MONTANE PRISM PANTS
TEST SERIES BY ANDREI GIRENKOV
INITIAL REPORT - November 24, 2013
FIELD REPORT - March 04, 2014
LONG TERM REPORT - April 28, 2014
New York, New York, USA
5' 10" (1.78 m)
150 lb (68.00 kg)
I have been backpacking for 6 years, mostly three-season weekend trips in the Adirondacks, and other parks in the Northeastern US. Additionally, I try to take at least one 5-7 day trip each summer to other destinations in Canada, Western United States and Central America. I use lightweight gear on a budget. My multi-day pack weight is around 20-25 lb (9-11 kg). I enjoy sleeping comfortably and cooking a hot meal at night.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Year of Manufacture: 2013
Manufacturer's Website: www.montane.co.uk
MSRP: £100 (US$ 160 based on 11/24/2013 exchange rates)
Listed Weight: 11.6 oz (328 g) on website / 10.2 oz (290 g) on physical tag
Measured Weight: 10.8 oz (306 g) pants / 0.4 oz (11 g) stuff sack
Size Tested: Men's Medium
Color Tested: Black
Montane Prism Pants (hereafter referred to as "Pants") are designed primarily as low weight packable insulated legwear. Based on the features they can be worn by themselves for cold weather and rain conditions or with an outer shell for snow trekking.
The black glossy outer fabric is called Pertex Microlight Mini Rip-stop. The manufacturer's website describes it as "completely windproof", "fast drying", "exceptionally durable" and "exceptionally water repellent"
The technical specs for this fabric are as follows:
PERTEX® Microlight - Mini-Rip-stop
52g/m² 100% Polyamide mini rip-stop weave
Air permeability 1.0cc max (JIS L 1096 / ASTM D737)
Spray rating 80 / 20 (JIS L 1092)
Abrasion resistance 40,000+ at 12.5k PA (BS EN ISO 12947-2)
The insulation is a synthetic material called 40g PRIMALOFT ECO. The manufacturer's website describes it as follows:
133g/m², 100g/m², 60g/m² and 40g/m² performance synthetic mid-loft insulation
Warm when wet and fast drying
Wind resistant and water repellent
Compresses like down
Fibers produced from post-consumer and post-industrial plastic waste
Minimum of 50% recycled content
The inner liner is a material called PEAQ Synthetic which has the following features listed:
56g/m² ultra soft nylon plain weave
Exceptional comfort next to skin
Highly breathable and fast drying
In addition, there is a tag attached which describes the fabric as "bluesign approved." This indicates that the fabric was produced in a sustainable manner and includes standards for consumer protection against harmful substances, resource-conservation, and environmentally-friendly production.
The pants initially struck me as quite light for their bulk - much like a piece of down clothing. After digesting all the impressive marketing material, I gathered that these pants should be windproof, water resistant, warm, lightweight, and compressible. Sounds pretty good so far, I hope that these claims will uphold during testing.
In addition to all the technical data above, there are a couple of other useful features present. The waist is cinched with a light weight nylon cinch cord with a small plastic lock on it. The crotch and the knees have a seam sewn around them to allow more comfortable movement. On the thigh, and along the entire length of the shin, there is a thin strip of reflective material called 3M SCOTCHLITE. The idea behind this is to help someone with a flashlight find you in the dark with ease. Further down the leg, there is a quarter-length side zip for ventilation or the ability to pull these pants over boots. Around the ankle there are three plastic press studs which allow the wearer to form a tight seal around the footwear to prevent heat loss.
This is an impressive set of features which points to much thought put into the design of these pants.
|Note the seams above the knees|
|The reflectors can be seen along the leg|
|Side zips and ankle press studs|
One point of concern for me is the construction of these pants. Upon close inspection I saw that there are loose threads coming out of virtually every seam. This is disappointing for a pair of pants of this price. I will pay special attention to the water and wind resistance qualities of these pants when I test them to determine whether the seams have been compromised.
TRYING IT OUT
I tried the pants out briefly by wearing them around town today. They are definitely warm - very much so. Qualitatively I would say on par with wearing a down skiing suit. They are also quite bulky as I mentioned before and as can be seen in the next photograph. This is fine for the trail or winter sports, but I would not wear them around the city, much less to the office.
Overall the pants are very comfortable, and true to size. The seam that cuts across the thigh just above the knee can be felt, but it does not chafe. Notably, pockets are nowhere to be found on these pants. This is regretful, as I always have some small items such as wallet, camera, or keys in my pockets when hiking or skiing.
|Wearing the pants|
After trying these pants out, I folded them into the stuff sack to see how well they compress. As can be seen in the picture below, the pants compress down to about the size of a large can of Oatmeal. The exact dimensions are 18 cm (7.1 in) long by 41 cm (16.1 in) diameter. The whole packages can be compressed by hand down to about the size of a grapefruit, but the stuff sack doesn't have any compression straps, so it expands back.
|Compressed in stuff sack|
Pros so far:
- Very warm
- Light weight
- Environmentally responsible manufacturing process
- Useful set of features
Cons so far:
- No pockets.
- Threads coming out of most seams.
- Could have been compressed even further when packed
Remains to be seen:
- How windproof are these pants?
- How water resistant are they?
- How breathable are they
I would like to thank Montane and Backpackgeartest.org for the opportunity to test this gear. Please return in 2 months for the Field Report.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
This winter has been absolutely perfect for testing these pants on the east coast of the United States. We have had deposits of 4 to 6 inches (10 to15 cm) of snow nearly every week for the past two months, with temperatures hovering between 15 and 30 F (-10 and -1 C) during the day. In some cases it was still snowing while I hiked. In others, there was snow on the ground, but no precipitation.
|Sledding on Sandy Hook|
|More Sandy Hook|
Over the past 3 months I have taken about a dozen day hikes in these pants around the Jersey Shore. Most of these were 4-6 mile (6.4 - 9.6 km) walks in Sandy Hook National Park, as well as a selection of smaller state and local parks scattered around central New Jersey. I either ran with a small pack or pulled my daughter along in a sled along the beach. The ground in most cases had very little change in elevation, and was either sandy or rocky. On two occasions I wore these pants skiing to Windham Mountain near the Catskills in New York. Additionally, I used these pants for indoor wall climbing about four times. I plan to use them outside for that purpose once the snow melts away.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The insulation was ample for the temperature range I experienced - between 15 and 30 F (-10 and -1 C). I felt that there was definitely enough insulation to handle even colder weather. I would estimate that 0 F (-17 C) would not be a problem with thermal underwear.
The outside shell worked well for repelling snow. It did not stick to the fabric at all, and whatever snow managed to melt, beaded right off. I did not try to use the pants directly under a downpour as the manufacturer does not advertise this material as waterproof.
|Walking the trails in the Catskills|
My biggest qualm with the pants was the lack of pockets. After 3 months of use, I still have phantom pocket syndrome. I constantly try to put my wallet, keys or hands into the nonexistent pockets.
This experience was largely echoed on my ski trips. In addition to my observations above, the ski trips exposed the pants to abrasion from the falling. I am happy to report that the outside fabric is no worse for wear after taking a few tumbles onto snow and ice during skiing. I also observed that the pants have a very comfortable cut for intense activities - more on that below. When putting on ski boots, I found the zippers on the bottoms of the pants to be quite convenient to widen the leg. I did not use this feature very much when hiking because it lets in cold air.
Finally I wore these pants for indoor rock climbing. When rock climbing, one wears a harness for safety. This harness has to be tightened snugly and has a tendency to ride up into the nooks and crannies. Between the harness, and the need to reach my legs into awkward positions, it is very uncomfortable to use jeans or even normal hiking pants for rock climbing. Not so with the Montane Prism pants. They stretch very well, and the soft insulation layer stops the harness straps from chafing your skin. In this case, even pockets are not needed! I think I found my perfect cold season climbing pants.
|Ahhh.... the comfort!|
Long Term Performance
In the month and a half since the last report, I've worn the Prism Pants for an additional three cold weather weekend trips in Pennsylvania. Night time temperatures dropped to around 20 F (-6 C). I did not discover any new surprises during those trips. The pants are warm and very comfortable to hike and to sleep in. I tried wearing them to bed as well as using them as my pillow stuffing. Both uses were just fine.
One thing I failed to mention during the field report is that I did not find the stuff sack very useful. Although it can be used to compress the pants to the size of a grapefruit, there isn't much need for that either on the trail or at home. On the trail the pants are a lot more useful being on my legs than in my pack, and for summer storage the best bet is to store them on a hanger. I put the stuff sack away a few months ago and haven't touched it since.
It is a no-brainer to wear these for any winter activity, whether it's skiing, hiking, or backpacking. The minimal weight will satisfy even a hardcore light backpacking enthusiast, and the other qualities of the pants are top notch. They are soft, warm, comfortable and water-repellent. The fabric is not any worse for wear after a full season of use.
The lack of pocket on these pants remains my sole complaint about them. After using them all season, I still have not been able to get over phantom pocket syndrome. Any time I need to put away or retrieve my phone, wallet or keys I end up instinctively reaching for the nonexistant pockets.
- Very warm insulation
- Light and comfortable to the skin
- Outside shell is water repellent and reasonably durable.
- No pockets
I would like to thank Montane and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this product.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.
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