For a few years I have worn Craghopper Kiwi trousers almost all the time. I am in the lucky position of being able to wear whatever I want most of the time, so I tend to choose clothes that are both practical and I feel comfortable in.
The Kiwi's are great and if you shop around you can pick them up for around £25, rather than the rrp. of £40. They are reasonably wind proof and dry very quickly when wet. However, one problem is that they also get wet very quickly in a shower, or if you brush against something like wet bracken.
If it's really cold I have my Buffalo salopettes, but at anything above freezing they are far too warm. I wanted something that was more water resistant than the Kiwis, but not too warm to wear in Spring and Autumn. Initially I considered the Paramo Cascadas, but decided that these were probably too bulky and heavy for me.
There are a bewildering number of "Mountain Trousers" available at various price points. I made a short list of desirable properties:
- Reasonably windproof and light.
- Water resistant.
- Articulated knees so I could use them for scrambling and climbing.
- Hard wearing - I tend to use my gear a lot and want it to last.
I read numerous reviews and trawled various forums looking for advice. Eventually, I settled on Mammut Base Jumps. They had many positive reviews and are available in a wide range of sizes - I have long legs, so wanted to make sure I didn't end up with something that was too short. However, just when I decided what I wanted, Mammut decided to discontinue the original Base Jump and bring out a new model. No on in the UK had a pair available in my size.
When the new design became available, it was even more expensive than the already expensive old Base Jumps. Luckily, I found out that I could buy Mammut Champs, which are basically the same as the Base Jumps, but more expensive. They were now cheaper than the new range of Base Jumps. I took a deep breath and bought a pair of Champs from V12, who are the main distributor in the UK. The price of £116 was more than I have ever paid for a pair of trousers before.
I was initially very uncertain about paying so much for a pair of trousers. However, having worn them a number of times I am very hapy with them. They are very comfortable and whilst not completely wind proof, the fabric is very breathable so I don't sweat. This makes them great for both walking and cycling. I hate waterproof over trousers and though I have a pair I almost never wear them. The Champs are water resistant to the extent that I don't bother carrying my waterproof over trousers, thus saving some weight. I think that rain heavy enough to soak the Champs would get through over trousers too.
The bottoms are expandable, so the trousers will fit if you are wearing big boots in winter. There are two zip pockets and a single large thigh pocket. The material seems to be durable, time will tell how long it lasts.