There was a time when I thought that lined pants were only for use by ranchers in desolate, frozen places like the Dakotas. It turns out you don’t get much familiarity with these things growing up in Southern California with little excuse to leave the endless sunshine. When I moved up to the Pacific Northwest, I understood. It gets very cold, but you want to be outside just as badly. The right clothes for the temps can make outdoors activity not just possible, but enticing. The Mountain Hardwear Basin Lined Pants aim to meet those cold weather demands, while specifically catering the needs of rock climbers, so I was excited to test and review them.
Mountain Hardwear Basin Lined Pants Features:
- Durable nylon Basin fabric with a warm brushed liner on the inside
- PFC-free DWR finish
- Belt loop waist with snap-button closure and zippered fly
- Two front hand pockets
- Two drop in back pockets with single secure zip pocket
- Seat gusset construction and articulated knees for ample mobility
- MSRP: $95
Insulation for Stone Dancers
I’ve been rock climbing for well over a decade now. It’s the outdoor activity I lean into most. I spend my Summers chasing long, high-alpine trad lines, and spend the shoulder seasons seeking out good weather anywhere I can find it. Along the way, I inevitably decimate my clothing by constant abrasion and hard wearing, so I’m always keen on picking up a new pair of climbing pants. With the Basin Lined Pant being a cold-focused adaptation of a respected classic, I was interested to put these pants to the test.
From the first time I got out climbing in them, it was clear to me that mobility was a real strength of these pants. I have no trouble matching my feet on handholds and spanning wide for big stemming moves. The only limitation to range of motion lies with my hip flexors… and I’m working on that. The gusseted crotch makes those wide spreads easy and comfortable, while the articulated knees leave high steps completely unimpeded. The Basin’s design works for the purpose, and the stretchy fabric Mountain Hardwear chose for the pant only improves it.
Material and build quality of the pants are good overall, though they don’t come without their misses. While all the seams have proven their sturdiness in testing, the pants had dag threads in several spots straight from the packaging. Still, they have stood up to abuse on the rock without consequence thus far. The shell material is a real win for its stretchiness and breathability, but the DWR treatment it was given was gone in within a couple weeks. While it was a nice perk initially, I’m not convinced the DWR was necessary in the first place. As rock climbers, we avoid falling water, right? I won’t be refreshing it.
The insulating mesh liner of the Basin Lined pant is its real defining feature. The liner doesn’t hinder mobility at all, and it breathes impressively well. The insulation runs down the front of the leg just beyond the knee, and down the back of the leg just above the knee. The result of this front-to-back asymmetry is unhindered leg movement, better breathability behind the knee, and easier cuff rolling (which I always do so that I have better visibility into foot holds). One strange thing about the liner’s placement is that it’s present even at the crotch. The crotch should not be insulated. It’s a ubiquitous truth that the crotch runs hot. True to form, these pants can get a little warm in the crotch with heavy activity.
During light activity though (which I find rock climbing to be most of the time), the insulation level is just right. Outside of the occasional overheat in the nether regions, the pants really don’t get boggy, which I was initially worried about. Whether the activity is light hiking, eeking up techy slab, powering through overhangs, or just taking a phone call outside, the Basin has kept me comfortably warm when it’s cold out. As a result, I’ve found myself wearing them quite a lot this Fall and Winter. They’re too comfortable not to choose.
They also have some well thought out pockets. The two main side pockets are easily accessible while wearing a harness, which is key. There are also two rear pockets, one open and one zippered, as well as a small zippered side pocket about mid-thigh height for a key or goo. I find zippered pockets to be a critical feature for climbing pants – you can’t trust some things to an open pocket when you’re working through horizontal overhangs. The Basin’s pocket setup met my demands perfectly. I wouldn’t change anything about it.
Fit: I’m 5’11” and a lean 165 pounds. I usually wear pants with a 31” waist and 32” inseam. I tested the 31” here and found it to be true sizing and a natural fit. There were no overly tight or overly loose areas in the pants for me.
- Cut and material allow for unimpeded movement and flexibility
- Warm, but breathable
- Comfortable for a variety of activities
- Well-considered pocket configuration
- DWR doesn’t last long, and might not be necessary
- Crotch shouldn’t be insulated, and can overheat
The Bottom Line: Mountain Hardwear Basin Lined Pants
Though initially skeptical, I’m sold on lined climbing pants. The Basin Lined Pant offers exceptional mobility, thoughtful design, and a good balance between warmth and breathability. They’re almost everything I would ask for in a cold-season climbing pant. I just wish they didn’t insulate the crotch.
Buy Now: Available from Moosejaw