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Reviews > Clothing > Pants and Shorts > Montane Prism Mens Pants > Test Report by Bob Dorenfeld



Montane Prism Pants
Test Series By Bob Dorenfeld
Initial Review    November 22, 2013
Field Report    February 4, 2014
Long Term Report    March 27, 2014
Tester Bio
Name: Bob Dorenfeld

I'm an active hiker, snowshoer, skier, backpacker, amateur geographer and naturalist.  Home base for me is the Southern Colorado Rockies, where I'll hike from 7000 ft (2100 m) to above treeline, with an occasional desert trip to lower altitudes.  Six to 12 miles (10 to 20 km) in a day is my norm, including elevation gains up to 4000 ft (1200 m).  Most of my backpack trips are two or three nights, sometimes longer, carrying 30-40 lbs (14-18 kg).  My style is lightweight but not obsessively so - extras like binoculars, camera and notebook make my trips more enjoyable.

Email: geartest(at)sageandspruce(dot)net
Age: 55
Location: Salida, Colorado, USA
Gender: M
Height: 5' 6" (1.68 m)
Weight: 135 lb (61 kg)

Product Overview

Manufacturer:    Montane
Website:    www.montane.co.uk
MSRP:    GBT£100.00  (US$163.00 at this writing)
Measured Weight:   11 oz (312 g)
Size:    Men's Medium
Color:    Black (no other choices)
Sizes available:    S, L, XL, XXL (all "regular length")

 Montane Prism Pants
Photo:  Montane
These  Primaloft® insulated pants from Montane are lightweight active sports clothing, with articulated knees and gusseted crotch for designed for high stepping without binding the pants or legs.  (This synthetic insulation was produced originally for the U.S. Army, and is now a popular synthetic substitute for natural down.)  They come only in black, with reflective markings across the thighs and down the outside bottom of the legs.  The side legs zips come up to almost the knees, and the cuffs have snaps to tighten against boots.  The outer shell fabric is Pertex® Microlight, which Montane says is windproof, lightweight, fast drying; it has a water-repellent coating from the factory.  The pants hem is an elasticized draw cord with adjustable cord lock.  They also come with a stuff sack for storage.


- Initial Review -

First Impressions     

These are very lightweight pants - I'm wearing them as I write this and I feel no weight at all on my legs, walking or sitting.  The first thing I noticed as I slipped them on is the tight waist, even with the shock-cord all the way out.  I'm about a 32 in (80 cm) waist, which sometimes falls between sizes in manufacturers' fitting charts, so I asked for the Men's Medium.  However, as I'm wearing the Prisms they don't feel so bad, perhaps because of the overall light weight and the give in the elastic cord.  Although there is no front zipper, the stretchy waist enables easy pull-on and -off.  The second thing I noticed is that they are just a bit long in the leg for me (measuring about 30 in (76 cm), but then almost all pants are that way since I'm a tad shorter than the average male for whom outdoor clothing is designed.  However, when snapped tight (using the easy-to-use plastic snaps) around my shoe tops, the extra length doesn't seem like a big deal.  And finally, I see that there are no pockets, not even a small one; it would have been nice to have two front hand pockets.  The pants come with a stuff sack about the size of a one liter bottle, and it was pretty easy to roll up and stuff them into it.  And, as I finish this paragraph, sitting inside at my desk, my legs are warming up quickly, so the insulation is definitely doing its job.

- Field Report:  February 4, 2014 -

Conditions
I've been busy in the past two months field testing the Prism Pants as our Rocky Mountain winter settles in with deep snow and cold temperatures.  In all, I accomplished three hikes for about 10 mi (16 km), seven snowshoe treks for about 30 mi (48 km), two Nordic ski trips for 6 mi (10 km), and one all-day alpine ski outing. 
In all, I experienced temperatures from 0 to 35 F (-18 to 2 C), and corresponding wind chills as low as -50 F (-46 C).  On all but the two snowshoe trips I wore only briefs underneath the Prism pants, but long underwear was needed for the two coldest trips when temperatures reached a high of just 15 F (-9 C).

Fit & Performance
I'm happy to say that my initial impressions of how these insulated pants would perform has been borne out on all of my day trips.  FrontThey are easy to slip on, and they initially feel somewhat tight on my waist, although I notice it less over time.  Nonetheless, I would have preferred another inch (2.5 cm) or so of elastic so that I could loosen the waist once in a while.  Even so, I liked the way my wool-blend base-layer shirt stayed tucked into the pants, even during strenuous activity.  The leg zippers make it easy to slip the pants on over hiking or Nordic ski boots, but for alpine ski boots I wouldn't risk ripping the seams. Raising the bottom zipper about 2 in (5 cm) let the pant bottoms sit snugly on the alpine boots.  I really like that the double zipper (operates from top or bottom) gives me access to the battery packs (for heated socks) that I have strapped to my calves (photo below right).zipped down  An insulated zipper guard helps keep cold air and snow from migrating inside the pants.  I was initially a bit concerned about the pants' length, but except when walking in stocking feet (when they dragged on the floor a bit) the legs fit quite well with the fabric somewhat bunching up on the leg, but not annoyingly so (photo at left).

I really like that they are roomy but not too baggy.  They felt great during skiing - lots of movement and flex without any binding at the knees or the seat, thanks to the pants' articulated knees and "diamond crotch" design.  In addition, even during very high winds of 40 mph (64 kph) I didn't experience pant fabric flapping very much around my legs.  A plus: they also do not make that annoying "swishing" sound that too-baggy nylon or polyester pants sometimes do.  On my first outing I'd forgotten my gaiters, but I found that the adjustable leg cuffs, using the two plastic snap positions, created an adequate, or better, seal at the top of my hiking and Nordic ski boots that most of the time I didn't need the gaiters. (See photo at right) 
cuffsThis was an unexpected bonus of the pant design that I really appreciated.  Otherwise I used gaiters for deep snow or breaking trail, when the Prism cuffs weren't good enough by themselves.

I found water repellency excellent: snow beaded off so fast I had to double-take to see where the pants were wet.  The zippers operated smoothly at all the temperatures I experienced, and snow or ice didn't accumulate on the zippers during my outings.  The zipper pulls were just big enough for me to grab hold of with heavy gloves, but not with heavy mittens.

These pants are warm!  In fact, when temperatures warmed up to near or above freezing my legs got sweaty - so I'd run down the top leg zipper about two-thirds to provide a some cooling air without causing the leg bottoms to flap at my boots.  skiingStanding or moving in that cold, cold wind-chill was a breeze - even with bare legs underneath, the Prisms never let my legs get cold.  Of course, stopping for a while often causes a chill-down, but even then I noticed only a bit of cooling.  Also, the silky-smooth inner legs felt good on my skin.  Another bonus of insulated pants like the Prisms is that they allowed me to sit for short periods on snow-covered trees or rocks with a bit of comfort from the hard and cold surface (but for extended sitting I'd want a foam pad).

Starting out the test I had some concern about how durable the outer pant fabric would be when crashing through brush (sometimes unavoidable while snowshoeing off trail), since its light weight and silky feel make it seem fragile.  But over several occasions in light non-thorny brush it seems that the outer fabric is pretty tough and can take some occasional light abuse.  (I wouldn't want to wear the Prisms in a cactus forest or in thorny underbrush, however.)

Pockets?
OK - so far so good.  But alas, the Prism pants have one serious drawback - no pockets.  I would have really liked a couple of front hand-sized pockets with zippers.  On all of my outings I found my hands constantly reaching for one of those pockets, because it's just a comfortable position, or to warm up my hands, or to store small objects like a watch, keys, tissue, etc.  However, forced to adjust to pocket-less pants I adapted and instead stashed those sundries in my jacket or pack.



stuffedStorage

This photo demonstrates how compactly the Prisms stuff into the accompanying stuff sack - it's actually easy to get it all in.  Since they were my only pants while outdoors, I never had the chance to remove and store them while on a trip during this FieldReport period.  The storage bag is separate from the pants, but I would have liked to see the bag integrated into the pant design (for example, using a pocket if one was present), so I wouldn't have to keep track of the bag when not in use.






Summary

My initial impressions of Montane's Prism insulated pants have definitely been sustained during the extensive use I put them to during winter so far.  They are durable, lightweight, warm, wind- and water-resistant, easy to use, and very comfortable.

I will continue to wear the pants while enjoying winter and snow sports. 

Stop back in about two months for my Long Term results.


- Long Term Report  [March 27, 2014] -

Since my Field Report was posted, I've used the Prism Pants on three more snowshoes and hikes in cold weather (temperature 15 to 20 F (-9 to -6 C)) , and I'll second all of my comments from the Field Report (above).  I will probably add these pants to my regular warm-season backpacking gear because they'll keep me warm on those high-altitude below-freezing nights, add some good fluffy stuffing to my clothes-pillow, in addition to adding little extra weight to my backpack.

As for the absence of hand pockets, perhaps they were left off to save a couple of ounces or grams of weight, or to keep the cost down just a bit, but I really missed them.  If given a choice of insulated pants equivalent in all important aspects except for the pockets, I'd take the pair with pockets.  Otherwise I can't find any other significant faults with the Prism pants.

Pros

  • warm & lightweight
  • comfortable
  • water repellent
  • quiet when walking
  • easily fits over hiking and Nordic ski boots

Cons

  • no pockets


Acknowledgments    

A big thanks to BGT and to Montane for the chance to test the Prism insulated pants.


Reviewed By
Bob Dorenfeld
Central Colorado Mountains




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