WHITE SIERRA TRAIL PANTS
TEST SERIES BY JAMIE LAWRENCE
October 28, 2007
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Hobart, Tasmania AUSTRALIA
5' 7" (1.70 m)
154 lb (70.00 kg)
I was introduced to bushwalking/tramping/hiking around 13 years ago as a young child scouting and through my school physical/adventure education. After leaving school, I mainly did short daywalks until recently when I have started to again re-walk some of Tasmania's key hiking routes and try walks I have yet to attempt. I mainly walk in the winter months, in Tasmania's central highlands areas. I prefer light gear, extended walks (3-5 days) in a group of 3 or shorter walks (1-3 days) walking solo. I would generally carry a base weight pack of around 8 kg-10 kg (17 lb-22 lb).
Product Information & Specifications
|White Sierra Trail Pants|
Manufacturer: White Sierra
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website: White Sierra Home Page
Listed Weight: N/A
Measured Weight: 490 g (17.3 oz)
Size: M (30" Inseam)
The White Sierra pants arrived folded neatly in plastic with what I can presume are the normal attached tags. These tags where the usual, a brand tag and a bar coded price tag as well a tag detailing the product was made with DuPont Fabric and a great tag describing the unique Travelpack System which allows for the pant legs to be stashed into their own pocket and attached to the belt for easy carting whilst on the track.
As soon as I opened the plastic and unfolded the pants I was really impressed. The pants felt really nice and light, with a slightly stiff feel to them. I assumed this was due to the DuPont Teflon DWR treatment listed as a feature of the product. I was really happy to see a number of pockets in various places and of various sizes. Most of these pockets feature sturdy cover flaps which are held closed by generous sized hook & loop fastener tabs. Most of the pockets are lined with a mesh.
I tried on the pants and found them to be a great fit. I had contacted the manufacturer before receiving the product to work out that as a 32" waist I would be a size M for this product. With 2 inseam choices (30" & 32") available I chose the 30" which is a good fit. With boots on, the pants come right down to over my ankles, just touching the top of the sole of my boot. This is a good fit for me, as I usually find pants much too long in the leg. The side leg opening zippers are very handy, making it easy to get the pants off with my boots still on. This would make it very easy to convert the pants to shorts quickly on the trail without having to remove boots.
Basic Use & Care Instructions
As this is a rather straightforward product, comprehensive instructions for use are not really required. As mentioned earlier, the pants came with a tag attached explaining how to stow the pant legs in their own pocket. This is a great idea and it was the first thing I tested on the pants. Using these instructions I was able to quickly locate the pocket, remove the bottom section of the legs, stuff them into the pocket and then attach to the belt. I don't see any need to keep this tag for future reference as the process is simple enough for me to remember or figure out if I were to forget.
The only other instructions with the product were the care instructions, located on the reverse of the size tag which is stitched into the waist of the pants at the rear, also with a brand tag and a handy loop, presumably to allow hanging. The instructions are rather simple, machine wash, cold. No iron or dry clean is listed, which I imagine would damage the DWR treatment or the fabric itself. These care instructions are not complicated (even for a simple folk like me) and seem in line with similar products I own.
Wearing the Pants
When putting the pants on, the side elastic waist feels comfortable and the belt offers a little extra firmness if required. The belt is easy to adjust and clips together smoothly and is easy to undo without feeling like it will 'pop open' at any time. All the pockets feel like they are in the right spots and I can easily reach the bottom of all the pockets with my hands without too much effort.
I have worn the pants on 2 occasions. The first was the day after I received them when I was attending a school holiday program for younger children. During this day I was fairly active playing games or running about as well as climbing in and out of a small bus that I was driving. During this whole day I was really surprised with the comfort of the pants, as well as how much movement I had in them. What I did notice was that the zippers in the legs create a bit of a 'hooping effect' which doesn't allow the pant legs to fully settle when I am sitting. This wasn't a big issue as the zippers didn't cause me any discomfort at the back of my knees when they were bent.
The other time I have worn the pants was for a quick walk in the rain. The DWR treatment appears to work with the water beading on the pants. I was only walking for about 10 minutes so this is not a definitive result and I will look to test further.
I feel that there are several key areas that can be tested during the test. I propose to cover the following areas, Fit & Comfort, Functionality and Ease of Care. This is what I will endeavour to discover and report accordingly over the test period plus what ever becomes obvious during testing;
Fit & Comfort
*Is a size M. Is this a comfortable fit?
*Is a 30" inseam length long enough?
*Is a 30" inseam too long?!
*At full stride is there any pulling or tight fitting areas?
*Once unzipped, are the shorts a good length?
*When wearing as pants, do the zip joins cause any issue?
*Is the belt clip in the waist comfortable?
*Does it cause an issue when wearing a hip belted pack?
*Do the pants breathe?
*Does the DWR treatment affect this?
*Are the pants comfortable with thermals underneath?
*Are the pants comfortable when wearing gaiters?
*Is the product suitable for active outdoor wear?
*How easy is it to convert the pants to shorts?
*Is it possible to store the removed pant legs in the shorts (in pockets?)?
*How well do the zippers work?
*Can I do it in a hurry?
*Are the pant legs Symmetrical?
*Are the zippers damaged by being folded or stuffed into a pack?
*Are the pockets in the right places to be useful?
*Do they hold enough 'stuff'?
*Are they functional (shape, depth)?
*How well does the DWR treatment repel water?
*Does the DWR treatment just repel grime or sustained precipitation?
*How effective is the UPF protection?
*Does repeat washing damage these treatments?
*How lightweight is the product compared to a lightweight short/pant?
*How much wind protection does the product offer?
Ease of Care
*How easy is it to clean the product?
*Does it require special cleaning (to protect DWR/UPF treatment)?
*Is regular ironing required?
*Do the shorts wear quicker then the pant legs?
*Does the DWR treatment help prevent staining?
*Will the product stand up to repeat beatings of the track?
*Can I wash it when walking (in a stream) and will it dry quickly?
As already outlined, I am impressed with the White Sierra Trail Pants. I am looking forward to seeing how they test against the areas above. A field report will be added to this initial report in around 2 months which will start to address some of the test results.
Many thanks to White Sierra and BackpackGearTest for this testing opportunity.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
26th August 2007
So far during the testing period I have worn the White Sierra Trail Pants on a 2 night walk to Mount Rufus in the Lake St Clair National Park in the Tasmanian Highlands as well as several dayhikes and other outdoor activities.
|Wearing Trail Pants|
Mount Rufus is one of the major peaks within the Lake St Clair National Park, although at 1,416 m (4,646 ft) it is not a high peak. This walk was chosen not only for its beauty, but its range of terrain as it starts in wet rain forest and ends in at the summit which is an exposed alpine ridge. I was particularly keen to test the DWR coating and the water resistance of the Trail Pants and also their ability to repel mud, dirt and grime.
The walk was taken over a weekend in late June, with the weather being quite overcast with a lot of rain and snow falling during the entire walk. High winds were also an issue on the open apline ridges, but I have no idea how strong they were, simply that they were strong enough to carry a lot of snow and gust were able to blow us off our feet if we were not on stable ground. Although I did not have a thermometer to take actual readings, I know that the lowest temp was around -5 C (23 F) with a maximum of around 11 C (52 F). These temperatures where taken from weather reports at the time. I was also keen to test how warm the pants are as these temperatures are quite low for such thin pants.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
Although I have worn the pants (and as shorts) on many occasions during outdoor activities including walking, mountain bike riding and general activity, I am still only starting to get an idea of how well the White Sierra Trail Pants perform.
|Rainforest at base of Mount Rufus|
To date I have been able to test their fit, comfort, water resistance, ability to stay clean in mud and grot and warmth. On all these fronts I have been impressed with how comfortable the Trail Pants are, the versatility of being able to convert to shorts and the generous size of all the pockets.
During the walk to Mount Rufus, I spent quite a lot of time in wet conditions, including heavy snow and rain. I was very surprised at how long the pants were able to repel water. Even walking through heavy vegetation which was thick with snow, I stayed dry for some hours before the water started to get through from snow melting in the zippers. I was also surprised at how well the DWR coating prevented mud from staining the fabric. This was easily removed after a wash at home. When the pants did get to wet for me to stay dry and warm, I simply wore a pair of water proof over pants and I was very impressed at how freely the Trail Pants moved underneath and also how quickly they dried. To date, this ability to dry has been the most notable quality of the pants.
Although water beaded on the Trail Pants right from day 1, I have noticed a general decline in the water resistance of the DWR coating. I plan to continue to monitor this and see if washing in an 'off the shelf' style DWR treatment will restore this handy feature.
|On approach to the summit in thick snow|
I find the large pockets really handy for stashing small items such as snacks, gloves or glasses. I have found that heavier items although they fit, I don't like the weight in the pockets as it makes the pants hit my legs when I am striding and although this is not uncomfortable, it is just annoying. There have been a couple of times when I have thought that a secure pocket (a zipper?) might have been a good addition given that weight isn't a major consideration with this style of pant, but the depth of the pocket makes them semi secure against things falling out.
Given that I am testing the pants in the southern hemisphere, I am impressed at the warmth that these pants provide. Most of this would be in wind resistance, as the somewhat baggy nature of the pants limits the direct thermal impact. I have worn the pants with and without full leg thermals and they still breath, preventing excess sweating or chaffing. This colder weather has also limited my time wearing the Trail Pants in their converted form. I have done this on a few occasions (say when riding my bike) and the length is good. I have not attached the removed legs to the belt as I was usually wearing a pack. I do find them easy to remove, even with gloves on, and they are easy to attach, with the zippers in the bottom of the pant legs being long enough to allow enough space for me to get my boots through. In one case this did mean getting snow against my leg, hardly a benefit for comfort.
One issue that has been a hassle is the belt. This is a really nicely designed belt, especially the clip which is secure, easy to use and of a nice low profile, which is handy when wearing a hip belt on a pack. Having said this, the webbing slips constantly, always causing the belt to become loose. Given the good waist fit with the side elastic, this isn't as much of a drama for the pants remaining on, but it is annoying as the tension offered by the belt does add to the comfort. I did actually sleep in the pants one night and found that I had no issues with the buckle being uncomfortable or coming undone.
Overall I have been, and remain, impressed with the White Sierra Trail Pants since I have been testing them. I have no issues at all with build quality or craftsmanship and I have laundered the pants on many occasions, mainly because when ever I do something outdoors, I wear the Trail Pants!
The only issue encountered to date is the belt, although this isn't that major as the fit is not directly affected. I have also mentioned that the DWR treatment appears to be reducing in its water resistance, but this is fairly consistent with my past experience of similar treated products.
For the remainder of the testing period I will continue to address the areas outlined in my Initial Report as well as monitor the reducing quality of the DWR treatment.
The White Sierra Trail Pants will continue to be my first choice of pants for upcoming walks over the remainder of the testing period. I have several walks planned in various different types of terrain so I anticipate being able to extend the Trail Pants further.
This concludes my Field Report on the White Sierra Trail Pants. The final report in this series, my Long Term Report, will follow in around 2 months. Again, many thanks to White Sierra and BGT for the opportunity to test this product.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
28th October 2007
I have continued to wear the White Sierra Trail pants on all of my walks and other outdoor activities. The major test walk was a 3 night walk within the Lake St Clair National Park combining tracked and off track walking around the areas of Pine Valley and Mount Gould. This walk took place in late September and featured varied weather ranging from warm sunshine to below zero and pouring rain. Mud and rough terrain where key features of this walk. Temperatures ranged from 11.5 C (53 F) to -4 C (24 F) at night. Around 14 mm (0.5 in) in rain fell during the walk. The highest peak crossed during this walk was Mount Gould at 1,491 m (4,892 ft).
|Mount Gould Plateau|
The Trail Pants were also worn for various day walks and other activities such as mountain bike riding. I have only reported on the performance of the Trail Pants on backpack related activities.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The White Sierra Trail Pants have continued to perform well for me, especially in the challenging conditions.
I have mainly been wearing the pants with the lower leg section attached as conditions have been too cold for me to be comfortable in shorts. During the recent walk to Mount Gould, I experienced a lot of rain and I noticed that the DWR coating on the pants was now next to useless, as water no longer beads. As the rain was heavy at times, I was wearing overpants and I felt that the Trail Pants continued to breath and remained comfortable. They did dry very quickly and did not feel heavy and restricted when they were wet.
|Climbing on The Minator|
|Mud Stains Prior to Washing|
Another key discovery after this recent walk was the Trail Pants lack ability to repel stains from the track. The last day of this walk involved wet and muddy off track walking. As a result, my pants got very muddy and dirty. Whilst waiting for transport back to our car, we had about 2 hours to fill in near a lake. I decided to wash my pants to remove the excess mud. Even with some light scrubbing, the pants still stained with mud. They did dry quite quickly and I wore them for the rest of the afternoon. I photographed the pants prior to washing them. As can be seen they were quite stained. It took 2 cycles in the washing machine at home to completely remove the staining. I still can see the faintest marks on the pants.
The belt on the pants continued to be a slight issue, regularly working loose and needing adjusting to keep the fit of the pants secure. If the waist did not have elastic sewn in, this would be a major problem. With the exception of the mud, the pants continued to offer very good protection from scrub and rock. At no point did I suffer any cuts or scratches as result of the pants being too thin. I was wearing gaiters for the whole walk and I discovered that the zip joints around the knee of the pants did have an effect. This caused a slight ballooning around the top of my gaiters. This was easily resolved by tightening the elastic around the foot cuffs a little more then usual.
The pockets all have worked well for me with the exception of the hook & loop pocket on the right waist of the pants. The right pocket is effectively 2 pockets with a flap secured. I found that this flab is stitched too far around the waist of the pants to make access comfortable, especially when wearing a heavy pack. I rarely used this pocket for this reason. My only complaint over all with the design of the pockets is the square bases. A few times I have struggled to get smaller items like individual coins out of the pockets as they sit so deeply.
Throughout the test I have been and remain impressed with the Trail Pants. White Sierra have produced a quite versatile garment which I have enjoyed wearing. Although I feel that these pants may have been designed more for backpack travel rather then for genuine trail and off trail walking, they have performed quite well for me.
With reference to the points I raised in my Initial Report to test, I am satisfied that the only areas that this product has failed to meet my expectations is the belt design and the DWR treatment. While the belt slipping issue could more then likely be fixed by a slightly thicker webbing, the DWR treatment appears to be a fundamental flaw in the Trail Pants. With this in mind, the ability to repel water is more a bonus, as these where never designed to be a water proof shell product. The staining caused by mud was fixed with a little more washing then normal, but was not an ongoing major issue.
Overall the pants fit will, retained their shape and remain to be comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. I like the freedom of converting the pants to shorts. I recently did a day walk where I started wearing the shorts but as the weather got colder, I simply pulled the legs from my pack, zipped them up with ease and continued on my way. Apart from a light iron to remove creases, the Trail Pants are very easy to care for and I see no issues in the future that would require maintenance apart from regular washing.
As I am now moving into our summer, I am looking to wear the Trail Pants in their short form and having the option to add the pant legs when weather cools at night. Given the conditions that I have put the pants through over the testing period where quite rough, I anticipate that if I were to wear the Trail Pants in open tracked areas, I would get many years more wear our of this product.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.
This is my final report in this test. Many thanks to White Sierra and BackpackGearTest for the opportunity to test the Trail Pants.
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