Patagonia have been making hybrid clothing for a couple of years now. In my eyes the aim is to produce clothing to cope with a multitude of conditions but without compromising comfort and the ability to move freely whilst climbing. Some would say they are specific, which in some respects I agree but I have found the hybrid clothing works very well especially if you are moving at a steady pace. My layering system includes the Nano Puff Hybrid Jacket and the Mixed Guide Pant, this review will focus on my bright red Mixed Guide Pants which came through the post last autumn and have seen plenty of action during this especially icy Scottish season.
A day at Ben Nevis: scrappy mixed climbing alternating with high-output simulclimbing through wind, wet snow and relentless spindrift. Our Mixed Guide Pants aren’t scared.
Patagonia have married up their very own fabric; a 3 layer, waterproof and breathable H2No Performance shell with Polartec® Power Shield® stretch-woven nylon/polyester soft-shell fabric. The softshell areas have been treated with Hardface® Technology for improved durability and wind- and water-resistance whilst the H2No fabric is a burly 4.8oz 70 denier waterproof barrier. That’s nearly twice as heavy as the fabric used in their H2No jackets which to you and I means pretty tough stuff.
Patagonia state that the seat and knees are constructed of the waterproof fabric and the remainder of the pants benefit from the Polartec® Power Shield® fabric but to be honest a larger percentage of the final product is made from H2No making these pants allot more weather proof than initially thought. By using the Polartec® on the knees, upper thigh and inside leg there is enough stretch to aid dynamic moves but for me they have missed a trick by joining the two fabrics in the crotch area where I think there could have been better use of stretchy Polartec® rather than H2No.
Ventilation zips line the hip area which allows enough air to circulate on a sweaty walk in, the zips are not coated or watertight but seem tough enough to withstand some prolonged use. Two thigh pockets are easily accessible via Velcro clap flaps which are simple to use with large gloves on, they sit on the front of the thigh which helps keep a streamline cut to the pant. One of the best additions is a flat lying belt buckle with inbuilt strap which has a slight elasticity to it. This addition allows a custom fit around the waist without disturbing the clean feel of the waist band, no extra straps is always a bonus in my eyes. Gusseted zippered cuffs with snap closure and mini gaiters finish of the leg of the pant. The gaiters are large enough to accommodate a range of boots including bulky ski boots; I have simply added a small length of cord to help keep the gaiter down whilst climbing.
So, how do the pants perform?
As the name suggests I have used them in Scotland during mixed weather conditions climbing ice and mixed ground. The fabric shows little sign of use yet just a few marks from thrutching up tight chimneys or bog trotting on the way down. The treatment on the areas of Polartec® has continued to impress, they still bead well and are yet to let in moisture when getting caught in downpours whilst descending from the mountains. For me they are more of a hardhell than soft although by no means an item I would wear in very wet conditions.
Are they another weather specific piece of clothing?
Well possibly yes, I mean I only wear them when it’s snowing outside or am unlikely to get caught in anything more than a short wet shower. In snow and cold temperatures they are amazing, shedding snow yet still feel flexible and stretchy like full blown softshell’s. I would like to have seen a little more use of Polartec® in the crotch/seat area just for a little flexibility whilst making reachy moves. They won’t be to everyone’s taste due to the reliability on not getting caught in torrential rain although to me this just means a bit more time deciphering weather forecasts which is never a bad thing.
Hard wearing, stretchy and allot more weather resistant than given credit for – even better if you can get your hands on a bright red pair!