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Reviews > Rain Gear > Jackets and Pants > MontBell Versalite Pants > Test Report by Bob Sanders



MontBell Versalite Pants

Test Series by Bob Sanders
Initial Report: December 15, 2013
Field Report: March 16, 2014
Long Term Report: May 19, 2014



PERSONAL INFORMATION
Name: Bob Sanders BobBackpacking 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.
Age: 55
Gender: Male
Height: 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight: 210 lb (95 kg)
Email: sherpabob(at)mac(dot)com
Location: Longmont, Colorado USA



INITIAL REPORT

December 15, 2013

PRODUCT INFORMATION (Images from Website)
Manufacturer: MontBell Co, Ltd.
Year 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)
Color: Black (Only available in black)
Size Tested:
X-Large (available in S, M, L, XL)
Fabric:
15-denier "Ballistic Airtight" rip-stop nylon
Waterproof:
2.5-layer Super Hydro Breeze proprietary technology
Warranty:
Covers all defects in materials and workmanship for the lifetime of the product.

Front of pants    Back of pants

   
Product Description:

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 boots.

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.

Stuff sack


Initial Impressions:

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 pretty tough.

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.

Likes:
  • Very lightweight
  • Very compact
Dislikes:
  • Needs a cord lock to secure ankle adjustment cord

FIELD REPORT

March 16, 2014


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.

Testing locations and conditions:

As 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 the wind.

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 fleece.

Performance:

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 sweaty.

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 months.

Durability has been excellent as the pants look brand new with no signs of wear and tear.

Summary:

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.


LONG TERM REPORT

May 19, 2014


Weather 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 trip.

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).

Performance:

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.

Summary:

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.
____________________________________________________________________________________

I would like to thank BackpackGearTest.org and MontBell for the opportunity to test these pants.



Read more reviews of MontBell gear
Read more gear reviews by Bob Sanders

Reviews > Rain Gear > Jackets and Pants > MontBell Versalite Pants > Test Report by Bob Sanders



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