Outdoor Research Men's "Skye" Pants
Long Term Report by André Corterier
Date: April 2006
Long Term Report
Personal Biographical Information:
Name: André Corterier
Height: 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
Weight: 80 kg (175 lb)
Chest: 100 cm (39.5 in)
Waist: 84 cm (33 in)
Arm length: 58 cm (23 in) - shoulder to wrist
Home: Bonn, Germany
I have started out with backpacking slowly – single-day 24 km (15 mi) jaunts
by myself or even shorter hikes in the company of my little daughter. I am getting started on longer
hikes, as a lightweight packer and hammock-camper. I’ve begun upgrading my old gear and am now carrying a
dry FSO weight (everything carried From the Skin Out except food, fuel and water)
of a little less than 10 kg (22 lb) for three-season camping.
Year of manufacture: 2006
Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
MSRP: 89 USD
listed weight, size L: 13.0 oz (369 g)
measured weight, size L: 406 g (14.3 oz)
The pair of pants I received differs somewhat from my expectations formed after visiting the website last fall. For
one thing, the only colour available then was "Tarmac" (grey), while the website now lists "Teak" (brown) and "Pumice" (grey) as colour
choices. The pair I received is in "Teak".
These pants show five pockets. There are two front pockets, right about where most pants have pockets. There is one
zippered pocket in the back, on the right. This pocket extends further down than I am used to from, say, blue jeans. This means that
a map fits in there (though it then becomes uncomfortable to sit down). When I put my wallet in there, it hangs in the pocket below
my butt which looks ... odd. The other two pockets are called "utility pockets with concealed zippers" by the manufacturer. They
are located on the outside of each leg, about halfway down the thigh. They are about 13 cm (5 in) wide by 17 cm (7 in) high, with a center
zipper running down close to the middle of them.
The pants close with a zipper and a snap, rather than a button, and feature belt loops clearly meant for a large belt. There are little
seams extending forward and backward from the central seam running down the length of the legs, which give the pants their "articulated legs".
This, along with the stretch of the material, should make these pants comfortable to walk in. The material stretches in one direction only.
On the outside of the legs, the direction of stretch runs around the leg, that is, parallel to the ground if I'm wearing the pants and
standing up straight. There is a different panel of fabric on the inside of the legs, which is oriented so the direction of stretch runs
perpendicular to the ground, parallel to my legs, when standing up. I assume this combination of panels is meant to simulate a four-way
The pants fit moderately well. According to Outdoor Research's online sizing chart, my hips would be size M, my
waist between M and L and my leg length (inseam) between L and XL. Being a slender, long-limbed person who usually
wears size "L", I went with that. The pants fit all right on my hips and well around the butt and the length is just
right. The waistline is such that it would accommodate quite a bit of a tummy, however. Not having such, the pants
start sliding down on me the moment I put anything into the pockets. I would have expected the pants to be cut quite
a bit slimmer here, relying on the intrinsic stretch of the material to accommodate a wider waist, or the kind of integrated
elastic band all my other outdoorsy/sporty pants feature. As it is, as long as I wish to use the pockets, I have to wear
a belt with them. I don't wear belts much. The lightest belt I have is a dressy one which goes with my suits, but it's
too slim for these pants - experience shows that wearing a belt that's too slim (in a function which isn't strictly
ornamental) will cause the belt loops to bend the belt in places. The broadest belt I have is 3.5 cm (about 1.5 in) wide, and
just does the job. I hear they have wider belts in Texas, but such are uncommon around here. Anyway, at this point this
seems to mean that I must either wear a heavy belt with these pants, potentially interfering with the waist belt on my pack,
or refrain from putting anything substantial into the pockets.
Sizing issues aside, the material of the pants is comfortable against my skin and the stretch does make moving around in
them a pleasure. The pant legs are cut wider than the jeans I often wear, which surprised me a little. The trend in the
softshell pants I can observe in stores around here seems to go towards snug-fitting clothing, which led me to expect the same
from the Skye pants.
I've worn these pants on 7 field trips since I received it. This was mostly dayhiking (only one overnighter).
Elevations were between 100 and 300 m
(330 and 1000 ft), temperatures from (just) below freezing to around 20 C (70 F). It's been windy a lot, precipitation
consisted mostly of light drizzle. There was some heavy fog. I have usually worn it by itself (over underwear), though
once under rain overpants.
The pants seem to stop the wind rather well. I am happy about that. While it is not 100 % windproof, I noticed
very little wind chill even in strong winds. I am less susceptible to cold on my legs than on the rest of my body,
but then there's also more skin area exposed if I feel that my legs aren't adequately covered. This has not been an
issue while wearing the Skye pants. While strong wind did make itself felt through the fabric of the material, such
wind has never felt chilling.
The DWR finish has also worked really well. The light drizzle it's been
exposed to a lot has just rolled off. Fog did not accumulate on/in the fabric, either. The pants have also dried -
after washing - in a snap. I was very happy with this.
The resistance to heavy rain was, predictably, less pronounced. These pants are *not* waterproof (nor are they
marketed as such). Large, heavy drops, particularly when blown by the wind with some force, penetrate the surface
despite its DWR treatment. This, too, was a factor easily and quickly remedied by the fast-drying nature of these
pants. I could simply continue to wear them and shortly after the rain stopped, they were dry again. They also
managed to dry underneath my waterproof/breathable rain overpants which I pulled on once the rain got too heavy for
the pants' DWR to deal with.
The insulating properties of the pants are similar to other lightweight pants I have worn. The warmth is somewhat short
of denim pants, but the breathability is much better. I have found these pants to be warm enough for leisurely hikes
in temperatures below 10 C (50 F), yet not too warm in temperatures up to 20 C (70 F). As I generally do not wear long pants
in temperatures higher than that, I have found this to be a good temperature range.
These pants have been very comfortable against my skin. The material remains nice to the touch. I have yet to exert myself
in them so much that sweat accumulates on my legs. I have no reason to assume that they would then feel uncomfortable,
however, and what I've observed of their breathability so far leads me to assume that I may never manage this anyway.
The front pockets are in just the right place. My hands find them naturally and I have sometimes used them as
handwarmer pockets when the use of my jacket's pockets was denied to me due to a hip belt covering the pockets. I
have found the rear pocket less useful. The wallet which I usually keep there (not on long-distance hikes, but always
when dayhiking) dangles around at the bottom of it in a way I find quite annoying. While a map fits in there, that
is also uncomfortable to walk with and particularly to sit down in. If this pocket was shorter by about 3 cm (1 in)
and began 3 cm (1 in) higher on the pants, I think I'd be more happy with it (this would make it just like any other
rear pocket on a generic pair of jeans). I have also found the side cargo pockets to be less than useful. Their size
is just right for a map, but their zipper extends down the center of the pocket. As the stretch of the material is
not *that* pronounced, this makes cramming a map in there a bit tedious, and extricating it even more so. Having the
zipper on one side of the pocket would likely make it much easier to slide a map in and out of this pocket. I think
I would enjoy that. A map is just light enough and has no bounce, so that I'm willing to wear it on my leg. Relieving
my most handy pocket of the map would make the other items I like to put in that other pocket that much more accessible.
I have found Compass etc. to have too much bounce to be carried in this pocket. They bounce against my leg with
every step, which has made using the pocket for such items impractical.
The thing which has most impacted the comfort of this pair of pants is the absence of an elastic waistband. I am
almost certain to have read on the manufacturer's website originally that these pants were meant to have one. As they
are cut a bit wide for my frame, I must wear a belt with them. This is quite uncomfortable if I am carrying a child
carrier, as the requisite weight transfer necessitates cinching the hip belt rather tight. This results in a tight
hip belt on top of the belt for my pants, which I have found to be a recipe for belt hickeys. Instead, I have worn
the pants without a belt, relying on the cinched hip belt of the child carrier to hold them up for me. This has
worked moderately well, though it has precluded me from putting anything heavier than a paper tissue into the pants'
Long Term Report:
Long Term Experience:
I have worn the pants on only five more trips during the Long Term testing phase. Elevations were between 100 and 600 m
(330 and 2000 ft), on hiking trails with quite a bit of elevation change. Precipitation-wise I've only encountered some
slight drizzle, which rolled off the pants' DWR. Temps were around the 20s C (70 F) for all but one of these hikes.
We've had an unusually warm spring,
which had me hiking in shorts some of the hikes I would have expected to hike in long pants. Plus, I've found the
lack of an elastic waist bothersome enough that on hikes where I carried my younger daughter in a child carrier, I
decided not to wear these pants. While I continue to think highly of the material, they either slide (without a belt)
or I get hip hickeys from the belt being pushed into my hips by the child carrier's hip belt.
I nevertheless undertook one of the hikes I would have considered "shorts" type of weather wearing the Skye pants. The temps
were above 20 C (call it 70 F) when we started and reached close to 30 C (mid-80s F) during the hottest time of the day.
The Skye pants were warm - no surprise there. And they heated up some in the direct sunlight - something a different colour
choice might help to correct. This means that I did feel rather warm around the legs. However, large sweat stains
(which I was beginning to expect at any moment) remained conspicuously absent. In fact, the pants seemed to "breathe"
rather well - while wearing them felt warm (at 25 C and above / 80 F or thereabouts), it did not feel stifling. When I
still wore jeans for hiking would sometimes be out hiking when the weather turned much warmer than expected, there usually
arrived a time at which I really looked forward to getting out of the pants I was wearing. Such a moment never arrived in the
Skye pants. This was good.
More on Comfort:
The pants have been a mixed bag here, as I believe I've mentioned before. I am not sure, however, that I have said
enough good things about the material - so I'll say some more. The stretch is just right, and apparently this is
also due in some part to the cut of these pants. As far as the panel division and orientation was done to give more
stretch, it was superbly done. Witness the picture on the side - even in such a position the pants hardly made
The material was also comfortably soft to the touch, yet tough enough not show signs of wear or tear after the
exposure it received. While they haven't been treated roughly, I have had pants which showed roughed up cuffs after
less wear than these pants were exposed to.
I am very happy with the material of these pants. It's comfy, has just the right amount of stretch, the DWR works
really well and they dry in an instant. I am somewhat unhappy with the cut and the way the pockets are designed.
Read more reviews of Outdoor Research gear
Read more gear reviews by Andre Corterier