The Canadians have many wonderful things to celebrate. They’ve recently celebrated 150 years of being confederated; they are the second-largest country in the world; and what’s more, they’re home to one of the absolute best outdoor gear manufacturer’s in the world, Westcomb Outerwear. I’ve been abusing their Mojave shorts through the long PNW summer.
Westcomb Mojave Shorts Features:
- Four-way stretch
- Water-resistant (DWR)
- Schoeller Nanosphere fabric treatment
- Schoeller dryskin fabric
- Weight: 7.6oz, medium
- MSRP: $130
Are the perfect shorts out there?
If you haven’t heard of Westcomb, it’s time. They are, without a doubt, one of the best makers of outdoor apparel in the industry today. The have a combination of function-first design that matches the best in the industry, and manufacturing that leads the industry. Each one of their garments is still designed and made in Vancouver, and it really is a step ahead of the competition. You also often pay through the nose, as these shorts retail at $130.
I’ve worn their Recon cargo pants hard going on their fourth year of year-round use and they remain my go-to. They’ve seen Rainier, Baker, Eldorado, Forbidden, Sahale, Glacier and more. They’ve also scraped over sandstone in Utah slot canyons and been tested by crampon points (mostly by accident) in Banff. They are, without a doubt, the best hiking pants you can by. And now we’ve got the similarly-spec’d Mojave shorts. I’m not a fanboy about brands, Westcomb really is just head and shoulders above the rest. That said, how much does this actually show through on a pair of shorts? That remains to be seen.
The Mojaves are a simple, classic design with two hand pockets, a welded and zippered cargo pocket and a zippered rear security pocket. The cut is moderate, never too tight or constricting around the thighs or butt. I’m 5’11” and weigh 180lbs, and the size Large that I tested is a trifle big on me now that I’m in shape for the summer. Fit is controlled via a reliable integrated webbing belt.
The foundation of the shorts is a particular Schoeller fabric, the dryskin textile. Most fabrics are the same on both sides; your standard nylon short has the same tight-knit face on both the inside and the outside. Schoeller’s dryskin are designed particularly for highly active sports. The woven fabric differentiates the fabric into a coarser weave with ‘functional’ fibers on the inside of the garment against the skin, where it can effectively physically transport moisture to the outside of the garment to be whisked away. The outside is a durable polyamide knit which is very tight, snag-resistant and takes a DWR well. The whole fabric also emphasizes light weight and packability, so they’re easy to stuff in a pack.
In practice, the dryskin fabric performs better than I expected. It handles moisture very effectively without feeling like an athletic short; these still feel like durable hiking shorts, but on some hot hikes in the Selkirks I especially noticed how well they regulate temperature. You’re still hot, but it’s often a drier heat down there than it otherwise could be.
Functional details abound throughout the shorts. Perhaps more significant are the extensive use of welded seams to seal in critical areas. You’ll notice this around the cargo pocket and fly especially, where minimal stitching is used. This means that the stitching will not rip out over time or snag against rocks while climbing or bushes on the approach. It also makes the garment feel pretty darn luxe. The welded zipper tracks pull easily and have large, tactile zipper pulls. There’s also no excess fabric near by to snag on, and the pocket liners stay in their places.
Range-of-motion in the shorts is excellent. The fabric has inherent 4-way stretch, so Westcomb didn’t even include a gusseted crotch. Different folks will have different opinions on this; I’m of the opinion that a gusseted crotch increases the garment’s longevity overall, though I suppose the seams do add some bulk. That said, I can’t say that I noticed any restriction while climbing in the shorts.
It’s hard to come up with a critique of these shorts, but I managed one. While bushwhacking, I caught the shorts on a branch and put two small rips into the leg right above the cargo pocket. This says a little something about the fabric: while it’s fantastically breathable and stretchy, I would say that it compromises a bit of surface strength for those qualities. You can imagine a stretchless all-nylon blend just scraping by sharp twigs instead of catching on them, stretching and tearing.
- Incredible stretch and climate control in the Schoeller dryskin fabric
- Thoughtful design leads to great function with no baggage
- All zips slide easily
- Welded seams reduce bulk, add longevity and look rad
- Range of motion is particularly good
- Some issues with the fabric snagging and tearing more easily than I’d like
- No gusset – perhaps Westcomb thinks the 4-way stretch is enough
The Bottom Line: Westcomb Mojave Shorts
I mention how good Westcomb is primarily because they still feel like a bit of a secret. If you care about North American design and manufacturing but don’t want to compromise on odd or kitsch designs, Westcomb is the performance-oriented answer. Their designs are minimalist and highly functional, which describes the best alpine gear today.
Buy Now: Available from Westcomb.com