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Reviews > Clothing > Pants and Shorts > Outdoor Research Mens Skye Pant > Test Report by Coy Ray Starnes
Outdoor Research Men's Skye Pants™
Test Report Series
Initial Report: Febuary 5, 2007
Field Report, April 17, 2007
Long Term Report: June 18, 2007
Author sporting Skye Pants out for a walk on a crisp cool day
I live in Northeast Alabama. I enjoy hunting, fishing, canoeing, and most other outdoor activities but backpacking is my favorite pastime. I enjoy hiking with friends and family or solo. I hike throughout the year and actually hike less in the hot humid months of summer. My style is slow and steady and my gear is light. However, I will sacrifice weight for comfort and durability. A typical 3-season load for me is around 20 lb (9 kg) not counting food or water. I usually sleep in a hammock and cook with an alcohol stove.
First of all, it's about time a manufacture has the good sense to call them pants instead of pant...IMHO. The Skye Pants are described as "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."
The material is very stretchy feeling. The pants include belt loops, suspender loops, front snap closure, front zip fly, and two slash pockets in front in the normal pocket location. They do have two more small zippered pockets below the slash pockets on each leg and the single back pocket is covered by a small flap and has a zipper. This should make for very secure wallet storage. The website lists the following features.
+ 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
My first impression was how light they felt upon picking them up. I guess reading the online description of having the performance of a soft shell fabric led me to expect a slightly thicker feeling material. Other than that they look much like the picture depicted on the website. A quick inspection revealed nice seam work and no obvious flaws. Overall, the pants remind me of a pair of nylon hiking pants. In fact that is how I would characterize them from appearance and feel alone.
The XL sizing info says the pants will fit someone with a 38 in (97 cm) waist. It also list the XL with a 34 in (86 cm) inseam length. Unfortunately, I wear a 31 in (79 cm) inseam. I called the Outdoor Research Customer Service department and asked about other inseam length availability. They confirmed that the one listed was the only one available. Since the Skye Pants are just hemmed with a straight hem and there are no zippers, elastic, or draw cords to deal with, I plan to re-hem them to the length I need.
Other than the length, the pants fit great. The cut is what I would call semi-athletic (see the picture at the top for a visual). They are fairly close fitting but not tight in the thigh area and loose from the knees on down. The articulated knee area is not obvious with a casual observation but when I put them on they have a nice fit at the knees.
The day I received the pants was cold and blustery with some snow left from a light snowfall the previous day. I decided a nice walk would tell me a lot about what to expect during the testing period. As I eluded to earlier, the pants are quite thin so I was just a tad worried that they might not be quite suited for this weather. My fears were not justified. It was 32 F (0 C) as I headed out for my walk and 29 F (-2 C) when I returned some 2 hours later. I found the pants to be very warm and also excellent at blocking the wind. I also found they were great for sitting on wet rocks. No, they did not make the rock feel warm (or soft) but they kept my behind dry. I did feel a little chilly when I stopped for a 15 minute break but sitting on a cold and wet rock contributed to that. I even worked up a slight sweat as I climbed the 300 ft (91 m) elevation gain on the one steep section of the trail. But I did not feel clammy. While I don't feel the pants would be ideal for standing around in this kind of weather I am very pleased with how warm they kept my legs on this short hike. I found the Skye pants very comfortable as I moved and stretched. I did a few deep knee bends and put my legs up on rocks etc to do hamstring and other stretches as I do on nearly every hike to limber up. It is obvious the material is great for an active outing. In fact other than having to stop a few times to recuff the legs I had no complaints.
April 17, 2007
Notice the good fit for stretching out crossing the creek!
Field Test Conditions and Locations
All my hiking has been here in northeast Alabama. The weather has been both warmer and colder than normal for spring depending on which week it was. As a result, I have recently worn the pants in temperatures as low as 24 F (-4 C) and as high as 83 F (28 C). It has been a dryer than normal spring but I did wear the pants on a few cold blustery days that even produced some sleet and snow.
Field Test Results
First, I must say, these pants have worked great. What has really been surprising is the ability to go from very cold conditions to conditions when shorts would be a more likely choice and still be comfortable. Most of my testing has been while out dayhiking and on a few bike rides.
As I reported in my Initial Report, the pants I received are the XL and the only length offered in this size is a 34 in (86 cm) inseam. As I normally wear pants with a 31 in (79 cm) inseam, I had to cuff the pants for the first several times I wore them. I then cut 2.5 inches off (allowing for a 0.5 in/1.3 cm hem) the length but did not get them hemmed right away. In fact I wore them twice before I found the time (OK before my wife found the time) to hem them. At first she was going to sew the hem but our sewing machine balked. She had some iron-on hemming tape and asked me if it would hurt to iron them. I replied, well they call for washing in cold water but go for it. She did and it worked fine. I have now washed and worn them a couple more times since hemming and the hem is still doing fine. Here is what the iron-on hem looks like.
Iron-on hem holding well after several wearings and washings!
Most of my dayhikes have been around 3 to 5 miles (5 to 8 km). I noticed that on cool days when temperatures were between 40 and 60 F (4 and 16 C), it seemed just about perfect conditions for the Skye pants. They are fairly wind proof so on warmer days they did feel a little hot when I was hiking hard, however, when just piddling around they did not feel overly warm. During a recent record setting warm spell I even wore them a few times at around 80 F (27 C) and they were not as bad as I anticipated.
Not a week after the record warm weather I wore them on a much colder short hike of about 1/2 mile (0.8 km) in early April. It was around 36 F (2 C) and also fairly windy when I set out after dark. Since I was hiking mostly downhill I needed all the leg warmth these pants offered. When I stopped walking and went about setting up my tent, I actually felt a little cool on my legs, but not enough to worry or complain about. I probably noticed my legs feeling a little cool more then I might have if I were not wearing a nice warm down jacket and was toasty warm on my upper half. After getting everything settled for the night I placed the pants down inside my Lost Ranger sleeping bag, climbed in and went to sleep. I did wake up with cool feet after several hours and took my down jacket out of the pillow pocket to wrap my feet with. I replaced the down jacket with the Skye pants and I'll just say they don't really make a good pillow...
The hike out was mostly uphill. It was even cooler now, down to 24 F (-4.4 C), but the wind was dead still. My legs actually stayed warmer then they did on the hike in and when setting up camp.
On all my hikes I have been very impressed with the comfort of the Skye pants. They fit well which helps but I really like them when climbing. On some pants I can actually feel the pants working against me going uphill. These fit loose enough that they don't restrict the movement of my thighs, yet are not too baggy which hinders my stride. This same fit worked well when riding my bike. I only rode in them a few times as the cuffs are a little big for bike riding. It did give the pants a chance to prove their quick drying abilities. They dry much faster than my cotton-blend sweat pants I usually wear in cool weather.
Care and Durability so far
I really don't have any thing to report here which is a good thing. I've gotten a few dirt stains on the knees but these washed out fine. I have washed them about 8 times so far, using cold water and whatever detergent was handy. I have line dried them most of the time but on a few rainy days have hung them on the back of a chair. They have never seen the inside of a dryer. When line dried they dry really fast, in about 1 hour if I go flip them after 30 minutes. In fact after my last hike I washed them on a fairly cool and cloudy day and they still dried in less than 2 hours.
The pockets do not have any holes in them and have worked like pockets should. Typically I put my wallet in the back pocket and my comb, pocket knife and change in the front. The zippers and belt loops are also still doing fine.
Long Term Report
June 18, 2007
Author hiking in the Savage Gulf Wilderness Area
Test Location and Conditions
My three day hike in late April of 31 miles (50 km) was in the Savage Gulf Wilderness Area in Tennessee. The temperatures were warm during the day, reaching the mid 80's (around 30 C). Overnight temperatures were cool but not cold, with a low of 43 F (6 C) on the second night. We saw showers the first day but after that, the trip remained pretty much cloud free.
The trails down in the gulf are pretty rough but the trails around the rim are fairly easy. The trails near the rim, just as it descends down into the gulf (or out depending on my direction of travel), were the roughest. In fact, any rougher and I would think twice before returning.
Long Term Test Results
My latest testing has included several more day hikes, bike rides and one 31 mile (50 km), three day hike in the Savage Gulf Wilderness Area in Tennessee. Now that summer has arrived with a vengeance I have been wearing shorts more often than not but the Skye Pants are still a viable option, not really any hotter than wearing a pair of jeans or other long pants. This is surprising to me given how warm they are.
On the hike in Savage Gulf I hiked about 10 miles (16 km) the first day in late afternoon. It rained off and on several times and the brush along the side of the trail was pretty wet. I would take out my umbrella when the rain got steady. They were exposed to more water from the brush and from rain dripping around the edges of the umbrella than from direct rain. However the Skye Pants were perfectly capable in handling this. I got a little ring of wetness right at my waistline from sweating but my legs remained dry. In other words, the pants did soak up a little sweat at the waist but the lower portion of the pants that were exposed to some rain, more umbrella drip and even more wet vegatation, did not soak up any water.
This hike was a good test of the toughness of the pants and I can say, they were up to the challenge, probably more so than me, as I reached camp each night pretty much tuckered out. Along the trail I would often see a good rock or log and took advantage by taking several short rest breaks. Sometime I would remove my pack but several were just quick breaks on long uphill climbs and I would just leave my pack on. In other places I would take long breaks and really rest up. Here, I'm sprawled out on a rocky section where the trail crossed Collins Creek. I was pretty much toast at this point and almost took a nap....
The trail also had several places that required some climbing and scrambling up or down rock ledges and other obstacles. One place required almost laying down to get under a big log across the trail. I never felt restricted in the pants and they performed just as I like.
The Outdoor Research Men's Skye Pants are nice. They are very light in weight, yet remarkably warm when the temperatures drop and the wind has a little bite in it. On the other hand they are OK for warm weather hiking, not really any hotter than a pair of blue jeans. They really shine in damp conditions, keeping me dry in all but the wettest conditions, such as wading. Then when I did get them wet, they dried out very fast. The pants also proved to be very tough. I wore them on some very rough trails and spent a lot of time climbing around on rocks etc without tearing holes in the pants or ripping any seams. As for comfort, they are great. They fit me well and also are quite stretchy when I had to bend in awkward positions. I enjoyed testing the Outdoor Research Men's Skye Pants and in my opinion they are great hiking pants. To sum it up; "I like these pants". This concludes my report. I hope my findings are beneficial to all who took the time to read it.
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Reviews > Clothing > Pants and Shorts > Outdoor Research Mens Skye Pant > Test Report by Coy Ray Starnes
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