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Reviews > Clothing > Pants and Shorts > Norrona trollveggen GORE-TEX Pants > Owner Review by Richard Lyon

NORRØNA TROLLVEGGEN GORE-TEX PRO BIB PANTS
Owner Review by Richard Lyon
March 2, 2014

Storetind 3

PERSONAL DETAILS and BACKPACKING BACKGROUND

Male, 67 years old
Height: 6' 4" (1.93 m)
Weight: 200 lb (89 kg)
Chest 46 in (117 cm), waist 37 in (95 cm), inseam 34 in (86 cm)
Email address: Montana DOT angler AT gmail DOT com
Home: Bozeman, Montana USA

I've been backpacking for nearly half a century, most often in the Rockies.  I do at least one weeklong trip every summer, and often take three-day trips.  I'm usually camping in alpine terrain, at altitudes 5000 to 10000 ft (1500 - 3000 m).  I prefer base camp backpacking, a long hike in with day trips from camp.  Recently I've been actively reducing my pack weight, though I still tend to include my favorite camp conveniences.  I always sleep in a floored tent and like hot meals. Winter outings are often on telemark or cross-country skis.

THE PRODUCT

Norrøna named this particular clothing line after the Trollveggen (literally translated from the Norse, “troll’s wall”), a popular European rock and ice-climbing venue.  A Norrøna brand applies not to a single piece but to a line of clothing, usually containing jacket and pants choices in at least two fabrics, plus midlayer and outer layer insulating pieces.  Each brand has a focus, the trollveggen’s being “mountain workwear” and Norrøna promotes it for climbing and similar hard-core activities.  The bib pant it describes as “Our most durable, weather protective and waterproof pants for mountain activities.” These shell pants, made principally of GORE-TEX Pro Shell, have a stretchy above-the-waist bib that reaches the middle of my chest in front and adds eight inches (20 cm) to the waistline in back.

Manufacturer: Norrøna Sport AS, Hvalstad, Norway.  At this writing Backcountry.com is the manufacturer’s exclusive United States distributor.
Website: http://www.norrona.com   English and Norse versions.
Year purchased: 2013
Size: XXL, available in unisex sizes S-XXL
Color: Caviar (dark grey), the only one available.
Related products: Norrøna also offers several other technical pants and bibs made of GORE-TEX Pro Shell. Some are gender-specific.
Weight, listed [no size indicated] 753 g (26.5 oz), measured: 30 oz (850 g)
Inseam length, measured: 34 in (86 cm)
Warranty: Per manufacturer’s website, lifetime warranty against manufacturing and material defects to the original purchaser and a 14-day return policy; either requires return to the manufacturer in Norway.  Per Norrøna’s US distributor’s website, 5-year manufacturer’s warranty. The distributor also has a no-questions-asked return policy.
MSRP: Per manufacturer’s website, $499 US; per Norrøna’s US distributor’s website, $548.90 US.

Trollveggen 1These are fully featured athletic trousers. Norrøna’s website lists as features “YKK® Aquaseal® zippers, removable gaiters, reinforcements at the legs for crampon use, ventilation down the legs, and large thigh pockets.” My bibs have all of these except that there’s only one thigh pocket, on the left, which is all that’s pictured on the website. Also pictured on the website (but not included in text) are two zippered chest pockets, one on each side of the stretchy bib. Not listed or described but included are a zippered fly and a zipper from the top of the back panel on the right extending twenty inches (31 cm) down, each for ease in answering nature’s call.

The zippers on the fly, side zips, and back have openers at each end.  All zippers have small hard rubber pulls attached.  Both pulls on the back, the one on the leg pocket, and the top pull on the fly and side zips have bright red fabric pulls as well.

I didn’t notice it until I began to compose this Review, but another unlisted feature is a toggle and elastic band on the left side of the stretchy part on the back, which can be used to cinch up the bib. I haven’t needed this with two layers underneath but I believe it could assist in warmer weather over a tee shirt.

FIELD CONDITIONS

I’ve worn the trollveggen bibs at least fifty days this winter, mostly resort skiing but also including hiking/ski touring in the backcountry, many day hikes/skis, and during skate ski clinic sessions.

All of this but two days’ resort skiing in Utah took place near my home. Temperatures from 40 to -30 F (4 to -34 C) in conditions ranging from cloudless bright blue skies to whiteout, high-wind blizzards, at altitudes from about 5800 to 11,000 feet (1800-3400 m).  

I prefer lighter weight base layers even in extreme cold, so my only other lower body garment has been a lightweight merino wool long john bottom.  

OBSERVATIONS

Trollveggen 2Fit. In these bibs I experienced something quite rare for me – a pair of trousers slightly too long in the legs. (Far more often I have the opposite problem.) Size XXL yields a perfect fit when I’m wearing my standard resort footwear – four-buckle plastic telemark ski boots. With them (and with a two-buckle tele boot used for touring) the length is just right, with the cuff just atop the tongue of the boot with a slight break, and the powder cuff of the gaiters just over the top buckle. But with footwear made with a lower heelpiece the cuff can come almost to the bottom of the heel in back. And my cross-country ski boots and winter hiking boots all have considerably less heel elevation than the tele boots. I haven’t tripped yet, but I’ve worried enough about it that for non-touring cross-country ski use (i.e., skating and classic laps) and winter hiking, on or off snowshoes, I may fold up the cuff two or three inches (5-7 cm) for safety’s sake, as shown in the top photo. This doesn’t compromise the snow cuff and so far the fold hasn’t worked its way down.

Other than that, the XXL fits me perfectly. The seat is comfortable and the GORE-TEX trousers extend several inches/centimeters above my waist, with the stretchy extension coming to the top of my rib cage. When wearing a base layer and a down or wool sweater tucked inside the bibs there’s maneuvering room but not the tent-like extra space I have found in other XXL trousers, most notably fishing waders. (Then again, before buying the trollveggens I hadn’t purchased any XXL bibs or trousers for several years. Perhaps I’ve “grown” into that size.) The suspender straps, which are sewn in and thus not removable, can be adjusted using a slider, so I can ensure the right amount of snugness depending upon the heft of my base and midlayers.

Weather-worthiness. When wearing the trollveggens I continue to marvel at GORE-TEX’s ability to expel warm air from inside yet keep out the wind and snow. With only one layer underneath these unlined bibs have sufficed to keep my lower body from getting to the shiver stage in some very frosty and windy conditions. And they have proven to be completely waterproof, as advertised. As to breathability, not having worn the bibs in even lukewarm weather limits my ability to comment. I can say I have not gotten clammy when wearing them, even after a pause to catch my breath after a stiff climb.  Often after returning home from a ski or hiking day I’ll do outdoor chores before cleaning up and so wear the bibs. During the current brisk winter this has included frequent splitting of wood to heat the house and shoveling of snow for access, either of which can be a heavyweight activity.  Once again no noticeable sweatiness if I’m in my trollveggens.

Features. I find these exactly right, meaning all work as they should, all are used, and there are no features I don’t want.  The chest pockets are roomy and easy to access (unless my top layer is a pullover), as is the pocket on the left leg. I use the leg zips even on resort days, to put on kneepads at the beginning of the day and to remove them before heading home. A few times I’ve used them for ventilation, though it’s generally been too cold for that. Though I haven’t needed to use it often, the back zip works for its intended purpose, and it’s a terrific feature to have when my top layer (worn over the suspender straps) is a pullover, as it has been often this winter. Certainly it is much easier to unzip, from either end, than several C-shaped zippers on other waterproof pants I have owned. I can easily open any zipper (including the fly) with a mitten-clad hand and not once has a zipper stuck or otherwise behaved temperamentally – the first time I can say that about any waterproof zippers.

Durability and care. So far so good, and these bibs have seen regular and sometimes rugged duty through the winter. A sizable portion of Bridger Bowl, my local ski hill, calls for skinning or bootpacking, so the trollveggens brush trees and rocks on the way up as well as the way down. I’m an aggressive and occasionally reckless skier inbounds and in the backcountry, and tree skiing is a favorite pastime that I have ample time to indulge at Bridger. While there has been the occasional smudge or bit of frozen tree sap, I can find no rip or small hole. I consider this exceptional performance.

I’ve washed the bibs three times, in a front-loading washer using non-detergent soap followed by the dryer on a high setting. Gore and other makers of waterproof fabrics urge users to keep their fabrics clean to enhance performance. Norrøna echoes this advice. At ski season’s end I intend to treat the bibs with Atkso Waterproof, following another Norrøna suggestion and my standard practice.

WHAT I LIKE

Just about everything.  These are great bibs! Fit and feature set are at the top of my list.

WHAT I’D CHANGE

I’m not going to complain about the extra-long legs. After all, these weren’t custom-made for me. As with other GORE-TEX Pro Shell garments, they are expensive – but in my opinion still good value.

I’d like another pocket, on the side of the right leg. But then I want one more pocket on everything.


 


 



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