Outdoor Research Trailbreaker ski touring pants have been a go-to of mine for years now. They keep tweaking the design and materials. Hit or miss.
Case in point, prior version of Trailbreaker had a fairly lean fit that compromised between European slim and park bag flop. New version I’m reviewing here has a disappointing addition of leg circumference (east and west, luckily they stayed north as plumber’s crack gets cold when the alpine wind blows).
Trailbreaker (formerly Tremor) backcountry skiing pants are conceptualized by well known guide and author Martin Volken — his contributions are solid. Problem is, it seems someone else got hold of Martin’s designs and the fuller cut got added to the plan.
No way Martin is designing clothing for gangsta’ park-and-pipe couture — that has to happen after he’s out of the design picture. In any case, now we get to haul more fabric weight up the mountain and flap when the wind blows.
Perhaps I exaggerate (perception of “bagginess” has to due with the size of your quads — I’m skinny). The new Trailbreaker cut is not _that_ baggy, so for many of you the fit might be quite nice. Also, these pants still have a number of excellent features.
I skied with Martin for a few days in South America this “summer.” Yes, I was outfitted in a brand new pair of pretty blue Trailbreaker pants. Big thing, Martin pointed out that they’d had to change fabrics for some business reason, and ended up with a generic softshell fabric that’s actually some of the best material he’s ever seen. I’d 100% agree with that. With nothing but bare legs under those flapping stovepipes I slogged into 70 mph winds on Nevados Chillan for the sake of testing Marker Kingpin bindings. I’ll testify; this really is good fabric.
Standard features of the Traibreaker remain intact. Knee pad pockets are my favorite — they’ve changed my life. Belt loops for your latest order from spikesandstuds.com, or something more basic. Suspenders and side vents. The pockets have been simplified by eliminating the extra right-hand pocket on prior Trailbreaker. I actually liked that pocket but have to admit I’d tend to grab that zipper by mistake when going for my side vents. Probably good to simplify. You still get a right-hand butt pocket for your ‘merican wallet, as well as a beacon pouch in the right hip pocket.
The Trailbreaker gaiters still zip out and are improved with a power strap slot. I had mixed success with the slot. It seems necessary to perhaps remount the power strap on some boots so it interacts correctly with the slot. More, the interior of the pant fabric tends to get stuck on the velcro, resulting in extra fiddling. Whatever, it’s way better than cutting slits with a hot knife — though you can still do that.
That’s it. A little heavy and a little too loose fitting for us lean guys, but still one of the best featured ski touring pant around.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.