Look out below: Designers go beyond materials to beef up cold-weather pants

Don’t overlook the importance of a good pair of technical pants for your customers. While the products are designed with similar fabrics as tops and jackets, the latest crop of pants for the slopes and trails are placing emphasis on technical innovations.
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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2013 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Jan. 23-26. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives.

Don’t overlook the importance of a good pair of technical pants for your customers.

While the products are designed with similar fabrics as tops and jackets, the latest crop of pants for the slopes and trails are placing emphasis on technical innovations.

“There are so many great materials out there that it can be hard to stand out when it comes to fabric,” said Greg Thomsen, managing director of Adidas Outdoor USA. “The future is in the technical side.”

Adidas Outdoor embraces techie advances with the IceFeather (MSRP $395), a hardshell pant that features the next-generation Gore-Tex Pro membrane. It’s as waterproof as its previous incarnation, but touts increased breathability and abrasion resistance. Like other hard-shell pants, the IceFeathers sport full-length zips on each side, letting wearers put them on and take them off without removing boots. Unlike other pants, each zipper has four pull-tabs, which not only let wearers open the vents as wide as they like, but also allow them to place the vent anywhere on the side of the leg — at the calf, the knees, wherever.

The men’s and women’s Free Thinker Pant (MSRP $459) from The North Face employs Gore-Tex Pro with a durable 70-denier face and mechanical stretch. The selling point: a removable front bib panel for warmth and security, or more freedom to move without.

Customers out skiing or ice climbing need to move and flex their bodies just as much as they do in warmer climates, so the trend of adding more stretch to pants rages on at Winter Market.


Brooks-Range Armor Suit Patagonia Knifeblade Pants

In its first-ever apparel line, Black Diamond introduces six new pants for various levels of cold-weather activity, four of which are made with Schoeller’s StretchWoven fabric for that extra flex, including the Dawn Patrol Hybrid Bib (MSRP $329) and the Dawn Patrol LT Climbing Pant (MSRP $199). The bib is waterproof, and both come with the Recco system. Salomon targets flexibility in its new Quest Motion Fit Pant (MSRP $325), with an articulated fit that facilitates free movement. The pants feature an extra rear panel between the belt and seat — which maintains coverage when crouched, or bending down to buckle boots — plus more material at the outer thigh for big hiking steps or low turns.

Rab’s Wasatch Pants (MSRP $300), turn to Polartec’s NeoShell fabric for waterproof-breathable protection, paired with a tough 70-denier face. Available in men’s and women’s versions, the Wasatch sports two large thigh pockets that double as vents and articulated knees to accommodate boot packers and tele skiers’ need for mobility. Mountain Equipment uses Polartec Neoshell in its new men’s and women’s Arclight Pants (MSRP N/A), which also take advantage of the material’s built-in stretch for increased flex.

Patagonia’s Knifeblade Pullover was so popular with athletes, the company decided to bring out Knifeblade Pants (MSRP $299) using the same Polartec Power Shield Pro fabric. The softshell pants feature a slim profile with plenty of stretch, provide wind protection and breathability, and include reinforced cuffs to protect against crampon scuffing.

Last but not least, one of the more unique pant designs we’ve seen on the show floor is Brooks-Range’s Armor Suit (MSRP $470). A cross between a snowsuit and a bib, the piece uses Polartec Shield fleece in the torso to provide warmth and wind protection, yet maintain breathability, and Polartec NeoShell in the legs for waterproof-breathable protection.

--Billy Brown

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