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Reviews > Clothing > Pants and Shorts > MontBell Light Down Insulated Pants > Test Report by Gail StaisilMontBell
Light Down Insulated Pants
Test Series by: Gail Staisil, Marquette, Michigan
October 19, 2019
Name: Gail Staisil
Height: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
Weight: 160 lb (73 kg)
Location: Marquette, Michigan USA
Email: woodswoman 2001 AT yahoo DOT com
For the last few 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. My pack weight varies considerably but my base weight is below 18 lb (8 kg). I am primarily a Tarptent 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.
Initial Impressions and Product Description
The MontBell Light Down Pants arrived in the requested size and only available color (Black). The pants appear to be constructed well and I found no imperfections. The pants are available in women's sizes S-XL and they also come in a men's version. I am testing the XL size even though my measurements are more in line with size L. Since I will be layering them with one or two extra layers a lot of the time, I felt like this was the best choice. Time will tell but I tried them on with a pair of long underwear, then combined with a pair of hiking pants and they seemed perfectly sized.
The pants feature sewn-through construction sandwiching nylon with down. These pants do not have a fly (the men's version doesn't either). There is an elastic waist with a drawcord. There are also stretchy elastics at the bottom of each leg. The elastic waist measures about 34 in (86 cm) relaxed and 39 in (99 cm) stretched. The bottom of each leg measures 11 in (28 cm) relaxed and 12.5 in (32 cm) stretched. They were easy to put on wearing stocking feet. Most of the time I would be wearing these, would be with bulky winter footwear so I imagine that I will have to remove the latter before putting them on. The XL pants have a 31.5 inseam (80 cm) which is perfect for me.
They are incredibly comfortable and the materials of the pants are super soft. The pants came with a stuff sack with a drawcord closure. The pants were easy to stuff into the sack. The pants are incredibly lightweight for the amount of warmth they reportedly will provide.
Care instructions are located on a tag inserted into the inside of waistband seam. The pants should be hand washed with cold water. They can be tumble dried on low heat or line dried in the shade. No bleach or ironing but they can be dry cleaned if using petroleum solvent. The other side of the tag says that down-specific detergent should be used and "washing at the end of season should be enough" as too much washing may cause damage to fabric.
The MontBell Light Down Pants are a well-constructed insulation layer. They seem easy to layer without any fiddling around. They are very lightweight and could be carried year-round for cool/frigid times at camp. I will be heading out in a few days for a backcountry trip so I am excited to bring them with me. Expected lows will be around freezing.
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January 6, 2020
USA Locations and Conditions
During the field test period the MontBell Insulated Pants were used on many cold weather trips in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, USA. Elevation ranged from above 600 ft (180 m) to almost 2000 ft (610 m).
Location of Trip #1: Hiawatha National Forest
Length of Rustic Cabin Trip: 4 days, 3 nights (October 21-24)
Distance: 10 mi (16 km)
Pack Weight: 28 lb (12.7 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, and some sun
Precipitation: A little rain
Temperature Range: 48 F to 37 F (9 C to 3 C)
Location of Trip #2: Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
Length of Backpacking Trip: 4 days, 3 nights (October 31-November 3)
Distance: 18 mi (29 km)
Pack Weight: 28 lb (12.7 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Super windy and cold
Precipitation: Light snow
Temperature Range: 33 F to 17 F (1 C to -8 C)
Location of Trip #3: Hiawatha National Forest
Length of Winter Sledge Trip to rustic cabin: 5 days, 4 nights (December 30-January 3)
Distance: 3 mi (5 km) with sledge; unknown mileage on backcountry ski adventures while there
Sledge Weight: Very heavy; probably 50 lb (23 kg) with fresh consumables and cabin necessities (bare bones cabin so everything must be hauled in)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, snow and one sunny day
Precipitation: About 10 in (25 cm) of new snow!
Temperature Range: 34 F to -1 F (1 C to -18 C)
During the test period I wore the MontBell Insulated Pants on several multi-day trips. The first two trips were during fall weather, the second of which was characterized with winter conditions. Brisk cold winds, low temps and the early arrival of snow became the norm every day. The last trip was during full winter conditions with lots of new snow on top of several feet of snow base. I packed the pants on all these trips and ended up wearing them extensively at camp. That means I put them on as soon as the hike (or snowshoe or ski) was over and kept them on throughout the night into the next morning. All of these trips were based out of rustic cabins. I had protection from the overall elements while inside, but still spent a lot of time outside gathering wood, taking short walks and visits to the outhouse. Inside the cabin(s) were kept somewhat warm, but I always let the fire go out during the night meaning morning temps around 40 F (4 C). Sleeping in the pants helped to keep me warm. In addition I wore a wool hoody, wool underlayer pants and wool socks. A light overbag/quilt was all I needed with these layers.
The down pants are super comfortable to wear and take the edge off of a chill. I never felt like they restricted my movement in any way. The waist of the pants has been comfortable without tying off the cordage. One day after I put the pants back on I sat down and soon realized that I had the pants on backwards. The back edge (or really the front edge) slid down as the extra room wasn't there for my back end! Never a dull moment.
My normal footwear at camp was a pair of slightly-insulated camp slippers. Sometimes if I was too warm I would remove the insulated pants (or the opposite if I was too cold) and try to slip them on or off with my slippers in place. Although it worked, it was better to take the slippers off, as there isn't much extra room at the bottom edges of pants. I could never remove or put them on with boots while wearing boots as the latter are much too bulky.
I haven't had to wash the pants yet as they look fine.
So far I love everything about these pants. The lack of pockets doesn't bother me as I rarely use pants pockets for anything. During the next two months I will continue to wear the pants on lots of adventures including winter camping and two more cabin trips.
Thanks to MontBell and BackpackGearTest.org for this opportunity to test the Light Down Pants. My long term report will be available in about two months.
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