Coming in at anywhere between $122-$175 dollars it’s tough to find a better pair of softshell ski pants than Patagonia’s latest offering in the updated Men’s Backcountry Guide Softshell Pant.
My biggest question will go unanswered for a while, which is how these pants will hold up over more use/time, but after using them exclusively for a few weeks I can safely say they’re the best softshell pant I’ve ever put to the test. I owned a pair of the previous version of these softshell’s. They were great, but deteriorated more quickly than I would have liked. But from the feel of these newer models, so far, it seems as though these pants will be around for a lot longer.
While I’d consider these more of a mid-weight offering as opposed to a lightweight one, these pants are ideal for backcountry skiing. Although the seams are not tapped the pants are water resistant. The waterproof reinforcements on the seat and knees help keep out moisture where it often penetrates into other similar style pants, and really comes in handy when you’re kneeling or sitting down during a backcountry switchover. The weave is also crafted in a four-ways design that allows for greater stretching and mobility whether you’re making a big switchback on the up, or arching big turns on the down. Other highlights include the suspenders, which I thoroughly enjoy because even though I look like a dork I have the option of using a belt to keep the pants up or employ the suspenders that I feel further supports the mobility factor of the pants. My favorite interior utility is what Patagonia describes as a brushed interior. Personally, I can only wear long johns on the coldest of days backcountry skiing, so I often skin in boxers. The brushed interior is warm and soft so regardless of what I have underneath these pants I feel comfortable. The thigh vents are convenient and allow for adequate ventilation when necessary, and the gaiters are helpful at the cuff for keeping snow out on those really deep days.
While I’ve yet to test these pants ice climbing I’ve heard of people having success and feeling happy about their experience. This is a surprise given how much better hardshell pants normally are under these circumstances, but based on my use thus far I can see why and how they would hold up. A lifetime warranty also comes with the purchase of these pants, and that’s in addition to supporting a company like Patagonia that plays a central leadership role is steering outdoor apparel companies towards greater social and environmental responsibility.
Remember, most of Patagonia’s offerings come in sleek “alpine” type fits. Size accordingly, especially if you’re looking for a little room in the waist or in terms of length. There are two front pockets, one back pocket, and side pocket. Color options are black or grey. Although the true test for me will be after another 100 days or so in the field, for now, these are 100% my go to pants for backcountry skiing and there’s no doubt I haven’t found another softshell pant out there that’s performed quite as well.
Buy the Patagonia Backcountry Guide Softshell Pant at Evo.com