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Reviews > Clothing > Pants and Shorts > Helly Hansen Odin Traverse Pants > Test Report by Brett Haydin
HELLY HANSEN ODIN TRAVERSE PANT
Test Series by Brett Haydin
Initial Report - April 22, 2013
Field Report - July 23, 2013
Long Term Report - September 27, 2013
I started backpacking in Wisconsin as a youth, being involved in the Boy Scouts programs. As a young adult, I worked at a summer camp leading backpacking, canoeing and mountain biking trips. I now generally take short weekend or day trips in rough, mountainous terrain, although I have extensive experience in the upper Midwest as well. I take one or two longer trips each year, where I typically carry about 40 lb (18 kg). I prefer to be prepared and comfortable, but I have taken lightweight trips as well.
Product Information & SpecificationsManufacturer: Helly Hansen
Year of Manufacture: 2013
Manufacturer's Website: www.hellyhansen.com
MSRP: $200.00 US
Listed Weight: 14.1 oz (400 g)
Measured Weight: 16.5 oz (468 g)
Color Tested: Ebony (only color available)
Size Tested: Extra Large (also available in S, M, L, XXL)
Warranty: Limited lifetime warranty for the life of the product.
Product DescriptionThe Helly Hansen Odin Traverse Pants, hereafter referred to as the "pants", "Odin" or "Traverse," is touted by the manufacturer as outdoor trousers for use by professionals. Designed with mountains in mind, the outer shell is made of burly nylon while the inner layer is a polyester fabric. I would describe the fit of the pants as "athletic" or slim. My body shape can fit in either a Large or Extra Large pant, but in this case the XL is a perfect fit for me.
The Odin Traverse Pants are 100% waterproof and breathable thanks to the manufacturer's proprietary Helly Tech Professional fabric. Built for durability, but without extra weight or construction, the pants are simple, yet refined and versatile. The Traverse features 3/4 two-way zippers on the sides of the legs that should make putting them on easy over my boots. But they will also help with ventilation as well. The zippers are YKK zippers (the best in my opinion) with a plastic pull tab for easy handling. There are three, fleece-lined pockets on the front of the pant as well; two for the hands and one just below on my right leg which functions as a cargo pocket. The three zippers for these are water-resistant YKK Aquaguard pockets. The lower pocket does not have a pull tab like all of the others, but has a rubber nub on it making it easy to grasp.
The pants come with a hang tag affixed to one of the pockets with basic information about the Helly Tech fabrics. The Helly Hansen logo is printed above the cargo pocket. The Helly Tech logo is printed on the rear left hip portion of the pants as well. And for good measure, the Odin logo (yes there is a whole line of Odin wear offered by Helly Hansen) is on the back of the right leg. On the waistband there is also a printed box talking about the origin of the name and all the logos in one place. There are also tags on the inside of the pants with care instructions in four languages. I just recognize the English one.
Initial ImpressionsThese pants are not at all what I expected, but not necessarily in a bad way. They have the feel of an outer shell, but the manufacturer doesn't refer to them that way. Instead, they are meant to be used in the mountains where temperatures, winds and precipitation can change before I could change layers. With this in mind, I am excited to take these out into the field. The 3/4 zip will be a plus as the summer draws near, but I am hopeful that a base layer underneath will keep me warm while the solid waterproof exterior will keep the elements out.
The pants are true to size, so I am glad I "sized up" this time. I have muscular legs but the pants don't feel tight at all. I have complete range of motion for scrambling up the boulders in the Rocky Mountains of the Colorado. The elastic cord is a little odd to me. Since the slack floats freely in the leg, I have noticed that it can slip out of the pant leg after a while just while wearing the pants at home.
Reading the InstructionsHelly Hansen is no newcomer to the outdoor gear market. Their story began in 1877 in Norway according to the manufacturer's website. It's quite impressive, actually. What I liked is that the website is easy to navigate and that there is information about their corporate policies. Helly Hansen strives to be a sustainable business with high regard for environmental practices. This is a major selling point to me.
Caring for the pants should be easy. Wash with mild detergent but no tumbling for a dryer. Sounds like hanging them on a clothes line is the best way.
My first trip was an overnight to Lake Como, Colorado to hike Little Bear Peak. My friend and I hiked 3 mi (5 km) in to the lake before settling in for the night near the lake at 11,750 ft (3,580 m). Overnight temperatures dipped to about 25 F (-4 C), but the day heated up nicely to about 55 F (13 C), especially by the time we hiked back down to my car! Little Bear Peak tops out at 14,035 ft (4,278 m) and is one of the most challenging "fourteeners" Colorado has. We traveled jeep roads, snow, rock and ice to get to the top but most importantly we made it safe and sound!
My second trip was a return (overnight) trip to Castle Peak near Aspen, Colorado to hike an adjacent peak. Because of the time of year, we had to hike a bit farther because of the snow but much of the "trail" was a road. We camped near 11,000 ft, (3,350 m) off to the side of the road in a nice clearing. Overnight temperatures were about 40 F (4 C) while daytime temperatures topped out at 50 F (10 C). We missed the summit of Conundrum, but the trail conditions were a mix of snow, ice, crushed rock and some boulder fields. We encountered usual spring weather conditions of sleet, rain and sunshine.
My final backpacking trip was a 15 mi (24 km) hike along the Colorado Trail to complete section three. I hiked about 5 mi (8 km) in to set up camp and then completed the section the next day. Temperatures were nice with highs near 80 F and lows near 60 F (27 and 16 C respectively). Our elevation was between 7,850 and 8,100 ft (2,390 and 2,470 m) along easy subalpine terrain, which means rocky!
My other trips brought me to similar conditions and terrain. Mountain biking, I almost always carry a set of rain clothes just in case. While biking one day I did need to use the pants as I got caught up in a storm. Wearing the pants rolled up kept the pants legs from getting ruined by the gears, but at the same time kept me dry and (mostly) clean.
ObservationsWow, are these pants comfortable! I was a little nervous taking them out in the field since they look and somewhat feel like a shell. My first hike out with them was a snow ascent of Little Bear Peak (in Colorado), which in itself is a feat. The hike from base camp is short on miles but climbs two separate couloirs that are both steep and hold snow well into the summer. I was wearing a set of base layers underneath them for insulation (it was near 25 F (-4 F) when I started) and quickly opened up the zippers as we climbed the first couloir, with a slope of 40+ degrees. The "hourglass" couloir has a pitch of 60 degrees, but by that time the temperature was near 50 F (10 C) with the sun beating down on me. What I really appreciated was how easy the zippers are to operate, even with a gloved hand, while carrying an ice ax. Brilliant design!
On subsequent hikes, I wore the pants against my skin. I don't find them uncomfortable, but I will say that cotton and traditional synthetic pants do feel nicer. After a short while, it is not noticeable, so I wouldn't classify them as uncomfortable.
The pockets are perfect in my opinion. The smaller pocket on my leg is great for a compass, snot rag or other quick-stash items. (Yes, I still carry a compass). The lining on the other pockets is quite nice. As you can see in the picture to the left, I have worn the pants on some fairly technical hikes involving rather sharp and loose rocks. Frankly, looking at the pants they are in near pristine condition. I would love to claim that my nimble feet are to be credited, but frankly I had my share of stumbles. The fabric is resilient, and I am starting to realize why Helly Hansen advertises these at preferred by professional guides.
My only "gripe" with the Odin Travers Pants is that unlike other pants I have worn, they are quite uncomfortable in warm temperatures. The waterproof membrane is remarkably breathable, but in temperatures above 70 F (21 C) the combined heat and sweat make them almost unbearable. On a couple of day hike, I hiked in 80 F (27 C) temperatures. Despite being in a shaded forest, it was uncomfortable. I thought of rolling up the pants like a capris pant on one hike, which was a little better. I opened the zippers some and the combination made it a bit better, but I felt a little self-conscious when meeting other hikers. Frankly, I was a bit embarrassed to capture a picture. I'll be sure to get on for the next installment, as August is usually even warmer!
Field ConditionsDuring the final two months of this test series I wore the Helly Hansen Odin Traverse Pants on an additional four backpacking trips. My first backpacking trip was to the Maroon Bells Wilderness near Aspen, Colorado for an overnight. I had intended to climb Pyramid Peak, but was rained out and ended up hiking along the trails and exploring the terrain leading to the more technical approaches. Despite the rain, it was about 70 F (21 C) during the day down to 45 F (7 C) at night. Most of the hiking was along solid, rocky trails, although there was a mix of more rock than dirt in quite a few spots.
My next trip was an overnight trip along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail in Wisconsin (Chippewa County) with some friends. The trail was through mostly deciduous forests, along rolling hills and along many small lakes. The 21 mi (34 km) hike saw sunshine the whole way with temperatures falling between 60 and 75 F (16 and 24 C).
My next trip was an overnight in the Maroon Bells Wilderness near Aspen, CO for a trip to Capitol Peak, one of the most challenging 14,000 ft (4,267 m) peaks in Colorado. We hiked a total of 17 mi (27 km) along a rocky and sometimes muddy trail through subalpine forests and along tundra and talus slopes. The weather was great, for gear testing that is. With overnight lows at 40 F (4 C) and afternoon highs near 75 F (24 C) we saw sunshine, rain and some nice windy gusts. And cows. Seriously, we saw cows grazing along the trail.
My last trip was a short overnight in the Lost Creek Wilderness near Fairplay, Colorado to do some technical rock climbing with a few friends. The trail was steep, rocky terrain along a subalpine forest. The weather was great with highs near 80 F (27 C) and clear skies the whole time.
Generally speaking I wore the pants as I would normally wear any pants, with a base layer if it was cooler, but I also rolled the cuffs up and/or opened the side zippers if I was too warm. This brings the total use to 7 nights (14 days) of backpacking along with supplemental use mountain biking and hiking.
As for the comfort of the Odin Traverse pants, my views remain unchanged. They are really comfortable. Just two weeks before hiking Capitol Peak, I had a minor mountain bike wreck that left my leg with a serious road rash. Despite this, I wore these pants and experienced no major discomfort. In fact, I found them to irritate my injury much less than my cotton trousers and jeans. I have continued to see warmer weather and I found myself longing for shorts. The pants actually breathe quite well, but I would rather be cool and comfortable than hot and comfortable. As with my field report, I normally opened up the side zips to cool off. This works well enough.
As the test series has worn on, I have found that I prefer to wear these pants with a belt. The elastic waist band doesn't hold the pants up as well as I am used to. The belt loops are adequate for just about any kind of belt, frankly.
The pants have held up extremely well. The images above illustrate the conditions I experienced at Capitol Peak. At one point I was straddling rock and scooting my butt along what is known as the "knife's edge," a precarious ridge that needs to be traversed in order to reach the summit. Throughout the test series, I put the pants through conditions like this (Little Bear, Pyramid and Capitol in particular) and I cannot even see any major wearing of the material.
Continued UseThese pants have a permanent home in my gear closet. They are comfortable, durable and pack down to a reasonably small size. I will most likely use them as rain pants during the summer and when I am on warmer hikes in the spring and fall, but at other times, these pants are comfortable enough for regular use, especially with a base layer underneath. During the winter, a down insulating layer will make this the perfect system for my style of hiking.
SummaryI absolutely love these pants. They are incredibly versatile and quite durable.
Pros: Comfortable, true to size and durable. I like that they are waterproof and breathable, but also have side zips.
Cons: They are a bit warm above 70 F (21 C).
This concludes my long term report. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Helly Hansen for their generosity as well as the folks at BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to be a part of this test series.
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