Summer is finally upon us again and it’s time to get up and seek adventure in the high country. We dream of jamming clean splitter cracks in the warm sun, skipping across lofty ridges and frolicking though flowery meadows, but at the same time we know that summer alpine scrambles involve post-holing through isothermal snow, scumming up wet chimneys, getting pelted by hail, and slushy glissades back to soggy camps. It helps to know your clothing will keep you comfortable for both the fun-in-the-sun and the inevitable scrappy conditions.
Review by: Drew Thayer, Senior Contributor
Pants, such a basic piece of clothing, are often glossed over in the choice of gear for an alpine venture, but a pant that matches the occasion can make a big difference up there; after all, it covers half your body. While all pants are basically two tubes connected by a waistband, subtle details can help them do their job and let you focus more energy on the task at hand. Summer alpinism often presents us with wide ranges of temperature and moisture, so quick-drying softshell pants have become popular for their versatility. Outdoor Research is offering the new Prusik pant to fill this niche with thoughtful, durable design.
The first thing I noticed about these pants is how the material is both stretchy and quite durable, accomplished by a blend of 160 denier Cordura, polyester, and spandex. The pants hold up to the regular abuses of jamming in offwidths and sliding down icy snow while remaining light and breathable. The fabric does a good job of regulating body temperature; I felt they were cool enough on vigorous approaches yet kept me warm at shady, windy belays. These pants repel water when new; keep in mind that this coating will need to be replenished by one of the many spray-in or wash-in products available.
I’m particularly impressed by several simple, yet effective features that make this pant well suited for alpine climbing, including two at an oft-overlooked place: the ankle. After growing tired of cold wind whipping up my legs on exposed walls, I used to sit down with scissors and a safety pin and thread cord through the cuffs of my pants so I could cinch them shut. No longer necessary; OR has provided both built-in ankle drawcords to keep the wind out and grommets for an instep cord. Add a piece of elastic and the pants will cinch around your approach shoes like a gaiter to keep snow out on mushy afternoon glissades. Additional features of note to climbers include articulated knees that provide excellent range of motion and a zippered thigh pocket that sits below a harness leg loop. For folks who are either true utilitarians or really hip…suspender attachments are included.
I appreciate gear that takes care of things for me, and these pants do their job very well. A simple design incorporates subtle features which are all low-profile and effective. I wear the Prusik pants on everything from a blustery day at the crag to alpine rock and mixed climbs to warm-weather backcountry skiing. They achieve the perfect balance of durability, protection, and breathability for aerobic ventures in the mountains and handily adapt to the range of expected conditions for the summer and shoulder seasons. I’m looking forward to putting them through the wringer.
Outdoor Research Prusik Pants on backcountry.com
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