It thankfully takes a lot more than a pair of pants to get me shakin’ (at least until they’re removed), but these new soft shell trousers are indeed an exciting addition to the outdoor clothing world.
When well known guide and ski mountaineer Martin Volken showed me the new Tremor pant he designed for Outdoor Research they became an immediate must-have. That was last winter, and the only size they were making was a large that fit me so big I could put both feet into one leg and pull the waistband up to my armpits. So they made me wait — but it was worth it.
A few days ago a pair of size medium Tremors flew into WildSnow World Headquarters. They fit me well, quite well, so here is the lowdown on why they’ll be part of my clothing stable this winter.
These pants are made with Gore Wind Stopper soft shell, a fabric with a minimal Gortex layer that almost totally blocks wind, while providing a modicum of water repellency. This fabric isn’t as breathable as non-membrane softshell, but if you’ve ever been in high winds using regular softshell trousers you know the problem. The breeze gets up to around 45 mph and it feels like you’re strolling around in your underwear (or less).
Thus, using a Windstopper soft shell layer can be terrific but is nonetheless a compromise. You’ll not be quite as comfortable when your sweating like a rutting elk as you break trail up through dark timber. But once you’re dancing on the windy ridge, you are a happy camper with well protected jewels.
In the case of Tremor, the compromise is less because they’re built with a generous vent zipper that extends on each leg from the hip down to the knee. Not only that, but the pants are lined with a variety thin fleece and tricot to add a bit of warmth, yet prevent that slimy feeling you get when you wear shell pants over bare skin (which anyone athletic will need to do with a pant of this sort, otherwise they’ll likely be too hot for anything but arctic conditions).
Other attractive features (Martin tried to think of everything, and pretty much did):
– Zip-out gaiters (also attached in a way they can easily be permanently scissored out).
– All zippers “waterproof.”
– Large scuff guard on inside of lower cuff.
– Gaiter style cord holes on sides of lower cuff.
– Drawstring in lower cuff (apparently Martin doesn’t leave anything to chance when it comes to the trouser/boot interface).
– Cuff zipper to ease working with boots.
– Articulated knees.
– Belt loops.
– Suspender attachment loops.
– Roomy but reasonably trim fit.
Dowside? Not much. The fleece in the knee area could be more slippery — it grabs my knees while I flex my legs. Cuff scuff guards would be more effective if they extended all the way around the lower few inches of the cuff, to prevent damage in boulder fields. Internal gaiter has a fairly large opening near the top that could be smaller. Waist band could have a “take out” seam to relax the waist fit.
Those are mere quibbles.
In all, these pants could very well be one of the best “one-rig” trousers of the backcountry skiing and winter climbing world. Thumbs up and worth a look.
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.