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
- Field Report: February 4, 2014 -
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
happy to say that my initial impressions of how these insulated pants
would perform has been borne out on all of my day trips. They
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). 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
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)
This 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.
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. Standing 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
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.)
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.
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.
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] -
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.
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.
- warm & lightweight
- water repellent
- quiet when walking
- easily fits over hiking and Nordic ski boots