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Patagonia Alpine Guide Pants

rated 4 of 5 stars
photo: Patagonia Alpine Guide Pants soft shell pant

A fine cold weather outer layer that works well in a wide range of conditions. Clearly designed and sized with winter in mind but also a good cool weather shoulder-season option. Worth trying on in person to ensure they fit.


  • Great fabric
  • Simple but very usable pockets
  • Comfortable design - I just like wearing these
  • Worth the expense


  • Built-in belt doesn't add much in terms of fit
  • Too warm for me to wear much above 40 degrees
  • Expensive

Most of the time, when I'm hiking in the winter, I used to debate whether to just wear a base layer or add a pair of wind pants.  the problem with wind pants is that even the most  breathable ones still tend to make me feel overheated, unless the wind is pounding.  the problem with hiking without wind pants is that sometimes, the breeze cuts through my base layer and leaves my legs chilled. 

Problem solved with Patagonia's alpine guide pants.  they are made from a fairly stretchy soft shell fabric that does not in any way restrict your freedom of movement.  But, the outer face is sufficiently 'tight' that it deflects most wind and feels much thicker and more durable than a hard shell.  It also does a great job with blowing or wet snow - it just beads up and rolls off.  At the same time, these pants feel much more "breathable" in terms of moisture management than any hard shell pants I have worn. 

In terms of fit and features, these are fairly simple pants. the cuffs partially unzip and have snaps to secure them over the collar of your boots. They are large enough to fit pretty easily around my scarpa inverno plastic boots.  they have enough elastic to also fit well around the cuffs of my regular hiking boots, but they worked best with low gaiters with the regular boots. 

The pants have three pockets - two size-zip pockets on each hip that are mesh, so they could allow a little extra ventilation; and a third, flat zippered pocket on your right thigh, that could hold car keys, a cell phone, or an energy bar.  they have a zippered fly and a built in belt that mildly cinches the waist tighter, but not much tighter.  the pants don't have belt loops, so make sure they fit pretty well - the built-in belt does not pull very tight.  the cut of the pants is a little large without being baggy, so you could wear a base layer underneath.  because the belt does not pull very tight, make sure these fit well in a store; if they feel loose, you might want to go down one size. 

In the field, i took these pants on several day hikes in the snow in New England, and I wore them on some cool days in the mid-Atlantic.  i also cleared my parents' driveway twice with a snowblower, one day where we had about 4 inches of extremely wet and heavy snow, and the other with a foot of powder that the wind was constantly blowing back onto me.  on the hikes, I usually carried a pack, and some of the hiking was fairly strenuous.  the temperatures were between ten and 45 degrees.  on a few of the hikes, i had solid (20-30 mph) winds and a great deal of blowing snow; on one warmer day, it was lightly drizzling. 

These pants really shined on the cold hikes and with the wind and blowing snow - I was protected from the wind and snow, my legs felt very comfortable, and moisture buildup was limited to nonexistent. one of those days with the snowblower, i was starting to look like a snowman - and nothing was getting through these. on the days where the temperature was getting into the 40s, i thought that these felt a little warm.  they were excellent at handling a very light rain, but i would have been happier with pants that are a little lighter/less thick much above 40 degrees.   

 i'm planning to take them up the white mountains of new hampshire in a few weeks.  if the wind really blows, over 40-50, i'll probably wear these under a hard shell.  if it's consistently below zero, i will probably wear a light to mid weight base layer with them.  i think these pants will probably become a fixture in my layering system for the winter. 

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $225

One the best winter pants I've every owned due to the almost magical fabric.


  • Polartec Powershield
  • Durability


  • Waist sizing

I own lots of softshell pants, perhaps too many. The Patagonia Alpine Guide Pants are generally found on the top of my pants heap.

The Polartec Powershield fabric is amazing. It is highly breathable and highly wind proof. The lightly brushed interior feels nice against my skin and the outside of the fabric remains surprisingly unblemished after a season of use.

I find they are best used in temperatures below 40°F and I've worn them down to 7°F with fleece tights underneath. They are my preferred pants for back country skinning, especially in the spring and I've never experienced sweat or steam build up on the inside. Even in 30-40 mph wind I don't feel a breeze inside my pants.

I've never worn these pants in the rain but even after extended periods of sitting or kneeling in spring snow I remain dry inside. There are three zippered pockets, I use the thigh pocket the most, usually my phone or chapstick are stored in that pocket.

I have a size 4 pant and am 5'4" 122 lbs former pro cyclist. So while I have well developed thighs and butt they are by no means big. The inseam is just right, the bottom opening is just right, the thighs and butt fit just right. the waist however is way too big and the built in belt doesn't get small enough.

I sewed the belt smaller but the pants continue to migrate south. The next size down was too small on my thighs and butt and I wouldn't have been able to fit even silkweight tights under them. If Patagonia made a size 3 it would probably be perfect.

Overall I highly recommend these pants. They are an integral part of my late fall/winter/spring adventure suit.

Here are the pants doing a handstand in Rocky Mountain National Park with ice skaters in the background.


Source: bought it new
Price Paid: bought on sale on website

Super comfortable and pretty close to indestructible. Combine that with Patagonia's dedication to sustainability and these pants are almost perfect. Cost is the drawback.


  • Extremely wear-resistant
  • Comfortable
  • Breathable
  • Made from recycled material
  • DWR finish keep you from getting soaked


  • Expensive
  • Only 1 length
  • Limited to 2 color choices

First, this pant is so durable that the belt, closure, zipper and elastic will all give out long before the material.  I've pitted it against decomposed granite, sharp objects, and the teeth on snowshoes without a hole or a snag.  Tough, tough, tough!

This is a great softshell pant for alpine ventures and winter sports activities. The material is very breathable so you're not overheating on the trail during fall, winter, or spring hikes or skiing. The DWR finish on it has kept out moisture during nearly continual snowfall and light rain, and has even kept me dry in moderate to heavy rain for short periods.  If they do get soaked through, they dry quickly.

I'm not a fan of the price. It seems that almost anything made with recycled materials with an eye on sustainability is overpriced, and Patagonia is no exception. At $230 per pair (rarely can you find them on sale), I won't pay for another pair unless I find them for a great bargain.

The zippered elastic cuff keeps them from riding up and there are tie-down loops for attaching the cuff to a boot or shoe. At 5'9" with a 30-inch inseam, I wish they came in other than one length.

Again, the fabric is practically indestructible and will outlast nearly anything you've got in your closet. I want to give them 5 stars but just can't due to the price, length, and color choices. 

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $200 USD on sale

Good pants, well made, durable and warm enough for normal winter in the UK (not Scottish/colder winters). Thankfully waist designs are getting back to normal and these have a high enough waistband.

Only problem is, in conformity to fashion, they have flat fronts; this makes the front hand pockets less useful and causes some knee drag if you have anything like muscular thighs. The lack of room also makes the shallow thigh pockets less useful. They should also come with a wide webbing belt but that seems to be the norm for most companies. Lowe Alpine make a wide-ish belt.

Expensive but you are paying for prestige and ethics and so not as much value for money as the Marmot softshell pants/trousers, for instance (which also have a more functional fit).

Update: February 3, 2012


The fabric is very good and shows no signs of wear. The two leg pockets are overkill — one larger bellows pocket would be better. The stupid "technical" fly with a double zip should be changed to a normal zip that reaches lower.

These issues, as well as the flat front design, stopped me getting another pair. 

Price Paid: 130GBP

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Price MSRP: $149.00
Historic Range: $74.50-$249.00
Reviewers Paid: $200.00-$225.00
Weight 20.7 oz / 587 g
Fabric 7.6 oz 90-Denier 92% Polyester, 47% recycled / 8% Spandex
Finish Deluge® DWR
Price MSRP: $149.00
Historic Range: $59.60-$249.00
Weight 20 oz / 567 g
Fabric 7.6 oz 90-Denier 92% Polyester, 47% recycled / 8% Spandex
Finish Deluge® DWR
Product Details from Patagonia »

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