As mountain instructors we ask a lot of out kit. Day in day out we’re out in the hills whatever the weather abusing our clothing systems, demanding they keep us warm, dryish and comfortable
There are plenty of specialised items on the market but they all compromise in one aspect or another - durability, comfort, weight etc. However we occasionally find an item that just works. Its combination of features, fabrics and fit achieves that perfect balance and it become the piece you forget about. No clothing decisions to be made regarding activity level or weather, just annoyance when they’re in the wash!
My Rab Calibre Pants have quickly established themselves as that piece. In the last few months I’ve racked up more than 100 days of use and abuse. They are marketed as technical mountaineering pants for use in cold harsh environments. However the high levels of comfort and breathability mean mine have graced the local bouldering wall as well as the interior of Antarctica.
In the last couple of weeks I’ve kicked off my Scottish winter season. Conditions have been somewhat challenging but I’ve been comfortable pairing these pants with an eVent shell. Despite a good soaking on various routes I’ve been warm and dry by the time we reached the car with body heat driving their quick drying abilities. In more typical Scottish conditions I’ve layered them over a thin merino layer for a great system in all but the worst weather.
The fabric sheds water and dirt in equal measure and stayed looking smart throughout a 2 month Antarctic expedition - even Emperor Penguin poo washed straight off! It’s also slightly stretchy with good knee articulation meaning it climbs and skis well with very little restriction. The thigh vents, which I love from my VR Guide Pants, have been developed to include a far larger surface area for rapid heat loss while also providing sun protection. This means I’ve found them comfortable and practicable in a far greater range of conditions than I suspect they were designed for.
The knees and inner calves are protected by a very tough but flexible fabric which I’ve failed to damage despite my worst intentions. The boot grippers work well and even in deep snow I’ve never found the need to use the under boot laces.
The price means they are an investment but their versatility and comfort mean that I can focus on whatever the days mountain adventure brings and know that my leg wear isn’t going to be found wanting.
Member of the Rab & Lowe Alpine Test Teams & former reviewer for The North Face