Series by Bob Sanders
Report: December 15, 2013
Field Report: March 16, 2014
Long Term Report: May 19, 2014
Background: I went on my first backpacking trip as a
Boy Scout at the age of 16. Over the years I have hiked the
Wonderland Trail in Washington and section hiked parts of the
Florida Trail, Appalachian Trail, Colorado Trail and 740 mi
(1191 km) of the Pacific Crest Trail. I continue to backpack and
hike year round in the Colorado mountains. I have evolved from a
heavyweight backpacker to a lightweight backpacker and sometimes
reach ultralight weights. My three day winter/spring solo
adventures (using a tent) have me hovering around a 15 lb (6.8
kg) base weight.
ft 1 in (1.85 m)
lb (95 kg)
INFORMATION (Images from Website)
MontBell Co, Ltd.
of Manufacture: 2013
Manufacturer's Website: www.montbell.com
MSRP: $99.00 US
Listed Weight (Med size): 3.6 oz (102 g)
Measured Weight (XL Pants): 4.2 oz (119 g)
Measured Weight (Stuff Sack):
.3 oz (6.8 g)
(Only available in black)
Size Tested: X-Large (available in S, M, L, XL)
Fabric: 15-denier "Ballistic Airtight" rip-stop
Waterproof: 2.5-layer Super Hydro Breeze proprietary
Warranty: Covers all defects in materials and
workmanship for the lifetime of the product.
I would like to thank
BackpackGearTest.org and MontBell for the opportunity to test these pants.
The pants are intended (per the manufacturer) for multi-day summer
backpacking. Since the testing period is during the winter/spring
seasons we will see if the seasons make much of a difference.
The pants come with an adjustable waist and cuffs. The waist band is
elastic with a draw cord (non-elastic) that you simply tie. The bottom
ankle cuffs are non-elastic but they have an elastic cord that runs
around the cuff and are clearly for adjustment but there is no way to
secure the elastic. It looks like something is missing, like a cord
lock to secure the elastic cord. So right now without something to
secure the elastic cord ankle cuff adjustment is impossible. I will
probably add a cord lock when the test is over. The ankles are large
enough to slide over running shoes but not larger boots as there are
no zippers to make the openings larger. The lack of this feature will
be a challenge during the winter and the use of larger, insulated
These pants are very simple in style and features. It is probably how
they got to their very light weight. The pants have no fly, no pockets
and no ankle zippers. During the testing I will be evaluating how well
the pants breath. For any waterproof garment, breathability is key to
the usability and success of that garment. The pant's fabric is listed
from the manufacturer as a "15-denier Ballistic Airlight rip-stop
nylon with a 2.5-layer Super Hydro Breeze (non-porous polyurethane
treated laminated fabric) with water resistance rated at (20,000 mm /
Breathability: 20,000 g/m²/ 24 hrs)".
All seams are taped and a very small stuff sack is included for
storage. The stuff sack is simple with a boxed bottom, a pull
strap with the Montbell logo on it and oddly two draw cords. One
with a cord lock and one without. Having two seems kind of
redundant. I have to say the pants are very compressible and pack
up really small.
These pants are very lightweight. At 4.2 oz (119 g) these are
lightest rain pants I currently own. The pant's fabric, although being
very lightweight, does seem to be somewhat robust. I gave it a yank in
all directions and there is very little stretch and initially it seems
The workmanship and quality is impeccable, which is what I have come
to expect from Montbell products. Seams are straight with no loose
threads. There are 4 holes (2 on each side, on the back, near the
waist band) that have stitching around each of them. They are there
for a reason but at this point in time they don't appear to have any
function that I can see. They remind me of drainage holes that you
sometimes see in the bottom of pockets on swim trunks or shorts.
The size (XL) is a good choice for me. The sizing chart listed on the
website was accurate based on my dimensions. It fits me well and there
is extra room underneath for additional layers which I will be wearing
as it is winter.
Not too sure how much rain we will receive. During the first 3 months
(December, January & February) of testing I expect freezing
temperatures and snow. During the last month (March) we will see
warmer temperatures and if it snows it will be the wet, heavy kind of
snow. This would be a much better test for the
waterproof/breathability aspects of these pants.
- Very lightweight
- Very compact
- Needs a cord lock to secure
ankle adjustment cord
I have carried these pants with me quite a bit. Unfortunately
I have not used them as much as I would like to have. Mostly
because it has not been raining and the conditions have been
dry with low humidity levels.
I expected the first couple of months of testing have been
cold and dry. We have had daytime temperatures ranging
between 0 and 55 F (-18 and 13 C) with nighttime
temperatures between -14 and 30 F (-26 and -1 C) We have had
sporadic snow fall and all of it has been the dry, fluffy
powdery snow. March and April will bring the wet heavy type
of snow. This kind of snow requires a waterproof shell.
Day Hikes: During this test period I have been on 8 day
hikes ranging from 3 to 8 mi (4.8 to 12.8 km). All of my hikes
are in the surrounding foothills near my home. Elevations
average between 5000 to 7500 ft (1524 to 2286 m) Temperatures
have run between 20 and 40 F (-7 and 4 C). During these hikes
I have been using the pants mostly as an outer shell to block
Backpacking: Drove up to Lefthand Reservoir for a quick
overnighter. One of my favorite spots on the planet. It is a
short hike in on the access road. Took snowshoes but never
needed them as the trail was pretty packed down. We did pull a
sled so we could take some extra winter necessities and some
firewood. The elevation where we camped was approx. 9500 ft
(2896 m) and the temperatures were between 20 and 35 F (-7 and
2 C) during the day and at night we saw temperatures dip to 0
F (-18 C). Again I used the pants as an outer shell over my
My standard attire while day hiking and backpacking during the
colder months seems to stay the same with adjustments or
removal of the top layers. My winter bottom layer combinations
consist of a mid to heavy weight Merino Wool baselayer with a
micro fleece or regular fleece on top of that (depending on
how cold I expect it to get). On top of that I usually include
wind pants or full on shell pants (again depending on how cold
I think it will get). On these trips I used the Versalite as
my wind and shell layer.
Since my legs don't seem to overheat very easily, the only
adjustment I made was to remove the pants. Being winter I was
wearing some larger insulated boots. This trip was not too
much of a pain to simply sit on the sled, remove my boots and
the Versalite pants, sit back down and put my boots back on.
At this moment I did realize how a short zipper on the ankle
cuffs would really come in handy especially during the winter
time. Warmer weather would not be such a big deal.
The Versalite pants have done an excellent job of keeping me
dry, even when sitting on the snow briefly. The breathability
of the pants have also been quite good. My legs were never
The fit is large enough to accommodate all of the layers I
normally use. The legs are quite long but don't seem to get in
the way — they just sort of bunch up around my ankles. The
elastic cord around the ankles still perplexes me. At this
point the only way to secure the elastic cord would be to tie
it in a knot. During the winter, being able to cinch the
ankles would help keep the snow out.
I have not been able to test the waterproofness of the pants
because we have not had any rain. When it has snowed it has
been the light, powdery kind that just seems to blow off. We
should be seeing some of the wet stuff in the next couple of
Durability has been excellent as the pants look brand new with
no signs of wear and tear.
I really like these pants. They have performed really well in
the cold dry winters of Colorado. Can't wait to see how well
they do this spring.
Pros: Very lightweight
and it packs down really small.
Cons: No way to cinch
the elastic cord at the ankles.
has been cooperating and we have been getting a typical
wet spring. I have continued to carry these pants with
me on all day hikes and an additional 3 day 2 night
Day Hikes: During this test period I have been on 6 day
hikes ranging from 3 to 8 mi (5 to 13 km). All of my
hikes are in the surrounding foothills near my home.
Elevations average between 5000 to 7500 ft (1524 to 2286
m). Daytime temperatures have been averaging between 30
and 70 F (-1 and 21 C).
Backpacking: Headed down to Golden Gate Canyon State
Park for a 3 day 2 night backpacking trip. Stayed in 2
of their backcountry sites. The elevation where I camped
was approximately 8500 ft (2591 m) and the temperatures
were between 40 and 60 F (4 and 16 C) during the day and
at night temperatures dipped to 25 F (-4 C).
During several of my day hikes and during 2 days of the
backpacking trip we did experience afternoon thunder
showers. Simple, steady, light rain that lasted for 30
minutes to several hours. In the mornings when it was
chilly I would wear the Versalites over my pants when I
left the car, or when I broke camp. As I hiked and would
warm up, which didn't usually take very long, I would
take the pants off and stow them till I got chilled or
if it started raining. In the afternoons when it finally
started to sprinkle, out came the pants and I would head
for the car or on to the evening's camp site. Only once
did I arrive at camp and it was still raining. On every
occasion the temperatures were mild in the 60 to 70 F
(16 to 21 C) range so I only wore the Versalites in the
mornings and when it was raining.
My legs usually do not sweat much, even when it is
pretty hot out and when it is I usually have shorts on
so my legs stay pretty dry. During this testing period
on all day hikes and the backpacking trip I wore long
nylon trail pants with a thin base layer underneath.
During these hikes I was wearing much smaller trail
shoes versus the much larger insulated boots during the
Field Report. The smaller shoes made putting on and
taking off the pants much easier this time around. I did
not have to remove my shoes first before putting on the
pants. After the rain had stopped and I finally took the
pants off they were dry inside. I think this is pretty
good performance for hiking in light rain with 90 to
100% humidity. If it was raining much harder I probably
would have stopped and waited it out.
The draw cord still works well and the pants appear in
great shape except for the dirt and mud patches around
the ankles and dirt on the seat. I basically ran them
under some cold water and the dirt came right off.
I really like the simplicity of these pants. I thought
not having pockets would be a negative but now that I
have used them I don't really miss them. At 4.2
oz (119 g) the weight is excellent and the
performance has been awesome in both a cold/dry winter
environment and a wet/rainy spring environment. The
minimal weight and very small packed size will also make
this a welcome addition to my travel gear and work bag.
Since the test is over and I will continue to use the
pants I am going to add a cord lock to the elastic cord
around the ankles. Something I think MontBell should
have done all along.
Read more reviews of MontBell gear
Read more gear reviews by Bob Sanders