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Reviews > Clothing > Pants and Shorts > Helly Hansen Hybrid or Guide Light > Test Report by Gail Staisil

Helly Hansen
Women's Hybrid Pants

Test Series by: Gail Staisil, Marquette, Michigan

Page Contents:

Initial Report - April 22, 2013
Field Report - June 11, 2013
Long Term Report - August 26, 2013
Initial Report:
April 22, 2013
 Tester Information

 Name: Gail Staisil
Age: 60
Gender: Female

 Height: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
Weight: 152 lb (69 kg)
Location: Marquette, Michigan USA
Email: woodswoman 2001 AT yahoo DOT com

For the last 20 years, backpacking has become a passion. I am a four-season backpacker and an off-trail navigator. Although I do take yearly trips to the American West or Southwest, the majority of my trips are in Michigan and Canada. My pack weight varies considerably but my base weight is below 18 lb (8 kg). I am primarily a tarp camper who averages more than 50 nights a year backpacking in a huge variety of weather conditions including relentless rain, wet snow and sub-zero temps.

Product Information

Helly Hansen
Women's Hybrid Pants


Manufacturer Weight
430 g (15.2 oz)
Tested Weight
451 g (15.9 oz)
Model Year
$130.00 US

Initial Impressions and Product Description 

The Helly Hansen Women's Hybrid Pants arrived in mint condition. No imperfections were found anywhere on the garment. I received the pants in the size of XL. My size choice was based on a review on the manufacturer's website that indicated that the pants are more close fitting than many others due to their Scandinavian design. The size choice worked out well as the hip and thigh areas fit perfect with a bit more room in the waist. I expected the latter as the size chart measurements for waist were larger than my measurement. 

Design and Technical Features
Women's Hybrid Pants
The Hybrid Pants are fabricated with two different materials. The dominant part of the pants is made from heavy-duty nylon while the front inserts are made with stretchy (6 percent Elastane) and breathable softshell material. The inserts extend from the zippered pockets to well below the knee. The front inserts feature articulated knees by the means of two darts on each knee area. The pants feature a DWR finish (durable water resistant).

All the seams on the pants are stitched from the inside with serged edges. Therefore the appearance of the pants is very sleek and unencumbered by top stitching, etc. This allows the pants to be almost dressy in appearance except for the logos (which I will elaborate on later).

The pants feature a wide waistband with five belt loops. The closure consists of two heavy-duty snaps and a clip. I am pleased with the design of the waistband as it sits just below the waist in the front and a little higher at waist height in back.
One of the features noted on the website indicated that the waist was adjustable. I really see no means to do that other than by using a belt for which belt loops are provided. With that said I don't expect it to be an issue.

I am really quite pleased with the pocket layout on the pants. First I might add that there aren't any pockets in the back which I appreciate (as I have never been inclined to use back pockets especially while wearing a pack). There are two slash pockets near the waistband and each leg of the pants features a zippered pocket with flap. The top of each pocket is diagonal in orientation and is free hanging inside the legs of the pants (not stitched to the outside). These pockets are approximately 7 in (18 cm) square each and easily hold keys, phone, etc.

As aforementioned the pants fit nicely through the hip and thigh areas.
The back of the pants below the waistband features a yoke insert for shaping. The overall width of the bottom half of the legs is a bit wide but I can easily remove the pants whileCinch cord can be adjusted two different ways still wearing shoes. That scenario usually doesn't come up while I am hiking (except for rain pants) but I guess it might be a benefit to some. The inseam on the size XL is a full 34 in (86 cm). Since I usually struggle to find pants long enough I am more than happy to have them more than an inch (2.54 in) longer than my actual inseam. The two-way adjustable cinch at the bottom edge of each pant leg can take up some of the length or some of the width depending on toggle placement on the cinch cord.
Logo on back of pants leg
There are some manufacturer's logos on the pants. The words "Helly Hansen" is screened in pale orange lettering beneath one of the zippered pockets. On the reverse side of the pants there is a large logo and lettering near the bottom of one of the legs. The lettering is "ODIN". The latter logo is a bit much in my opinion as these pants could nicely be worn for dressy casual if not for the logo. (The logo and symbol measure about 2.25 in (5.7 cm) X 2 in (5 cm) together. I realize that most manufacturers do label their clothing and rightly so but this particular logo is rather large.

The care directions for the pants are to wash separately in warm water with no fabric softener. Do not dry clean or iron.

So far, I am very pleased with the fit and functionality of the Hybrid Pants. I've already been out xc skiing and snowshoeing while wearing them the last five days. It was raining/sleeting during two of the outings and a blizzard during one of the days. I will be expanding on that information in the Field Report but I might hint that I was very happy with their performance.

First Photo of Hybrid Pants: Courtesy of Manufacturer

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Field Report:
June 11, 2013

USA Locations and Conditions

During the field test period I have worn the Helly Hansen Hybrid Pants during two backpacking trips as well as extensively for daily sport activities. Locations of all activities were in the State of Michigan and ranged from hilly deciduous forest to open non-deciduous communities. Elevation ranged from 600 ft (183 m) to almost 2000 ft (610 m).

Location of Trip #1: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Type of Trip: Trail
Distance: 22 mi (35.5 km) backpacking plus 3.5 mi (5.6 km) dayhiking
Length of Trip: 3 days/2nights
Pack Weight: Approx 26 lb (12 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy and sunny  
Precipitation: None
Temperature Range: 32 F to 57 F (0 C to 14 C) 
Location of Trip #2: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Type of Trip: Trail
Distance: 18.8 mi (30 km)
Length of Trip: 3 days/2 nights
Pack Weight: Approx 25 lb (11 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Sunny, cloudy
Precipitation: None
Temperature Range: 39 F to 61 F (4 C to 16 C)

Location of Other Activities (Cross country and backcountry skiing; snowshoeing and dayhiking): Upper Peninsula of Michigan 
Distances: 4 mi to 12 mi (6.4 km to 19 km)
Temperature Range: 26 F to 60 F (-3 C to 16 C)
  Spring skiing wearing the Hybrid Pants
Since receiving the Helly Hansen Hybrid Pants I have worn them at least 4-5 times a week. The winter snow season lasted well into May this year so I wore the pants daily for cross country skiing until the season passed. Most of the time I wore them without long underwear although a few times I wore them with a thin silk pair. The fit of the pants allowed a thin silk layer but anything thicker would likely have inhibited my movement. Spring conditions meant that I started skiing when the temps were below freezing but the temps rose as high as 45 F (7 C) after a few hrs of skiing. Since the pants are rather heavy duty or densely woven I wasn't cold in the least the times that I didn't wear an inner layer. I also donned the pants during a couple of backcountry ski trips and two snowshoe outings. I love them for winter wear and I am almost certain that I will be wearing them in years to come for such usage.

Once winter technically ended (the snow melted) the overall temps have continued to be near record low all through May and into June so far. My first backpacking trip had a high of 57 F (14 C) and a low at freezing (32 F/0 C). There was quite a brisk wind on one of the days. The second trip had similar conditions albeit a few degrees warmer. Of course these temps feel like a heat wave after a long cold winter. I was very comfortable while hiking.

I have also worn the pants on many dayhikes this spring to area waterfalls and other sites. Again cold spring conditions prevailed but my legs felt great with the sturdy fabric helping to fend off cold and wind.  

More Thoughts
Right now I am very pleased with the way these pants fit and perform. My only concern is that I notice that my backpack tends to shift the pants downward a tiny bit due to the waist being a little big. I know I could wear a belt but I don't like the inconvenience of having to do so. I also noticed that the trim fit of the pants does hinder my movement (even though the knees are covered by stretch material) when I have to take giant steps upwards sometimes. I am referring to when I have to step up at least 18 in (46 cm) at a time in some locations. This is just noticeable and those conditions are luckily not encountered often. In contrast a looser pair of pants hasn't hindered me in those type of situations in the past.

Backpacking at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore So far I have been very comfortable in the pants due to cool conditions so I am a bit anxious to see how they will perform in warmer weather. I will be going on a eight-day backpack starting later this week so I guess I will find out if the weather turns warmer!

I have mostly used the cinch cord to shorten the length of the pants and this has worked well. The pants have been worn in many wet conditions including heavy rain and snow. My legs have not felt wet. The other day I spilled some water on the pants while I was treating water in the backcountry and it beaded up on the surface so the DWR finish is still working.

Initially I thought that the bottom of the pants were too wide but that really hasn't been an issue in any of my sports. The deep pockets have been real handy for keys, phone and even a trail map. I like the zippered pockets the best as they offer more security of items stowed (I usually keep my Identification cards in one of the pockets during an entire trip).

Care and Durability

I have washed the Hybrid Pants at least fifteen times since I received them. Even then I have worn them several continuous days before washing. I have just thrown them in with my regular wash in cold water and then I put them on a drying rack. The manufacturer suggested washing them separately but I washed them with similar color clothing to save water. Everything looks great about them yet. The tough material has withstood many harsh back country conditions including rough vegetation and deep mud. I have also fallen a few times with no damage to the fabric (just my skin underneath).

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Long Term Report:
August 26, 2013

USA Locations and Conditions

During the long term period I have worn the Helly Hansen Hybrid Pants during both a backpacking trip and a canoe trip as well as extensively for daily sport activities. Locations of all activities were in the States of Michigan and Minnesota and ranged from hilly deciduous forest to open non-deciduous communities to lakes and portage trails. Elevation ranged from 600 ft (183 m) to almost 2000 ft (610 m).

Location of Trip #3 (June 14-22): Isle Royale National Park, Michigan
Type of Trip: Trail
Distance: 61 mi (98 km)
Length of Trip: 8 days/8 nights
Pack Weight: Approx 30 lb (13.6 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Clouds, sun, rain and heavy fog    
Precipitation: Estimated: 0.50 in (1.27 cm)
Temperature Range: 39 F to 69 F (4 C to 21 C) 
Location of Trip #4 (August 6-10): Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area, Minnesota
Type of Trip: Canoe/ Portage (10 lakes, 4 rivers and 16 portages)
Distance: Approx 25 mi (40.25 km)
Length of Trip: 5 days/4 nights
Equipment Weight: Heavy! (Probably a 35 lb (16 kg) pack plus life jacket, seat cushion, paddles, etc)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, rainy and sunny
Precipitation: 0.08 in (0.20 cm)
Temperature Range: 46 F to 70 F (8 C to 21 C)
Location of Other Activities (dayhiking): Upper Peninsula of Michigan 
Distances:  5 mi to 8 mi (8 km to 13 km)
Temperature Range:  40 F to 75 F (4 C to 24 C)

More Thoughts

Luckily I was able to wear the Hybrid Pants quite often in the long term period due to a mostly cool summer in a very northern latitude. They were worn during a couple of extended trips when the temperatures weren't expected to be too hot as well as for many day outings.
Author at Isle Royale National Park
My first adventure in the long term period was an eight-night backpacking trip to Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior (Michigan). I hesitated choosing to wear them for the entire trip as I didn't know how wide the temperature range would be. I never bring more than one pair of hiking pants although my rain pants are in my pack for a deluge of rain. The temperatures during this trip only got as high as 69 F (21 C) and as low as 39 F (4 C). I was thankful for that as my legs were warmer than needed as the temps went up. However I was still comfortable.

Many days the entire bottoms of my pants would get wet with the dew from vegetation in the morning hours. Even though they were wet I was still comfortable and the pants dried well enough before evening. I also went through a great deal of mud so when I would get to camp I usually walked in the water for a bit to try to scrape the mud off. The surface mud came out fine but there always was a brown tinge to the bottom of the pants. After returning home that tinge came out with a single washing in the washing machine. Just a note that the pants did not bag out or look sloppy even though I wore them for eight days in a row. A couple of days I walked in heavy fog/light misty rain so the pants did become more wet but not uncomfortable. At one point as the fog turned to heavy rain, I donned a pair of rain pants over them.

As the summer progressed the weather stayed cool for the most part. When I saw the forecast in early August for the canoe trip in the northern ranges of Minnesota, I decided that the Hybrid Pants would be perfectly matched to the cool weather. On the first day out it started to rain after about an hour and before I could put my rain pants on (a little hard to do in a canoe), they were totally wet. Because I was in a sitting position in the canoe the rain penetrated the fabric after initially beading up. I wasn't cold in the least however so when we got to camp I continued to wear them throughout the evening trying to dry them out (I did change my upper body layers to stay warm). By nightfall they were still damp as the material is not quick drying when there is no sun. I removed them while sleeping so in the morning I put on the damp pants with no ill effects.

I continued to wear them throughout the entire canoe trip. I was surprised that they were so comfortable for getting in and out of the canoe during 16 portages plus the daily starts and stops for leaving and getting to camp. Many times the bottom-to-knee areas of the pants got wet and muddy as there wasn't always a dry area to land the canoe plus some of the portage trails were deeply flooded in parts. Then there were the multiple times where I scrambled out of the canoe to get over beaver dams! Anyway, the pants dried fast enough on these partly cloudy and somewhat windy days. In some portages I cinched the pants up several inches so they wouldn't acquire too much mud.

I have also continued to wear them for many dayhikes when the temps didn't get over 70 F (21 C). That has been most of the summer here! 

Care and Durability

The Hybrid Pants have been continued to be washed regularly except during backcountry trips where they were worn up to eight days without washing. They wash up beautifully at home. I did wonder if I would see some fading of the color of the pants as they have been worn so extensively. I really can't tell that the color has changed even when I compare the interior of the pants to the exterior. 

During the Isle Royale trip, I did sit on some pine pitch. It left several small spots that were sticky. In the field I use some hand sanitizer on them to get rid of the stickiness. Luckily it didn't discolor the fabric. Once I got home I scrubbed the spots with ordinary liquid detergent. The spots were almost gone but I could still see some residue marking. That disappeared after a few more washings.

It goes without saying that I really have enjoyed testing these pants. Their durability is impressive as there are no signs of any questionable wear. I really love the fact that I can wear these pants day after day in the backcountry and they don't exhibit any signs of wrinkling or bagging out.
I will continue to wear them in the future during all months of the year depending on the temperature as I feel that they are the most comfortable when temperatures are less than 75 F (24 C).


  • Nice fit through hip and thigh areas
  • Attractive design
  • Pockets are integrated into the design well and are very functional
  • Very Durable
  • Comfortable


  • No waistband adjustment but most times it hasn't been an issue
Tester Remarks 

Thanks to Helly Hansen and BackpackGearTest for this opportunity to test the Hybrid Pants. This concludes my  Long Term Report.

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