For spring ski touring, or dryer winter climates such as Colorado, I love performance clothing made from old-style softshell fabrics. No membrane. Slightly thicker feeling with a hint of warmth. Schoeller’s fabrics have dominated this genre for years. So needing some trousers to replace the pair my cabin wood-stove ate, I’ve embarked on the quest. Below, a few of my favorites.
First up, Ortovox, only because Bacun comes before Base in the alphabetic realm.
Let’s begin with the Ortovox boot cuff. Nothing revolutionary here. Or is there? The internal gaiter attaches high inside the pant leg (for tall ski boots, or, Texas roach killers?). The gaiter elastic has adequate girth — you won’t pinch your fingers while pulling it down over your boot cuff. To the average observer the cuff appears average, but astute gear-heads will note a cool hidden feature. The closure snap is attached to an elastic strap that runs through the hem. If you want to lock your pants to your boots, say for post holing, just yard on the strap, cinch down on your boot, and snap to a second, farther snap. Come to think of it, this feature makes dissecting the interior gaiter much less consequential. Hand me the scissors.
Moving north, there is a small pleat at the knee. Nothing goofy looking, nearly indiscernible. Then just above the knee, to the side and a little rearward, a lengthy ventilation zipper opens to God’s air, with no mesh or other intervening blockage. Go bare if you dare, but I’d recommend underwear.
Pockets: Pockets comprise two average and entirely functional hip pockets, zippered, and the seemingly ubiquitous thigh pocket. No rear “wallet” pocket — disappointing but I can live without it. The thigh pocket is large and pleated, while zipped closed it easily stores my medium weight gloves.
And up top: A wide, adjustable waist band (essential for European pastry tours) with dual snaps at the opening, and suspender loops. No belt loops.
Fabric: This classic Schoeller goodness. Slightly stretchy “Naturetec” is 7% wool, the remainder synthetic. It feels substantial, yet tested nicely in a wide temperature range.
Fit notes: I’d call the Bacun roomy but not baggy. The men’s medium inseam is perfect for my 178 cm height. Shortening the inseam length would involve opening the seam where the inner gaiter attaches, this would be best left to a professional.
Conclusion: Ortovox Bacun is a cleanly designed pant made from legendary Schoeller fabric. (As always, we recommend non-membrane soft shell garments only be used in drier climes). Adjustable outer boot cuff is wonderful. No clanging bells. No shrill whistles. The Bacun is now an honored member of my long-term-test pant quiver.
The Mammut Base Jump SO differs enough from the Bacun to make for a fun comparison. This is what I’d call a multi-purpose pant, in that the sleek fit and minimal cuff circumference work as well as an alpine hiking or scrambling garment, as for ski touring. The pant quiver of one, if you will.
Again beginning at the cuff and gently working my way up the Base Jump. The tight circumference gaiter won’t fit over the bulky cuffs of ski touring boots such as my Dynafit Hoji. That makes me want to call it and say these are a hiking pant. But that’s not true.
Hiking pants make nice ski touring pants. And if you rock the lighter, lower-volume ski boots that are our WildSnow bias, the minimalist internal pant cuff is just right. It can also be removed. Of equal concern, the exterior hem is also tight. It fits over my Hojis in touring mode, barely. As with most “sportie” pants, you can zip the cuff closed to trim up the fit.
Moving along. At the knees, roomy pleats partner with stretchy 9% Spandex Schoeller fabric for zero walking resistance. The ubiquitous thigh vent zippers are backed with a thin fabric gusset. I prefer thigh zips that place nothing between my manly thighs and the universe. But these are okay, and you could always clip out the gusset.
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The right hand thigh pocket is enormous as well as pleated. You could fit a medium-weight pair of gloves in here, along with a knit cap. There is a small cord loop for attaching whatnot, such as a beacon. Closure is a flap rather than zipper, held down by a short peice of hook-loop. It’s easy to open and close, but a few turns in Japow would probably force snow under the flap.
I prefer a back pocket, and Base Jump delivers in that regard. Though as seems to often happen with European pant tailoring, the pocket extends too low, causing items such as a bulky wallet to bump thou nether regions. Euros like jeans, so why they can’t make a back pocket that’s shaped like a jean pocket is a timeless mystery. Instead of ruining brain cells trying to figure that out, I’ll just get Lisa to throw a stitch across the bottom of the “loin” pocket. Problem solved, my loins be saved!
We’ll finish our tour with the Base Jump waist. The external hook-loop waist girth adjustment is stellar, it’s easy to reach, with plenty of throw. A hidden chunk of elastic keeps it feeling flexible. Belt loops would be difficult to include as they’d have to work with the waist system, so they’re missing. Included suspenders perhaps compensate for not having a belt option.
Mammut Base Jump fabric: Schoeller® soft shell again, yet no wool. I like the exterior hand and they have soft flocking on the inside, but they’re not quite as comfortable on my bare skin as the Schoeller wool blend. I tested the “Ecorepel” DWR treatment with a few water splashes and a rub of slushy snow, totally adequate. Though again, let us remember this is not a membrane laminate fabric.
Mammut fit notes: I’d call these a “contour” fit, meaning they’re not roomy, but still move well. The inseam of my “48 regular fit” pair is slightly long, but workable. They’re available in a good variety of waist sizes, in regular or long inseam. The short interior gaiter would not interfere with a custom inseam length alteration.
Mammut conclusion:I’m looking at the Mammut Base Jump SO as my warm weather touring pant. The easy-adjust waist is perfect for those times I’ll ski, then dine. They weigh little, I like the fabric, and kudos for the OEM suspenders. More, if you’re looking for the “one” travel pant that’ll hike, ski, and look good on the street, shop no farther.
Shop for Mammut Base Jump pants.
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.