is on my top half. Seems to work 99% of the time. (I might take the outer layer off walking down from Ben Nevis in late March / early April for example.)

OP GarethKelley 07 Dec 2023
In reply to Climbing Pieman:

Thank you so much for this. Cioch Direct sounds like they've got a good market there, fair play to them. I'll definitely check them out.

OP GarethKelley 07 Dec 2023
In reply to Exile:

Thanks buddy, this is what I'm thinking might be the way forward.

Do you struggle with being too cold with the power stretch tights and hard shell trousers? Or does that system retain heat fairly well?

 Andrew95 07 Dec 2023

It generally depends on what I am doing, but I am a big fan of salopettes in winter. I also like trouser suspenders too, especially with waterproof trousers I find they just end up working there way down otherwise. 

Long Johns & Paramo salopettes are my go to, if its not that cold I wouldn't bother with the long johns, I find them warm enough, dry enough, they have built in gaiters (I generally wear gaiters as well) and I quite like that the paramo material gives me a bit of insulation around my kidneys which get weirdly cold. I bought them for about £40 a few years ago as a late night ebay search, I thought even if they are rubbish for that money I can trash them with crampons and not worry, the reality is I really like them and quite precious over them now! 

If its going to be a wet one Long Johns and Keela salopettes. The only reason I wear this combination less is that they are slightly too short for me. Again they were cheap enough that if they get damaged I am not that fussed. Seriously waterproof kit as well. 

If I am not on anything to steep or cold I just wear Montane Terra (I think the mission?) - nice and stretchy, not quite fleece lined but more than warm enough if active.

Also don't forget the 'car trousers' for the journey home! I

OP GarethKelley 07 Dec 2023
In reply to Andrew95:

Thanks bud, that's great advice.

 Exile 07 Dec 2023
In reply to GarethKelley:

It's pretty good. I'm not a person that naturally runs hot so I do get a bit chilly in high winds on long belays, but at the end of the day it is winter climbing in Scotland so that is par for the course. I do use a hefty belay jacket systematically though and so trap heat and keep my core warm on belays. I suspect this helps. 

OP GarethKelley 07 Dec 2023
In reply to Exile:

I get you, that makes sense.

Appreciate your thoughts

 James123 07 Dec 2023

I must be a bit of an outlier when it comes to winter layering. On my upper body I tend to really feel the cold and could wear 4 to 5 layers (obviously conditions and activity level dependent) but on my legs I tend to be absolutely fine with just a pair of midweight unlined softshell trousers unless it's pouring or snowing etc and then I'll put on hardshell trousers. Never felt the need to wear thermal leggings but then again I tend to only do easy winter routes where I am constantly moving.

OP GarethKelley 07 Dec 2023
In reply to James123:

That's fair mate, it makes sense. I guess everyone feels and experiences the cold differently.
I normally cope pretty well with the cold so I'm just online window shopping for slimmer fitting hard shell trousers.

If I buy kit to fit my waist, it's too long and baggy.
Maybe I should lose some weight 😂

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