OR EXOS PANTS
TEST SERIES BY DAVID BAXTER
May 23, 2008
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Seattle, Washington, USA
5' 9" (1.75 m)
180 lb (81.60 kg)
Backpacking background: I have been hiking for four years, and backpacking for three. I get out on the trails or snow every weekend, regardless of the weather. My trips range anywhere from fairly short dayhikes to longer multi-day backpacking trips. In the winter I snowshoe or snow-climb in moderate terrain and occasionally participate in a glaciated climb. My typical winter pack is about 15 lb (6.8 kg) for a day trip, and 35 - 45 lb (16 - 20 kg) for a glacier climb with an overnight camp. In the summer my pack is around 25 lb (11 kg).
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website: Outdoor Research
Listed Weight: 17 oz (482 g)
Measured Weight: 16.3 oz (463 g)
Other details: The pants are available in black and sandstone colors. The reviewed pants are black, size large.
The OR Exos pants are weather resistant soft-shell pants. They have a Cordura face with a brushed Thermolite polyester interior for comfort and added warmth. The pants fasten with a zipper and snap-fly and feature an integrated nylon strap belt. At the ankles there are six-inch zippers to allow fitting over larger boots. There are two hand pockets and two slash pockets on the hips, all with zippers that have a sealing trim beside them to help with weatherproofing. The zipper pulls have a short cord with a small plastic ball to make operation with gloves easier. There are no pockets on the seat. In addition the pants have small loops at the belt line where OR brand stretch suspenders attach.
The exterior material is slick but with a slightly woven feel to it. The interior of the pants are brushed and soft to the touch similar to a cotton and polyester blend T-shirt. The material is slightly stretchy in all directions. The hand pockets have a cottony-mesh material that is slightly transparent and softer than the pants interior. Interiors for the slash pockets are a mixture of brushed texture and the exterior material. Overall the pants are very monochrome black, with only slight silver accents from the belt and around the zippers, as well as a monogrammed "OR" on one leg.
|OR Exos Pants|
|Exos pants belt|
The hand pockets are fairly large, big enough for my hands to go in past my wrists. The cargo pockets on the sides are similarly sized but flatter. They extend an inch or two below the bottom of the zipper and are fairly shallow. They fit energy bars, or a compass, or a similarly sized item nicely. They are well situated on the thigh and do not interfere with knee movement. The leg zippers have a folded piece in between that expands the bottoms into something similar to bell bottoms. This helps them fit over boots.
|Exos pants cuffs|
TRYING IT OUT
The pants are very comfortable. They have slight stretch to them and move very freely in all directions. They snap close nicely and the belt works very well. It has a simple hook closure and friction bar similar to a backpack strap. The brushed fabric interior is comfortable on bare skin, though it does cling just a bit to a polyester base layer underneath, at least when standing around. Unfortunately OR does not offer the pants in different inseams. These sized large pants have a 33 inch (84 cm) inseam, while I wear shorter. They still fit very well though and the leg openings are not so large that they fall down over my shoes or bunch up excessively around the shins.
The pockets are nicely placed. The front pockets are deep enough to completely cover an ungloved hand or hold several energy bars and small tools. When they are well filled the stretch material allows them to bulge a bit without feeling too constricting. The thigh slash pockets are sized for an energy bar or a compass or something fairly flat. They can restrict movement a bit when overfilled. The placement of these pockets is above the knees though, which keeps things from bouncing around too much inside.
I like softshell pants and plan to wear these pants for the rest of the winter and into the spring. Some considerations I will report on include:
Durability - Is the Cordura fabric as tough as OR claims? Can it withstand scrapes against tree branches and ice axes? Will glissading or otherwise sliding cause the material to pile or rip?
Weather resistance - How waterproof are the pants? Can they resist light rain? Snow? Are they wind resistant as well? And once they do become wet, how quickly do they dry?
Warmth - Does the brushed Thermolite interior provide much extra warmth? Is it comparable to a lightweight base layer? Do the pants breathe well?
Maintenance - Are the pants easy to clean and care for? Do they resist staining? Will they stay looking good over a hard winters use?
The OR Exos pants are Thermolite lined Cordura softshell pants. They are very comfortable and the construction quality seems top notch. I will greatly enjoy testing them out this winter and spring! Look for my field test report in the next few months.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I have worn the Outdoor Research Exos pants in a variety of terrain and conditions now throughout the winter and into the spring. Primarily the trips have been on snow, with the only dry-ground travel trips on approach to the snow line. I have also used them in a wide variety of weather conditions from dry, sunny, warm days to cloudy, wet, rainy, and snowy days. Some representative trips include:
Silver Peak snowshoe attempt. Temperatures ranged from around 25 F (-4 C) to 30 F (-1 C) over the day. At first it was dry and calm with high clouds but the weather deteriorated and became breezy with very wet snow. Elevation ranged from 2500 ft (762 m) to 5000 ft (1524 m).
Hex Mountain snowshoe. Temperatures ranged from 35 F (1.6 C) to 45 F (7 C) over the day. The whole trip was under blue skies and full sun. It was generally warm but parts of the ridge walk were incredibly windy with cold breezes requiring an insulation layer even while moving. Elevation ranged from 2000 ft (610 m) to 5500 ft (1676 m)
Mt. Teneriffe road walk. Conditions were very rotten on this trip. Temperatures hovered around 33 F (0.5 C) the whole day. Low clouds and a mixture of rain and sloppy wet snow. Elevation ranged from 1500 ft (457 m) to around 4000 ft (1219 m).
I have worn the pants on every trip since I received them. All together I have used them on sixteen different trips. The above three represent the widest range of conditions I encountered over that time.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I am very happy with the way the Exos pants perform! They are a significant improvement over my old worn out pair of softshell pants. While I have yet to wear them on a trip off the snow, they have worked very well through a variety of weather and snow conditions.
Fit: Typically I wear a 33 inch (84 cm) waist and 30 inch (76 cm) inseam. This places me right between the medium and large sizes. I tried on both and found the medium to be much too tight, while the large is a little too loose and long. I ended up with the large. The inseam is too long, but this is easily manageable with the zippered ankles. I unzip them an inch or two allowing them to slip over my boot tops, preventing them from bunching up around the knees. I also wear them with gaiters which keeps the extra fabric from snagging on anything. The waist is also too large but can be dealt with by tightening the integrated belt. I find I have to retighten it fairly often, however, especially after a steep climb or glissade. I may purchase the Outdoor Research suspenders to aid in this. Overall the fit issues are manageable.
Comfort: The pants are very comfortable. The brushed interior feels good against the skin and doesn't chafe even after a long day of vigorous snowshoeing. For most of the trips I have worn the pants alone without a base layer underneath. The pockets are also a soft terry-cloth like material both inside and out. This feels very nice on the hands on a cold day.
Water resistance: So far the pants repel water quite well. They are not as resistant as a dedicated pair of rain pants, but water does bead up on the surface and roll off easily. I have worn them in a moderate rainstorm and remained mostly dry. Eventually they will be overwhelmed but for a showery day I felt no need to add a hard shell layer over them. They repel snow much better. Flakes tend to slide off before they melt. Prolonged contact with snow, for example sitting in the snow or glissading, will push water through though. Several times I would kneel in the snow to take a photo or retrieve something and stand up to find my knees wet. Also after a glissade my backside is wet. They do dry quickly however.
Warmth: The Exos pants have a brushed Thermolite interior to provide some warmth. While it is not quite as warm as a dedicated base layer would be, it does provide significant insulation. I have only once felt the need to add a base layer beneath them. On that day temperatures never rose above 9 F (-13 C), which is not typical for the Pacific Northwest. The bulk of the trips had temperatures around 25 F (-4 C) to 35 F (1.6 C), which the Exos pants provided enough insulation for. Even while resting in these temperatures I felt warm enough.
Wind resistance: So far the pants have provided good wind proofing. They are not as good as a wind proof fleece but I have not felt badly chilled even in very breezy conditions.
Durability: The pants show no damage or significant signs of wear after two months of use. I have scraped them through tree branches, slid across hard snow, been jumped on by dogs, and sat on rocks in that time with no issues. They still repel water as well as when I received them. There is a noticeable change in the appearance of the fabric though. On arrival they had a slightly woven appearance. After two months that woven texture is a little more noticeable. I am not sure if this is due to washing or use, but it appears to be only cosmetic and hasn't affected performance so far.
I am very satisfied with the performance of the Outdoor Research Exos pants. They are very well suited to travel in snowy terrain in a variety of weather conditions. So far they have held up nicely against rain, hail, snow, and sunny days. Performance has been very dependable. They are very comfortable on long days and for long car rides to and from destinations. My only issue so far regards sizing, which I can adjust for with the integrated belt or possibly purchasing suspenders.
I will continue to use the Exos pants as my hiking and snowshoeing pants well into the spring. The major snowfall should be ending and conditions will become much more consolidated. I plan to move from snowshoeing to snow scrambling and climbing but will still use these pants. The pants will be used on harder snow as well as with crampons and ice-axe, conditions which will test their durability. I will also likely be glissading more often which will test the fabric strength and rip resistance. Temperatures will also be increasing over this time. Thus far the pants have proved very warm in colder conditions and I am unsure whether they will be too warm for spring use.
Check back in two months for my final report on the Outdoor Research Exos pants.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Over the winter and into the spring I have worn the Exos pants nearly every weekend. Here are a few example trips:
Evergreen Mountain. Temperatures were in the low 30 F (-1 C) range over the day. We started off under high clouds which quickly dropped down to almost zero visibility. Temperatures also dropped slightly and strong winds picked up. A maximum elevation of 5600 ft (1707 m) was reached. We were on snowshoes the entire trip with deep, fresh powder.
North Mountain. Temperatures hovered slightly above freezing. There was 1-2 ft (0.3-0.6 m) of fresh snow on the ground which became sloppier and slushier as we went. It also rained lightly at lower elevations before turning to wet snow higher up. We turned back at 3600 ft (1097 m).
Mount Persis. The hottest day of the year, temperatures exceeded 80 F (27 C) despite being April and above 5000 ft (1524 m). The snow was extremely soft the entire day and there were very few clouds.
Iron Peak summit camp. This is the only backpacking trip for which I've worn the Exos pants. It involved a long walk over a relatively flat snow covered road before a creek crossing and ascent to Iron Peak at 6500 ft (1981 m) where we camped on the summit. It was sunny and 65 F (18 C) on the hike in. Overnight clouds came in and temperatures dropped below freezing, before returning to around 65 F (18 C) on the hike out.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I am still very pleased with the Exos pants. I have used them every weekend, sometimes for multiple trips in the same week, and have had no issues with them. They continue to be comfortable, offer reasonable waterproofing, and shows little sign of wear.
The pants show little sign of abuse despite some harsh use. Several trips involved bushwhacking through slide alder, small pine trees, and climbing over or through downed trees. On our North Mountain attempt we reached a point where we encountered a wall of small, young, snow covered trees which we had to push through. There was no way to avoid scraping through the branches and several times I snagged the pants on a low branch. They showed no tears afterwards and my legs stayed mostly dry despite all the snow contact. The only significant wear is on the seat and back of the legs. There is some visible small pilling and a rougher texture than the other parts. I am not sure if this is from the few glissades I have done or simply due to wearing them on long car rides. The wear appears cosmetic only as the pants are still comfortable and waterproof all over.
I did find the pants to be too warm for late spring use when the sun is out. At Mt. Persis the temperatures reached about 80 F (27 C) on the summit snow which was too much for the pants. I opened all the pockets and this helped with some venting but I was still too hot. I was also too warm when packing into Iron Peak. Here temperatures only reached about 65 F ( C) but I was carrying a heavy backpack. Again I opened the pockets to help with venting but my legs still were too warm. Camping on the summit though I was very glad to have the Exos pants rather than a lighter pair. Once the temperature dropped and I had taken off the pack I was very comfortable. My legs stayed warm despite no physical movement until it dipped to about 40 F ( C). Here I added a lightweight baselayer below the pants and was very comfortable, even when it dropped to freezing and a light wind picked up.
The OR Exos pants have worked very well for me over the winter and early spring. They are very well suited to travel over snow and in colder temperatures. The light brushed insulation layer makes them useful for colder weather. They feel a little too warm for late spring or summer use, however. Snow and light rain are repelled well and if overcome the pants do dry quickly. Despite heavy use and rough conditions they have stood up very well with some minor fabric pilling. They also are easy to wash and even after several days of use do not smell.
My only complaint with the pants regards their sizing. There seems to be a generous difference between medium and large, and I fall right in between. I have the large size which requires me to cinch up the belt every so often on a trip. The legs are also a little too long, though this is inconsequential when wearing gaiters. If they were offered in a shorter inseam this would fix the fit issues.
I will continue to use the Exos pants for all my winter and early spring snow travel trips. Over the summer they will be too hot for me to wear while hiking, but if I am heading to a high elevation destination or it is expected to be windy I will likely bring them along. They should be very comfortable for use around camp in the fall as well.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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