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Reviews > Clothing > Pants and Shorts > Flannel Lined Original Mountain Pants > Test Report by Richard Lyon

MOUNTAIN KHAKIS FLANNEL LINED ORIGINAL MOUNTAIN PANT
Test Series by Richard Lyon

Initial Report October 26, 2009
Field Report December 31, 2009
Long Term Report March 2, 2010


PERSONAL DETAILS and BACKPACKING BACKGROUND

Male, 63 years old
Height: 6' 4" (1.93 m)
Weight: 205 lb (91 kg)
Email address: Montana DOT angler AT gmail DOT com
Home: Dallas, Texas USA
Waist 37 in (95 cm), inseam 34.5 in (88 cm)

I've been backpacking for 45 years and regularly in the Rockies since 1986.  I do at least one week-long trip every summer, and often take three-day trips.  I'm usually camping in alpine terrain, at altitudes 5000 to 10000 ft (1500-3000 m).  I prefer base camp backpacking, a long hike in with day trips from camp, but I do forced marches too.  Recently I've been actively reducing my pack weight, but still always sleep in a floored tent and often include my favorite camp conveniences.  I spend much winter backcountry time on telemark or touring skis.

INITIAL REPORT
October 26, 2009

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION and DETAILS

Mountain Khakis, often known by its initials MK, is a Wyoming-based company that sells pants and shorts with a Western cut and style.  Its signature men's product is the Original Mountain Pant (OMP), a straight-leg, jean-style pant made of heavy cotton canvas.  Now MK offers a winter version, lining the OMP with a light green tartan-style plaid flannel.  MK's marketing pitch for this new product abandons its usual rugged Western image, calling them "cozy" and meant for a "creature of comfort."  (That latter description fits me perfectly.)

fl;annel liningManufacturer: Mountain Khakis, LLC
Website: www.mountainkhakis.com
Size: 38 in (97 cm) waist x 34 in (86 cm) inseam. Available in even waist sizes 30-42 in (76-107 cm) and even inseam lengths 30-34 in (76-86 cm).
Rise: 10 in (25 cm) listed and measured
Waist, measured: 38.5 in (98 cm)
Inseam, measured: 34.25 in (87 cm)
Color: Freestone (light grey); also available in Yellowstone (a mid tan with a yellow cast)
Weight, measured: 36.25 oz (1028 g)
Materials: 10.4 oz (248 g/m2) cotton canvas, lined with cotton flannel.
Related product: The unlined OMP, of course.  Despite the cozy language, this is a pant for men; MK doesn't offer a women's version.

MK's duck canvas is heavy and looks tough.  MK's website notes that a "double ply weave on both the warp [vertical threads] and weft [horizontal threads]" aid abrasion resistance.The pants have five pockets, which I believe is a standard feature on all MK pants and shorts.  There are normal pockets on each side in the rear and on the left front, but the right front pocket is actually two pockets, as shown in the photograph.  The back of the pants at the cuff is reinforced with a second layer of fabric.  The pants have a zippered fly and a metal button at the waist.  The waistband has five 2.5 in (6 cm) loops (for those wide Western belts).  A discreet "MK" is sewn (in blue) just above the right rear pocket.pocket

OBSERVATIONS

Fit.  Just right! A bit of room at the waist, not too much play but not confining in the seat, and a small break at the cuffs.  I'd say these run true to size.  (I have had similar experience with several other pairs of MK pants.) The fit in the legs is closer to dress trousers than jeans despite the plain (unpleated) front.   

Workmanship and appearance.  I noticed a few loose threads along the seams but the pants appear to be sturdily sewn and completely sound.  The heavy fabric and the straight-leg, unpleated, cuffless design impart a notion of ruggedness that (to my eye) is not much softened by the flannel.  They look ready for outdoor activity.

Comfort.  The flannel is indeed soft, with a hand that is similar to a cotton shirt fabric often called chamois.  While somewhat crinkly to the touch, the canvas is much less stiff than it appears at first glance.  Another standard MK feature, the "Action Gusset," enhances both comfort and durability.  The gusset is a triangular fabric piece sewn in where the pants' four seams would otherwise converge at a single point.  As that single point would be in the crotch, using the gusset prevents uncomfortable chafing and, as to durability, should reduce the risk of a tear or seam coming loose from stress.  A grosgrain ribbon runs around the inside of the waistband for added comfort.

Overall impression.  The flannel-lined OMPs look sharp when worn with a work shirt or a sport coat.  (Sharp enough, in fact, to circumvent my office's prohibition on blue jeans or other "work pants.") MK's design suits my body style; I've always found that the company's products give me a good, comfortable fit.  The flannel-lined OMPs are no exception.  I'm looking forward to the colder weather and a chance to test these pants outdoors.

FIELD REPORT
December 31, 2009

FIELD CONDITIONS

I have worn the trousers often these past two months – at least half a dozen day hikes, one overnight backpacking trip, almost daily on my morning walks with my two dogs, and frequently as casual wear on weekends.  The trousers were the most welcome on a five-day trip to Jackson, Wyoming and Victor, Idaho just after Christmas.  I wore them the two days I was in town, in temperatures ranging from 7 to 25 F (-14 to -4 C), with little wind and occasional snow.

In Texas temperatures ranged from 25-65 F (-4 to 18 C), often with brisk winds that made it seem considerably colder.  The coldest reported wind-chill (I live about a mile from the airport where this is officially measured for Dallas) was on a morning walk at 5 am – 5 F (-15 C).  Twice I wore the trousers in a steady rain, many more times in a drizzle or damp fog, and twice when it was snowing.
On the overnighter and day hikes I wore merino wool or Capilene boxer shorts underneath; in the front country the boxers were cotton.

MAINTENANCE

I’ve washed the trousers probably five times.  They are tossed into my front-loading washer with other cotton items (and garments of any other fabric that will tolerate fabric softener) and washed on a normal cycle, with warm water, and then dried over medium-high heat in my dryer.  I use standard laundry detergent and fabric softener in the wash and a fabric softener sheet during drying.

OBSERVATIONS

Fit and Comfort.  After the use and laundering described above these pants still fit me very well.  As is true of many cotton trousers I’ve worn over the years, even those advertised as “pre-shrunk,” these pants tend to shrink slightly in the waist from the dryer’s heat, but expand back to normal after less than fifteen minutes’ wear.  I’d say that these are sized a little thin, for they have not slipped down during use, fitting my 37 inch (93 cm) waist a bit more snugly than most size 38 pants.  Fit in the seat is just right, suggesting that this measurement is slightly larger than usual; if available I buy “Tall” sizes, which have a longer seat.

These pants also remain comfortable when I’m walking, with no chafing in the crotch or waist, due in part to the fact that I haven’t worn them during hot weather or heavy aerobic exercise and so haven’t perspired much.  The flannel remains soft and smooth against my skin.  The heavy canvas feels about the same too.  As noted in my Initial Report this fabric’s hand is much less abrasive than its heavy-duty appearance suggests, quite comfortable against my skin when I’m wearing my unlined OMPs.  In fact comfortable is understatement.  As the temperatures drop and the winds pick up the lined OMPs are rapidly becoming my favorite wintertime leisure pants.

Durability.  Perhaps the color has lightened a tad, but otherwise the pants look like new.  I haven’t ironed them, and when they come out of the dryer they look a bit rumpled, but after a short time on my legs that look vanishes.  I inspected carefully but couldn’t find a loose stitch.  Many of my day hikes and dog walks involve charging through the sage and other underbrush on the Texas prairie, and if the pants picked up a scratch it was gone after emerging from the washer.

Warmth.  I’ve been quite comfortable throughout the temperature range in which I’ve worn these pants, never overheating when hiking.  That’s a pleasant change from other lined pants I’ve worn in the past, in which I usually start to perspire at 50 F (10 C) during even moderate exercise.  The lined MKs either breathe better or use a lighter-weight flannel than the others I’ve worn.  Whatever the reason, these are versatile trousers.

Wind resistance is these pants’ best attribute, though the wide temperature range is a close second.  I had a chance to discover how much of this is due to the lining in mid-December, on one of the colder and windier days I experienced.  I had run a wash overnight, so the lined MKs were unavailable for my walk with the hounds.  I wore my unlined OMPs (by accident, they happened to be on top of the shelf), and quickly noticed how much colder my legs were than the previous morning, despite comparable weather conditions.  I now choose the lined MKs whenever I expect strong winds, and schedule my laundry to make sure I can wear them when colder weather is forecast.

I have encountered one problem with warmth, however, which in my view limits if not destroys these pants’ efficacy in the backcountry.  Mountain Khakis does not advertise the lined OMPs as treated for water resistance.  In snow or light rain the tight weave of the canvas does an excellent job of repelling water, aided no doubt by the extra thickness the flannel provides.  But a splash from a puddle or direct exposure to heavy rain wets the fabrics (canvas and liner) through, and once soaked the two stay wet for a long time.  Cotton is cotton, after all, and this is very heavy cotton.   This isn’t particular to these trousers; the same thing happens with my favorite blue jeans.  In cold temperatures the damp fabric against my skin chills rather than insulates.  Because of this, as with any other all-cotton garment I hesitate to rely on the lined OMPs in any situation when a dry pair of trousers is not readily available.  For me that means no backcountry use.  Just as I have no wish to wear a sodden pair of cotton trousers (hazardous to my health), I have no wish to carry a sodden pair of trousers (heavy and difficult to isolate in a pack).

Packability.  With their bulky fabric and second layer these trousers don’t pack down very small.  Even when dry they’re heavy too, compared to several pairs of waterproof-breathable alternatives in the closet.  This is another reason that I can’t recommend the lined OMPs for backcountry use.

Summary.  For casual wear the Mountain Khakis Lined Original Mountain Pants are terrific: comfortable, warm, casually stylish, and durable.  The fabrics that make them so comfortable around the house, however, in my opinion make them unsuitable for winter backpacking.

LONG TERM REPORT
March 2, 2010

Blizzard in DallasField Conditions.  We’ve had a chilly winter in North Texas, with temperatures frequently dropping below freezing and not exceeding 50 F (10 C) during the day.  (Yes, that’s chilly for us!).  The lined OMPs have ameliorated these chilly temperatures and the prairie wind on many occasions.  They remain my go-to trousers for early-morning dog walks and as daytime wear on weekends, both when day hiking and at home.  They were especially welcome when a surprise storm dropped a record 12.5 inches (31 cm) of wet snow on a mid-February day in Dallas.  My house was without power for forty-eight hours, and at temperatures not much above freezing inside and out I wore these pants all that time except when I snuggled into my sleeping bag.  On that occasion I wore merino long underwear; on all other occasions my usual cotton boxer shorts.

My backcountry outings over the past two months took place in the snow in Wyoming.  While I took the pants on both trips, their use was limited to the front country.  As stated in my Field Report snow and cotton aren’t a good combination for me.

All told I’ve worn the lined OMPs on all or part of at least sixty days over the four-plus month testing period.

Observations.  I have little new to report other than to praise these pants’ durability after another two months of frequent use and probably a dozen trips through the washer and dryer.  All stitching remains sound, I’ve seen no fraying at the cuffs or pilling on the flannel, and there’s been no noticeable shrinkage.  
The cooler winter has limited my ability to test the point at which these pants make me uncomfortably warm.  It hasn’t happened at 60 F (16 C), even on a day hike.  

I continue to admire how comfortable they are.  Partly this is due to the clever seat construction, with its action gusset in  diamond-shaped panel, just below theaction gusset fly, that allows my oversized gluteus maximus to move around less while seated than when wearing other casual trousers.  This is a less engineered casual trousers, so I spend less time re-arranging my shirttail when I stand up after a prolonged stay in a chair.  The flannel lining seems to get softer with each washing.  The grosgrain strip around the waistband reduces any chance of chafing.  While not strictly a comfort issue, the double right front pocket both increases carrying capacity and aids gadget organization.

Functional, warm, comfortable, useful, durable, and good-looking - in short, the Mountain Khaki Flannel-lined Original Mountain Pants are a wonderful addition to my winter front country wardrobe.  I wouldn’t change the fabrics just to be able to wear them in the backcountry. I’ve got other trousers for that. I’ll wear these pants often even if I have to leave them at home when camping.  My only suggestions to Mountain Khakis are making them in additional colors (something MK did with the unlined OMPs) and adding a cargo pocket on one leg.

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My Test Report ends here, with thanks to Mountain Khakis and BackpackGearTest.org for helping me keep warm and comfy this winter.




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