Backcountry skiers are like the leg-shavin’ XC mountain bike racers who count every gram, drill out every part, swap out all steel bolts for titanium ones and shave their legs too. Every gram counts whether you are pedaling or skinning uphill. Regardless of lightweight gear or not, I’m always the last one up the skintrack. I just like to take things slow and steady, but can still appreciate the weight savings.
With so much high-quality, lightweight backcountry gear these days, there’s a myriad of choices. Dynafit or Fritschi? Foam or bamboo core? Full-size or mid-size shovel? Carbon fiber or aluminum probe? The list is endless. Lets talk about an all-new piece of gear that not only can help reduce weight, but can also help keep your cool on those long skintracks: the Sierra Designs Mantra Pants.
About the Sierra Designs Mantra Pants
I’m a big fan of Sierra Designs clothing and equipment. Their tents have long been recognized as some of the best in the industry. And, their bombproof outerwear is not only highly-functional, but it’s priced well below other high-end competitors–I like that. They are also pushing the use of green materials in many of their designs. I featured the Sierra Designs Cyclone Eco Jacket from Outdoor Retailer in January 2008. This is a jacket entirely made from recycled materials and PVC and solvent-free seam tape and liner.
Along those same lines, the all-new Sierra Designs Mantra Pants do have one foot in the “green zone” with their use of PVC-free seam tape and solvent-free laminate. That’s a great first step and I’m sure Sierra Designs will continue to push sustainable products throughout their line.
The Mantra Pants are lightweight and efficient winter pants that are great for backcountry skiing, snowshoeing or climbing. Here are a few more details on the new Sierra Designs Mantra Pants:
- Drizone 3L waterproof/breathable fabric (solvent free laminate)
- Fully taped, PVC-free seams
- Ykk Aquaguard zippers
- 16.5” mesh thigh vents with 2 way zippers
- 12” ankle zipper
- Articulated knees
- Integrated gaiters
- MSRP $179.95 (Available August 1, 2008 at retailers)
Sierra Designs Mantra Pants Review
I’ve had the Mantra Pants now for a couple of months and have used them exclusively during that time. They are definitely lightweight and I found that the hard way on a storm day at Alta–I was a wee bit chilly. But, for backcountry skiing and warmer days, they are a great choice.
These pants are minimalist in design. No fancy frills on these pants… just enough to cover the basics. Waterproof zippers access two front pockets and two side vents to save weight by eliminating the need for a flap to cover the zipper. The gaiters are nice and do a great job of keeping the snow on the outside–those little grippy rubber cuffs crab onto my boots like magnets.
The Drizone fabric is very thin for being 3-layers, but still has just enough to it so you’re not worried about it ripping or tearing. I’ve proven that to be the case with multiple bushwhack exits while backcountry skiing. They have taken a pretty good beating and the only signs of wear are a few surface marks from low-lying scrub oak branches.
The fit is definitely athletic and slim with just enough fabric to remain comfortable during the full range of motion backcountry skiing. The articulated knees also do a great job of making these pants more comfortable as well. I did find, however, that while skinning uphill, I had to unzip the side zips a few inches–even if I wasn’t in need of ventilation. Maybe it’s just my monster thighs, but the pants felt a bit snug at times unless I unzipped.
The only other minor changes I’d make are: 1) the webbing belt included with the size Large I tested just barely fit my size 34 waist… just needs an extra inch or two, 2) I’d suggest a full inner-leg reinforcement to prevent ski cuts, and 3) the back waistband could come up just a little taller to prevent plumber’s crack. None of these issues should be dealbreakers.
The Bottom Line on the Sierra Designs Mantra Pants
Sierra Designs delivers again with a solid product at a respectable price–budget-minded backcountry travelers can rejoice! The Mantra Pants are a great choice for lightweight winter backcountry activities where weight and efficient travel are desired. They are surprisingly-durable and have stood up to repeated abuse. They are waterproof and offer excellent ventilation.
Buy Now: Visit SierraDesigns.com