First Ascent Mountain Guide Pant

Author: [ smburt ]  Michael Shannon Burt   Contact Author: smburtWed Dec 22 12:17:16 EST 2010

First Ascent’s Mountain Guide softshell pants are a form fitting shoulder season or moderate output outerwear or mid layer pant made from Schoeller WB 400 fabric.

The Mountain guides are a simple and sleek design, with zipped cuffs, and an array of useful pockets, all zippered for security. The fabric has a interesting texture unlike other softshell fabrics I’ve used. Wearing them out in a drizzle, they bead up nicely thanks to the Storm Repel DWR finish. Consequently, I stayed dry and warm. However, these are not seam taped, or stated as waterproof, so although the DWR finish is durable, don’t rely on it for long term protection.

The removable belt works well, and the buckle sits flat which is great when its worn in conjunction with a backpack (hip belt pressure) or a climbing harness. I also noticed that there are grommets in the cuffs, used for tie downs similar to gaitors.

One aspect I found that made these particular pants “mountain - unworthy” were the absence of inner leg crampon guards. The slim leg design is suppose to make snagging a crampon point less likely, but often you will find durable fabrics like Cordura patches along the inside leg cuff to help ward off errant crampon scrapes. I wish this detail was included, so I will strive to step even more carefully. I also would like to see anchor loops for suspenders to make these wear more like bibs.

As far as fit goes, I find that these wear like a favourite pair of jeans. When day-hiking this past Autumn, I soon forgot they were anything more than trekking pants. The Schoeller fabric feels light, and the brushed lining is very comfortable and warm for temps near and below freezing. They breathe well during moderate activity, leaving you more comfortable when you’re less active. The slim cut also makes these a no-bulk candidate for mid layering under shell pants. The medium size measured about 32” in the inseam, making them bunch a bit in the cuff, but my legs are slightly shorter than average. They fit my 31” waist well enough with the belt cinched. I think a small would have been too tight and likely too short in the leg. Considering the light feel of these, I wonder how the “Mountain Guide Light” model compares, as these feel fairly light.

These will be my go-to pants for backcountry skiing, snowshoeing and hiking during the shoulder seasons. I might take them ice climbing, depending on the amount of walking I’d be doing wearing my sharp points! They can always do double duty as a layer of insulation.

So here’s a list of Pros and cons:

Pro:
Schoeller fabric is light, breathable, stretchy and form fitting.
3Xdry DWR finish is durable and effective in weather resistance
-Nice array of pockets
-flat belt buckle
-gusetted ankle zip for larger boots
-Reasonable price

Cons:
-Lack of full leg zips for easy on / off with boots
-not seam taped or waterproof rated
-no full leg zips for easy on / off or venting

Shannon Burt
Trailpeak.com




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