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Reviews > Clothing > Pants and Shorts > White Sierra Trail Pants > Test Report by Mike Curry

WHITE SIERRA TRAIL PANTS
TEST SERIES BY MIKE CURRY
Initial Report: June 14, 2007
Field Report: August 21, 2007
Long-Term Report: October 19, 2007

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Mike Curry
EMAIL: thefishguyAThotmailDOTcom
AGE: 37
LOCATION: Aberdeen, Washington
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 11" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT: 205 lb (93.00 kg)

I've been backpacking, climbing, ski-packing, bushwhacking, and snowshoeing throughout the mountains of Oregon and Washington for the last 25 years. I'm an all-season, all terrain, off-trail kind of guy, but these days (having small kids) most of my trips run on the shorter side of things, and tend to be in the temperate rainforest. While I've carried packs (with winter climbing gear) in excess of 70 pounds (32 kilos), the older I get the more minimalist I become.


INITIAL REPORT
June 14, 2007

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: White Sierra
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.whitesierra.com
MSRP: US$ 45.00
Listed Weight: none provided
Measured Weight: 17.8 oz (505 g)
Component Weights (do not total measured weight due to rounding):
Belt: 1.1 oz (31 g)
Shorts: 9.9 oz (281 g)
Pant Leg with storage pocket: 3.3 oz (94 g)
Pant Leg without storage pocket: 2.7 oz (77 g)
Other details: Pants tested are size XL, 30 in (76 cm) inseam, color "sage."

IMAGE 1

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The pants arrived neatly folded and in good condition. Four tags were attached to the pants: (1) the price tag (with bar code, style, and size information), (2) a blue White Sierra tag that said "men", (3) a DuPont Teflon fabric protector tag, and (4) a Travelpack Systemô tag that gave instructions on how you can stow the legs in the integrated pouch and attach them to the belt loops when wearing them as shorts. There was also a sticker on the leg that stated "UPF30 sun protection."

While the color is listed as sage, a comparison to my daughter's 96 color crayon pack left me feeling it was somewhere between forest green and olive drab. The color shown at the website displays differently on my computer than the actual color of the pants. It is a very nice color, but not quite what I picture when I think "sage."

The pants are made of a closely woven nylon that I would describe as a mid-weight fabric (not real thin, not real thick). It is neither soft nor stiff but rather somewhere in between. The zippers are finely toothed and appear to be made of nylon, and the waist closes with a snap fastener. There is elastic in the sides of the waist that provides some give. The bottom of the legs have zippers down the outside that allow for easier removal of the legs over shoes and boots, and there is a flap with a hook and loop closure at the bottom seam that covers the zipper pull nicely.

One thing that impressed me right away was the number of pockets. While I don't usually use my pockets much when hiking, I like having a variety of sizes for when I do need or want them. The pants have two slash hand pockets, with an additional smaller slash pocket on the right side (within the primary slash pocket) that closes with a hook and loop closure. There are two large cargo pockets on the front and two back pockets, all of which close with hook and loop closures. On the right side are two narrow but deep pockets, the shorter of the two closing with hook and loop closures. The cargo pockets on front have a nylon web type material inside that forms the back of the pocket. There are also buttonholes sewn in near the bottom of the slash pockets, I would presume to aid in draining water. There is also a pocket on the lower left leg (the part the zips off) that is used for storing the legs when their not being worn. This pocket also has the mesh back.

The belt is made of a thin nylon webbing material with a wafer thin plastic belt buckle with a hook type closure unlike any I've ever seen.

Overall, my impressions were that the pants seemed well designed and to my liking. I was particularly impressed with the stitching. I've had many articles of clothing I've had to repair backstitching or bar tacking on, and the stitching on these pants seems above average for today's clothing. The hook and loop fasteners, another area of stitching I've found prone to failure on many garments, were sewn on very well.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

Only two instructions are included with these pants. First is a tag for the "Travelpack Systemô," the pocket in the leg that can stow both legs and then attach to the belt loops. It is a simple series of three pictures, and was relatively self explanatory. I was able to stow the legs easily using these instructions.

The other instructions included were the care instructions, which were "machine wash cold, wash dark color separately, do not bleach, tumble dry low, do not iron, do not dry clean." Straightforward enough for me.

TRYING IT OUT

When I first put the pants on, the 30 in (76 cm) inseam seemed long to me. I pulled out a tape measure, and measured the actual inseam measurement at 32.5" (83 cm). I double checked all the stated measurements on tags, bags, and whatnot, and all showed it as a 30 in (76 cm) inseam. Thankfully they are still wearable, if a little long for me, at this length. I have to wear the waist a little higher than I usually do on pants, but will see if that poses any problems.

The pants are roomy and generally quite comfortable. The elastic in the waist seems just right so far in terms of stretch, being neither too snug nor too loose. I noticed the leg zipper drags somewhat against my knee as I walk, but we'll see it that poses any problems. The 10 in (25 cm) inseam is a little longer than I usually wear on shorts (coming to about the middle of my kneecap), so I look forward to seeing how that works for me. The pants seem to allow good range of motion as I walk, climb stairs, and move around. The belt is easily adjustable, and seems to hold well.

The zippers, hook and loop closures, and waist snap all seem to function well, as does the stowage system for the legs. When attaching the stowed legs to the belt loops I questioned if the hook and loop tabs that secure them would hold. This will be something I monitor closely throughout testing.

On a combination day hike and fishing trip on Father's day, I got the opportunity to try the pants in some light misting rain. The water beaded up on the surface of the pants and dried quickly. My skin never felt any moisture. I look forward to seeing how long the water repellency lasts, how quickly they dry after stream fording, and how well they repel heavier rains.

TESTING STRATEGY

I plan to test the pants by wearing them, and wearing them a lot. Trips will include a variety of situations ranging from day hikes on excellent trail to multi-day off-trail trips with moderate bushwhacking. In addition, I will wear the pants frequently at home, work, and play to evaluate long-term durability. During the test period, I will continuously monitor the following aspects of the pants:

* Fit and comfort - Do they fit me comfortably? Does the fabric feel good? Does the fit or comfort change over time? Are they comfortable when wet? Are they comfortable in the wind? Are there any areas prone to chafing?

* Workmanship (stitching, etc.) - Are the seams well constructed? Is the stitching durable?

* Component quality and durability (fabric, zippers, elastic, buckles) - How well does the fabric handle wear? How do the pants hold up to repeated washings (using the manufacturers suggested care guidelines)? Are the zippers able to hold up to frequent use? Does the elastic in the waist weaken over time? Does the belt buckle hold securely, and continue to with repeated use?

* Soil and stain repellency - Does the DWR finish repel normal soiling and staining? If soiling does occur, is it easily removed?

* Water repellency - Is the effect of the DWR finish noticeable? Exactly how water repellent are the pants? Does the water repellency change notably over time?

* Overall appearance - How attractive are the pants? Does this change with wear?

* Freedom of motion - Do the pants restrict motion in any way? Are their any areas prone to binding? Is range of motion adequate for comfort in circumstances I typically encounter while hiking?

* Time it takes for them to dry - How quickly do the pants dry after a rain shower? How quickly do they dry after a stream crossing?

* Comfort in temperature ranges encountered - Are they comfortable in the heat? Are they comfortable in the cold?

* Areas of unusually high wear - Are there any areas prone to unexpectedly high wear? Are there any areas prone to failure?

* Placement and usefulness of pockets - Is the number of pockets adequate for my typical use? Are they of adequate size? Are they easy to get things into and out of? Are items I put in them adequately secure?

* Ease of removal and reattachment of legs - Are the zippers easy to operate? Can they be operated easily in the dark? Do the hook and loop fasteners that secure the stowed legs to the belt loops hold securely over time?

* Belt - Is the belt comfortable? Is it of appropriate length? Does it feel secure?

SUMMARY

All in all, the White Sierra Trail Pants seem well constructed, comfortable, and well suited to my typical backpacking trips. The pockets seem to be adequate and well sized for my typical use. Over the next several months, I'll evaluate their performance under actual field conditions to see how they perform with extended use.


FIELD REPORT
August 21, 2007

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I have used the White Sierra Trail Pants on day hikes, overnight backpacking trips, and multi-day trips during the test period so far. The terrain has been highly variable, including good trail, beach hikes, and brushy off-trail trips in the Olympic Mountains of Western Washington. Weather has included everything from sunny skies and warm temperatures (up to about 90 F, 32 C), to torrential rain and 55 F (13 C).
IMAGE 1
Heading Out to Dayhike at Mt. Rainier

In addition, these pants have been worn to work an average of 2.5 days a week, have been worn for a dozen or so rounds of golf, and have been laundered about seven times.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The following are my experiences to date with the White Sierra Trail Pants:

* Fit, comfort, and freedom of motion - Overall, these pants are quite comfortable. They are quite roomy, and have provided me with good range of motion on off-trail scrambles. They appear somewhat baggy, but that's something I'm willing to accept for the generous freedom of movement. The fabric feels good against my skin, and slides over my skin readily when needed (no binding or pulling when climbing over logs, etc.). I've not felt any restriction or binding so far. The range of motion is quite adequate for the circumstances I usually encounter, including scrambling over downed trees and climbing through brush. When the pants are saturated with rain, the fabric clings to my skin somewhat, but this doesn't seem to impact my freedom of motion. The pants are not windproof, but provide good wind protection.
IMAGE 2
White Sierra Trail Pants with legs removed

* Workmanship (stitching, etc.) - Only one problem has been encountered in the stitching. A single stitch broke on the left decorative hem stitching of the shorts, though I am not sure if it was a component failure or due to abrasion. I have not repaired the stitch, and it has not run across the seam yet, but it has loosened the stitch on either side. I'm somewhat amazed the entire seam hasn't loosened, and will continue to watch it to see what happens, and will repair it only if necessary.

* Component quality and durability (fabric, zippers, elastic, buckles) - The fabric wears remarkably well in my opinion. The pants look basically the same as the day they arrived with no signs of wear other than the single stitch mentioned above, despite a great deal use (and abrasion while scrambling over logs and such). I have laundered the pants about 7 times, carefully following the manufacturer's instructions, and the only change I have noticed is in relation to the DWR finish, which I will discuss below. The zippers, elastic, belt buckles, and hook and loop closures all show no signs of wear.

* Soil and stain repellency - The only soiling the pants have received is dirt and grime from the trail. The pants have cleaned up nicely after each washing, and no staining has occurred.

* Water repellency - The DWR finish had a noticeable effect in regards to water repellency at first. The first couple of outings that I went on I encountered light misting rain and the water just beaded up and rolled right off the pants. After the first laundering, however, this effect was all but gone, and the pants now seem to absorb water rather readily. That said, these have become my first choice pants for rainy summer trips, which I will explain below under time it takes them to dry.

* Overall appearance - I think the pants are good looking, as do my wife and kids. I've had several compliments about them, and haven't heard anything negative about their appearance.

* Time it takes for them to dry - At first these pants didn't need to dry, as water just beaded up and rolled off them. Now that they will absorb moisture I'm very pleased with how quickly they dry, which is much faster than any other pants I own. On a recent trip I completely saturated the pants by climbing through wet brush (as seen in the picture below) and when I got back to camp, the pants were bone dry within a half-hour. They dried quickly despite the fact that camp was in the shade, it was only about 65 F (18 C), and it was dead calm. If the weather is warm enough that I don't need raingear for protection, or if I'm planning any stream crossings, these are the first pants I reach for because they dry so quickly.
IMAGE 3
Discovery Peak - Pants so wet they shine!

* Comfort in temperature ranges encountered - This is one area where these pants truly shine for me. The convertible nature of the pants allows you to move quickly between shorts and long pants. As shorts they have been very comfortable in the heat. When I need leg protection from brush, the pants are as comfortable in the heat as any long pants I've ever worn. I wore them around camp one night that dropped to about 45 F (7 C). I had wondered how warm the seemingly thin nylon would feel in cooler temperatures, and with the legs zipped on they were more than adequate without putting on my long underwear.

* Placement and usefulness of pockets - These pants have a good deal of pockets, and I think I've used most (if not all) of them at one time or another. They are well sized for my typical use (including my pocketknife, snacks, camera, etc.), and are easy to get things in and out of. The only thing I find lacking is the absence of a truly secure pocket (i.e., one with a zipper or full-length hook and loop closure). I have had some items (like my knife) slide out of the slash pockets when I sit down, but nothing has been lost, and the cargo pockets on front seem secure. I'd still feel more comfortable having a pocket that had a zipper for items I want to ensure are secured.

* Ease of removal and reattachment of legs - The ease or removal and reattachment of legs I would consider average. The zippers are easy to use, and only minor caution need be taken to prevent zipping the hem up in the zipper when reattaching them. The leg zippers open just enough to pull the legs over my heavy hiking boots, but are a breeze with my trailrunners. I've removed and reattached the legs the dark, and in my sleeping bag, with no problems. Stowing the legs in the integral pocket allows you to hang them off your belt loops, and I am impressed at how securely they stay attached when doing so. I haven't found this feature useful with a pack on, however, as my pack's waistbelt prevents it, so I usually just tuck each leg in a cargo pocket.

* Belt - The belt is comfortable and of appropriate length. I find it simultaneously one of the neatest features, and the one that gives me the most trouble. I find it neat as the buckle closure is very reliable, extremely lightweight, and minimalistic. It gives me the most trouble, though, as the length adjustment won't hold for me. I'm constantly having to tighten the belt (at least when I'm not carrying a pack). I think the webbing is ever-so-slightly too thin to hold effectively, but I'm otherwise impressed with the design.

SUMMARY

Overall, I'm very pleased with the White Sierra Trail Pants so far. The problems I have had are rather minor. My major observations are:

Positive:

*Quick drying
*Great freedom of motion
*Comfortable in a variety of temperatures and conditions
*Lots of pockets
*Good looking

Negative:

*Lack of secure pocket (with zipper or full-length hook and loop closure)
*Belt buckle slips
*Look a little baggy

TESTING STRATEGY

I will continue to use these pants on my trips for the remainder of the test period, as well as wearing them to the office, on dayhikes, and other places. I will continue to monitor their performance, focusing especially on the following:

* Fit and Comfort - Does the fit or comfort change over time? Are they comfortable in cooler temperatures than I've encountered so far?

* Workmanship (stitching, etc.) - Do the seams and stiching hold up to extended use well?

* Areas of unusually high wear - Are there any areas prone to unexpectedly high wear? Are there any areas prone to failure?



LONG-TERM REPORT
October 19, 2007

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

The White Sierra Trail Pants have been with me on a broad variety of trips during this period of testing. They have been worn on a week long trip in Central Oregon, dayhiking at Crater Lake in the Southern Oregon Cascades, and on numerous overnight and day hiking trips in the Olympic Mountains during this test period. While most trips have been on good trail, one overnight trip in the Olympics subjected them to two full days of off-trail bushwhacking through the dense underbrush of the rainforest.

Weather conditions have included daytime highs around 95 F (35 C) and overnight lows near 25 F (-4 C). They have been worn in sunny and cloudy conditions, and have been through hailstorms, thunderstorms, drizzle, and heat.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The White Sierra Trail pants have continued to perform well for me during continued field testing. During this period, they were subjected to far more diverse conditions than encountered during earlier testing.

The fit of the pants has not changed over time, and they continue to be quite comfortable. Having had the opportunity in one trip to wear them in temperatures ranging from 25-95 F (-4-35 C), I can say that I found them reasonably comfortable during both heat and cold. At the lowest temperature, I found them not quite warm enough for my comfort while sitting still, but while moving around camp they seemed to offer the minimum protection from cold that I was comfortable with. I will not likely use them alone in temperatures much below freezing (32 F, 0 C) in the future, but rather will wear thermal underwear under them.

The pants are beginning to show some signs of wear. Several stitches have broken, and some are slowly unraveling (the longest being approximately 1/2 in (1 cm) of missing stitches). I would not consider this unusual wear, however, given the degree of use these pants have seen, and the fact that they have been used on trips that involved a great deal of scrambling through dense brush. They have performed well beyond my expectations for wear, with the sole exception of the stitching, which I would consider to have met my minimum expectations. There are also several small pulled threads in the fabric from having snagged them on brush, but they do not seem to impact the pants' performance in any way and are hardly noticeable. The level of protection the pants offered me on these off trail trips was excellent, and my legs suffered no cuts or scratches from brush.

I also have found the pants to provide excellent sun protection. During my trip to Central Oregon, I wore the pants on several occasions where all my exposed skin was significantly sunburned (I had not been wearing sunscreen). My legs, protected by the pants, were fine. I found that when wearing them for protection from the sun, they can be ventilated somewhat by unzipping the zippers at the bottom cuff, but leaving the hook and loop fastener attached at the ankle. Using them this way allowed me to remain protected from the sun, while still providing better ventilation than normal pants.

The only thing about the pants that has failed to meet my expectations is the belt, which continues to slip from the length I adjust it to. I've noticed that this is most significant when I have items in my pockets that weigh down the pants somewhat. For this reason I've adapted my hiking style with these pants to where I rarely use the pockets, which has minimized how often slippage occurs, but it still occurs 4-5 times a day on average.

SUMMARY

Overall, I consider the White Sierra Trail Pants an excellent pair of pants for both on and off trail use day hiking and backpacking. They seem practical, well constructed, well designed, and are comfortable to wear. I am particularly impressed with their ability to remain comfortable while wet and to dry relatively quickly. The only drawbacks I can see would be that the thread used in stitching does not seem nearly as durable as the fabric, and the webbing belt is prone to slipping. While the inseam is a little long for me, I've grown accustomed to that fact, and have even learned to enjoy the added protection that offers my ankles when dayhiking in sandals in the sun.

CONTINUED USE

The White Sierra Trail Pants will definitely be one of my first choices for pants on my future trips, though I will be repairing the stitching and replacing the belt webbing. I really like the buckle on the belt, and am hoping that with slightly heavier webbing the belt will not be so prone to slippage.

I wish to thank White Sierra and BackpackGearTest for the oppotunity to test these pants.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.

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