Shorts & T-Shirts from Mountain Equipment Review

Mountain Equipment's Threshold collection is a range of lighter, more breathable and more packable clothing best suited to energetic activity in warmer conditions. We recently reviewed the Impellor Jacket; with a trip to the sunbaked Pyrenees on the cards, it seemed a good time to look at the men's and women's shorts and t-shirts.

Men's Comici Short - £60

At just 222g (size 34) the Comici Shorts are light for a knee-length model, and well suited to summer mountain use, whether you're walking or climbing. £60 is probably the most I'd consider paying for a pair of shorts, but I think these are worth it.

Comici Shorts and Ignis Tee in the sunbaked Catalan Pyrenees   © Pegs Bailey
Comici Shorts and Ignis Tee in the sunbaked Catalan Pyrenees
© Pegs Bailey

Fit

Being cut long in the leg, the Comici Shorts offer maximum sun protection; this is a benefit if, like me, you're of a paler complexion. Who needs pink thighs? If you're running, then the knee-length style can be a bit annoying, but at a walking pace I really haven't found the extra length that much hotter-feeling or more restrictive than a shorter short; and as a benefit, when the wind gets up you do feel slightly warmer about the legs. For long days on summer mountains, with strong sun but the potential for a cool breeze, I think the length here is well judged. If you wanted something shorter, with fewer pockets, the Comici Trail Short might fit the bill (this is the only option for women, see below).

They're knee-length for greater sun and wind protection  © Pegs Bailey
They're knee-length for greater sun and wind protection
© Pegs Bailey

Length aside, the cut is fairly slim in the leg, which looks good and limits the amount of spare material flapping about in the wind. But in my customary size 34 (usually spot on) I do find the fit a tad close at the crotch - particularly when sat down. The lack of a gusset here is a bit of a surprise, since I'd usually consider that de rigeur in quality mountain legwear. Luckily, thanks to the lightness and stretchiness of the material, I still find leg movement unrestricted; high steps and wide bridging moves are no issue. The shorts pair well with a harness, and thus are equally suitable for sunny crag days as they are for hillwalking and trekking.

With a double popper, a brushed lining for comfort, and an integrated webbing belt (which works well, unlike the women's alternative - see below), the waist is comfy and has a low profile under a harness. For the inevitable calls of nature you get a fly. Its double zipper is presumably for easier access while wearing a harness, but I can't say this maneuvre is particularly easy either way, and I would have settled for a single zipper.

Stretchy fabric = good freedom of movement  © Pegs Bailey
Stretchy fabric = good freedom of movement
© Pegs Bailey

Fabric

The Exolite 125 fabric that ME have used here is a tough double-weave softshell, with a bit of stretch for freedom of movement. Its smooth outer side is designed to increase abrasion resistance - and so far all seems well in that respect - while the inner has a slightly softer woven feel for comfort against bare skin. This thin fabric feels like an ideal weight for hot weather, and during a sweltering ascent of 1000m from the valley to a Pyrenean mountain hut, with temperatures in the high 20s, I found it cool, breathable and quick drying even when sweating my socks off. Back in Scotland, on a much cooler and windier mountain day with occasional showers, the Comici Shorts kept enough of the wind at bay to keep me happy, and dried quickly once the rain had blown through.

These shorts are available in a number of colours, from dayglo to subdued; I'm pretty sure mine are 'ombre blue', which doesn't stand out too much and seems to go with most other colours.

Pockets

With a total of four zipped pockets - two hand pockets, one on the bum and one on the lower leg - you're spoilt for choice. These are mesh-lined in order to double as vents, and each is large enough for a smartphone. I like the offset zip on the thigh pocket, which does seem to make it easier to access; but unfortunately this pocket is positioned so low on the leg that anything you carry in there tends to bang against your kneecap. If I actually used a pocket on a pair of shorts (rarely, if ever) then it would probably be the thigh pocket, so the fact that this one is effectively unusable is a shame.

Mountain Equipment say:

Well fitting shorts for hot days of climbing and trekking in the mountains. Tough, stretchy and quick drying, Comici Shorts are perfect for sustained climbing and active use in warm environments. Our Active fit ensures you won't be held back whether on a single pitch evening climb in the height of summer or carrying loads to a remote big wall.

  • Weight: 222g (size 34, our weight)
  • Sizes: 28 - 38
  • EXOLITE 125 stretch double weave Soft Shell fabric
  • Active fit
  • 2 zipped hand pockets
  • Zipped thigh and rear pocket
  • Integrated belt with double press-stud waist closure
  • Inseam measurement 32cm / 13in [size Large]

mountain-equipment.co.uk

Women's Comici Trail Short - £50

A simpler, shorter-cut model, the Comici Trail (also available for men) is cool, quick drying and very light at just 153g (size 14). These don't pair so well with a harness, but are ideal for warm weather walking and hill running. If ME could sort the belt buckle (see below) then they would be better still.

Scrambling on Canigou in the Comici Trail Short and Lumen Tee  © Dan Bailey
Scrambling on Canigou in the Comici Trail Short and Lumen Tee
© Dan Bailey

Fit

With their shorter cut for maximum ventilation, the Mountain Equipment Exolite shorts are a joy to wear in summer weather, something I particularly appreciated in the hot sweaty Pyrenean woods where there wasn't a breath of wind. The fit is a middle ground between skin-tight-athletic and shapelessly baggy, and so it's reasonably flattering. Being shorter shorts, they're good for running as well as walking. No issues with chafing either (one for the girls).

The only real criticism I have is the waist belt. Instead of a simple clip to fasten at the waist, the integral webbing belt has a stiff plastic catch that requires quite a bit of fiddling to loosen. For those of us that haven't mastered the Shewee and need to take their shorts down when they need to pee (and have hips to speak of), this creates an unnecessary element of faff to a process which, up a mountain and in the absence of trees, one would rather make as speedy as possible. You will be relieved to know that I have so far escaped observation despite this handicap. Hopefully Mountain Equipment will take this feedback on board and replace the fastener with a quick release clip.

Short shorts are cooler, and weigh less in the pack  © Dan Bailey
Short shorts are cooler, and weigh less in the pack
© Dan Bailey

Fabric

As per the men's verison, the Women's Comici Trail Shorts are made from Exolite 125 - there's no need to repeat what Dan has said, other than to re-iterate that it's light, quick-drying, breathable and slightly stretchy. I'm not sure what else you'd want from a pair of shorts!

Light, stretchy, tough and quick drying - the fabric is well suited to mountain use  © Dan Bailey
Light, stretchy, tough and quick drying - the fabric is well suited to mountain use
© Dan Bailey

Pockets

You get two comfortable and deep mesh hand pockets, which double as vents and also sit comfortably next to the skin. An additional small zipped pocket on the right leg would be suitable for storing keys but not much else. Again, this is mesh-lined for coolness.

Mountain Equipment say:

Light, stretchy and quick drying shorts for athletic days trekking and training in the mountains. With a shorter length and lightweight stretch woven EXOLITE 125 fabric Comici Trail Shorts are designed for mountain running, multi-day treks and big approaches. Our Active fit balances performance and comfort whilst a zipped thigh pocket keeps essentials secure on flying descents.

  • Weight: 153g (size 14, our weight)
  • Sizes: 8-16
  • EXOLITE 125 stretch double weave Soft Shell fabric
  • Women's Active fit
  • 2 hand pockets
  • Zipped thigh pocket
  • Elasticated waist with integrated belt
  • Inseam measurement 18cm / 7in [size 12]

mountain-equipment.co.uk

Men's Ignis Tee - £30

As one of the simplest items of clothing, making a t-shirt is not rocket science - but for outdoor wear, some are still clearly better than others. At only 105g (size L), the Ignis Tee is an excellent lightweight, high-wicking t-shirt with a cut that's well suited to mountain use. It doesn't get too smelly, either - always something of a concern if you're wearing a synthetic top for more than one day.

Early morning above 2000m, and it's already hot   © Pegs Bailey
Early morning above 2000m, and it's already hot
© Pegs Bailey

Fit

Cut quite close - which reduces the amount of fabric that can flap in the wind, makes it easier to layer over, and keeps the weight down a fraction - the Ignis Tee is reasonably long in the body too. This helps it fit comfortably under a harness without pulling out when you raise your arms. Whether for climbing or walking, I'm sure I'll still be wearing this t-shirt in winter. The flat seams are comfy, and are well positioned at the shoulder to avoid any rubbing or digging in when worn under rucksack straps. A high-ish crew neck, particularly at the back, keeps as much sun off as possible - something I was glad of this summer.

Fabric

Mountain Equipment have gone for a mix here, using a thicker 120g/sq m synthetic fabric in the front, back and shoulders where the t-shirt is likely to get the most wear and tear, and a lighter and more breathable 75g 'jacquard' fabric in the sides of the body and under the arms, where, of course, you sweat the most. I gather 'jacquard' is something to do with the weaving process, but all you really need to know is that it is super-thin and airy.

The mix of two weights of fabric works well   © Pegs Bailey
The mix of two weights of fabric works well
© Pegs Bailey

The combination is light, quick drying, cool-feeling and stretchy. Synthetic t-shirts do tend to get smelly, but thanks to its Polygiene anti-microbial treatment I'm pleased to report that the Ignis seems pretty good in that regard (all things being relative). Having worn it for two full hill days and a night in between, for instance, I didn't feel an urgent need to change out of it for the drive home.

Mountain Equipment say:

A close fitting tee that efficiently wicks moisture away from the skin and dries quickly on the move. Built in Polygiene® anti-microbial technology resists odour during intensive use and carefully positioned flatlocked seams prevent abrasion under a harness or rucksack straps.

  • Weight: 105g (size L, our measure)
  • Sizes: S-XXL
  • 120g lightweight fabric with grid structure
  • 75g jacquard lightweight fabric panels for improved wicking
  • Polygiene® anti-microbial technology; environmentally friendly and Bluesign® approved permanent odour control
  • Slim fit
  • Flatlocked seams for next-to-skin comfort
  • Crew neck

mountain-equipment.co.uk

Lumen Women's Tee - £35

Weighing just 69g (size 14) this ultralight t-shirt is cool, comfortable and quick-drying. With a generous hem length it pairs well with a harness, and works well in a layering system too.

The shoulder seams are offset for comfort under a pack   © Dan Bailey
The shoulder seams are offset for comfort under a pack
© Dan Bailey

Fit

This is a lovely lightweight summer t-shirt. Lengthwise the fit is good. It covers your back when bending down, stays put under a harness, and does not ride up under rucksacks. The short sleeves provide sun protection for your shoulders without feeling too heavy, and the crew neck is neither uncomfortably high, nor so low that you're unnecessarily exposed to sunburn. The curve of the seams and close cut help emphasise a flattering shape, too (it shouldn't matter, but it does).

Fabric

The thin 75gsm fabric hangs well and is light, airy, stretchy and quick drying. Thanks to the Polygiene treatment, after two days of hard sweating (and an overnight airing), it still smelled fresh and did not feel sticky. The Lumen t-shirt doubled up as a towel following an unexpected shower, and worked surprisingly effectively too: and it dried out again hung up indoors overnight. The colours are bright, with a subtle two tone effect that I quite like.

Mountain Equipment say:

A lightweight and super-fast drying tee for high speed mountain activities. Super-light, ultra-fast wicking fabric combined with our athletic slim fit means the Lumen Tee dries rapidly after big training efforts or high speed approaches. Built in Polygiene® anti-microbial technology resists odour and carefully positioned seams prevent abrasion under a pack.

  • Weight: 69g (size 14, our weight)
  • Sizes: 8-16
  • 75g jacquard lightweight fabric
  • Polygiene® anti-microbial technology; environmentally friendly and Bluesign® approved permanent odour control
  • Women's Slim fit
  • Flatlocked seams for next-to-skin comfort
  • Crew neck

mountain-equipment.co.uk




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