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Reviews > Clothing > Pants and Shorts > Outdoor Research Neoplume Pants > Test Report by Andrew Henrichs
Outdoor Research Neoplume Pants
Test Series by Andy Henrichs
March 30, 2009
The Outdoor Research Neoplume Pants are an insulated pair of pants. They are insulated with PrimaLoft ECO Sport, which is a synthetic fiber created with 50% recycled material. This insulation is distributed in the pants so that 2.1 oz (60 g) is found from the waist to knee, and 1.4 oz (40 g) is found from the knee to the cuff. This provides more insulative properties for areas that are more prone to heat loss. The shell of the Neoplume Pants is constructed with 30D ripstop nylon that is both water and wind-resistant. There is a small reflective Outdoor Research logo on the middle of the left thigh. The back half of the waistband (from side zip to side zip) has an elastic waistband. The pants feature a two-way zipper fly with a snap button at the top, an integrated belt, two zippered handwarmer pockets, and full side zippers with a two-way zipper. The top of the side zippers have small triangles of fabric which secure with a hook and loop closure. These triangles of fabric act as zipper garages and also prevent the metal zipper from touching the skin. The bottom of the side zippers have a small triangle of fabric on the outside only. This piece of fabric snaps in place. The ankle cuffs of the Neoplume pants feature integrated gaiters. These gaiters have elastic around the perimeter of the cuffs. There is a snap closure and a length of hook and loop closure along the outside, in line with the side zips. These allow the pants to be put on or taken off at any time. The handwarmer pockets are lined with a thin fleece lining and measures approximately 5.5 in (14 cm) by 11 in (28 cm). Care instructions for the Outdoor Research Neoplume Pants are: machine wash cold separately, rinse thoroughly, do not bleach, do not use fabric softener, tumble dry low, do not iron.
These pants seemed a little thin when I initially took them out of the packaging, but they began to loft before long. I've only worn these pants around the house, but they fit well. They fit a little more closely than I expected, so there isn't much room to wear bulky layers under these pants. Still, I was able to put them on while wearing my ski pants. The closer fit doesn't seem to present a problem so far, as these pants are designed to be worn under a shell rather than the other way around. Even though I don't fit into the ideal sizing categories from the Outdoor Research website (smaller waist, longer legs), I'm very happy with both the length and width of these pants. They both seem just about perfect for me, and the integrated belt will accommodate me should I indulge in too much turkey next Thursday.
Almost all of the zipper pulls have a loop of cord to grab. This should be beneficial this winter when I'm wearing bulky gloves. The only one that doesn't have this cord is the lower zipper pull on the fly. All of the zippers run very well; I haven't had any snags while playing with the pants so far. The integrated belt releases with a small button in the center of the buckle. Due to its size, I'm interested to see how easy it is to unbuckle the belt when my hands are cold and I'm wearing gloves. The internal gaiters are snug, but not too tight. The elastic cuffs seem to stretch quite a bit, but it may be a tough fit over ski boots. The shell material is fairly soft and makes a fairly quiet "swish-swish" sound as I walk. Again, I've only worn these pants around the house, but they seem to heat up rather well. I'm hoping to get out into the backcountry soon and see how they work in the field.
I have tested the Outdoor Research Neoplume Pants throughout Colorado. Elevations on these trips have ranged from 6000 ft (1830 m) to nearly 13800 ft (4200 m). I’ve worn the pants in subalpine pine and aspen forests as well as above treeline. Temperatures have ranged from 40° F (4° C) down to 0° F (-18° C). I’ve experienced a wide variety of weather on these trips, including sun, clouds, heavy snow, and strong winds up to 45 mph (72 kph).
I have carried these pants with me on two day hikes and five backcountry ski trips. I've worn them on one of the day hikes and three of the ski trips. Based on my usage to date, I'm quite happy with these pants. They fit extremely well. I like the fact that they are cut rather slim; there is less trapped air to heat up, less bulk to pack, and less chance that they snag on something while hiking or skiing. Despite the slim cut, they allow enough room for layering underneath. They also allow full range of motion, leaving me free to drop my knees when I'm making ski turns.
I haven't had a chance to discover the coldest temperatures tolerable in these pants, but I've worn them on days when the wind chill was around -15° F (-26° C) and found them warm enough when hiking as well as when I was sitting down during my rest break. When hiking, I've found that 25° F (-4° C) seems to be the temperature when I need to take the Neoplume pants off. My legs generate a lot of heat when I'm active, and the Neoplume pants are just too good at trapping in that heat.
I have not had any issues with durability yet. I still have a lot more testing to do with these pants, but so far I haven't found any abrasions, loose threads, or snags in the fabric. I've been very impressed with how good the waistband feels under a pack belt. I am less than enamored with the release button on the belt. I have a tough time releasing it with my warm gloves on. I usually have to slide my gloves off to unsnap the waistband. I really like the full-length side zippers. Being able to don and doff these pants without taking boots or skis off is a great feature. Initially, I didn't notice that these zippers only separate at the waist, not the ankle. The first time I used this feature in the field I spent way too much time figuring this out.
I've been especially impressed with the shell fabric. On one hiking trip, we experienced sustained winds of 35 mph (56 kph) and gusts that were even stronger. Despite this, I never felt any wind penetrate the Neoplume pants. This was a very, very pleasant surprise. Later that day, in the shelter of the trees, we sat down in the snow to rest and snack. I sat in the snow for about 15 minutes and when I stood, the snow had not soaked through the shell at all. Better yet, I never got cold sitting in the snow.
I have continued to test the Outdoor Research Neoplume Pants throughout Colorado. I’ve worn the pants on seven additional occasions, all of which took place in subalpine pine and aspen forests as well as above treeline. I've worn them twice on shorter ski tours off of Monarch Pass, Colorado. The starting elevation was approximately 11,000 ft (3,400 m) and we climbed to 11,700 ft (3,600 m). Temperatures during the first tour here ranged from a low of 0° F (-18° C) to a high of nearly 30° F (-1° C). I experienced some light snow and occasional sun with a sustained wind of approximately 15 mph (24 kph). Temperatures during the second trip were warmer and ranged from 15° F (-9° C) to 40° F (4° C). This day featured clear skies and lots of sun with almost no wind. Two other days were spent on a long ski tour into and out of a backcountry ski hut near Leadville, Colorado. Temperatures during our ski in were very cold. It was -10° F (-23° C) when I left my car with clear skies and no wind. By the time we reached the hut it had clouded up and temperatures had climbed to 25° F (-4° C). The elevation at the hut was approximately 12,000 ft (3,800 m). A storm rolled in that night adding more clouds and wind. The ski out was relatively warm at 25° F (-4° C) but the sustained wind of 20 mph (32 kph) kept things cool. We experienced occasional light snow on the ski out.
The next use was while on a ski tour near Jones Pass, Colorado. This was a very early departure and temperatures were near -10° F (-23° C) when we left our car. This was a very cloudy, windy, and snowy day. We experienced wind gusts up to 35 mph (56 kph) throughout the day. Elevations ranged from 10,000 ft (3,000 m) at the car to 11,500 ft (3,500 m). I also used these pants while car camping at a trailhead near Breckenridge, Colorado before I attempted to build an igloo in the morning and go on a short ski tour in the afternoon. Elevation at the trailhead was approximately 8,000 ft (2,400 m). Temperatures dropped to approximately 0° F (-18° C) during the night and climbed to 35° F (2° C) the next day. Both the night spent camping and the day spent building an igloo and ski touring were clear with very little wind and no precipitation.
After additional use, I remain very impressed with these pants. I have rarely worn them while active as they are much too warm. Instead, most of my use has been while lounging on cold summits, walking around backcountry ski huts, and setting up or relaxing around camp. They are unbelievably perfect for those endeavors. As I mentioned in my Field Report, they are cut rather slim (as you can see in the picture below). Despite this cut, they allow plenty of motion for a wide range of activities. They allowed me plenty of motion for skiing, walking, climbing around snow pits, crawling through igloo doors, wriggling into and out of sleeping bags, and stepping over high snow drifts.
The nylon shell resists water extremely well. I spent a full morning in these pants while attempting to build an igloo. Initially, it was snowing lightly and the snow brushed off the pants easily. Later on, I cut out a door and had to crawl into and out of the igloo several times to adjust the form as I worked. Despite this time spent in and on the snow, no moisture ever penetrated the shell. I was also impressed by the fact that, when wearing the Neoplume pants, my knees stayed warm when kneeling on the snow. After a couple hours worth of work the sun had risen further and the temperature was nearing 30° F (-1° C). Even with the minimal activity associated with building an igloo (shoveling snow, walking around, kneeling) my legs were getting incredibly warm. I had to stop and take off the Neoplume pants shortly thereafter.
While I didn't wear them on every ski trip I took, I was always glad to know they were tucked away in my pack. I knew that instant leg warmth was always close by should the weather turn. While wearing these pants I've been through snow, ice, mud, and dirt. Despite this wear and tear, they still look like new. I have not noticed a single loose thread or pulled seam. After my initial confusion with the full-length zipper (see my Field Report), I am able to quickly don and doff these pants, even when wearing my big ski boots. The fact that the cuffs (though not the internal gaiters) fit over the top of my ski boots make me like these boots even more. The pockets on these pants are positioned quite well, and I'm able to access them easily even while wearing a pack.
The Outdoor Research Neoplume pants have definitely earned a permanent spot in my winter pack. They offer an extraordinary amount of warmth for their weight, fit extremely well, and look great.
Allow plenty of motion
Easily accessible pockets
The small belt buckle is difficult to unlatch while wearing gloves
Thank you to Outdoor Research and BackpackGearTest.org for giving me the opportunity to test these pants.
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Reviews > Clothing > Pants and Shorts > Outdoor Research Neoplume Pants > Test Report by Andrew Henrichs
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