Winter Mountain Overtrousers
We've put seven pairs of winter mountaineering shell trousers through their paces all season. Here's how they compare...
Bold, bright and sassy: Moon's Sigma vest and Cyphette pants pull no punches, technically or visually, says Heather Swift.
I got my first Moon pants nearly ten years ago, and boy did I wear them to death. Basic as they were I wore them till they were falling apart: both bum cheeks patched, multiple seams re-stitched after wearing them through, faded, stained and generally grated to death on all things climbing related. I was therefore pretty keen to try out a pair of the Cyphette pants, the women's version of the massively popular men's Cypher pant, along with a Sigma vest.
The trousers' colour came as a bit of a surprise following the years of service from my trusty old olive green, subtle, very British looking pair of Moon trousers. Don't be decieved: the pants are bright, I mean really .... really... vivid.... bright blue. They are bang on the colourful trend which suits me fine, but if you're used to playing it safe they may take some getting used to. The vest in heliotrope is a pretty deep purple, looks great with the blue and it's easy to match with other clothes. Together they are eye-catching, bold and shout confidence.
So let's get down to it: what are they like and how do they climb?
Following the signature baggy look of the original Cypher, these have:
From the moment I put them on one thing shouted out, and it wasn't the bright colour - it was the absolute freedom of movement. Whether bouldering, cragging, climbing multi-pitch, alpine, yoga warm ups or scrambling off the hill, not once did they restrict movement. That's due to good cutting and the stretch in the fabric. The cinch belt has been excellently designed in combination with elastic at the sides: there's enough fabric for flexible moves but not too much which would result in very baggy trousers (no song reference intended!). So, they fit flatteringly over the bum, winner. I particularly like the easy-to-use adjustment toggle at the ankles which is small, unobtrusive and totally effective. The knees' triple pleat is more than a pretty, interesting feature: it has just the right amount of fabric to give full articulation. Made of a durable, quick drying and wind resistant poly/cotton mix, they tick all the boxes effortlessly.
I am not a major fan of pockets without zips, or of using them for rock-climbing as it feels awkward when working harder routes, so I will admit the Cyphette's pockets pass me by. They do however sit well and smoothly when unused, holding my keys no problem when needed. I am also somewhat petite in stature, so the length of the size small option was a bit more than necessary - something to watch out for when trying the trousers. I will have my fingers crossed for more colour options in the future!
The Cyphette competes very well technically, in looks and in cost against the equally bold offerings from E9 and the like. Priced at £60 they are bang on the money for a pair of quality, practical yet durable trousers. They are perfect for bouldering, fit well under a harness and are generally a great pair of UK all-rounders: exactly what Moon say, 'a versatile product that deserves its number 1 ranking as our best-selling pant.'
This little number is a new addition for 2016, and boasts:
Moon's Sigma vest won me over on one point alone: it's been nothing but comfortable, when in the past I've not been a fan of spaghetti strap tops for climbing, finding that they rub or dig in around my shoulders. It also stands out from the crowd with an attractive high cut, plunging V-front which I like very much. A very pretty colour, minimal branding and sturdy feeling stretch fabric are also big ticks. The fabric weight especially is standing up to abrasion and is nicely warm - great for colder grit days when you want to have freedom to crank hard but don't want to freeze in the process!
The built-in bra is very simple: an inner panel mirroring the external cut. I found the size Medium was perhaps a little roomy to offer sufficient support for me - though at the same time it meant the vest in general was comfy and didn't dig in. Not being a fan of inserts in general I tried them once and promptly took them out! There's no denying however if you do like them it's very simple to put them in or even swap them for alternative ones.
For a comfy, pretty-yet-practical climbing top the Sigma vest has one complete stand out point: the extremely reasonable price tag. Coming in at only £28 it blows most competitors out of the water, actually offering more features than many of the more expensive alternatives. So it's a big 'yes please' from me to Moon's Sigma Vest!
Go for it! Be bright, be bold, don't break the bank, lap up the compliments and get climbing in them. Now I just need another 8+ years to climb the bejeezers out of the Cyphette pants and see just how much I can abuse them before they kick the bucket and finally fall apart!
At last, no more lusting after men’s pants!
Women get their own version of the ever-popular Cypher range. Made from stretchy, quick drying, abrasion and wind resistant fabric, these are perfect for getting out in our fickle climate. Cut to give you freedom of movement with an articulated knee and diamond gusset, you also have an integrated belt and concealed ankle adjustment so you can see your feet. Low profile back and side pockets for your personal effects and distinctive Moon branding finish off a versatile product that deserves its number 1 ranking as our best-selling pant.
A pretty top that means business – and let’s you get on with it.
The stretchy fabric is designed to move with you. There’s a built-in bra with inserts for support and comfort and adjustable cross over, spaghetti straps. Branding is minimal, letting the print and flattering cut speak for themselves. A great little addition.
Climbing and the mountains have shaped Heather's life. From childhood on a Derbyshire hill farm to living in Chamonix France, South America to Nepal, the outdoors have never been far away.
Things have moved on from those early years on the Peak's gritstone edges: bouldering, trad, sport climbing, everything Alpine, north faces and ski-mountaineering are daily life.
You can see more of what Heather's up to on her Website: www.womens-mountain-collective.com
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