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Reviews > Rain Gear > Jackets and Pants > Outdoor Research Celestial Pants > Test Report by Rebecca Stacy

OUTDOOR RESEARCH CELESTIAL RAINPANTS
TEST SERIES BY BECKI STACY


INITIAL REPORT April 12, 2007
FIELD REPORT July 1, 2007
LONG TERM REPORT September 7, 2007

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Becki Stacy
EMAIL: becki_s_19 at hotmail dot com
AGE: 34
LOCATION: Metro Detroit, MI
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 3" (1.60 m)
WEIGHT: 155 lb (70.30 kg)
WAIST: 35" (89 cm)
HIPS: 45" (114cm)
INSEAM: 29" (74cm)

I got bitten by the backpacking bug in 1994 when I was a volunteer at the Grand Canyon. My first backpacking trip was the same week I arrived, with gear borrowed from trail crew supplies. My husband and I enjoy backpacking (using a double-wall tent), mostly in Michigan. Our trips have run from overnighters to 12 nights on Isle Royale. We've pared down our pack weight a little, and we are continually re-working our gear list to cut weight without giving up the luxury items we enjoy (such as food that involves more than boiling water).


INITIAL REPORT
Date: April 12, 2007

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

rainpants on



Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website: www.orgear.com
MSRP: US$149.00
Listed Weight: (Women's M) 7.0 oz (200 g)
Measured Weight (Women's XL): 7.9 oz (224 g)
Color: Balck
Waist (relaxed position): 34.5" (88 cm)
Inseam: 33" (84 cm)
Pant Opening (when zipped): 16.5" (42 cm)
Length from Crotch to Articulated Knee: 13.75" (35 cm)

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The Celestial pants arrived safe and sound on April 9. The pants were folded inside a clear plastic bag, with an OR hang tag describing the product, a Gore-Tex® PacLite® hang tag, and a circular sticker with the OR flower logo used for their women's line. The pants were in excellent condition.

From the OR hangtag, the features of this product are:
* Ultralight 15d Gore-Tex® PacLite® fabric
* Fully seam-taped, all-conditions protection
* Water-resistant zippers
* Articulated knees for unencumbered movement
* Below-the-knee side zips allow for easy on/off over layers and boots
* Zippered security pocket
* Loops for instep lace


waist (73K)



Upon opening the storage bag, I was impressed with how light the pants were, especially for a breathable fabric. The material feels very thin, sort of plasticy on the inside and sort of like ripstop nylon on the outside. The entire waist has an elastic band (see picture above) The rear half of the waist has a 1.375" (3.5 cm) wide elastic band with 4 strips of rubber-like elastic woven in. This rubber-like material appears to be there to help the pants keep a grip and stay in place. On the front half the elastic is approximately 1" (2.5 cm) wide, and encased in the pant material. The front half also has a shock cord drawstring.

On the back inside of the waist is a plethora of tags. A double tag (one on top of the other) states that the pants were made in China, and the lower tag states that the shell is 100% nylon. Another tag (dead center in the back, and on top of a thin webbing loop) has the OR logo, website address, phone number, and "Infinite Guarantee" on it. A small tag states the size, and last (but certainly not least) is a 2.5" (6.4 cm) square Gore-Tex® tag with washing instructions in English on the front and French on the reverse. This tag is attached on top of the mesh pocket, but at a point where the mesh is also attached to the regular pant fabric. The instructions state that the pants can be machine washed (separately), not to use bleach, that they can be tumbled dry on the 'warm' setting, a warm iron can be used, and instructions on dry cleaning.


leg (42K)




The leg holes have a 1" (2.5 cm) wide strip of elastic on the back half of the opening (see above), similar to the elastic on the back of the waist. The front half of the leg opening does not have any elastic. A snap secures the opening once on the foot, and a water-resistant zipper runs 17" (43 cm) up the leg.


back pocket (45K)




The pants have only one pocket, on the right rear. This pocket does not have a water-resistant zipper, but is covered by a flap of fabric. In the picture above, the zipper is in the 'open' position. The opening is about 5" (12 cm) wide, and the pocket itself measures 8.25" (21 cm) wide by 7" (18 cm) deep.

On the pants are 3 embroidered designs, one that states "GORE-TEX® PACLITE", under the pocket, "OR" on the "out side" of the right leg, just above the articulated knee, and the OR flower icon on the front left thigh area. All three areas have been waterproofed by the addition of a tape-like material that looks to have been chemically bonded to the fabric. This same tape is used to seal the inside seams.


TRYING IT OUT

I couldn't wait to get into these pants to try them out, so I donned my Dunham Wafflestomper boots (women's 8 D) and put them on. With the zippers fully open I had a little bit of wiggling to do, but managed to get the pants on and off over the boots reasonably well. Putting them on over my regular sneakers (women's 7.5 wide) was easy. I was pleased to find that even though I am 1" (2.5 cm) over the maximum listed waist and hip size for the XL, they still fit me quite nicely and I do not stretch the elastic much at all. Although I had no access to OR products to ensure I was able to fit, I was able to compare the sizing guide for my size L rain pants from another manufacturer to the OR sizing guide, and found that my previous pants fit within the XL sizing. I would probably not trust something like this for non-elastic pants, but the nature of rainpants allows for a little "wiggle room".

The articulated knees fell pretty much on-center with the backs of my knees. This is something I had worried about since I take petite length pants, and these come in one-length-fits-all. The legs are long on me, and when I wore the pants with just socks on I had a hard time not stepping on them. With my boots (and even with my sneakers) on they stay safely away from underfoot. They sort of 'balloon up' a little around my ankles, but right now I see no need to roll them up like I have to do with some of my hiking pants.

Since the weather didn't provide me with enough rain to test-drive the pants (we've had more snow than rain this past week), I had to don the pants and test them out in the shower. Luckily, we have a hand-held showerhead, so I was able to test the pants without soaking my shirt. The water beads up and runs off the fabric, and after the shower a quick shake removed the last droplets. The pull-tabs for the zippers did absorb some water, but since they play no part in transmitting water from the outside to the inside, this is not really a problem. The elastic on the back of the pant legs did get wet, but because of the location (lying over my boots), again it is not a problem. The water-resistant zippers worked well, since my pants were completely dry even though I had concentrated the water on one of them for over a minute. The pocket also remained dry, the protective flap worked to prevent water from entering.


TESTING STRATEGY

My testing conditions will range from chilly early and mid spring trips (though I tend to hike mostly when daytime temps are at least 60 F/16 C) to warmer trips in late June, in July, and the first part of August, with temperatures possibly as high or higher than 95 F/35 C. The majority of my trips will be in Michigan's Lower Peninsula or in northern Ohio, though we're looking at a couple-day trip to New York or Pennsylvania. I am planning a 2-4 night trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes/the Manitau Islands for late spring/early summer, at least one 2-nighter (either on the Manistee River/North Country Trail loop or at one of the parks in Ohio I've been looking into), and at least 3 overnighters at places such as Pinckney Recreation area or the Jordan River in Michigan. Mileage will vary from around 4 miles/6.4 km to 10 miles/16.1 km per day, and will vary from mostly flat to some small hills, possibly moderate hills depending where we end up in Pennsylvania/New York.

My questions regarding these pants are:
Are the seams well-sealed? Will the garments be able to withstand repeated stuffing and unstuffing from my backpack? Will the material wrinkle or wear? Will the pants be well- ventilated, so I don't get drenched with sweat when I'm hiking in a summer rain? While I'm always careful to avoid thorny plants, they seem inevitable in most of the locales I hike. Is the material fairly resistant to the occasional thorn or small branch that I run into? Is the material stain-resistant? If I encounter an extended period of rainy weather, will the material eventually pick up any odor, or can I simply rinse off any offending smell?

Overall, will these pants work well to keep me protected from the rain, and comfortable while hiking in it?

SUMMARY

I am impressed with the Celestial rain pants. So far, they fit well and keep the water out. Testing over the next four months will tell if they also do a good job breathing and allow my s weat out.


This concludes my Initial Report.


FIELD REPORT

Date: July 1, 2007

FIELD TESTING

on the trail

To date, I have used the Celestial pants on dayhikes, on a 2-night trip in along the Waterloo-Pinckney trail, and at the Cave of the Winds tour at Niagara Falls.

My dayhikes were in parks close to my home, and around my neighborhood. Temperatures ranged from about 60 F (16 C) to 85 F (29 C), in light drizzles to one downpour, and with and without a daypack. On all these trips I wore shorts under the pants, and my waterproof boots. The Celestial pants managed to keep me nice and dry in the rain on all these trips, and were comfortable to wear. My current rain jacket is not breathable, and I can really tell the difference in the materials in that and with the Celestial pants. Even in cooler weather I would start getting sweaty and warm in my jacket, but my legs were dry and relatively cooler.

One thing that I noticed (especially when the rain is cooler) is that sometimes I would feel like some moisture had gotten in, but when I took the pants off I was p erfectly dry. One time I sat on a plastic bench (wearing shorts under the pants) and had this sensation, so I'm wondering if the reason is mainly that the fabric transmits the water temperature well, and does not provide any 'insulation' when in direct contact with cold water.

On a non-backpacking trip this summer I visited Niagara Falls, and went on the Cave of the Winds tour. They hand out disposable plastic ponchos and sandals and let people climb around a series of decks to see the Bridal Veil portion of the Falls from the bottom, getting completely drenched in the process. Something in me wanted to see how the pants would hold up to the full force of the "Hurricane Deck", so I donned the pants and used the provided poncho and required sandals. On the Hurricane Deck, water is not only coming in as light spray from several directions, but is also coming in as an occasional full-out blast from the falls themselves. I couldn't resist hiking up the poncho to just below waist level and dancing around a little (I had to make sure the water blasts got me from all sides) in the cold water.

Again, the cold water gave me the 'feeling' that my legs were wet, but the only water that entered was near my feet. I was required to wear the sandals they provided (for safety reasons, I'm guessing), and the cuffs of the pants don't completely seal off my bare legs. I didn't have this problem on my dayhikes with boots so I don't see this as a failure of the design in any way, just a piece of information to keep in mind if I ever decide to go prancing around waterfalls without my boots again.

The 2-night trip along the Waterloo-Pinckney trail was in mid-May, and while I didn't encounter any of the scattered showers that were promised, I did wear them the whole time I was hiking the second day of the trip. I had decided to try using a deet-free insect repellant for the trip, but forgot to bring the regular insect repellant as a backup. The first day was a mosquito-filled forced march (I had never seen them that bad before), so I decided to wear the be Celestial pants the second day as added protection since the bug repellant wasn't doing much of anything. The second day of the trip I hiked 7 miles/11.3 km and the temperature started with a low of around 52 F/11 C and reaching a high of only 64 F/18C. I was hiking primarily in partial shade since the trees hadn't fully leafed out yet, but also had areas of complete shade and a decent portion where I was hiking in full sun. I wore my REI Sahara convertible pants (in pant mode) under the Celestial rain pants.

I was originally concerned that the black material would heat up my legs when I was in full sun, but my legs felt about the same temperature as my upper body did in a medium-blue long-sleeve shirt. The only time I noticed a temperature difference was when we had a gentle breeze in an open field. The breeze cooled off my upper body, but didn't have much effect with my legs.


SUMMARY

The Outdoor Research Celestial Pants are comfortable for me to wear, do a good job of breathing to keep sweat from building up when I'm wearing them, and most importantly they keep me nice and dry when it's wet out. So far they've handled being stuffed inside my backpack quite well, and the light weight is an added bonus since I'm trying to cut my pack weight. They are a little too long for me, but as long as I'm wearing hiking boots I have no problems with the length.

This concludes my Field Report.


LONG TERM REPORT

Date: September 7, 2007


Since the Field Report, I have taken the Celestial Pants on a 3-night trip to North Manitou Island in Michigan, on one overnighter in the Pinckney Recreation Area (near Metro Detroit, MI), two more dayhikes (with my full pack), and some additional walks in the neighborhood when we had a rainy day. On all these occasions I have used the Celestial Pants in conjunction with the Celestial Jacket. All the terrain I have used them on is relatively flat, with some mildly hilly sections.

Unfortunately, I did not encounter rain on any of my backpacking trips this year (though there was a good chance of storms on two of my trips, the weather didn't cooperate when it came time to hike), so for the most part the, pants were safely stored inside my backpack for anything longer than a dayhike. At night they helped add bulk to my stuffable pillowcase. That they store well, stuff to a fairly compact size, and the light weight of these pants make them an asset to my pack and my goals to reduce pack weight.

Two mornings on North Manitou Island were rather chilly (about 45 F / 7 C when I woke up), so for a couple of hours I wore the rain pants over my convertible pants for a little added warmth. They worked well to help insulate me, and I quickly warmed up. Though the trails I took were pretty well-maintained, the pants did hold up nicely when straddling or scooting under a handful of trees, along with enduring getting whipped by some non-thorny branches. Luckily, I did not need them again as an extra layer between me and over-ravenous mosquitoes.

My dayhikes were in parks within 20 miles (32 km) of my home, and these hikes (about 4-7 miles/6.4-11.3 km), along with walks (about 1-2 miles/1.6-3km) around the neighborhood (sans backpack) were in temperatures ranging from the low 70's F (about 21 C) to high 80's F (about 31 C). On all the dayhikes and local walks I wore shorts beneath the pants. Most of the rain came on the cooler days, so I didn't have a *really* hot muggy rainy day to test the pants in.

Overall, I continue to be impressed by the breatheability of the fabric. No matter how hard and fast I hike or walk, I've never managed to feel uncomfortably warm or sweaty using these pants. When using them in conjunction with the Celestial Jacket and my waterproof boots, I've managed to keep nice and dry in everything from a light mist, to rain coming in at a near 45 degree angle, to a heavy downpour.

The shockcord/elastic waist held up well, and I am still comfortable wearing the pants even though I technically max out the size. I haven't used the back pocket, for me it's not really necessary since the pockets on the jacket have more than enough room for the maps and other small items I need to store when it's raining.


CONCLUSION

I really enjoy the combination of light weight and breatheability I've found with the Celestial Pants. I will keep using them on all my trips to come, and plan to take them with me next year on a late spring 6-night trip to the Grand Canyon, on the off chance it rains (though they will come in handy on cool mornings and will serve as stuffing for my pillowcase). My main critique is that I wish the pants were offered in a petite size, since the extra fabric at the bottom of the pants is a bit awkward, especially in sneakers, and might prove to be a trip hazard if I wore sandals. I would also like to see the pants offered in other colors, though this is purely a cosmetic function.



I would like to thank Outdoor Research and BackpackGearTest for the opportunity to test the Celestial pants.




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