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Reviews > Clothing > Pants and Shorts > Outdoor Research Mens Skye Pant > Test Report by Bob Sanders

Outdoor Research Skye Pants

Test Series by Bob Sanders

Initial Report: January 28, 2007
Field Report: April 24, 2007
Long Term Report: June 19, 2007


PERSONAL INFORMATION

Name: Bob Sanders
Age: 49
Gender: Male
Height: 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight: 210 lb (95 kg)
Email: sherpabob(at)mac(dot)com
City: Boulder, Colorado USA

Backpacking Background: I went on my first backpacking trip as a Boy Scout at the age of 16. Over the years I have hiked the Wonderland Trail in Washington and section hiked parts of the Florida Trail and the Appalachian Trail. In 2003 during a seven week period I hiked 740 mi (1191 km) of the Pacific Crest Trail. Best vacation I ever took. I continue to backpack and hike year round in the Colorado mountains. I have evolved from a heavyweight backpacker to a lightweight backpacker. My three day summer solo adventures (using a hammock) have me hovering around a 12 lb (6.8 kg) base weight. However while backpacking in the winter I will be using a tent and additional clothing. So my base weight will climb to approx. 17 lb (7.7 kg)

OR Skye Pants
Photo from Outdoor Research Website
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INITIAL REPORT
January 28, 2007

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website: www.orgear.com
MSRP: US$89
Listed Weight: 13 oz (369 g) Size Large
Measured Weight: 15 oz (425 g) Size Extra Large
Size tested: Extra Large
Colors available: Teak and Pumice

Manufacturer's description (From Website): These pants combine utilitarian features with a performance soft shell fabric. The even stretch allows movement in any direction you choose. Articulated knees and a full-length gusseted inseam give you additional flexibility. A DWR finish sheds unexpected drizzle.

Features (From Website):
• Durable, stretch woven nylon fabric
• DWR finish resists moisture
• Suspender and belt loops
• Snap and zipper fly
• Full-length gusseted inseam
• Two front slash pockets
• Two utility pockets with concealed zippers
• Back pocket with concealed zipper
• Articulated knees for unencumbered movement

Warranty: Infinite Guarantee. Outdoor Research products are guaranteed forever.


INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The pants arrived in a simple plastic bag with 2 hang tags. One is a self adhesive sticker with their logo on it. The other larger tag has a logo on one side and on the other a bulleted list of the other products OR offers, size, color, contact info, warranty and a bar code. No information about the product (fabric, usage or features) at all. Purchasing these pants from a retail store would have left with very little information.

So I checked out the website to gain as much information as I could. What little information I did gather was vague. The pants are listed in the "Active" category with this brief description: "Comfortable, adventure savvy designs executed in fast-drying, technical fabrics." Hummm, I could use a little more information here. What I find interesting is these pants are listed in the "active" category not the "softshell" category. Even though in the manufacturer's description above, it says "performance soft shell fabric". OK, maybe they are both.

These pants are styled like casual pants with a few extra outdoor features.
 
FABRIC: The fabric is listed as 94% Nylon and 6% Spandex which gives it excellent stretch. While pulling on the fabric I noticed the stretch is only in one direction. I also noticed that stretching the fabric in various locations the stretch appears to be be horizontally oriented. Meaning they stretch width wise not length wise. The only panel that stretches vertically is the crotch area which extends down the inside of the leg about 2" (5 cm) wide. The weight of the fabric is mid to light weight.

Water Resistance: The fabric has a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish applied to resist external moisture. I held a pant leg under a water faucet and the water beaded up nicely and ran off. A quick shake and all the beads were gone.

The pants appear to be very well made with no loose threads or funky stitches.

FIT & SIZING: I asked for and received an extra large based on the OR sizing chart on their website. I have a 38 in (97 cm) waist measurement which is listed as an XL. They do not list a range, only a single measurement. For an XL the length is listed at 34" (86 cm). Unfortunately for me my inseam is only 31" (79). For now I will cuff them and eventually hem them.

The pants fit me pretty good. Not too tight, not too loose. I would classify them as a normal fit, not an athletic fit. The only area that is a little snug for me is the posterior. I'm working on that. The added stretch makes all the difference. Plenty of room in the thighs and lower legs. Wearing a pair of long underwear underneath would be no problem.

These pants have both belt and suspender loops. There is no elastic or drawcord in the waist band. I have to admit that the lack of this feature surprises me. When I am out being "active" ie, hiking, backpacking and snowshoeing I do not normally wear a belt or suspenders. The main reason is wearing a belt underneath a pack's hipbelt is uncomfortable and suspenders are uncomfortable under a pack's shoulder straps. So wearing these pants and doing the things they were designed for means, in order to keep my pants up, I need to wear a belt or suspenders. I will be looking to see how the lack of an elastic or drawcord waist affects their comfort and performance.

Belt Loop

Leg Cuffs: The bottom cuffs have no elastic, closures or zippers of any kind. I will be keeping an eye on how well they keep snow and debris out of my boots and shoes. Also without zippers I need to remove my shoes first before putting on or taking off these pants.

ZIPPERS & SNAPS: The front waist snap is very loose. In the first 10 minutes of wearing the pants the snap came undone 3 times. Holding the pants by the waistband on either side of the front snap and pulling outwards the snap comes undone very easily. It is hard to estimate how much effort it takes but certainly less than opening a potato chip bag. Lets just say I was shocked by how little effort it took. Something else I noticed was the amount of space between the top of the zipper and the bottom of the snap which measured approx. 1.5" (3.8 cm). I could easily stick 2 fingers in this gap underneath the zipper flap. This seemed like a lot so I compared them to 3 other pair of pants (a pair of jeans, and 2 pair of nylon hiking pants). Each of those measured approx. .5" (1.2 cm). I will be keeping a eye on this snap over the next 4 months.

All of the zippers were smooth and worked as expected.

POCKETS: There are 2 front slash hand pockets lined with mesh, 1 rear zippered pocket, also mesh lined and 2 zippered thigh pockets, one on each side. These "utility" pockets are sized to accommodate a compact camera, a snack or a pair of sunglasses.

Side Pocket

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FIELD REPORT
April 24, 2007

For the past 2 months these pants have seen a lot of use. I have used them backpacking, hiking and walking the dog. I have worn them to work and to the grocery store.

LOCATIONS & FIELD CONDITIONS: During February and March temperatures have been between 60° and 0° F (16° and -18° C) and I have worn these pants at elevations between 5000 and 9000 ft (1524 and 2743 m) on day hikes to climb Mt Sanitas (numerous times), Green Mountain, Boulder Peak and on trails in Rocky Mountain National Park. I squeezed in one 3-day 2 night backpacking trip in late March. I was waiting for the weather to warm up a bit, especially at night. During the day temperatures were between 50° and 55° (10° to 16° C) and temperatures at night did reach 0° (-18° C) very briefly. I was sleeping in a tent, using a 20° (7° C) down quilt and I wore every piece of clothing I had with me including these pants. My top was warm but my legs were chilled as I only had the Skye pants and a pair of mid-weight wool long johns.

PERFORMANCE: Depending on layering, these pants have been comfortable over a wide range. By themselves these pants are comfortable while hiking strenuously in temperatures between 25-55° (-4 to 16° C). I have not used them in temperatures above that. While just hanging around camp or periods of less activity they are comfortable to about freezing. Below 25° (-4° C) I have layered them with a pair of mid-weight merino wool long johns. They breathe well and there has been no accumulation of moisture on the inside. My legs do not sweat much especially in cooler temperatures.

On several occasions while hiking, light snow was falling. The snow that did accumulate melted, beaded up, rolled off or evaporated. The only place the pants became wet was on the seat (after sitting on some wet rocks) and around the bottom cuffs. This moisture was usually dry within an hour or so. I have not experienced any rain yet, only light mist and snow which these pants handled fine.

The pants do offer some wind resistance. Most of the wind I have experienced has been medium to light. I did not become chilled in a light breeze.

My main complaint with these pants is the front snap closure and the waist band. The front snap closure, as reported in my initial report is very loose. These pants have come undone on numerous occasions. Almost always while I am not wearing a belt. For example: bending over to tie my shoe, they come undone. I sit down on a rock and bring my knees up, they come undone. Very frustrating. If I wear a belt there is enough tension to keep the snap closed. While the pants have belt loops and are designed to be worn with a belt, I do not wear a belt if I am carrying a pack with a hip belt. Which is most of the time. Even on short day hikes I carry a small day pack for food, water and raingear. I have tried wearing a belt under the hip belt but it is very uncomfortable. Since I have stopped wearing a belt the hip belt of the pack slowly pushes my pants down. Which is also very frustrating because I need to stop, undo the hip belt and pull my pants up before I move on. A very simple solution would be for the manufacturer to add an elastic waist band and replace the snap with a simple button closure.

The front hand pockets are deep enough to keep my hands warm and nothing wants to fall out while sitting down. The rear zippered pocket is a nice security feature for my wallet. The thigh pockets have been less than useful. With the zipper running down the center of the pocket getting things in and out of the pocket takes more effort than it needs to. Running the zipper across the top or along one side would make things so much easier. Since the pocket is not bellowed I usually only carry small flat things like maps or energy bars in these pockets. Anything bulky presses against my thigh as I walk.

The fabric is comfortable against my skin and seems to be very durable. I have machine washed these pants 4 times in cold water and hung them to dry. The manufacturer says the pants can be dried on low heat but I decided to air dry them to reduce any shrinkage. Which they have not.

SUMMARY: These pants are usable over a wide range of temperatures and conditions. They breathe well and dry quickly. The fabric is durable and after 2 months of use they look brand new.

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LONG TERM REPORT
June 19, 2007

Not much has changed in the last two months except for the weather. Temperatures have been unseasonably warm and dry. With the rise in temperatures I have been wearing these pants less and less. I estimate I have worn these pants maybe 10 times in the past 2 months. Mostly early morning day hikes and one backpacking trip.

LOCATIONS & FIELD CONDITIONS: During late April to early June daytime temperatures have been between 60 and 90° F (15° and 32° C) and nighttime temperatures have been between 40 and 60° F (4° and 15° C) I have continued to wear these pants on day hikes but only in the morning when the temperatures are cool enough. I brought the pants with me on a 3 day 2 night backpacking trip to Brainard Lake in the Indian Peaks area in late May. There were still patches of snow on the ground but the daytime temperatures were quite warm. The only time I wore the pants was at night while sitting around camp and in the mornings. Wearing the pants during the day was just too warm. I normally wear shorts while I hike and have been known to wear them down to 40° F (4° C)

DURABILITY: The pants are holding up quite well. During this period of testing I have washed the pants twice in cold water and hung them up to dry. Washing the pants has not effected the water repellency. The pants seem to get dirtiest on the seat and on the bottom cuffs. The dirt and mud that have accumulated have washed out completely with no remaining stains. After close inspection I really do not see any signs of wear.

FINAL SUMMARY: I like these pants with a few reservations. In the 4 months of testing I have used these pants in a wide variety of temperatures and conditions. For me, these are cold to cooler weather pants. They breathe well and have a wide comfort range. While hiking or backpacking they are comfortable to about 50° F (10° C). Above that I begin to overheat. I would not carry these pants during the summer months. Instead I would choose to carry a pair of lightweight zip-off pants that convert to shorts.The Skye pants seem to be well suited for colder, dryer climates like Colorado. They handle snow and light rain extremely well. The pants are only water resistant, so if the weather indicated heavy rain I would also bring along a pair of rain pants.

The few reservations I have are about the design of these pants. I refuse to wear a belt while I backpack. So change the design to include an elastic waist and a sturdy button closure that won't come undone and I am a happy camper.


I would like to thank Outdoor Research and BGT for the opportunity to test these pants.



Read more reviews of Outdoor Research gear
Read more gear reviews by Bob Sanders

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