The mountaineering world calls again and again for highly technical pants – the OR Cirque, the Mountain Hardwear Chockstone, the North Face’s Chamlang. But why not bibs? Some pants skirt the edges with detachable suspenders, but a full bib just isn’t the mountaineering norm. The North Face Summit Series Pumori Futurelight Bibs commit, leaning into breathability all the way, and executes to the Summit Series standard (which is pretty high).
The North Face Summit Series Pumori Futurelight Bibs Features:
- Breathable-waterproof, seam-sealed FUTURELIGHT™ 3L shell
- High-wear area reinforced with Spectra® ripstop
- Articulated pattern for fit and mobility
- Low-profile bib design with attached, adjustable straps
- Full-length AquaGuard® side zips, bib pocket and thigh pockets (one with internal mesh pocket)
- Elastic back waistband for improved fit
- Adjustable snap tabs at hem
- Integrated stretch gaiters with snap closure
- High-denier hem and instep area for abrasion resistance
- Lower-leg area reinforced with Spectra® ripstop
- MSRP: $600
Let Them Wear Bibs
The reason mountaineers often choose pants over bibs boils down to temperature regulation. Mountaineering is strenuous. You can heat up very quickly when kicking steps in neve, swimming up loose snow slopes, or postholing across summit plateaus. With a bib covering more of your body, you’re more likely to overheat, right? Well, not necessarily.
The beauty of the Summit Series Pumori Futurelight Bib (sheesh, I’m calling them Pumoris from here on) is in their breathability. The big standout feature that I absolutely loved during my testing is the full-length side zipper. I spent numerous days slogging up snow slopes in the sun. My temperature climbed, but when I unzipped from hip to upper ankle, all was well. Glorious breathability all along the legs kept me in check. On those colder, snow-whipping-sideways days, where unzipping down to the floor wasn’t an option, the natural breathability of the Futurelight membrane still did quite well for me.
The Futurelight membrane on the Pumoris also provided very effective waterproofing. In Bellingham, Washington, where I live, the winters are fairly mild. There is plenty of snow in the Cascades, but temperatures don’t just drop and stay low like they do in other North American ranges. In reality, many winter mountaineering trips up here happen at 34 degrees. The Pumoris handled the melt well. Only on two occasions did I get surface saturation at the ankles of the pants, and never once was there any soak-through. Good marks.
Another area of high achievement for these bibs is their mobility. It isn’t that the materials are terribly stretchy; it’s that they’re cut perfectly. The knees are articulated, the crotch is gusseted, and the leg pockets are built partially externally, allowing you to fill them without taking up internal space. As a result, they move wonderfully. The Pumori isn’t explicitly designed for it, but I tested them while splitboarding for a handful of days, and they excelled. Quick, deep movements were a breeze, and I never felt hung up by their fit. From the suspenders to the cuffs, these are a comfortable pair of bibs to move in.
The details of the Pumori bibs are another strength. Each of the three pockets – 2 leg, 1 bib – and the side vents are equipped with quality zippers and easy to grab zipper pulls. The storage is excellent, and both the right leg pocket and the bib pocket have a loop which I found handy for clipping my transceiver. The Pumori’s materials were well-chosen and nicely constructed across the board. In particular, I appreciated the more-than-adequate 100D lower leg material and super-burly 500D internal lining around the boot. These are heavy-duty materials to choose for a weight-focused garment, and they easily stood up to my abuse when crashing through snowy brush.
There is one thing about these bibs’ lower leg that wasn’t great: the integrated gaiters. They only fit one pair of boots I own. The gaiters didn’t fit my modern and fairly-trim La Sportiva Aequilibriums (my go-to mountaineering boot) or my sort-of-bulky Scarpa Inververno hardboots (my choice for very cold outings). They were only tight enough to fit my snowboarding boots, which, for the record, are so wide you can only just zip the bibs over them at all. When wearing the Pumoris with my Aequilibriums, I regularly got snow deposited into my socks. The integrated gaiter just didn’t do anything. Suffice it to say, they’re no replacement for real mountaineering gaiters.
Still, an integrated gaiter really wasn’t necessary for mountaineering bibs aimed at being lightweight and packable. The Pumori’s do alright in terms of weight, but they’re nothing groundbreaking. At about 625 grams by my scale, they’re very comparable to the OR Cirque II and a fair bit heavier than Mountain Hardwear Chockstone. Still, they’re fairly light, and they pack down nicely into a bag a bit larger than a Nalgene bottle. If you ask me though, the heaviest thing about them is their $600 sticker price.
Fit: I’m 5’11”, a lean 170lbs, and have a 32” inseam. I tested the size Medium with a Regular length, and it fit perfectly.
- Waterproofing works well
- Full-length side zippers provide unbeatable ventilation
- They wear comfortably and mobility is good
- Pocket storage is ample and thoughtfully designed
- All zippers and zipper pulls are high quality
- Great packability and decently light
- Integrated gaiters don’t do their job
- Pretty spendy
The Bottom Line: The North Face Summit Series Pumori Futurelight Bibs
These bibs are top of the line, and they’re priced to match. If you’re looking for a high-performing mountaineering bib that’s comfortable to move all day in, great in both the waterproofing and breathability departments, and highly packable, the Pumori is a top-notch option. Just don’t go selling your gaiters. You’ll still need those.
Buy Now: Available at Backcountry.com