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Reviews > Clothing > Pants and Shorts > Outdoor Research Exos or Facet Pants > Test Report by Rebecca Sowards-Emmerd

Outdoor Research Women's Facet Pants
by Rebecca Sowards-Emmerd
Initial Report: January 15, 2008
Field Report: March 19, 2008
Long Term Report: May 27, 2008

OR Face Pants, picture courtesy of Outdoor Research

Tester Information
Name: Rebecca Sowards-Emmerd
Email: rebecca@backpackgeartest.org
Age: 30
Gender: F
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
Height: 5'5" (1.65 m)
Weight: 130 lb (59 kg)

 I am usually a weekend warrior style backpacker, although I like to get out on longer trips a few times a year.  California has such variety in scenery and terrain that I am never lacking in a place to visit, and most weekends find me off in the mountains exploring new (to me) trails and peaks.  I follow lightweight, but not ultralight, backpacking techniques, but am known to carry a few luxury items from time to time.  In addition to traditional backpacking I enjoy snowshoeing, skiing, and snow camping, as well as long day hikes, geocaching, and peak climbing.  These activities are enough to keep me busy year-round in the great state of California.

Product Information
Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.orgear.com
Year of Manufacture: 2007/2008
MSRP: $165.00 USD
Listed Weight:
14.1 oz./400 g (size M)
Measured Weight: 13.3 oz/377 g (size M)

INITIAL REPORT
January 15, 2008

materialsDescription

The Outdoor Research Women's Facet Pants are a pair of extreme wear softshell pants made of Cordura and designed for durability and winter use.  The outer side of the pants is a stretch Cordura softshell, while the interior is backed with a softer insulating material.  It feels like a single layer of fabric, but it is a heavy, thicker feel than a typical single-layered pant.   The construction on the pants is top-quality.  Not a stitch is out of place and all of the seams are right and even.  The Cordura exterior is designed for durability, able to withstand wear from ski-edges, snowshoes, crampon pokes, and other abrasive things.  The inner Thermolite is brushed for comfort and warmth.  

The photo to the right shows the two different materials.  It is a photo of the rolled ankle cuff
- the left fabric is the Cordura softshell, and the right fabric is the inside Thermolite brushed liner.

Pockets Additional features include articulated knees for unrestricted movement, gusseted ankle cuffs with zippers for pulling the pants on and off over shoes, a zippered cargo pocked on the outer thigh of each leg, and zippered hand pockets on each hip.  The photo to the left shows the pockets, which are mirrored on the other leg.



Fit

According to the Outdoor Research sizing information, I'm on the larger end of size small and the smaller end of size medium.  Given that this test is happening in winter, when I tend to have some extra Christmas pounds, and the fact that I will likely want to layer underneath these pants, I decided to go for the size Medium.  Outdoor Research also does not give any guidance as to how these pants fit - are they form-fitting, or are they designed to be layered and fit a bit looser? The sizing chart offered by Outdoor Research on their Facet Pants product page is generic and available on all of their product pages.  
 I usually like my athletic clothing to be form-fitting; I strongly dislike extra material flapping around, getting stuck under shoes or folding up uncomfortably under a pack, so it was difficult to choose which size to order.

When the pants arrived I immediately put them on and was happy to find that the size medium fit is perfect.  I couldn't be happier with the way the Facet Pants fit on me.  The waist is higher than I usually like on my pants, but in the winter this isn't a problem - I don't want to sit down in a snow kitchen and have my lower back exposed to the snow!

Since the sizing chart seemed to be generic, I thought I'd compare the actual measurements of the pants to the sizing chart (for size medium).

Measurement Sizing Chart Actual Measurements
Waist 28 in /71 cm 32 in/81 cm
Hips 38 in/97 cm 38 in/97 cm
Inseam 30.5 in /77 cm 30.5 in/77 cm
Rise n/a 10 in/25.4 cm

The measurements appear to be very close, with the only difference in the waist measurement.  Since a waist-high rise is usually 12 inches (30.5 cm), I believe that the waist measurement of the pants is larger because the waist of the pants sit a little below the natural waist.  

 


Expected Field Conditions and Test Plan

The Outdoor Research Facet pants will be used on all of my snow outings during the four month test period.  I plan on getting out to the Sierra Nevada and Southern Cascade ranges several times for snow camping, skiing, and snowshoeing.  I will also be wearing these pants on a lava tube caving excursion, where durability of the materials will be put to a great test. The lava rock is sharp and abrasive, and the back country tubes at Lava Beds National Monument often require some interesting contortions to squeeze through.

Winter in the mountain ranges of central and northern California offers a wide variety of conditions.  Dangerous winter storms are not unusual, but they are usually separated by times of sun and heat.  These pants will likely be out in the snow during cold, windy, stormy days as well as sunny, hot days.

I'll be testing the following features of the Facet Pants:
  • Durability:  The Cordura softshell is advertised for its durability against typical winter abrasives such as ski edges and crampons.  I'll be wearing these pants with both of those items, as well as snowshoes.  In addition, caving in lava tubes will definitely put the durability of this material to the test!  In the past, I usually have worn older pants that I don't care about ruining when in lava tubes.  A couple of years ago, however, I discovered that softshell materials work really well in the tubes, with a good combination of warmth, water resistance, and durability.  I'm excited to try these pants out in these unique conditions.
  • Wind/Water:  I often face exposure to strong winds in the winter, so I want my clothing and outerwear to protect me.  How well do the Facet pants block wind?  What about water? As a softshell they are not 100% waterproof, but I expect a certain amount of water resistance.  Winter Sierra temperatures can often be in that uncomfortable near-freezing range, and it is difficult to avoid getting gear and clothing wet.  Do these pants 'wet-out' in such conditions?
  • Layerability: Can I fit additional underlayers beneath these pants?  Or, if the weather is really wet can I fit shell pants over them comfortably?
  • Comfort:  How is the waist underneath a pack belt?  Do the belt loops and snap waist feel okay?  Are the interior seams smooth or do they rub?  Are the pants restrictive to movement or do they allow me to move comfortably on the trail? 
  • Usability of extra features:  Are the pockets placed in comfortable locations?  What can I fit in them?  Are the ankle zips practical; how do the pant legs fit over boots?
  • Washability:  How easy is it to keep the pants clean?  How well do they wash?  Do they pick up smells easily?
  • Long term wear issues, such as fading, decaying of seams, zipper smoothness, and snaps.
 





FIELD REPORT
March 19, 2008

During the Field Testing period, I used the Outdoor Research Facet pants on three overnight trips, for a total of six days of use.

1. Overnight Snowshoe trip, Shaver Lake, California:  

This was the first snowcamping trip of the season, and conditions were perfect for a snow outing in California.  Snow had been falling for a few weeks and was several feet deep.  Daytime temperatures on Saturday reached into the mid-50's F (13 C) with bright, shining sun, and evening temperatures dropped to 19 degrees F (-7 C) before I crawled into my sleeping bag for the night.   On Sunday temperatures were a bit cooler than the previous day, but were still comfortable in the upper 30s (3.5 C).   The snowshoe hike itself was a very short and easy distance, with very little exertion.

This was my first time to wear the OR Facet pants.  As I got out of my truck at the trailhead on Saturday and had the sun shining strongly down on me, I was immediately hot and removed all of my upper layers except a thin baselayer.  On my legs, I could feel the heat being absorbed by the dark black material of the Facet pants.  I could see that our route would be shaded under pine trees, however, so I knew I wouldn't be under the beating sun once we got moving.

On the short hike to camp, I was very comfortable in the Facet pants.  I was not building up a sweat due to the easy trail, and I was relatively protected from the hot sun due to the trees.  The performance of the pants was terrific - there was no chafing, no restriction of movement, and no uncomfortable seams or hardware.  They were comfortable in the ambient temperature of around 50 degrees F (10 C) and I was not too hot, although I was glad I wasn't working too hard since I was on the verge of sweating in them.

When we reached camp I continued to be relatively active while setting up our tents and snow kitchen.  As the sun got closer to the horizon the temperature started dropping rapidly, so I was no longer concerned with being too warm in the Facet pants and I started noting an occasional chill.  We spent the early evening sitting around in our snow kitchen and yakking away, and I was comfortable in the Facet pants with no additional insulation for a while.  As the temperatures dropped into the upper 20s F (-2 C), however, my legs started to get a bit chilled and I switched to my fleece layers.

I noticed that they got a bit damp in the butt when sitting on my closed-cell foam pad in the kitchen (due to kicked-up snow melting between my pants and the pad).   Just to be clear: these pants are not waterproof, nor are they supposed to be.  However, this was the only place where I noticed the pants getting wet - most of the time the pants slough off water and snow quite easily.  

On Sunday the temperatures never got back to the nice sunny weather of Saturday, and the Facet pants were just perfect for the hike back to the trailhead.  They were very comfortable in the slightly-above-freezing temperatures, and protected me quite well against a mild breeze.

2. Weekend in Yosemite Valley:  

Yosemite Valley is a typically crowded place, so we chose a bad weather weekend to visit so that we'd have the place to ourselves.  Saturday ended up being rather nice, with mild mid-30s F (2 C) temperatures and occasional sun, while Sunday was in that horrible weather range that is partially snow, partially rain, and all kinds of miserable.   We cheated on this trip and stayed in a Curry Village cabin, but were still out in the snow and rain long after dark.  

I wore the Facet pants all weekend, for dayhiking on Saturday, wandering all over Curry Village cabins late that night, and dodging rain and slush on Sunday.  I have nothing specific to report about the performance of the Facet pants this weekend except to say that they were perfect for the conditions encountered and I was comfortable in them all weekend, both hiking in the sun and dashing through the rain.  I noticed a side benefit as well - while these are technical pants, they pass nicely in a non-technical environment, as I found myself fitting in quite nicely with the fancy crowd at the gourmet Awahnee Brunch on Sunday.  While technical features and comfort are far more important to me, it's nice to have a bit of style too!

3. Overnight Snowshoe trip, Dewey Point, Yosemite National Park:

Over President's Day weekend I headed back to Yosemite, this time to the higher elevations for an overnight snowshoe hike.  Unlike the previous trip to the valley, the weather was absolutely perfect for this outing.  There wasn't a cloud in the sky and the sun was shining brightly. I knew as soon as I got to the trailhead that I would be warm in the Facet pants, but I decided to wear them anyways.  The temperature was around 60 degrees F (16 C) when we set off from the trailhead.

I was wearing insulated boots and gaiters, and it wasn't long before everything below my knee (covered by a gaiter) was soaked with sweat.  Even before any strenuous stretch of trail I was very warm.  I wore only a single base layer on the top, and I would have stripped down to shorts and a sports bra if I wasn't worried about sunburn.  

Upon arriving at camp I took off my gaiters to find that the Facet pants were very wet from the knee down with sweat.   It was still mid afternoon and quite warm out, so I started setting up the tent without changing out of my wet pants.  The tent was up within about 15 minutes, and I noticed that the pants were already dry by the time I finished setting up the tent.  When I moved over into the snow kitchen the sun was beating down on me and kept me a bit too warm.  It was at this point that I really, really wished that I had these pants in a lighter color!  

On this trip the nighttime temperatures barely reached freezing, and I sat around the snow kitchen in the Facet pants until long after dark.  We also took a sunset stroll to a point overlooking Yosemite Valley.  They were very comfortable at these temperatures both when active and stationary.  

Miscellaneous Observations:

Washing: The Outdoor Research Facet pants wash quite well.  They are machine washable and can be washed with other items - they don't have to be washed alone.  I air dry them, and they dry very quickly.  I have not had any problems with shrinking or stiffening of the material after washing and air drying, and the pants look as good today after four washes as they did when they were brand new.

Features:  The pockets on the legs of the pants are placed pretty well.  I've used these pockets for storing single page maps on my hikes and they've been nice and accessible for this.  The hip pockets are a little too high and the hip belt of one of my packs sits over the zipper.  I wish the pocket sat a little bit lower on the hip so I could use it easier for things like lip balm.

Comfort:  As mentioned many times already in this report, the Facet pants are quite comfortable.  They are unrestrictive, they do not chafe, they don't have uncomfortable seams or hardware, and they fit quite well.  I have noticed two small issues, but nothing that is a deal-breaker.  First, the snap at the waist comes undone easily.  No, this isn't because the pants are too tight - in fact, they are a bit on the loose side!  But, every once in a while I'll notice that the snap has just come undone.  For example, I've taken off a pack and noticed that it came unsnapped a some point on the hike.  When I fasten the snap I notice that there is no tangible 'click' like I usually feel on snaps, so it may just be a faulty piece of hardware.  Second, the material stretches slightly with wear.  When I've been out on overnights, I've noticed that the pants start to sag a little by day two.  When they are washed they go back to the original shape, kind of like with a pair of jeans.  



LONG TERM REPORT
May 27, 2008

During the Long Term Test period, the Outdoor Research Facet Pants got the most use on a three day trip to Lava Beds National Monument over Easter weekend in mid-March.  The test conditions on this trip were near perfect and I couldn't have had a better pair of pants.  Lava Beds is at the border of California and Oregon and the majority of the park is underground, consisting of miles and miles of lava tube caves.  The surface of the park is historical in significance (Modoc Wars) and has a small campground and hiking trails that take hikers to historical sights as well as lava tube cave entrances.  The park is far enough north and at the right elevation for snow, and weather in March is what I would call average winter conditions - temperatures around freezing, light snow on the ground, and overcast with a chance of precipitation.  

We spent the three-day weekend car camping in temperatures into the teens, hiking, and caving.  The caves hold a pretty consistent temperature year round and were warmer than the above-ground air (in the summer, they are much cooler!)  Ideal clothing for these conditions needs to be comfortable and flexible enough for odd movement (squeezing through caves), durable enough to withstand scraping against rough lava rock, warm enough for below freezing air temperatures and light precipitation, but not too warm due to the exertion of hiking and moving through the warmer caves.  My usual rule of thumb for the caves is to wear older clothing that I don't mind snagging or ripping.

I wore the Facet pants all weekend with the exception of when I was sleeping.  After three days of wear, including several scrapes against rough, rough rock, I gave them a careful examination.  Not only did they not show a scratch, they didn't even hold a stain from a ketchup spill.   I was comfortable in them all weekend, from the mornings in camp in well below freezing conditions, to the snow-top trail jogging on the one sunny and warm afternoon.   Interestingly enough, they were also the only piece of clothing that didn't retain the campfire smell from two nights in camp.  

The remainder of my hikes during the Long Term testing period were too warm for the Facet pants.  I did take a couple of hikes on cool and sunny days where they would have been comfortable had they been available in a lighter color.  However, with the bright sun, even on a cool day I find that the black color makes them far too warm for comfort (based on my Field Testing).

I haven't changed my opinion about the Facet pants during this Long Term Test period, but I am adding the durability as a major positive for these pants!  The Cordura did an amazing job standing up to that lava rock!

Likes

Wide comfort range both when active and inactive
Easy to wash and quickly dry
The leg pockets are positioned well for map storage
Very durable, not even snagging when scraped against rough lava rock several times (hard enough for skin beneath pants to bruise!)

Dislikes
I wish the women's pants came in colors other than black (note: the men's version is currently available in a khaki shade).  A lighter color option would extend the comfort range of these pants significantly for me.
The waist snap doesn't always stay snapped
Hip pocket zipper is too high to access when wearing a pack with a wide belt



Read more reviews of Outdoor Research gear
Read more gear reviews by Rebecca Sowards-Emmerd

Reviews > Clothing > Pants and Shorts > Outdoor Research Exos or Facet Pants > Test Report by Rebecca Sowards-Emmerd



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