Excellent lightweight stretchable soft shell pant…
Source: tested or reviewed it for the manufacturer (Received a sample of this product for purposes of this review. Kept them)
Excellent lightweight stretchable soft shell pant suitable for hiking, backpacking, snowsports, and mountaineering. Water resistant and wind blocking, they are comfortable over a wide range of temperatures.
- Stretch fabric allows freedom of movement
- Soft to the touch and on the skin
- Water resistant
- Wind blocking
- Great fit
I received a pair of the Mountain Equipment Ibex Pants in January and have had the pleasure of putting them through a thorough testing in a variety of conditions. A pair of 34" waist, regular length pair fit my 5'9", 165lb frame very well. The fit is described as Alpine with a regular ankle. For me that meant the upper pant fit moderately snug without being tight and the ankles were a bit looser than the leg.
The pants are constructed of Exolite 210, a 4-way stretch double weave material that pairs a very smooth outer finish for abrasion resistance with a soft inner surface for comfort. The fabric features a DWR (durable water resistant) finish that allows water to roll off the fabric without wetting out. A microfleece waistband is paired with an integrated belt for the perfect fit and moisture wicking. The crotch area features a large gusset to allow for increased mobility and comfort.
The Ibex Pant provides two thigh pockets in addition to two hand pockets and one rear pocket. All the pockets are zippered for security and to eliminate anything that might snag when moving through brushy areas. Ankle zips feature gusseted openings to fit over large boots and the hem is drawstring compatible. These pants are lightweight, coming in at just 15.3 ounces for the size tested.
Early testing was done just wearing the pants during normal daily activities to get a feel of the general comfort. The Ibex Pant's fabric feels really nice on the skin, very soft. The stretch fabric is terrific as it just flows with my body movement.
Water repellency was tested during many days of our super wet West Coast winter. While the Ibex are not rain pants, when worn in light to medium rainfall they kept me warm and dry. The water would just bead up and run off. This seems to be a function of the DWR finish and the tight weave of the fabrics outer layer.
Snow testing was done in the Sierra during a day-long snow safety class which combined snowshoe travel with an afternoon of learning the proper way to arrest a fall and slide. The Ibex Pants were paired with gaiters to keep the snow from entering my boots, but they would have worked equally well if I had installed drawstrings to tighten down the pant leg hem.
Temperatures were in the upper 30's when the wind was calm and decidedly colder when it picked up to the 25 to 30 mph range. The pants did a nice job of keeping me warm without overheating and the stretch fabric allowed for easy movement across the deep snowy terrain.
Once at our training site, we proceeded to tramp out individual runs to practice glissading and proper use of a whippet to arrest a fall and slide. I was both surprised and pleased that I stayed totally dry even though the pants were in almost continuous contact with the snow for about three hours of training. During the snowshoe back to our cars the wind came up and that tight weave did a really good job of blocking the wind and keeping me toasty warm.
A week later I took them out for a weekend of helping to instruct a beginner backpacking class. Temperatures were a little chilly when we started but by mid-trek to our camping spot, they started to rise into the mid 70's. While I definitely was sweating on top I was surprised that my lower body stayed quite comfortable. I actually rechecked the specs to see whether the Ecolite fabric was considered highly breathable. While it's not, the structure of the fabrics inner surface seems to provide a lot of air movement which had kept me from sweating. I intend to keep wearing them in increasingly warmer weather to see at what temperature the breaking point occurs.
The Ibex pants again worked really well during an afternoon of hiking and scrambling around on some rocks. The stretch fabric just makes movements really easy. So far durability has been great. They show no signs of wear after 10 days of use and 10 washings.
Mountain Equipment is a UK company, but its products are available at a variety of U.S. based shops and websites.
- Sizes: 30"- 38" waist in short, regular and long length
- Colors: Black, Mudstone
- Price: $135-$140
Disclosure: I received a sample of this product for purposes of this review, but the opinions expressed are my own.