Lightweight and Durable Mountain Trousers
Rab Sawtooth Pants
reviewed by Eli Helmuth
When these first arrived in the mail, the package was so small that it seemed they were summer shorts, not a pair of full mountain pants. Being accustomed to thicker and heavyweight trousers for the high peaks, I was skeptical when I pulled these out and the material seemed a bit thin and with a somewhat slick exterior maybe not well suited to the sharp world of the Rockies.
I'm really glad that I was committed to trying them out as it's always good to be proven wrong on first impressions: these pants are the bomb.
I don't particularly like the word bomber when it comes to my anchors, as thoughts of gear exploding doesn't really jive with my climbing world view. But these Sawtooth pants have stood up to more than a year of full-on guide testing which usually destroys all gear well before its expiration.
Wearing these pants for many months of rock and alpine climbing in Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia plus the many local Colorado days of bouldering, multi-pitch guiding, mixed-in with a bit of city (pub) wear was a full-on testing environment. If this pant can stand up to the Amazon and Andes, plus look and perform great throughout the journey, then they are in that elite category of a truly "all-around mountain pant".
Owning these pants makes it easy to decide what to wear when they can do the job in so many environments. Add a pair of coconut warm Meco underwear beneath these and you've got a three season leg system that only needs a shell to go to 20,000' or endure a cold winter day in the northern Rockies.
A big part of what makes these pants so great besides the comfortable and athletic design, is that the Matrix DWS fabric performs perfectly in so many environments. Comfortable against bare skin (briefs recommended), this stretchy material does not have a tear or abrasion despite the many miles of bushwacking, knee bars, pine needles, butt slides, and buses in more than 20o days of wear and a few nights of tent sleeping. No other pant I've worn the last 25 years has come close to this level of durability.
The nature of our mountain travel schedules require that we're often living in one outfit for a week at a time while traveling between the cold, high mountains and tropical climates at the base of these massifs. The Sawtooth's have been my go-to layer on five of these trips in the last year, and with just the addition of the Latok Alpine Pant over and a pair of Meco 120 Base Layer Pants under, I've found that nothing else is necessary for climbing activities up to 22,000' in the Tropics.
Shorts are not really appreciated by the Andean locals so don't confuse their stares with envy of your toned calves. When living in these mostly indigenous cultures, I've found that a full length pant is ideal when in town and around locals, yet when out on the trail it's helpful to be able to ventilate. The drawstring closures on the bottom of these pants make it easy to pull them above the calf and I've found that this is plenty of ventilation when necessary, and as the cloud cover or lateness in the day cools the atmosphere, it's an easy release to transition from knickers to full pant.
These are definitely not the pants I'd take to the cold glaciers of Alaska or the full-on winter of the Rockies or Alps, but for almost every other environment and season, the Sawtooth will stand-up to the elements and hopefully help you stay standing when the going gets tough.
Rab Sawtooth Pants
- 13oz (medium)
- Matrix DWS Fabric: wind, water, and abrasion resistant.
- Athletic fit: At 6', 185#, 34" waist a large fit me perfectly.
- Elastic gauntlet at ankle keeps pants tight over boots or over calf.
- Four pockets: Two hip (front) and two thigh, big enough for a guide's notebook.
- Button and zip fly, belt loops, and lined waistband.
- Articulated knees and reinforced kick patches on inner calf.
RAB Sawtooth Pant Likes
- Super lightweight and very durable fabric that is highly breathable.
- Water resistant and windproof makes for a great high mountain layer.
- Warm and comfortable against the skin in all but very wet environments.
- Fast drying fabric.
- Very comfortable fit with the articulated knees and stretchy fabric perfect for climbing.
RAB Sawtooth Pant Dislikes
- Reinforced crotch stitching could be helpful if you are very flexible or clumsy.
- More color choices would be nice.
©2013 ClimbingLife LLC, All Rights Reserved.