We often find ourselves layering up to take on the chill of the wintery trails. Usually this involves a mix of tights, wind pants, and snow pants. But what about winter pants that were specifically designed for taking on the winter trails? The winter pants we are about to review are all about providing warmth as well as protection from the elements. There are a few things we’re paying attention to — warmth provided, protection against the elements, and overall fit/feel.
We will also be going into detail about the length of the winter pants reviewed. This is because I have a loooong inseam and is forever struggling to find pants that will keep my ankles protected too. Some of the pants actually come in “long” lengths, which is amazing. But we will be measuring and scrutinizing the actual length of all the pants reviewed. The inseam is measured from the crotch seam to the bottom of the hem while the pants are laid flat.
I’ve also taken indoor photos of myself in each pair of the pants reviewed (included @ end of article)– you can easily see the various fits. For reference, my legs measure at 34.5 inches from floor to hip crease. I tend to fit in the middle of a small/medium and the pants being reviewed fall into that category. I usually struggle to find long length pants that are truly long and often simply size up in tights to get a little more length. If you do the same check out the long length winter pants reviewed here – they’re kind of a game changer!
The Title Nine Cold Killer 2.0 pants are an updated version of a well-loved pair of all weather pants. These pants bring together the durability and protection of a soft-shell on the front and the comfortable and flexible fit of wicking knit in the back. The pants taper down toward the ankle and have a zipper to help them fit over hiking boots or nordic ski boots. Title Nine also has the Snow Slayer 2.0 pants which offer all-around soft-shell protection, a great option if you’re looking for more hiking/nordic skiing and less running.
What We Loved: These pants are very comfortable…but also provide a fair bit of protection from the elements. If you’re someone who always has frozen thighs on trail-ventures these will help with that.
- What We Would Change: The pockets leave a lot to be desired, especially for a pair of pants that could easily be worn as your only layer. At least a secure zipper pocket for keys/cards would be a nice addition.
- Fit, Feel & Function: These pants fit true to size [but if you’re in the middle of sizes I’d suggest sizing down – I’m generally medium but almost always size down to a small with items made by Title Nine] and the overall feel is cozy. They are the pants you can wear on the trail knowing they’ll keep you warm/protected and also around the house post-adventure.
- Pocket Situation: There is a medium sized zipper pocket on the right thigh and a small mesh pouch inside the waistband.
- Actual Inseam Length: The size small in long length inseam measures at 35 inches. They are available in short, regular, and long. The inseams are advertised as 30 inches [short], 32 inches [regular], and 35 inches [long].
The Eddie Bauer Guide Pro Fleece Lined pants are part of the First Ascent line of adventure-specific apparel. They are made with a two-way stretch nylon/spandex blend on the exterior and a soft fleece on the interior. The outer layer has StormRepel DWR [durable water repellent] treatment to provide solid protection against both the elements and the terrain. The legs have a boot-cut fit and do fit nicely over hiking boots. These pants are also available unlined as the standard Eddie Bauer Guide Pro pants [also available in three lengths].
What We Loved: These pants are available lined or unlined – the ones reviewed are lined, but both are solid hiking pants that fit comfortably and hold up to the wear of the trail. The lined Guide Pro pants have the feel of fleece-lined jeans/jeggings [but more comfortable and stretchy].
- What We Would Change: Honestly, not much…if anything. It is worth noting that the lined version of these pants fit a bit like low profile snow pants, especially if you want to keep your full range of motion. You’ll notice they don’t fit as smoothly as non-lined pants and the fleece is only connected at the seams so you may notice it moving independently from the outer layer.
- Fit, Feel & Function: The Guide Pro pants fit true to size, although I will tell you that I sized up for the lined version [I had the unlined in size 6, opted for size 8 in lined just in case]. The size up probably wasn’t necessary, but still a comfortable and functional fit. These pants are very warm and are a great choice to take onto the trails for any hiking adventures.
- Pocket Situation: There are two “jean-style” pockets at the waist and two zipper pockets, one on each thigh.
- Actual Inseam Length: The size 8 in long length inseam measures at 34.5 inches. They are available in petite, regular, and tall.
The Mountain Hardwear Chockstone Alpine pants were designed around the technical material and fit required on adventures in the Grand Tetons. This makes them a solid pair of technical winter pants. They have a durable four-way stretch material on all “high contact” areas, essentially the entire pant with the exception of the band of material around the hips. The waistband is adjustable with a rigid strap and the knees have gusseted seams to allow for full range of motion. There are zippers at the ankle to better fit the pants over hiking or approach boots.
What We Loved: These pants are built for epic adventures and could easily survive all-weather excursions on the trails. They are stretchy enough to fit over a pair of baselayers or tights and you can maintain your full range of motion when on the move.
- What We Would Change: This isn’t exactly something to change but these pants would likely not be your first pick for running in. They provide more protection from the elements than you would generally need when on a standard [even epic] run-venture. They are much more hike-worthy…or maybe what you’d need for bushwacking run-ventures with a lot of hiking.
- Fit, Feel & Function: These pants fit true to size and have a standard “jean” button/zipper closure with a rigid belt to provide more adjustability. They are comfortable and easy to move in. Overall, a solid pair of hiking and adventures pants.
- Pocket Situation: There are three large zipper pockets – two are on the right side, one is on the left.
- Actual Inseam Length: The size small in long length inseam measures at 33.5 inches. They are available in short, regular, and long.
The Patagonia Wind Shield pants are designed as a soft shell layer, similar to the jacket you add over your layers to protect you from wet and windy elements. They are lightweight and made with two types of material – one for protection, one for breathability. You can really see the different material types in the blue pants. The blue is a DWR [durable water repellent] treated stretchy, soft-shell fabric while the gray is a polyester/spandex blend. There are zippers near the ankles to help these pants fit over nordic skis or hiking boots.
What We Loved: The two types of materials help with temperature regulation as well as fit. Oftentimes the “soft-shell” material bunches in the elbows/knee-pits but with these pants that area utilizes the jersey blend which doesn’t bunch. The jersey side panels also allow for more mobility and range of motion on the trail.
- What We Would Change: The pockets are lacking. They provide about as much storage as the pockets you find in leggings, which just isn’t enough in a pair of pants. At the very least a secure zipper pocket on the waistband would put them on par with standard leggings.
- Fit, Feel & Function: These pants fit true to size from the knees to the waist [length is true to advertised “regular” length]. They are stretchy pants that could easily be layered over a pair of leggings — something work packing along, just in case.
- Pocket Situation: There are two pouch pockets on the side of each hip, similar to the “phone pockets you find on leggings.
- Actual Inseam Length: The size medium inseam measures at 30 inches. This is the only length available.
The Arc’teryx Cita pants are a very lightweight and minimalist layer that are designed to allow for full range of motion while providing both protection from the elements and exceptional breathability. The thin nylon material does have a DWR [durable water repellent] finish. There are long zippers at the ankle to allow for layering over hiking boots and to make it easier to slip these pants on/off while on the trail.
What We Loved: These are incredibly lightweight pants and could easily be stashed and forgotten [until you need them] in your running pack. They’re designed for running and do allow you to truly move in them.
- What We Would Change: The pockets are lacking [the pouches won’t hold much] and the ankle cuffs are a bit tight/unforgiving. A slightly looser fit from the thigh to the ankle would make it much easier to slip these pants on/off without removing your shoes when you’re on the trail
- Fit, Feel & Function: These pants fit true to size and the waistband is very comfortable. However, as you can likely see in the photos, they offer a lot of space in the hips but don’t maintain that loose-ness throughout the legs. This tends to lead to bunching above the knees and at the hip crease.
- Pocket Situation: There is a small pouch pocket at the back of the right hip [includes a hole for wired headphones] and a small internal pouch on the left hip.
- Actual Inseam Length: The size medium inseam measures at 29 inches. This is the only length available. The Arc’teryx website states a 30.5 inch inseam — which may be measured from hip crease to cuff when the pants are worn at the hip bone rather than natural waist?