Having gone a bit soft in recent years (i.e. I’ve become a fair weather sport climber) reviewing waterproof/insulated jackets is no longer within my repertoire. So, when Mountain Equipment launched their new rock climbing range I saw an opportunity to re-kindle the gear review flame without the danger of getting cold/wet…or so I thought…
I’ve probably said it before, in fact I know I have, but Britain is a pretty unpredictable nation weather-wise (and we’re proud of it). As a result, irrespective of the time of year, it’s always worth packing clothing to accommodate this: quick drying materials and wind proof fabrics are de-rigueur.
Furthermore, due to the fact that the majority of our nation’s climbing is of a somewhat involved nature we need something that is hard wearing too – surely that's not too much to ask for?? So, with that impossible request in mind I put the Hope Pant and Squall Hooded Jacket (see next week's review) to the test.
I know this might not make much sense, but when people think of ‘outdoor clothing’ they infrequently think of the lower half first. The upper half (i.e. jackets, fleeces, t-shirts and base layers) seem to be where most people focus their attention and where the priority lies – I suppose it’s the most glam half. However, as a result the bottom half tends to be forgotten and despite the market being filled with ‘technical trousers’ (whatever that means) I would say that good ones are in very short supply.
Previously I’ve used everything from stretchy jeans to lightweight synthetics, but each has a very significant drawback: the jeans are too warm in spring/summer and the lightweight synthetics are good while they last, but fall apart quite quickly. As a result, a middle ground needs to be found: something hard wearing, breathable, stretchy, light and - upon preference - smart enough to wear down the pub.
After receiving the Hope Pants back in February I have worn them for around 90% of the climbing I have done both indoors and out – boulder, sport and trad – the lot (n.b. the other 10% is accounted for when they were in the wash and when I was wearing tasteless ¾ length capris). As a result they have been worn a lot and tested in a variety of styles and conditions.
Despite this constant use they have shown remarkably little sign of wear, even after the crozzle of Pembrokeshire Limestone and a good trashing on Peak Grit. What is good is that their durability doesn’t seem to come at the cost weight either, coming in at 460g in comparison to the aforementioned jeans (670g) and synthetics (320g). This middle ground is the real attraction of the Hope Pant, something you can put on in all conditions – rain or shine, hot or cold – and expect to perform, last and keep going.
In terms of fit it's worth mentioning that there are three leg lengths available – short, regular and long – meaning a good fit can be found by everyone. Having fell run for years my legs are of a somewhat larger than average nature (thus I acquired the name ‘Bobby Big Leg’s from friend, alpinist and coincidentally Mountain Equipment sponsored climber - Nick Bullock), as a result though I tend to find that if the cut of trousers isn’t quite right then they can begin to feel very restrictive – far from ideal when your trying to place your foot accurately onto a small foothold in the middle of a crux sequence! The interesting thing is that the cut doesn’t simply come through additional material, or making them baggier: it’s the paneling and stretchy material that makes them so good.
In terms of freedom of movement, durability and general comfort the Hope Pant receives top marks. As an all-round climber’s pant they are spot on and - probably the greatest accolade a reviewer could offer - I undoubtedly see myself buying another pair as/when/if (?!) my current pair wears out.
Tough, practical climbing pants that excel on gritstone test pieces, granite big walls and crumbling sea cliffs.
Hard wearing stretch fabric and an ideal fit make Hope Pants crucial for almost any style of climbing. With exceptional movement for hard redpoints or bold onsights they remain sufficiently rugged for day after day of aiding, cleaning and hauling.
For more information visit the Mountain Equipment Website.
About the Author:
Rob Greenwood is the Advertising Manager at UKClimbing.com.
He's a passionate climber, hot yoga addict and eater of vegetarian food. He has done more UK trad routes than he's had roast dinners (and that's got nothing to do with the vegetarianism).
Aside from UK trad, he's dabbled with alpine climbing, Scottish winter, Himalayan climbing and more recently Peak limestone sport climbing.
- He keeps an occasional blog about his adventures here: Rob Greenwood Climbing