This spring, we embarked on a mission from the Universe: To identify and use a pant that might cross nicely between resort skiing and backcountry. Finding the perfect pant is of course impossible, as the only thing in the universe that’s perfect is, well, the Universe. But we tried. One of the best I found is the OR Skyward 2 — it checks most of my wants.
Before we start: Yep, we covered Skyward in 2017. That was version one.
Ver2 regards the same design philosophy: “a functional ‘guide’ type pant with plenty of pockets, super breathable, featured, but not so laden with gadgets they belong on an Apollo space mission — as spacesuit pants.”
Thus, ver2 is nearly the same pant as ver1. Biggest change in my view is they’re slightly slimmer, and the AscentShell fabric has slightly more stretch. Both things I welcome. Speaking of Ascentshell: the idea here is something that performs close to hard-shell but has the hand of soft shell — from past experience I’d say OR achieved that, though in super-wet climes I’d prefer something on the harshell side of the equation.
I think my favorite change is the fit continuing to slim down. Perhaps the era of backcountry ski pants that look like circus attire is now history?
So, let’s take a look at these. We’ll continue to use them and report back. (I did ski them a few days this spring, but not enough for an honest ‘long term’ test. That’ll come later from our testers, when the Colorado resorts open back up. They’re well-made and functional, so the important thing for shoppers is the details.)
What else? If I’m purley ski touring, I like pants with a simpler feature set, but I do like these as a crossover. And they’ll work fine as dedicated tour pants if you want something with more pockets, thigh vents and such. A pleat in the knees reduces friction when you’re articulating up lusty couloirs or down waterfall bump runs. The Ascentshell fabric has what I’d call a “friendly hand,” like you’re petting a kitten. Weight is reasonable, I’d all it average. Recommended.
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.