Mountain Hardwear Chockstone Midweight Active Pant
Opening the bag I was impressed. What unfolded was a super clean looking pair of trousers made from what felt like the ideal weight of softshell material. Also there looked to be neat detailing like the two tone zip on the thigh pocket and simple cinch belt. Putting them on for the first time made me think that maybe I had found the perfect UK climbing trousers? They just felt right. Time will tell, but to say I was impressed was an understatement.
After four weeks use, perhaps 18 days of climbing and hill walking my initial suspicions have been proven correct. These trousers are a stand out piece of clothing!
First off lets look at the material, this is a mid weight double weave softshell. It reminds me of a Scholler fabric. It has a smooth outer face and soft touch inner face and the multi directional stretch is excellent. It seems to be a “goldilocks” fabric, it has just the right amount of heft and warmth for the majority of days in the UK. It's very wind proof and it breaths very well. I have worn these in a wide range of temperatures and weathers and been comfortable in all. This surprised me at the extremes of the range, 4ºC with wind and squally showers and 18ºC still, with direct sunlight. And this is both active and sitting on belays. Also the DWR seems to be holding up after 3 washes too, note this is washes with pure soap. I don’t think it will be an issue when the DWR does give up as I have the feel the material will still function well when wetted out.
Next up the cut and fit. Simply put for me both are perfect. I have a mountaineers build rather than a climbers i.e. no skinny bum and thighs here! The 32/32 seem to be right on size with a close, neat fit but not too Euro! The cut is well thought out with articulation in the knees and a full length in-seam gusset. This along with the stretch material allows full movement far more than my flexibility!
Devil in the details. I particularly like the low profile cinch belt for waist adjustment it just does the job and doesn’t intrude under harnesses or rucksacks. The fly closure great with a zip, double popper and button, very secure. The only thing I would like is an ever so slightly deeper fly to make toilet time easier with a harness on. There is a slight up and over feel as is! On to the pocket arrangement and these all work well with or without harnesses the thigh pocket being the best for storage when climbing as the hand warmers get covered by the Super Chockstone Jacket normally. They are all reasonable sizes and made in lightweight mesh.
So are there any downsides?
My only qualm is that the face fabric might pill a little easily on high wear areas like harness leg loops and in the seat when sat on rough rock.
More importantly the double stitching is starting to go on the seat seam. I should qualify this however and say that they have been being used mostly climbing on Gritstone where belays are mostly sitting and down climbs involve many bum slides over very rough rock. I have yet to see a pair of soft shell trousers that will cope with this long term. Perhaps a welded seat seam? Still its very easy to manage with a few extra stitches thrown in now and again. I don’t think this will be a problem for all but the most devoted grit climbers.
Also thinking about sitting at belays an elastic cinch at the hems would perhaps be nice to stop the wind from blowing up your leg!
Well done to Mountain Hardwear, these are the best 'do everything' softshell trousers I have had to date. OK they aren't going to work for full winter but for 80% of climbing and hillwalking days in the UK I wouldn’t want anything else. Good looking, comfortable, mobile, durable, well thought out all apply to these trousers.
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Perfect weight softshell material for 3 season UK hillwalking and climbing.
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Neil Warren is an instructor working with Pure Outdoor in the Peak District.