Winter Mountain Overtrousers
We've put seven pairs of winter mountaineering shell trousers through their paces all season. Here's how they compare...
I read the blog of one woman who had walked from Lands End to John O'Groats and was complaining that at the end of the hike, whilst her partners' Terras looked like new, her alternative brand of walking trousers looked like, well, she had walked the length of the country in them. But most of the reviews singing the praises of the Terras are from hikers and backpackers; I'm too lazy to walk that far so am going to ask:
What do they offer climbers?
a solid pair of lightweight trousers for climbing in the mountains
Terras are made from Tactel, a good, lightweight synthetic material that is as close to feeling like a natural fibre as synthetics get. I've used Tactel trousers quite a lot in the past and think it is an excellent material for summer mountaineering in the Alps or Pyrenees, as well as for mountain rock routes in the UK. Tactel is basically windproof, absorbs little water, dries very quickly after rain and is light. I've been perfectly comfortable using Tactel trousers with just a light base-layer under them for –8 degree alpine starts from a tent high on the Argentiere glacier. But they are also great with just normal undies below for sunny multi-pitch rock in the Aiguille Rouge or on Skye (yes – it has always been sunny when I've been there!) Additionally the Terra pants have patches of very tough Cordura on the knees and seat that make them even better suited to rough granite or gabbro. I've done a few days of rock climbing on sandpaper-like granite with mine now, but you wouldn't know it.
I've found that high leg lifts or wide bridges are no problem in the Terras when wearing a harness but, like many other trousers, they lose some other their flexibility when they aren't being used with a harness – I wouldn't particularly recommend them for bouldering for example, although they seem to work fine when worn for scrambling. The trousers come with a fitted belt, a feature I really like and that is designed to be low profile so that it doesn't interfere with a harness. Other features include a zipped internal security pocket within one of the already zipped hand pockets – a smart idea for anyone who like me, is paranoid about losing their car keys whilst in the hills. The trousers also have short zips on the ankle, although these serve no obvious purpose as I can't see why I would want to be taking the trousers off over a pair of boots. The ankles do though, have poppers on them meaning the Terras can be tightened around the ankle, useful both whilst hiking and climbing.
The trousers have vent zips on each thigh. These are backed by black netting, so your pasty white thighs won't show through them too obscenely, although I'm still unconvinced by the concept. One of the great things about Tactel nylon is that it is highly breathable and the Terras do not feel clammy, even when hiking hard. Hence the utility of the vent zips is questionable. The thigh vents also mean the trousers don't have thigh pockets. This is a real shame as for climbers, thigh pockets are really useful, being easily accessible below the harness leg loops and a good place to stow a photocopy of the topo or similar when the normal pockets are hidden under a harness.
Overall, the Terras are a solid pair of lightweight trousers for climbing in the mountains or on exposed and windy cragging days where the quick drying and windproof material will be appreciated. They would make good alpine trousers for most routes except the highest peaks and the north faces. The thigh vents seem a bit gimmicky and I would prefer thigh pockets as an alternative, but otherwise they are a well designed, cut and made pair of trousers, ideal for summer climbing in the mountains. On a purely aesthetic front, their two tone pattern makes them look a little techy, yet I would quite happily sit in the pub in them at the end of the day without feeling a prat, not something you could say about the old school British summer alpine trousers of choice – Ron Hills. Montane Terras seem a solid choice for the multi-pitch climber who also goes backpacking or hill-walking.
Weight: 320 grams (Medium)
Terra pants are lightweight, hard-wearing, weather resistant and highly breathable trousers, suitable for a wide range of outdoor sports. The TACTEL® nylon outer provides a cotton-like feel, which doesn't rustle or crackle, combined with the durability and fast drying qualities of nylon.
The tight weave of TACTEL® together with a TEFLON® surface finish helps water to bead up and run off the fabric face. Terra's low weight, small pack size, fast drying properties and extremely durable reinforcements make them the ideal choice for any serious adventure traveller or mountaineer.
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