Arcteryx Gamma Review

Canadian brand Arc’teryx make high-spec kit for those who don’t mind paying more for the very best materials and build quality. And they are very mountain-centric. So there is probably only a slim percentage of actual country walkers who will be tempted by these, but those who want to take on every terrain in every condition will really love them. There is absolutely nothing cheap or skimpy about the Gammas. The rigid, high back is beautifully supportive. The toughened face fabric is extremely robust without needing weighty abrasion panels, and they stretch in all the directions you want them to. They come with a fully enclosed belt and three generous pockets, and the hem is adjustable by drawcord. They’re comfy, well insulated, and they are likely to last for years. The only ‘but’, of course, is the price. Is absolute peace of mind worth that much? But that said, it’s possible to find these reduced to the RRP of a good pair from Rab or Montane; that’s still a lot, but it does make them competitive, especially if you’re a committed winter hill-walker (or even an Alpinist). 

Target Price £130

Specification

Size: XS-XXL

Fabric: 50% nylon, 43% polyester, 7% elastane

Weight: 496g

Contact: 0207 078 3546, www.arcteryx.com

Verdict

PROS: All-round excellence, comfort and robustness.
CONS: Price in comparison to others in its class.

COMFORT: 5/5
WEATHERPROOFING: 5/5
VENTILATION: 4/5
VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

BEST FOR: Mountain terrain in cold conditions – but lovely on the flat too.

Review from Country Walking magazine

Paramo Velez Adventure Review

The Velez Adventures are the ultimate weather warriors. Where other manufacturers hedge their bets, Páramo go all out with one goal in mind: waterproofing. And the Analogy fabric is really good at that. There is minimum faffing and maximum peace of mind here – no awkward dances with the overtrousers, no risk of returning to the car a drowned rat. Páramo also ensure other basics are covered too: the trousers are loose and allow good freedom of movement, there are ventilation zips on both legs and the ankle cuffs can be adjusted with a Velcro strap. For my money they’re still significantly sweatier than non-waterproofs, even with the vents, but if the weather’s so wet that you’d be pulling on overtrousers anyway then these are still by far the best option. They do unfortunately come with the familiar crisp-packet rustle of waterproof clothing, and I personally find the elasticated waistband too high to be totally comfortable, but these are minor points for what is a long-standing and high-performing product.

Target Price £ 120

Specification 

Size: 8-18

Fabric: 100% polyester

Weight: 340g

Contact: 01892 786444, www.paramo-clothing.com

Verdict

PROS: Fully waterproof, good freedom of movement, ventilation zips

CONS: Sweaty, expensive, rather noisy when walking.

Comfort: 3/5

WeatherproofinG: 5/5

Ventilation: 3/5

Value for money: 4/5

Best for: Irrepressibly wet and cold days when staying dry is everything.

Review from Country Walking magazine

 

Rad Exodus Review

Rab’s Exodus trousers offer the best compromise in this test between ruggedness and comfort. Despite the substantial weightiness of the fabric, the trousers are surprisingly easy to move in – helped in large part by the highly articulated knees. They also offer the most effective ventilation zips on test: positioned right in the centre of the thighs, they let in a wonderful wallop of fresh air whenever you need it. When all zipped up, the fabric will stand up to pretty much all the scrapes and scuffs a mountain path can summon, and the reinforced ankles will protect from any self-inflicted abrasions too. Talking of ankles, the Exodus trousers also come with waterproof ‘snow gaiters’, which lock out the wet stuff from the ground up. The trousers are a match for the wind as well: a weekend of Irish Sea  gales certainly couldn’t penetrate the fabric, though I have to say that the rain did. It was pretty serious Snowdonian rain (is there any more serious?), but I’d say the water repellency is still the weak spot on these otherwise superb walking trousers.

Target Price £130

Specification 

Size: 8-16

Fabric: 50% polyamide, 43% polyester, 7% elastane

Weight: 550g

Contact: 01773 601870, www.rab.equipment/uk

Verdict

PROS: Durable fabric, great windproofing, good freedom of movement.
CONS: Not as water repellent as others, heavy, expensive.

COMFORT: 4/5
WEATHERPROOFING: 3/5
VENTILATION: 5/5
VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

BEST FOR: Those who spend a lot of time in the hills and value durability.

Review from Country Walking magazine

Sherpa Nilgra Review

The Nilgiris are a bit of a machine. Sherpa have packed everything into these trousers: a weatherproof shell, fleece lining, leg vents, ankle zippers and, somehow, a stylish design. It’s quite an achievement, and for the most part it all comes together to make an excellent product. The softshell material really does form a confidence-inspiring barrier between you and the elements with little in the way of water or rain getting through, and the fleece on the inside of the legs and in the pockets makes them very cosy indeed. There are zips on both legs which run all the way from the bottom to mid thigh and serve a dual purpose: to offer ventilation and to widen the ankle to make boot fastening and removing a whole lot easier. Despite the ventilation however, these trousers can still get very hot on climbs as they really struggle for natural breathability. They are also designed to be tight-fitting trousers and, given the robustness of the softshell fabric, that does mean the range of movement is slightly more restricted than on some of the other pairs in this test.

Target Price £120

Specification 

Size: XS-XL

Fabric: 75% polyester, 20% polyurethane, 5% spandex

Weight: 385g

Contact: 01572 772474

Verdict 

PROS: Excellent weatherproofing, cosy fleece lining, adjustable ankle zip.
CONS: Can overheat; material can feel restrictive on steep climbs.

COMFORT: 3/5
WEATHERPROOFING: 4/5
VENTILATION: 3/5
VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

BEST FOR: Cold hilltop days when you need thickness and warmth. 

Review from Country Walking magazine

 

Montane Terra GT Converts Review

Montane’s Terra range includes some of the finest soft shell trousers on the market, in particular the Terra Stretch (£90) and the heavy-winter Super Terra (£130), either of which I’d heartily recommend you to try in this same category. But having reviewed those before, this time we opted for a lighter, more subtle pair. Aside from the abrasion patch at the hem, these are the most normal-looking trousers I tried; they’re light enough to work all year round, not just in colder months – especially as they zip off into shorts above the knee. The 100% nylon construction doesn’t allow for a lot of stretch and isn’t water-resistant (and the deep, buttoned cargo pockets become an ingress risk when it’s wet), but it’s windproof and reasonably tough. Oddly, the abrasion patches aren’t significantly tougher than the main fabric – a bit more for show than real resilience. So although they are very comfortable and definitely adaptable, they’re a little over-priced for what you actually get, compared to a) other trousers in the Terra range and b) the Keelas.

Target Price £90

Specification 

Size: XS-XL

Fabric: 100% nylon

Weight: 367g

Contact: 01670 522300, www.montane.co.uk

Verdict

PROS: Lightweight, cool, subtle-looking, year-round adaptable.

CONS: Lacks enough features to justify the big pricetag.

Comfort: 4/5

WeatherproofinG: 3/5

Ventilation: 3/5

Value for money: 3/5

Best for: Relaxed walking anywhere, as it long as it’s not going to rain heavily.

Review from Country Walking magazine.

Bergans Bera Review

These are the walking trousers Billy Elliot would wear. They are extremely slender down the leg (thankfully they are slightly more generous around the crotch), so when worn, they feel almost like a leotard. But then, right down at the hem, they explode into multiple features, like a thick abrasion patch, a scrunchy elasticated hemline and a sticky internal strip that locks solid over your boot-tops.

In fact the Beras as a whole are a curiously uncertain mix of minimalist lightweight racing pants and premium-featured technical trousers. There’s no cargo pocket, there are very few seams, the fit is super-athletic – and yet suddenly they throw on a load of extra features at the base. For this reason I find them rather unadaptable. And you have to be very proud of your leg muscles to wear them with confidence, because the fit is so anatomically correct. So if you’re a well-built, athletic mover who wants to power through mud, bog and boulder fields, they will do nicely. If you like a more relaxed fit and a good balance of features, less so.

Target Price £ 95.

Specification

 Size: S-XXL

Fabric: 88% polyamide, 12% elastane

Weight: 361g

Contact: 01825 740082, www.bergans.com

Verdict

PROS: Terrific features around the ankle cuff, very stretchy fabric.

CONS: Athletic cut won’t suit everyone, not many storage options.

Comfort: 3/5

Weatherproofing: 4/5

Ventilation: 3/5

Value for money 3/5

Best for: Athletic walkers who really want to seal their legs up tightly.

Review from Country Walking magazine

 

Salomon Wayfarer Winter Trouser Review

On a spectrum of trouser toughness, the Wayfarer Winter Pants would be at the softer end, though they pack a punch bigger than their slimline form would suggest. Despite being a ‘winterised’ version of the popular Wayfarers, they’re lightweight and relatively thin, which means the wind can get through a little easier, but the flip side is that they’re extremely breathable and need no ventilation. Water beads off the surface like it would off a duck’s back and I stayed dry in them through some pretty nasty stuff. Using a combination of nylon and elastane, the four-way stretch material is truly liberating when negotiating rough terrain and mischievous stiles (there’s always one); when taking on a mountain the last thing you want to be doing is battling a swaddle of stiffly stitched slacks. There’s no danger of that here. What’s more, the Wayfarers are in
it with you for the long haul – they’re a hugely popular model for Salomon and that’s partly a credit to the quality of the materials as well as their performance in tough conditions. Target Price £74.

Specification

Size: 6-18

Fabric: 92% nylon, 8% elastane

Weight: 330g

Contact: 0207 078 3528, www.salomon.com

Verdict

PROS: Excellent range of movement, lightweight, quick drying.
CONS:  Not as windproof or as warm as thicker soft shell trousers.

COMFORT: 5/5
WEATHERPROOFING: 3/5
VENTILATION: 4/5
VALUE FOR MONEY: 5/5

BEST FOR: Adventure-packed days when you want to travel light and fast. 

Review from Country Walking magazine.

 

Mammut Runhold Review

Feel like pyjamas, move like armour. The Runbolds are the lightest pair I tried (341g) and their stretchy, elastic design makes them really suited to mountain moves. Although they’re reliably windproof and reasonably water-repellent, they aren’t very insulated, so they work best if you run hot even on the coldest days. There’s a good high back which supports your lower abdomen and doesn’t get pushed down by the weight of a rucksack. I’d prefer more articulation through the knees, though: the fabric has a tendency to stick to my kneecaps on steep climbs. But if the day warms up, the elasticity of the fabric and lack of heavy abrasion padding means you can roll up the hem easily; I’ve often worn these as three-quarter capris in summer too. Plus you get properly usable hip pockets and a GPS-sized cargo pocket. And the build quality is outstanding, as you’d hope from a brand whose logo has become increasingly covetable in recent years. So at this price (and with decent discounts around), what you’re getting is a very sound investment. Target Price £54.

Specification

Size: 28-36

Fabric: 85% polyamide, 15% elastane

Weight: 341g

Contact: 01625 508218, www.mammut.ch

Verdict

PROS: Sleek, lightweight, extremely stretchy, well ventilated. 
CONS: Not much warmth, could use a bit more articulation.

COMFORT: 4/5
WEATHERPROOFING: 4/4
VENTILATION: 5/5
VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/4

BEST FOR: Mountain walks, but not in the very coldest conditions.

Review from Country Walking magazine

Keela Scuffers Review

I absolutely love my Scuffers: thick, tough, go-anywhere, through-anything companions that I’ve been grateful for many times. I’ve had a pair for years and they are the hardest-working legwear item I own. Let’s get the negatives out of the way: they weigh a lot, and some will find the fabric scratchy. At 569g they are the heaviest pair here, but do a mile in them and pretty soon you won’t notice the weight at all. What you will notice is their sturdiness; the reinforced seat and the toughened patches around the hem that protect against nettle, thistle, igneous rock, Yorkshire heather and Sussex gorse. You’ll rejoice in the easily adjustable Velcro cuff that gives you the perfect fit around your boot, and the hip pockets that are deep enough to actually be useful (including a secret security pocket). They can get hot on warmer days, but at least you
get vents up the thigh to help with that. There’s also plenty of stretch through thigh and calf. They are by no means slimline, but if you don’t need an athletic look, you can’t go wrong with these – especially at this price. Target Price £60

Specification 

Size: XS-XXXL

Fabric: 65% nylon, 24% polyester, 11% spandex

Weight: 569g

Contact: 01592 777000, www.keela.co.uk

Verdict

PROS: Really tough, good stretch, reliably showerproof, great value.

CONS: Heavy, scratchy; not as well ventilated as lighter pairs.

Comfort: 4/5

WeatherproofinG: 5/5

Ventilation: 3/5

Value for money: 5/5

Best for: I use them everywhere, but they’re most at home on mountains.

Review from Country Walking magazine

 

 

Sprayway Warm Challenger Review

There’s something comforting about stepping into the Warm Challenger Pants. That’s partly because they’re lined with snug, soft fleece, but also because they’re made by Sprayway, who can generally be relied upon to produce solid pieces of outdoors kit. The Warm Challengers are, sure enough, solid and reliable. On the wild west coast of Wales they saw off showers with ease and kept me warm despite a keen wind, though they’re not quite as windproof as some of the pricier models. Weighing in at a light and breezy 315g, the Warm Challengers aren’t prone to overheating, but the lack of ventilation zips means things can still get a little sweaty on those thigh-burning climbs. The most impressive thing at this price range is that these trousers still allow an excellent range of movement even while offering a substantial barrier against the elements. Some might not find the elasticated waistband particularly sexy, but when you’re halfway up a mountain with rain dripping off your nose and sheep poo on your boots, who cares really? Target Price £60.

Specification 

Size: 8-18

Fabric: 90% polyamide, 10% elastane

Weight: 315g

Contact: 0161 366 5020, www.sprayway.com

Verdict

PROS: Freedom of movement, good value, good water repellency.

CONS: Windproofing could be better, poor venting, not too durable.

Comfort:4/5

WeatherproofinG: 3/5

Ventilation: 3/5

Value for money: 4/5

Best for: Hillwalking on cool showery days when overtrousers are overkill.

Review from Country Walking magazine. 

 

Extremities Tay Ankle Gaiter (2015)

Features

The Extremities Tay Ankle Gaiter is designed to be a shorter length for comfort, so it only covers the ankle and lower calf area. It is made from Gore-Tex, which is extremely waterproof and breathable. The front closure is Velcro-only with no zip and no press studs, and just a drawcord at the top. There is a lace hook and tough Hypalon underfoot strap though. 4/5

Fit

Available in S/M and L/XL, the Extremities Tay Ankle Gaiter came to my mid calf area when pulled up. The material is soft enough to push down below the calf as well if you prefer. The fit across the boot was fine and there is plenty of adjustment in the underfoot strap. The top drawcord allows a good fit around the leg to ensure debris cannot get inside the gaiter. 5/5

Comfort

This uses Gore-Tex material so it is as breathable as gaiters are going to get, and as the calf area is soft and not too long this is more comfortable than any longer gaiter. Because it comes in two sizes that comfort should be maintained even if you have chunkier or thinner legs than me as the two sizes should easily accommodate some variation. 5/5

In use

I keep thinking there should be press stud at the top and bottom of the wide Velcro closure, but this sort of closure does work well, I am surprised to find, and I have used similar closures for years successfully. Of course you do get less protection in deep bogs or long wet heather so Extremities Tay Ankle Gaiters are not ideal for every situation but a good option sometimes. 4/5

Value

You pay for Gore-Tex but you get fewer other features, not even a zip. The price is not great but it’s still less than some ankle gaiters. 3/5

Verdict

If you want a short gaiter for great comfort and can tolerate less protection the Extremities Tay Ankle Gaiter is a very good option if you are on a tight budget. 4.2/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine October 2015

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Highlander Breathable Gaiter (2015)

Features

The material here is AB-Tex, a ripstop polyester with a waterproof and breathable membrane. The front zip is covered by a stormflap with a Velcro closure, while the top of the zip is secured with a press stud and a rear drawcord ensures a close fit. The underfoot stirrup is made from Hypalon – a very durable material often used in high-end gaiters. 5/5

Fit

The Highlander Breathable Gaiter comes in just one size for men and one size for women. The gaiter fitted over my size 11/46 boots and the top came nicely below my knee, but smaller people may need a smaller gaiter perhaps? The calf area was comfortable on me but a closer fit than some gaiters, so if you have chunkier calves these may be tight. The limited size range could be an issue for some too. 3/5

Comfort

These feel nice and light and comfortable on, as the calf area is a little thinner and softer than many low-priced gaiters. But if the fit is tight they would potentially feel more restrictive. Higher-priced materials will be more breathable so don’t be surprised if you get some condensation. But overall the Highlander Breathable Gaiters feel great, assuming they fit. 4/5

In use

The Highlander Breathable Gaiter is easy to get on, thanks to a chunky front zip and that Velcro-fastened stormflap. If the underfoot strap ever breaks it is easily replaced but it should last longer than a plain cord or webbing and won’t fray like a metal wire. Fit over boots is good, so overall a great gaiter to use. But again this assumes it fits you. 4/5

Value

A very well-priced gaiter for the performance, with breathability being the main drawback. 5/5

Verdict

The Highlander Breathable Gaiter is a product at a good price with the key features most walkers will benefit from, but higher-priced options are even better. It wins Trail’s ‘approved’ accolade. 4.2/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine October 2015

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Quechua Forclaz 50 Gaiter (2015)

Features

For this tiny price you get a polyester fabric with a waterproof PU coating, which Quechua describes as ‘not very breathable’. The side zip has no large stormflap to protect it that some have, nor a drawcord or top press stud to secure this area; there is just elastication at the top. A lace hook is also provided as well as a wire underfoot strap with an adjustable buckle. 3/5

Fit

The Quechua Forclaz 50 Gaiters come in sizes S, M and L and they are usefully labelled L and R so you know which is the left and right gaiter. I was sent a size M, which fitted fine over my size 11/46 boots and the top came nicely below my knee. The calf area was comfortably relaxed to allow easy movement and some airflow. 5/5

Comfort

The material is not the most breathable so sweat inside the gaiter is an issue; that said, even the best gaiters can be a bit sweaty. Nothing digs in or rubs, which is the most important thing. The elastication around the top of the gaiter also sits nicely and is comfier than some drawcords I have used. Being hot and sweaty is the main drawback. 4/5

In use

Side zips are not as easy as front zips, but the Quechua Forclaz 50 Gaiter still goes on pretty well. I’d like something to secure the top of the gaiter though as once the zip opens a little it can easily open further. The main issue is that the wire underfoot stirrup will fray – then it is hard to replace and also it may prick your fingers when fitting. But these gaiters do keep  mud out of boots! 3/5

Value

The Quechua Forclaz 50 Gaiter was the lowest-priced gaiter we received; and while not the best, the price is superb and the performance is good enough. 5/5

Verdict

How often do you wear gaiters? If the answer is not often, or you just don’t have much cash, then these are a bargain worth having. 4.0/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine October 2015

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Berghaus Yeti Attak II (2015)

Features

The Berghaus Yeti Attak II is a classic gaiter that encloses your footwear, with a rubber rand creating a waterproof seal between gaiter and boot. There is a front zip with a Velcro stormflap and drawcord at the top. The material is Gore-Tex for maximum waterproofness and breathability, but there’s also a very tough outer face fabric for durability. 5/5

Fit

Yetis come in unisex sizes XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL and XXXL, and you have to fit them to a pair of stiffened boots such as B1, B2 or B3 boots, as on softer 3-season boots they will just come off. Once on, they make a close fit if they suit the boot – but you do need appropriate footwear. So these are not for everyone. 4/5

Comfort

I first used Berghaus Yetis back in about 1990; they are very comfortable and keep all the water out. As they are Gore-Tex you get good condensation control and as they are not too close a fit to the leg, you get some airflow. Probably the most comfortable gaiter there is, as they keep you the most dry. 5/5

In use

On the right boots Berghaus Yeti Attak IIs are superb but once on they have to stay on, meaning you cannot take them on or off throughout a trip. This means they are perfect in winter or for bog-trotting but a pain in other more varied conditions. They are not too baggy and not too tight, and the front zip works well. The top drawcord toggle is a little basic as it is not stretchy but it’s functional enough. 4/5

Value

The price is high so you need to decide if you need this level of protection and will get the use out of them to justify the outlay. 3/5

Verdict

For maximum protection on stiffer boots Berghaus Yeti Attak IIs are a well-proven classic, but they have limitations too. They win Trail’s ‘approved’ accolade. 4.2/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine October 2015

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Berghaus GTX Gaiter (2015)

Features

The Berghaus GTX Gaiter is a Gore-Tex product, so waterproofness and breathability levels are extremely high. There is also a stretch panel up the rear of the leg for a closer fit. The underfoot strap is extremely robust too and can be easily adjusted or replaced. But there is no front zip, just a Velcro closure, and no press stud at the bottom of that closure. A top press stud and drawcord are provided however. 4/5

Fit

It comes in three sizes – S/M, L/XL and XXL – all in regular and long lengths, so it should fit most folk. The L/XL (long) fitted well over my 46/11 boots and sat nicely under my knee. There is stretch material down the back of the leg so this fits closer than lower-priced gaiters. The underfoot strap is adjusted with Velcro. 5/5

Comfort

Being close-fitting, even in Gore-Tex, means this gaiter is a little clammier as there is less airflow; however it is not flapping about – so there are pros and cons to that closer fit. But the boot is well-covered to keep water out. Also the top press stud is just to the side of the knee and the drawcords are neatly tucked away. So comfort is good here. 5/5

In use

The Berghaus GTX Gaiter weighs in at 242g (pair, size L/XL long) so you won’t mind carrying a pair in your rucksack. They don’t have a front zip and there is no press stud at the bottom so getting them on is a little more hassle than some models. But once on they are great. I like the more durable underfoot strap that is easily replaced, and also I like the fact that they are not too flappy. Just give me a zipped opening! 4/5

Value

The cost is creeping up here due the use of Gore-Tex and that stretch Gore-Tex panel but there is no zip, so feels pricy. 3/5

Verdict

If you prefer a closer-fitting gaiter then the Berghaus GTX Gaiter is it, but there is no front zip so you also need to like Velcro closures. 4.2/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine October 2015

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