Over the summer Montane brought out a number of lighter weight shorts and trousers, with something to suit everyone from runners and walkers to climbers. As the warmer weather wraps up for the year, I'll summarise a few of the models. Unfortunate timing? Well ideally I'll be wearing shorts or thinner trousers for a month or two yet, most likely when running but perhaps on a sunnier hill day or a sun-trap crag too. We can live in hope.
Here we're looking at:
- Slipstream 7" shorts - running-oriented, but not too much so to appeal to walkers as well
- Dynamic Lite Shorts - A good all-rounder for both hillwalking and crags
- Dynamic Lite Stretch Pants - Closer-cut trousers that'll do you for pretty much everything
- Dynamic Nano Pants - Quirky marriage of trousers and leggings, great for running and/or ultralight backpacking
Slipstream 7" Shorts - £50
Of the three new Slipstream shorts - a 5" with an inner mesh; the Twin Skin with full-length inner shorts; and the Slipstream 7", it's the latter that are the simplest, with no inner lining and just a single zipped pocket. Being a single layer makes them arguably more versatile than their running-only brethren, since walkers and backpackers are more likely to pick shorts without inbuilt underwear; but of course they're still very much running shorts in terms of fit and feel, and that's what I've mostly used them for to date.
The women's alternative to this unlined model is the Slipstream 4". Slipstream 7" are officially only available in men's sizing, though with something this unfitted it might well be possible for some women looking for a longer pair to treat them as unisex.
Key to their fit, and the feature I most like, is the wide waist band. Soft, stretchy, and low-profile, this gives a secure fit in conjunction with the inbuilt lace drawcord, and sits high on the waist, which seems to help stop them slipping down and fits nicely under clothing layers or a rucksack belt.
The 7" leg is a good all-round length, giving a little more sun protection and modesty than short shorts, but without being long enough to hinder running. It's a very loose cut, though, and I do think it may be baggier than it needs to be for movement, given the stretchy fabric. In my standard size L I can feel like I'm wearing a billowing flag on a windy summit. I dropped to a Medium - almost unheard of for me - and had better results; the fit is still loose enough to allow unhindered movement even with my big thighs, helped by the split seam in the leg. Slipstream 7" go up to XXL for men, and I imagine these really must be voluminous!
They're made from a stretchy polyester/elastane mix that's very thin, airy, quick-drying and highly breathable, making it perfect for sweaty running. Reflective detailing on the leg is a good idea for night time visibility. The slightly thicker stretchy nylon waist band feels if anything more breathable than the main fabric.
At 86g in size M, Slipstream are probably about as light as you could reasonably expect of a pair of mid-length running shorts. As such they're a good choice for a stuff-disciplined backpacking trip, or a hill day with on-off weather where you may or may not want to be wearing shorts. Rolled up, they aren't going to need much space in a pack or running vest.
You get a waist drawcord and a small zipped pocket at the back of the waist band, and that's it. The simpler the better in this case.
Dynamic Lite Shorts - £75
Closer-fitting and a bit more 'techy-feeling' than your average pair of walking-oriented shorts, the Dynamic Lite shorts would be my pick of Montane's range for more full-on hill use, such as scrambling or a backpacking mission. Less fabric means less flapping in the wind, and has the added benefit of giving you a neater fit under a harness. They're headlined as hiking shorts but I think they work well for climbing too (though perhaps aren't loose enough for bouldering cred).
While the price may be pushing things a bit, it's worth noting that Montane are very far from being alone in charging this sort of money for shorts.
There's no female equivalent in this model. Though they're described as athletic and tailored, I've still found them reasonably loose-fitting for the stated size - see the tan coloured shorts in the photos.
Having used this pair a bit, and concluded it wasn't quite right for the stated fit, I then went down from my standard 34 to a nominal 32 inch waist. This slightly reduced sizing seems closer to the product description and remit, though perhaps on me a 'Montane 33' (not available) would have been best of all. I am fairly consistently a 34 in the real world, and the fact that I've downsized in most cases in this review suggests Montane's sizing may be a bit out (seems more likely than middle aged weight loss on my part). If my experience is any guide it's definitely worth trying these shorts on before buying. In 32 they work fine on me - a bit close when sat down maybe, but the stretchy fabric keeps things viable.
When it comes to shorts I'm no fan of big and baggy, so on balance prefer them a bit closer-cut for practicality if not fashion. In terms of leg length I find their medium length about spot on too, hitting a good balance between sun protection and coolness.
Weighing 238g size M they're light enough for most uses, if not ultralight as such, though the fact that my size L pair is just 14g more than Medium suggests that a fair bit of the weight is actually in the metal waist buckle. The fabric itself certainly seems at the thinner, lighter end of the range for general purpose legwear.
Their nylon/elastane mix gives the shorts plenty of stretch for full freedom of movement, and they're sufficiently cool and airy for use in warmer weather. The fabric seems quick-drying, and thanks to a PFC-free DWR treatment, it happily shrugs off a bit of light drizzle. Dynamic Lite shorts feel pretty tough for their modest thickness, and well up to climbing, scrambling and all-round mountain use. For a pair of lightish walking/climbing shorts this Raptor Flex fabric seems spot on.
You get a zipped fly and a double popper at the waist. The latter gives a good secure closure, though the plastic stud backers can dig in a little if you're wearing a rucksack hip belt on top, and I think a fabric lining behind them would have been a nice addition. The sewn-in webbing waist belt is good and low-profile, and I like the one piece metal belt hook (its weight is really no issue).
With two zipped hand pockets, and one at the back, there's plenty of places to carry stuff.
Dynamic Lite Stretch Pants - £110
New for spring/summer23, these long-leg version of the Dynamic Lite Shorts have the same great fabric and closer cut. More conventional trousers, less like leggings than the Nano (below), they've potentially got a bit of a wider remit and seem a bit less of the ultralight specialist. I really rate them for hillwalking, and their combination of trim leg and stretchy fabric makes them a great option for scrambling and climbing too. In fact I can't think of many occasions in milder but not-quite-shorts conditions when I wouldn't want them.
Dynamic Lite Stretch Pants are only offered in a men's version, which seems a shame since they're so all-round good. I seem to be increasingly a fan of a closer cut in the leg, which I feel works better than a flappy fit for walking, running, climbing, pretty much anything outdoors. It means marginally less fabric and weight to pack when you're not wearing them, too.
Described as slim fitting, the Dynamic Lite Stretch Pants (trousers) are a perfect example of this, not quite leggings-tight but as close to that as most people will probably want from a pair of actual trousers. There's not a spare fold to billow about in the wind, while the tapered lower leg allows a good view of your feet when climbing. With a diamond crotch and articulated knees, the cut - combined with their stretch - makes for totally free movement
Despite actually being a 34 I went straight for a size 32. These are just a little roomier in the waist and crotch than the shorts version, so I assume the cut must be slightly different, and for me that makes them pretty much perfect - close, like they're supposed to be, but still comfy. As with the other legwear in this review, it seems as if Montane have got their sizing/numbering a little out, since I would generally find a regular fit 32 too tight, to say nothing of a design that's supposed to be closer cut.
These are 332g in size 32, which for a pair of trousers doesn't seem a lot. You get the same nylon/elastane Raptor Flex fabric as the shorts, which offers loads of stretch (you need it in trousers this trim), breathes well, dries fast, and - courtesy of the PFC-free DWR - repels at least a sprinkling of rain. The fabric feels durable enough for climbing - I've not made a mark on it yet - and light and thin enough to be cool and comfy when hillwalking in hot weather. For summer legwear it's spot on, though it doesn't do much for you in a chilly wind and certainly wouldn't be my choice for cooler autumn days.
As per the shorts, there's a fly with double press stud, and again the rear side of those poppers could do with being covered with a fabric lining since I've found they can dig in a little when squeezed by a rucksack hipbelt. Again, the inbuilt webbing belt and metal hook works well, and feels unobtrusive under a harness. The three zipped pockets prove plenty.
Dynamic Nano Pants - £95
We're staying with trousers, of a sort, for the last entry in this review. A cross, you could say, between running tights and standard walking/climbing trousers, Dynamic Nano Pants offer useful aspects of both, and I think this makes them really versatile, equally at home hillwalking, backpacking, scrambling or climbing with a harness on - a use for which they've turned out to be ideal. I go running in them too, since they're a lot thinner and cooler than my standard tights.
No female version is available, and I guess none is needed since women don't need a fly and generally seem happier than men to wear leggings in non-running settings.
The fit is very close throughout, tapering from fairly skinny at the top to leggings-tight from calf to ankle. In fact, with chunky calves I may be pushing towards the limit of the tightness down there. Unlike the others I've stuck with a size L (equating to 34) in these as I suspect a downsize might work for me in the upper leg and waist, but not the lower leg. They're quite high-waisted, which I find really comfy. With their slightly unusual shape I would really suggest trying them on before buying.
In terms of being seen in public the Dynamic Nano Pants seem a fair bit more acceptable than fitted lycra leggings, and while I'm not sure if it's a particularly flattering or fashionable look (I lost track years ago, assuming I ever knew) it's certainly very practical. An uncluttered lower leg feels more streamlined and less flappy, and gives you a clear view of your feet - equally useful for climbing, running or even just walking on rough ground. Having that bit less fabric overall offers a small weight saving too, which is something for the backpackers.
As with the others in the Dynamic family they're made with that light, stretchy and breathable Raptor Flex fabric, which just seems all-round spot-on for warmer weather use. I can't be sure, but fancy it's a thinner version here, since they feel so cool and airy. Weighing a scanty 280g in size Large, I think we can safely concede that they're genuine ultralights - great for summer backpacking or hill running since they're really not going to add much weight or bulk to your pack.
Less is most definitely the point here. Montane give you a zipped fly - useful, I'm sure most chaps would agree - but just a simple drawstring at the waist instead of press studs. Combined with the soft brushed waist band, this works really well, and it's comfortable as only tracky bottoms and their ilk can be. Two zipped hand pockets is all you get, which is plenty, and their mesh lining means they can double as vents.