Even on the coldest days in the backcountry, uphill skinning can get hot and sweaty. What’s worse is when you reach your destination and realize you’re cold from sweat and your thin shell pants are providing minimal warmth. Needless to say, finding the perfect backcountry pant can be a battle. Mountain Hardwear used their Dry. Q Elite Technology to make the Snowtastic Softshell pants both waterproof and breathable. It’s clear these were designed with backcountry skiing in mind.
The first time I picked up the Snowtastic pants I worried the material might be too heavy for backcountry pursuits. The pants are thick, three layer, softshell material and the interior of the pant have a thin-lined soft fleece—which seemed like it could get warm during skinning. However, these pants impressed me with their breathability. The Dry. Q Elite technology did a fantastic job of expelling heat—to the point where I didn’t need to use the 3/4 length leg zips as often as I expected.
While the edge guards, the long leg vents, and the stretchy, waterproof, softshell material are great features for alpine climbing—I wished the pants had a smaller cuff or a way to tighten the cuff closer around the leg. The flared cuffs look good, but don’t work well for technical climbing in crampons.
These pants run large, so I would recommend sizing down. The 32” inseam was a good length for my height (5’7″) and not too long with ski boots on. The buttons easily snap shut and the velcro adjustments make it easy to personalize the fit around your waist. If that wasn’t enough, the pants offer belt loops and adjustable/removable suspenders. The pants sit high (especially with the suspenders on) and the pants have buttons to snap-in to a powder skirt, so you shouldn’t have to worry about snow or wind on your back.
I quickly lost sight of my issues with the weight once I brought the Snowtastic softshell pants into the backcountry. The fit is great and the durable material performed exceptionally well.
Color: Stone Green (as seen), Ebony Blue
Weight: 1 lb 16 oz
Best used for: backcountry and in-bounds skiing