Lo and behold, there appears to be newish pants made by Haglöfs that seem to have several things done right that most everyone gets very wrong time and again.
Just as a reminder, my ideal climbing pant, both soft and hard shell should have the following features:
- High waisted cut with suspenders. I do not like bibs as they add unnecessary weight and diminish breathability. They can have elevated back provided it is made out of mesh or some else extremely breathable fabric (good but not mandatory on my book), but should not be very high in the front. I see no gain out of that. On the minus side, they adds bulk and decreases breathability.
- Cut needs to be trim to reduce unnecessary bulk and prevent them from snagging too readily. Which greatly increases their real-life robustness while actually making the pant lighter, a real winning combo imo. This requires good functional cut which in turn benefits greatly from stretch fabric. Particularly, lower legs may not be too wide to avoid them from snagging to rock, crampons and the like, which greatly increases the risk of ripping. And adds utterly useless bulk and weight with no gain whatsoever.
- Full length side zippers are completely unnecessary. They have no use, and add bulk, weight and just another thing that can break. Furthermore, they also make the pant less breathable and stiffer. While I can see the logic behind the thinking of putting in full-length zips (I just agree with the line of reasoning), I can't figure out what the heck has been going on through the designers at Rab who put 3/4 length zippers so that it doesn't go through waist and upper thigh. This is a stupid joke in my book that brings all the bad point of full-length zippers with none of the benefits.
- They should have a two-way zipper from the waist to mid thigh to facilitate ventilation by opening them and to make it easier to answer the call of the nature. This seems to be something no one gets.
- Decent integrated gaiter complete with tightening and, more importantly, loop so that you hook it under your heel or the boot to prevent it from raising. Hook doesn't work for me, as I use Scarpa Scarpa Phantom GuideScarpaPhantom Guidehttp://www.scarpa.com/images/products/87411-210/detail.jpgRedefining mountain performance, this boot is suitable for challenging the most technical routes in cold climates, whether ice cragging or in the high mountains. Phantom Guides that have no place to fix that hook properly. Inside the boot's integrated gaiter would be a possibility of course, but the loop is far better.
While not ticking all the points above, Häglöfs models don't have full length side zippers which most manufacturers seem to be dead set to have. They also make Haglöfs Couloir pantHaglöfsCouloir pantphoto to Häglöfs Couloir pant of Gore-Tex stretch soft shell fabric complete with membrane and all. This seems like a winning combo to me, a hard shell pant that is as comfortable as a soft shell. I have not even seen the pant, much less tried it, so can't comment on how well it performs in real life. That might change though.
Update 2013-10-22: I went ahead and bought Haglöfs Couloir pants 1,5 years ago. Those are fairly ok, but nowhere near as good as they could have been. First of all, they are far too wide in lower legs. Also, integrated snow gaiters are poorly done. And the fit isn't otherwise very good either, nowhere near as good as on some identically sized Haglöfs softshells. So unfortunately this is yet another good idea spoiled by half-asset execution.
On a more general note, Polartec NeoshellPolartecNeoshellWaterproof fabrics have forced outdoor enthusiasts to live with the restrictions of sweat, saturation, cold and overheating for too long. Introducing Polartec NeoShell. The first truly breathable, fully waterproof, temperature regulating fabric ever. Tested and proven by some of the most committed outdoor enthusiasts on the planet. With unprecedented breathability in a waterproof fabric, it's the ultimate in personal climate control. and hybrids may have stolen the thunder of Gore-tex softshell before many garments made out it ever got to the market. Not quite sure whatever happened to stretch versions of Gore-tex which were far more common several years ago than they are now. Currently Millet uses stretch Gore fabrics, but no one else as far as I know.