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Reviews > Clothing > Pants and Shorts > Tasc Switchback Quick Dry Short > Test Report by Brett Haydin
tasc Performance Switchback M's Short
TESTER INFORMATIONNAME: Brett Haydin
EMAIL: bhaydin AT hotmail DOT com
LOCATION: Madison, Wisconsin, USA
HEIGHT: 5' 11" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT: 200 lb (90.70 kg)
CHEST: 42 in (107 cm)
WAIST: 36 in (91 cm)
I started backpacking in Wisconsin as a youth, being involved in the Boy Scouts programs. As a young adult, I worked at a summer camp leading backpacking, canoing and mountain biking trips. I now generally take short weekend or day trips. I plan several longer trips each year in different parts of the US, where I typically carry about 40 lb (18 kg). I prefer to be prepared and comfortable, but I have taken lightweight trips as well.
Product Information & Specifications
Year of Manufacture: 2016
Manufacturer's Website: www.tascperformance.com
MSRP: $64 US
Listed Weight: n/a
Measured Weight: 7 oz (198 g)
Color Tested: Graphite (also available in Greystone and Muted Camo)
Size Tested: 36 in (91 cm) (also available in 30, 32, 34 and 38 in – 76, 81, 86, 97 cm)
Material: 55% viscose from bamboo/40% polyester/5% Lycra spandex (Elastane)
Warranty: no-hassle return policy. Full refund plus shipping charges if not entirely satisfied.
Other Details provided by Manufacturer
Product DescriptionThe tasc Switchback M's shorts are simple shorts that sport some great features. The shorts have two front pockets, two back pockets and a side (hiker's right) pocket. The pockets are a decent size; the front is just over 10 in (25 cm) deep and the back is just over 5 in (13 cm). They are all made of a smooth mesh polyester fabric that should drain nicely should I take a dip in them! The pockets are all open except for the side pocket, which has a 5 in (13 cm) seamless plastic zipper. The short's selling point for me is the fabric: 50% bamboo, 45% polyester and 5% Elastane. I've worn bamboo in the past and absolutely loved the feel and durability. The Elastane provide a nice stretch to the fabric as well.
The waistband is 1.5 in (3.8 cm) wide and has a total of six 2 in (5 cm) belt loops - 2 front, 2 side, to back. There is a matching 0.75 in (1.9 cm) button above the 6 in (15 cm) metal YKK zipper. There is reinforced stitching in some strategic places: the pockets and belt loops. On the (hiker's) left leg, there is a simple stitched "tasc" name. Inside the shorts there is also a fabric and washing instructions tag sewn into the back, as well as a fabric loop with the tasc logo and size. On this loop it indicated the shorts are made in India.
Initial ImpressionsOne of the best things I love about bamboo is how remarkably soft it is compared to many other fabrics. These shorts are no different! I could easily wear them all day I think. The fit is described as "athletic" which I think is accurate. I'd say that my build is athletic and my legs have the bulk of that muscle. I find the fit to be a little tighter than I am used to around the thighs. Hopefully I will get used to this. I really notice it while sitting, particularly in the car. When I stand up, the shorts stay in place and I have to pull them down a little. Lengthwise, these seem a little short as well. The shorts are a full 3 in (8 cm) above my knee cap. All the better to get a higher tan-line, I suppose! The waist is spot-on perfect.
These shorts are expertly crafted. I could not find any loose threads or other imperfections. I really love the stretch in the fabric. All of the zippers move freely as they should and the button is easy to open and close. I had a chance to wear the shorts for a little before writing this report. The website indicates that the fabric (MOSOdry) is water resistant. As it happens, we had a little rain here and I did notice the water running off the shorts rather than soaking into them. The dried quite quickly as well.
Reading the InstructionsAs with many short I have owned, the care instructions are provided by the sewn-in-tags on the interior of the shorts. The manufacturer states that the jacket should be machine-washed in cold water. It warns to not use bleach. I can tumble dry on warm and use a warm iron if I want. Simple enough!
The website is very easy to navigate, and is equally "slick." The company is a family-owned company based in New Orleans, Louisiana (USA) with Al and Ted Andrews the co-founders. There is some conflicting information on the use of chemicals, but overall they appear to be a company genuinely concerned with the environment.
Field ConditionsSince receiving the tasc Shorts, I have been on four backpacking trips. My first trip was a two-night, three-day backpack in the Porcupine Mountains in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I hiked 24 mi (39 km) through a good mix of hardwoods and coniferous forests as well as along the rocky shores of Lake Superior. It rained one afternoon a fair amount but the temperatures were warm (for that far north) with highs of 77 F (25 C) and overnight lows of 52 F (11 C).
My next trip was an overnight camping trip at Hendy Woods State Park in Northern California. I spent a couple of days exploring this beautiful old growth redwood forest. The temperature was great with a high of 85 F (29 C) and a low of 65 F (18 C). I hiked approximately 9 mi (14 km), but spent much of my time relaxing.I also took an overnight along a section of the Ice Age Trail backpacking 23 mi (37 km) in Chippewa County, Wisconsin. The terrain was fairly hilly with elevation gain on some hills over 300 ft (90 m). That isn't a lot compared to the mountains, but western Wisconsin is not flat! Temperatures were a little more moderate between 58 and 72 F (14 and 22 C). It rained most of the afternoon and into the evening on my first day.
My last trip (so far) was a 9.2 mi (14.8 km) loop in the Mendocino National Forest in Northern California. The temperatures were between 60 and 80 F (16 and 27 C) with no precipitation. The terrain was rocky, mountainous and breathtaking!
The shorts have held up to all sorts of abuse as well. Sitting on rocky paths, in the mud or resting on downed trees have not put any stains or tears in these shorts. I've even worn the shorts in the woods while scouting for potential hunting locations through some brushy, and downright nasty, spots. Frankly I should have worn pants, but despite the scratches on my legs, the shorts held up great.
I have only two main complaints about the pants. The first is that the back pockets are really small. It just barely fits my wallet which is 3 x 4 in (8 x 10 cm). I haven't had anything fall out of them, but a couple of times I have thought twice about leaving a map or other larger item in the back. The image to the right shows the trail map sticking out of my front pocket while hiking at the Hendy Woods State Park in California. The other pockets are sized well, even the zippered pocket on the lower-right leg.
My other chief concern is that the legs continue to ride up on me. At first I didn't notice this while hiking too much, but it is even more noticeable on hilly terrain, especially uphill. The shorts just stay high up on my thigh instead of falling down like other shorts I own. In the backcountry this is just a nuisance but while wearing the shorts around town I just feel silly. I would think that another size up would be too loose at the waist, so I think it is just a style issue. I don't wear skinny jeans, for example, because my legs are too thick for them.
Field ConditionsSince my last trip, I have taken an additional two backpacking trips with the tasc shorts. My first trip was an overnight trip in Southern Wisconsin in the Kettle Moraine State Forest along the Ice Age Tail to Whitewater Lake. We had some unseasonably warm weather so I took advantage of the break in the cold to take the 8.9 mi (14.3 km) hike and soak in the views. The temperatures were between 45 and 65 F (7 and 18 C) with no precipitation. The trail was hilly and dirt-packed. Because it was cool, I only wore the shorts a little bit of the time - mostly while hiking. At night I switched into some pants to stay warm.
My last trip with the shorts was an overnight in the Joshua Tree National Park in California. I hiked 8 mi (13 km) along the Boy Scout Trail which was rocky, dirt-packed desert hike among the iconic trees. There was a moderate amount of elevation gain - 1,000 ft (300 m) - since I did just a shuttle hike. Typical of Southern California, I saw no rain with temperatures between 60-70 F (16-21 C) and an overnight low at about 40 F (4 C).
ObservationsThe tasc Switchback shorts have been a reliable pair of shorts for me. In addition to the backpacking trips, I have worn the shorts hiking, mountain biking and lounging around the house. I find that the shorts can take a lot of abuse. Despite all the trips in rocky, sometimes muddy conditions, the fabric and seams have all held up nicely. There is starting to be some wear on the backside, but only upon really close inspection. But the stitching is all holding firm.
I have a love-hate relationship with the shorts overall. I love the feel of them. The bamboo fabric is just a nice alternative to so many other synthetic fabric shorts I own and wear. It has dried quickly when I have gotten them wet. I have not experienced any chafing with them either. All great things! However, the shorts continue to ride up my thighs and then just stay there. Because the cuff is a snug fit for me, the shorts seem to just stick there and I have to pull them down. The image to the right shows the shorts after hiking up a hill in the Kettle Moraine Forest (of which there are plenty!).
I have thought about the sizing and if that would make a difference and I don't think it would. The waist is a little loose as it is so I need to use a belt to keep them in place. Sadly I think this is just an issue that the style and my body type are just not a good fit. I should point out that my leg muscles are disproportionately large. While most noticeable in my calf muscles, my thighs are also well-built. I actually get stopped on the trail by people asking what kind of workout routines I follow! I only bring this up so the reader can understand that my body type is not really that typical. Heck, I could never fit into skinny jeans for the same reason.
SummaryOverall, I like the shorts for hiking. The shorts are nice and lightweight. They dry quick and are very comfortable. Unfortunately the shape doesn't fit me so I don't think I will be using them much for backpacking and hiking.
Pros: Comfortable, durable, well-constructed and quick-drying.
Cons: Tight fit for my (muscular) legs.
This concludes this test series. I would like to thank tasc Performance and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to be a part of this test series.
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