Wa­ter­proof overtrousers

We put five of the best to the test

Trail (UK) - - CONTENTS -


This area is com­monly elas­ti­cated for ex­tra com­fort. A draw­cord al­lows ex­tra con­trol of fit, while Velcro tabs, press studs or belt loops al­low fur­ther en­hance­ment of fit. The abil­ity to at­tach braces is ideal for scram­bling or moun­taineer­ing.


The longer the zip, the eas­ier it is to put on overtrousers while still wear­ing boots, or even cram­pons. This is also an area that can eas­ily leak, par­tic­u­larly at the knees when the zip flexes. Wa­ter-re­sis­tant zips may keep some wa­ter out, but as they may still leak they are of­ten fit­ted with an in­ter­nal flap that is de­signed to chan­nel away any wa­ter that en­ters this area. Ex­ter­nal storm flaps are ideal, but they are heavy and bulky.


The area on the in­side of the an­kle takes a ham­mer­ing and rapidly wears out from be­ing scuffed with boots, cram­pons, rocks and un­der­growth. Look for an ex­tra panel of ma­te­rial here if you are go­ing to be re­ally ham­mer­ing this area on moun­tain walks.


In gen­eral, higher-priced overtrousers use more breath­able 3-layer lam­i­nated fab­rics, which will re­duce the like­li­hood of con­den­sa­tion form­ing on the in­side of the fab­ric. Mesh lin­ings im­prove com­fort, as any con­den­sa­tion is held away from the body, but such lin­ings make a trouser heavy and can snag when you are putting the trousers on over boots. A lightweight trouser may use 2-layer or 2.5-layer fab­rics that tend to show con­den­sa­tion a lit­tle more.


Overtrousers can of­ten be baggy, but if the knees are ar­tic­u­lated they can be de­signed to fit a lit­tle closer. Look for a seam around the knee area and a slightly an­gled shape in the leg if you want a closer fit. The calf may have some Velcro tab ad­just­ment so it can be tight­ened down a lit­tle and there may be a draw­cord, Velcro tab or press stud at the an­kle cuff. Some trousers come in a choice of leg lengths.


Even the best wa­ter­proof and breath­able fab­rics al­low con­den­sa­tion to form, so it is im­por­tant that you can in­crease ven­ti­la­tion be­tween show­ers. A trouser with long side zips and two or three zip pulls will al­low ex­tra ven­ti­la­tion at the calf, knee or hip.

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