Winter Mountain Overtrousers
We've put seven pairs of winter mountaineering shell trousers through their paces all season. Here's how they compare...
Sold as mountaineering wear 'equally at home on high alpine traverses as it is on the GR5', I'm hopeful. They're a very good cut: neither too high nor low in the waist; not baggy around the ankle, and snug around the body without being too tight. I might even go so as far to say they're stylish.
Made of Schoeller Dryskin, they give me confidence they'll fill the gap where technicality is concerned. The material has a superb stretchiness about it that also manages to be soft enough not to set your teeth on edge when you put them on. The waistband is lined with a fleecy material and there's a strong double popper fastening with an integral belt.
The two hip pockets are big enough for cold hands and more, and the single thigh pocket comes in handy for emergency food rations (chocolate). Toggles on the zipped pockets are useful when wrestling with the boxing glove effect required to keep hands warm in recent UK winters.
So far so good. And outside, in the wind, rain and snow? Yes, they fill the gap: keeping out the wind, comfortable to walk, scramble and climb in, and they don't leave me shivering after a heavy shower. Even better, they don't snag or rip, either.
Their stretchiness has turned them a bit baggy around the belly, and even though it detracts from their elegance it's not a bad thing as they need layering when it gets cold. They're fine by themselves on a mild day but when it got to below freezing I had to dig around for the thermal leggings. And on a minus 8°C morning in Snowdonia, when I stopped moving to mess around on a pitch of almost-frozen ice, I got cold, even with the extra layer.
"...These are durable, comfortable and extremely useful performance trousers that do their bit in the mountain in most seasons..."
Can they replace my worn out 'best loved' trousers?
Yes. These are durable, comfortable and extremely useful performance trousers. While I wouldn't use them in severely cold conditions, they do their bit in the mountains in most seasons. At over £100 they're pricey, but I can't see them turning lacy for a long while, and by replacing the 'best loved' they'll be priceless.
Sarah writes a bit, climbs a lot and prefers to be outside rather than in some office staring at a computer. She got bored with her previous obsession, gardening, a few years ago, and found the strength and fitness developed in the 13 years she had been head gardener, suited climbing perfectly. Since then she's been greedy to cram as much climbing experience into her life as possible.
Where before she wrote about vegetables, she now likes to write about all things climbing and is keen to share the learning curve of her new addiction. She's based in the south west which is ideal for popping out to a crag before lunch and whenever the addiction calls.
She has a blog on climber.co.uk called 'Off the Wall', which is mostly about how not to climb.
See this product at the Joe Brown - Snowdonia shop