OUTDOOR RESEARCH EXOS PANTS
TEST SERIES BY CHAD EMERSON FIKE
May 26, 2008
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT
Chad Emerson Fike
Oakland, Maryland USA
5' 10" (1.78 m)
150 lb (68.00 kg)
I have gone camping, usually very close to home, since my teens but only started seriously backpacking around age 30. I do mostly weekend trips and often take dayhikes. My backpacking experience has been mostly in West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia, including parts of the Appalachian Trail. Each trip has been a learning experience about techniques and equipment. I try to balance weight, durability, and cost with my gear choices.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
|photo from outdoorresearch.com|
January 12, 2008
Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website: www.outdoorresearch.com
MSRP: US $165.00
Listed Average Weight (size large) : 17 oz (482 g)
Measured Weight: 15.2 oz (431g)
Size Tested: Medium
Color Tested: Black
Warranty: "Infinite Guarantee. Outdoor Research products are guaranteed forever."
The Outdoor Research Men's Exos Pants arrived with a cardboard hangtag that entices the reader to: "Push through late spring accumulation in these lightly insulated, weather resistant pants. Stretch construction gives freedom for stepping high on the approach and taking free turns on the descent". Also included was an Outdoor Research sticker and a small tag advertising the benefits of Cordura.
The pants are mostly black with just a few embellishments. A bit of gray around the zippers and a gray belt (see picture) provide a bit of contrast. The letters "OR" are stitched in gray below the right cargo pocket and there is a small "OR Outdoor Research" tag on the rear waistband.
Advertisements proclaim the Exos pants have "Bombproof Construction" and "Durable, double-weave stretch fabric". Furthermore, the Exos's "Unique fabric blend features Cordura on the outside for durability and Thermolite polyester on the inside for insulation". Overall the material feels lightweight and stretchy. The Cordura fabric claims "high abrasion resistance". Based on an initial visual inspection it does not appear that the Cordura material would snag easily. The material looks and feels similar to other soft shell materials I have inspected. The Thermolite polyester insulation on the inside is very thin. It does not feel like a separate insulation layer, but rather it is blended onto the back of the Cordura fabric to form one piece of fabric. The interior Thermolite is much softer than the exterior Cordura. The pants are not advertised as being waterproof but they do have a DWR finish that "resists moisture."
The pants have a removable gray belt made of 1 in ( 2.5 cm) wide webbing with a black plastic buckle. The belt has a black "OR" label stitched on its end (just visible in picture). The pants open with a single metal snap and a zippered fly. There are two small loops on top of the front waistband of the pants and a single loop in the center rear of the waistband used to attach accessory suspenders (sold separately). The pant legs have gusseted cuffs with ankle zippers. When lying flat, the pant legs measure about 7-3/8 in (18.7 cm) wide. When the gussets are unzipped, the cuff expands to around 8-7/8 in (22.5 cm) wide. The cuffs do not have elastic, drawstrings or any other means to tighten them. The pant legs fit over my hiking boots without expanding the cuff.
The pants feature two zippered front hand pockets that are advertised as "mesh backed". This mesh feels soft and warm. There is plenty of room to put my whole hand inside. There are no rear pockets. There is also a "low-profile" zippered cargo pocket on each leg. These pockets are not mesh backed, but rather have the Cordura fabric on one side and the Thermolite fabric on the other. I was easily able to slide a pair of lightweight gloves inside one of the pockets without folding them. When I sat down the gloves felt a little awkward since the orientation of the pockets places the items directly underneath the leg when seated. All of the pocket zippers are "sew-free". No details are provided regarding this "sew-free" construction, but there is no obvious stitching. This feature does seem to help the zippers lay flat, providing "low profile and reduced bulk".
Inside the rear waistband of the pants are four tags and a loop for hanging the pants. One tag shows size "M", another provides Outdoor Research's website and phone number and a reminder about the "Infinite Guarantee", while a third indicates that the pants are "Made in China". The final tag reveals that the pants consist of 65% Nylon, 23% Polyester, and 12% Spandex and provides the following care instructions: "Machine wash, Cold; Do Not Bleach; Line Dry in Shade; Do Not Wring; and Iron, Low".
I have only worn the pants around the house, but so far I really like the style and fit. They seem almost tailor made for me. I usually look for pants with a 32 in (81 cm) waist and a 32 in (81 cm) inseam. This made choosing a medium easy since these are the exact measurements provided for a medium on the Outdoor Research website sizing chart. I also like the slim athletic style of the pant. There seems to be a good balance here: not too baggy or bulky, but not so tight mothers will cover their children's eyes when I walk in a room. During my limited use I can feel the pants stretch and have not noticed any constriction of movement.
The pants appear well constructed. All zippers run smoothly. After struggling with some tiny zippers on an Outdoor Research windshirt I previously tested, I appreciate that all zippers (except for the fly) have easily graspable zipper pulls. Other than two small loose threads discovered when I unzipped one of the leg cuffs, I could find no flaws. The Exos pants appear to be of very high quality.
So far my limited experience with the pants has been positive. They appear well made and I really like the style and fit. I have not really found any negatives yet.
This concludes my Initial Report on the Outdoor Research Exos Pants. The Field Report will be amended onto this report in two months time and will include field testing data. Please check back then for further information on the Exos pants.
Thanks to Outdoor Research and BackpackGearTest.Org for the opportunity to test this product.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
March 14, 2008
Testing has taken place in the forested terrain of the Appalachian Mountains including Herrington Manor State Park, Garrett State Forest and Swallow Falls State Park in Maryland, Laurel Ridge State Park in Pennsylvania and the Laurel Fork North Wilderness, Blackwater Falls State Park, Dolly Sods and Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia. Elevations ranged from around 2500 to 4100 ft (762 to 1250 m). Most testing occurred in cold, snowy winter conditions with temperatures ranging from 9 to 45 F (-13 to 7 C). I wore the pants while cross country skiing 24 times including 1.5 to 2 hour evening trips and longer outings on the weekends. I wore the pants on about 7 hikes ranging from short strolls to longer weekend dayhikes. I also wore the pants during my first real winter backpacking; a short overnight snowshoe trip.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I was impressed by the initial quality of the Outdoor Research Exos Pants and I continue to be impressed by their durability. I cannot find any signs of wear or failure other than a slight fraying of the unused suspender loops. For the most part I hiked and skied on open trails and did not do much bushwhacking. A few wipeouts on icy ski trails (I always claim these falls are for abrasion resistance testing, not lack of skill) left no visible markings. The knee-high gaiters I wore on several of the hikes in muddy or snowy conditions helped protect the pants. Parts such as the belt buckle, belt, fly snap and all zippers continue to operate smoothly. Following instructions, I washed the pants and hung them to dry three times during the test period.
I found the Exos to perform well in winter temperatures. In general I like to wear synthetic tights under shell pants in hiking temperatures below about 40 F (4 C) and in skiing temperatures below freezing. For the most part I used these same criteria while testing these pants. I did experiment and wear the Exos with no layers underneath one night skiing in temperatures that dropped to 22 F (-6 C). I did not notice the wind nor did my legs feel cold during the ski. However, on the ride home my knees ached for awhile when I started to warm up. This has happened to me the last few years and is the reason I wear the synthetic tights while skiing even though my legs rarely feel cold. The pants are not insulated heavily but I never had cold legs and I never felt any wind through the pants. The pants seemed to breathe well. When cross country skiing I did occasionally notice some dampness around the rear waistband when I wore a day pack or lumbar pack. I try to ski at a steady pace so I always expect some sweating. I never noticed other areas of my legs becoming damp. The pants also dried quickly. After washing the pants I hung them to dry above a hot water radiator and they were ready to wear in two and a half hours.
The pants are advertised as having a DWR finish that makes the pants "weather resistant". I had no problems with light snow but heavy snows in warmer conditions occasionally made the pants wet. During one ski trip in temperatures around 34 F (1 C) there was a very heavy, wet snow nearly the entire two hours I was out. By the end of the evening the pants had wetted through, primarily on the tops of my thighs and near the bottoms of the pants where I had plowed through the snow. I did not wear the pants in any heavy rains and after finding that the pants would sometimes soak through, I carried a light waterproof pant when hiking in situations where rain was a possibility. I was disappointed that the pants became wet, but they are not advertised as waterproof.
I really like the fit of these pants. They strike a nice balance; providing a loose fit that never feels baggy. The medium size seems perfectly tailored for me. I usually wear tighter fitting pants for cross country skiing but I found the Exos to work well for this more active pursuit. They are stretchy enough that they never restricted my movement in any way. I will not wear them to church, but they look nice enough that I did not feel out of place in a restaurant eating post-hike pizza. I found the gusseted ankle cuffs to be useful. When worn with hiking boots or shoes I tended to unzip the cuff slightly to allow a loose fit that would not bunch up. I had anticipated using a gaiter when skiing since there is no elastic or drawstring at the cuff. However, the cuff fit tightly enough over my cross country ski boots that I never had a problem with snow getting in my boots and the gaiters stayed on the shelf. With my thicker pair of backcountry ski boots, I just zipped the cuff open slightly for the same snow-proof seal. The zipper pulls on the cuffs and pockets are easily graspable even with heavy gloves. The thigh pockets are large enough for items like ear bands, knit caps or neck gaiters. Since the pockets lay flat and do not bellow out like some cargo pockets, I tried to fold these items flat when placing them inside so as to reduce their bulk. I almost always carried my neck gaiter in the right thigh pocket and usually forgot it was even there. (The right thigh pocket's sew-free zipper and zipper pull is pictured).
Overall I have been very impressed with the Outdoor Research Exos Pants during this stage of testing. They are comfortable, stretchy, block the wind and when worn with a lightweight tight have been warm enough in all conditions. They have also proven very durable with no real signs of wear or damage. There are really very few things I dislike about the pants. My only real disappointment was with the weather resistance (they are not advertised as "waterproof") of the pants during some heavy snows.
This concludes my Field Report on the Outdoor Research Exos Pants. The Long Term Report will be amended onto this report in two months time and will include further field testing data. Please check back then for further information about the product.
Thanks to Outdoor Research and BackpackGearTest.Org for the opportunity to test this product.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
May 26, 2008
Testing has taken place in the forested terrain of the Appalachian Mountains including Herrington Manor State Park, Garrett State Forest and Swallow Falls State Park in Maryland, and the Canaan Wildlife Refuge in West Virginia. Elevations ranged from around 2500 to 4100 ft (762 to 1250 m). The warming spring temperatures during the final months of testing ranged from slightly above freezing to around 75 F (24 C). Unfortunately, most of the temperatures were well above 55 F (13 C) and I found it too warm to wear the pants. Overall I wore the pants on 3 hikes and 2 bike rides during the test period. I spent the final two weeks of the test period on vacation in the American Southwest doing several dayhikes in Arizona and New Mexico. I took the pants along but never used them in the warm desert conditions.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I wore the pants during two bike rides in temperatures between 40 to 45 F (4 to 7 C). During a road ride I could really feel how well the Exos pants blocked the wind. I could feel the cold wind in the exposed area above my shoe and below the cuff of the pants, but I felt no wind penetrating the pants anywhere else. During the second trail ride my feet got a little cold but my legs stayed comfortable. The pants were not too warm and seemed to breathe well. I was concerned about the pant cuffs getting caught in my bike chain and even wore gaiters on one ride to make sure this did not occur. The pants are not marketed towards, nor do they appear to be intended for, biking. I simply wore them to get some extra testing in; I find tighter fitting pants much more suited to biking. Still, the pants were stretchy and comfortable enough to ride in and certainly blocked the wind well. Soon after these first couple of rides the temperatures were warm enough that I was wearing my bike shorts and did not require long pants.
I wore the pants on hikes during this period in temperatures between 40 to 50 F (4 to 10 C). While hiking in sunny conditions at a moderate pace, I felt like I was almost too warm when the temperature reached about 48 F (9 C). Therefore I feel the pants are most comfortable for me in temperatures below 50 F (10 C) and I consider them much more of a cold weather pant. Above this temperature I usually feel comfortable hiking in light nylon pants. I hiked in shorts for much of the remaining test period and did not require long pants. The pants were worn during dry weather so I have no additional comments about weather resistance.
One afternoon my wife and I hiked to some exposed sandstone rock outcroppings and spent some time scrambling around and over the rocks. We also had to bushwhack through some laurel to get to different areas. Neither activity seemed to cause any visible wear or abrasions on the pants. The other hikes did not subject the pants to any abnormal wear and tear. I was impressed by the initial quality of the Exos pants and I continue to be impressed by their durability. Other than the previously mentioned slight fraying of the unused suspender loops I have no complaints whatsoever about the durability of the pants. Parts such as the belt buckle, belt, fly snap and all zippers still operate smoothly. The stitching is in good condition and the pants still look very nice. The pants were not advertised as being odor resistant but I never noticed any funky smell even during the earlier test period when I was wearing the pants several times between laundering. I did seem to notice a little more of a "swoosh" as the pants rubbed together during a few of my hikes. Perhaps this was because the hikes were a little quieter since there was no snow crunching beneath my boots or skis. They were certainly not as loud as rain wear, but still a little louder than a regular pair of lightweight nylon hiking pants.
Due to warm spring temperatures during the long term test period I did not get to wear the pants as much as I would have liked. The testing that did occur did not change my positive opinions about the Outdoor Research Exos pants. They are durable, fit great and are very comfortable for a variety of outdoor activities. The pants seem more suited to colder weather and were too warm as spring progressed. I did not wear the pants during wet conditions during this stage of testing but I had previously found that the pants will eventually soak through in heavy snows. This lack of weather resistance was the only real negative I could find with the pants.
I look forward to wearing the Outdoor Research Exos pants in the future. I expect to wear them often on winter hikes and cross country ski trips. Based on the durability they have exhibited thus far I hope to get several more seasons of use from them.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
This concludes my test of the Outdoor Research Exos Pants. Thanks to Outdoor Research and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this item.
Read more reviews of Outdoor Research gear
Read more gear reviews by Chad E. Fike