I literally gasped when I first put on these pants. They… fit? If you’ve been following my reviews much on this website, you know my enduring struggle to find a decent pair of outdoor pants. They never fit right in both the thighs and the waist. They wear out too quickly. They stretch out after moderate use and become uncomfortable. The list goes on, so I constantly end up settling for a pair of leggings. Queue the Arc’teryx Psiphons. These pants are adjustable (yes!), durable (yes!), and fit my athletic physique (YES!).
Women’s Arc’teryx Psiphon FL Pants Features:
- Weather-resistant fabrics
- Articulated, slim fit design
- Adjustable waist and cuffs
- Harness-compatible zippered pockets
- 9.7 ounces
- MSRP: $179.00
The Psiphon FL Pants Disappear… Really
You may have heard us at Feed the Habit talk about the beauty of a garment that “disappears.” This language indicates that the piece is so beautifully designed, so intuitive, and so easy to use that you simply don’t realize you’re using it at all. The last thing I want is a piece of gear that is inhibitive or distracting.
This is often an issue I’ve encountered with technical pants. They don’t fit right or they stretch out. They leave me constantly adjusting (which happens to be the opposite of “disappearing”).
Then I met the Arcteryx Psiphon FL Pants.
Arc’teryx offers gear that is highly specialized and reveals how attune they are to the demands an outdoorswoman or man may have of their gear. While incorporating helpful features in an unobtrusive fashion, the Psiphon’s boast impressive durability. Similar to the North Face Progressor Pants that I reviewed, the Psiphon’s combine two different textiles to ensure durability is enhanced where needed. On the bum and lower legs you’ll find the Fortius 1.0 softshell fabric, which combines stretch with the abrasion-resistant qualities of softshell material.
Everywhere else is Terratex, which is less durable but also lighter than the Fortius. By combining the two materials, the Psiphon takes the best of both the Fortius and the Terratex to accomplish the fine balance of durable and lightweight.
Now despite the word “shell” in “softshell,” this material is not intended to seal out the wind and rain. Softshell materials function best in moderate weather, or with additional protection, such as a hardshell. That being said, these pants were incredible in a myriad of weather conditions. I spent time climbing outdoors in the PNW January as well as the sunny scapes of the Southwest, all the while wearing these pants comfortably. The material (especially Fortius) boasts mild weather-resistance, both with wind and wet. I wore them in cool weather desert climates and didn’t feel that they were too hot, while also managing a comfortable temperature in the shade as well.
When I reviewed the Progressor Hybrid Tights, I noted that the seams seemed especially vulnerable. Perhaps this was due to the different materials used in the tight, but I didn’t notice this issue at all in the Psiphons. The only seam imperfections I noticed were after a close examination, and in high wear areas (like the bum).
I wore these for about 80% of the outdoor climbs I did over the course of 4 months. That’s 4 months of dragging these pants over limestone, granite, volcanic tuff, and some of the ol’ indoor plastic (just for good measure). The wear shows — but only barely. The Terratex material has a couple of small punctures above the knee from a run-in with a very mature and very sharp agave. But the material has held together well, the seams look unaffected, and the fit continues to astound me.
These pants definitely look like a technical pant, especially in the “smoke” color. But nevertheless, the Psiphons also look good as an outdoor-oriented pant. They are a slim fit with a mid-rise waist, allowing a comfortable fit with easy movement. The gusseted crotch and stretchy materials make movement effortless; these pants will not interfere with your ability to get that high foot while working on your project. However, these pants would not be my first choice to wear straight from the crag to the pub simply because they look so techy.
The cut is slim but not skinny (which contributes to the techy appearance). Sometimes this was annoying to me, as I don’t like the feeling of loose material by my ankles. Elastic in the cuffs allows the pant leg to be cinched down, although not in a particularly attractive way. I would often tighten the elastic then roll up the pant legs when I was climbing. However this looser cut was perfect for wearing with my hiking boots, so I don’t know that I would opt to change it.
But the waistband. Oh the waistband. I could sing songs about how pleased I was to find how well the Psiphons fit. The adjustable waistband allows for a specialized fit that is secure and comfortable. I often find drawstring adjustments will loosen over time, meaning a readjustment as the day goes on. Arc’teryx skips the drawstring and instead opts for a metal buckle. The buckle lays flat, is comfortable under a harness and hipbelt, and stays secure for a full day of adventure.
The pockets are beautifully understated, with zippers that keep all your essentials exactly where you want them. On the Psiphons you’ll find two hand pockets and a thigh pocket that is accessible with a harness. The thigh pocket was especially useful when I was climbing, as I could easily fit my phone in that pocket. I never needed to work around a harness or hip belt to access my items. It goes to show Arc’teyx’s brilliant thoughtfulness in the details of their garments.
- Fantastic fit and adjustable waistband
- Great comfort and movement
- Breathable, weather-resistant
- Comfortable all-day wear, even under a harness for long periods of time
- Loose cuffs were personally uncomfortable while climbing (but fit great over boots)
- Is a bit too technical for everyday wear
The Bottom Line: Arc’teryx Psiphon FL Pants
I haven’t encountered a pant better suited to the activities I love. The Psiphon’s never inhibited my climbing or hiking, and the level of comfort they offer is astounding. The strategic placement of durable material meant these pants were up to the task of scrambling, climbing, scraping, and the general abuse that is inevitably associated with outdoor activity. It also means that they aren’t the sexiest, but that is a very minor aside when weighed against their practical excellence. If I were to recommend a single pair of pants to someone for a variety of outdoor activity, the Arc’teryx Psiphon pants would be at the top of my list.
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