I've long been a fan of Rab's Torque Pants (trousers). The current version has remained unchanged for several years, and in a market that seems to make tweaks every season for the sake of novelty it's nice to see that sort of continuity. If it ain't broke, as they say, don't fix it. Though we hear Rab may be considering making a few changes for next year, it's hard to imagine how Torque Pants could be much improved, and I hope the alterations are minor. So the price has increased over time - but that's probably true for most brands! If you're after some no-nonsense do-it-all light-midweight two-season-ish legwear that'll equally suit rock climbing and hillwalking, sunny summer alpinism and backpacking, I think they're hard to beat.
What they're for
Billed by Rab as being for 'active mountain use in warm climates', I've tended to used the standard Torque Pants as a trouser of choice for hillwalking, scrambling and mountain multi pitch climbing throughout the UK summer, and during milder spells in spring and autumn. For very hot weather, you could look at the thinner Torque Light (I've tried these, but find the cut at the waist and crotch is baggier, and would consider going down from my usual 34 waist to a 32). For cold weather use, or higher level snowy Alpine mountaineering, there's the Winter Torque Pants, or the brand new Torque VR Pants with Rab's Vapour-Rise lining. We're hoping to take a look at the latter as winter approaches.
Unfortunately the straight Torque Pants don't come in a women's version, though you could have Torque Lights or Women's Torque VR Pants.
Slim-fitting, but with enough room for even my pretty chunky legs, Torque Pants are cut for movement. There's a diamond gusset for high steps, and a bit of shaping at the knee. I find them really comfy, and the slim fit is far better than something baggy which would only flap about in the wind. A neat lower leg is good for climbing too.
Instead of the usual S-XL sizes, always something of a blunt instrument, Rab offer the Torque Pants in a range of waist sizes, each at three different leg lengths, 30, 32 and 34. This is great if you've got shorter or longer legs than 'average' for your waist size, potentially reducing any excess length at the ankle, for a neater fit. It's the next best thing to having your own tailor.
I find my standard size waist 34 quite relaxed at the waist, but with a part-elastic waistband, and a stretchy cord to bring the fit in closer if needed, there's a bit of sizing range to accommodate an inch or two either side of 34.
The 'Matrix' double weave fabric has plenty of stretch, and between this and the cut I find leg movement is pretty much unrestricted. High steps, wide bridging - it's all good. There's enough wind-resistance in the fabric for comfort on breezy summits, and a DWR finish so that you don't have to resort to overtrousers the moment it starts raining lightly.
At 348g in a size 34/32, on my scales, Torque Pants are light but not skimpy. Having used them in a range of weathers and temperatures from single digits to the mid twenties I think the fabric is a good weight for general UK spring/summer hill conditions, and it feels cool and breathable enough when you're working up a sweat or when the mercury begins to climb.
A long panel of a thicker, rougher fabric runs from the knee, down the inside lower leg to the ankle. This provides a high level of abrasion resistance where most neeeded, both at the knee (we all use them occasionally, don't we?) and down at the ankle. Torque Pants are too lightweight for use in winter, or on big snowy Alps, but it's always possible you'll be wearing them when using crampons on spring Munros or high alpine pass routes, so some snag resistance here makes sense. The reinforcement is as stretchy as the main fabric, and while it does feel a bit plasticy and more sweaty than the rest of the fabric in hot weather, I've not found this bad enough to worry about.
Torque Pants are available in a range of colours form sober to high-vis. I'm not a massive fan of the two-tone effect that a lot of mountain trousers seem to adopt, but I know others like it. The 'beluga' colour scheme of the pair pictured in this review is probably the least eye catching (for better or worse) in that regard.
Pockets and other features
Simplicity is the name of the game with the Torque Pants, and I think that's really in their favour. Two zipped hand pockets are provided, plus one zipped pocket at the rear. For me that's plenty of pockets, and it's only rarely that I'd think to use thigh pockets on a pair of trousers. For hot weather use, you get no vents, but I tend to find the fabric cool enough in itself, and unzipping the pockets helps a bit too.
Down at the ankle is one of my favourite features, a little zipped gusset that allows some extra space to accommodate boots, while maintaining a neat close fit when you're wearing shoes. When climbing I often turn up the cuffs of my trousers to keep them clear of my rock shoes, and though the Torque Pants don't have any kind of popper here I find they hold a turnup perfectly well anyway (albeit with a bit of bulk on the outside of the ankle thanks to that gusset). On hot days you can open up the gusset to help provide a bit of air flow to the lower leg, and even roll the trousers up over your calves (not something I could manage witout that gusset).
For use when wearing a harness, the zipped fly is upside-down; I don't tend to find that makes much difference to the necessary access. It's also worth noting that although Rab's product blurb mentions belt loops, the Torque Pants don't have them - and neither are they needed, since there's an inbuilt waist cord.
Built for active mountain use in warm climates, our flexible, slim-fit Alpine Torque Pant is an uncompromising technical climbing garment that provides the freedom you need to perform at your best.
Constructed from lightweight Matrix™ double-weave fabric with four-way stretch for the ultimate freedom of movement, the Alpine Torque Pants also feature contrasting knee reinforcement panels that extend to the ankle for outstanding abrasion resistance. The slim-fit design uses a leg zip with internal gusset for extra space and ventilation, as well as lower hem loops for attaching to your boots. Three zipped pockets provide valuable storage space, while a part-elasticated waistband with belt loops provides a comfortable and secure fit.
Light, comfortable and highly durable, our Alpine Torque Pants are a technical climbing pant that are also versatile enough for hillwalking and scrambling.
- Sizes: 30-38 inch waist and various leg lengths (no women's version)
- Weight: 385g (Rab's figure)
- Matrix double weave fabric with 4-way stretch & DWR
- Reinforced knees and ankles.
- 2 YKK® zipped, mesh-lined hand pockets.
- 1 YKK® zipped rear pocket
- Part elasticated waist
- YKK® fly zip and double snap fastening
- Articulated knees
- Fit: Slim
For more see rab.equipment