A good softshell pant is an indispensable tool in winter activities. Whether you’re snowshoeing, nordic skiing, ice climbing or mountaineering it’s important to be able to access the range of motion and protection that softshell fabric has to offer. This winter, my lower-body workhorse has been the Mountain Hardwear Mixaction Pant.
Mountain Hardwear Mixaction Pants Features:
- Harness compatible zip pockets
- Extra high kick patch
- Elastic waist band with integrated belt
- Apparel Fit: Active
- Weight 14.1 oz. / 400 g.
- Inseam Length: 32 in
- MSRP: $190
Mixaction Will Streeeeeetch Your Limits
Adventure is tough on pants. When I think back about my most tattered pieces of gear over the years, pants feature prominently in the ragged selection of patched-up items. Glissades and scrambles can be tough on the butt; big steps have a habit of creating unwanted new ventilation in the groin; hems are scuffed and torn over time. Whether it’s a light nylon hiking pant or hardshell, adventure is tough on pants. Mountain Hardwear’s Mixaction is built to handle a lot of abuse, with a few extra features to keep you comfortable.
The heart of the Mixaction is its wonderfully stretchy softshell fabric – it’s an 85:15 polyester/elastene weave labeled “Airshield” by Hardwear’s marketing gurus. The fabric excels on several fronts: for one thing, it’s quite windproof, which is such an important factor when exposed. This softshell is designed for cold conditions where environmental water will stay frozen; it has a DWR to handle light rain, but its primary function is to block wind while enabling superior breathability. The fabric does this quite well and virtually all of my testing trips bore witness to this.
Another important component is stretch and overall comfort. As I sit here on my couch wearing the Mixactions, I’m reminded of exactly how comfortable they are to wear – the butt is lined with fleece and the bulk of the inner fabric is pleasantly soft and slides easily over long underwear. The pants have full-length gusset, but it’s almost unnecessary – the fabric is tremendously stretchy. As part of testing the pants, I bouldered with them at the local gym and I was very impressed with their range of motion – they’re as good as a summer climbing pant, just with a little more heft.
The Mixaction has plenty of features and most of them are well implemented. For one, the butt panel is sewn with Mountain Hardwear’s Dry.Q Elite waterproof laminate. This is ideal for spring glissading or any time that you’ll need to take a load off in the snow. The pants have a total of four pockets: two hand pockets and two thigh pockets that are accessible with a harness. I have a few complaints about the pockets, dealing largely with the zippers. The thigh pockets can unzip and open unexpectedly if you take a fall or start sliding down the snow – this happened to me several times during my testing and in my mind it’s something that needs to be addressed in future iterations of the pant, possibly by using a locking zipper head. On the other hand, the advantage non-locking head means that it’s a breeze to open the pockets one handed. The hand pockets are uncomfortably shallow, but they’re vented to provide a little airflow when things start heating up.
Further down the pant, there’s a double-weave kickpatch to prevent damage from crampons and to increase overall longevity. The patch goes right up the inner calf and provides a lot of protection – definitely a great design. Additionally, there’s a zippered gusset to open up the volume of the hems to accommodate boots. These locking zips pull easily and don’t creep over the course of the day.
- Top-notch range of motion, good enough to boulder in
- Airshield fabric is windproof, stretchy and comfortable
- Waterproof butt panel becomes indispensable once you’ve used it
- Kick-patch is thoughtfully designed, handled abuse well
- Pockets open too easily
- Mountain Hardwear’s DWR wears off relatively fast
The Bottom Line
It’s a simple call with the Mixaction — these pants are excellent. I’ve run them through the gamut of winter sports and I’m still loving them as the spring season rolls into the Pacific Northwest. Their range-of-motion and overall comfort is phenomenal and the waterproof butt panel becomes a ‘must have’ once you’ve used pants with it. I’d like to see the pocket zippers reworked, but that’s a minor flaw in an otherwise great product.
Buy now: Available from Backcountry.com