A downpour or steady drizzle. Big drops, little drops. Pelting down from above, blowing in from the side, or lashing from the front. Bad weather can quickly ruin a day on the mountain. But does it really mean you have to get soaked? Not necessarily! Get out your waterproof trousers, pull them on and keep going! Easy as that.
In this article, we’ll explore what you should think about when buying waterproof trousers.
As the old saying goes, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just unsuitable clothes, so in bad weather conditions, you need a reliable outer layer. And that’s just as important for your legs as your upper body. Unlined overtrousers are a kind of hardshell trousers. With flexible cuffs at the waist and long zips on the legs, they fit over other trousers and usually also over thick shoes.
But, not all waterproof trousers are the same. And they’re more than just waterproof. Like a protective shield, they must defy all weather conditions and reliably protect the outdoor enthusiast from wind and rain, which will also prevent them from cooling down. They should also be breathable, quick to put on and take off , and there should be a good balance between pack size, weight and performance.
How do I find the right ones?
With the sheer range of options, even the most die-hard outdoor enthusiasts can be sent into a spin finding the right waterproof trousers. The first thing to consider before you buy is: what will I use waterproof trousers for and what do they need to withstand? There is not ONE pair of waterproof trousers for ALL uses. Short routes or multi-day tours? Showers or downpours? On foot or on the bike? Muddy lowlands or a rocky summit ridge? As with most other functional clothing, the thicker and heavier the trousers, the more robust they are.
Solid mid-range for hiking and biking
Lighter overtrousers such as the Fluid Pants II from Vaude are suitable for day trips in uncertain weather conditions, a forest walk on a rainy day or medium-distance bike rides. For instance, they are long enough for your daily commute and if the sun does come out, they will fit easily into your backpack after work.
The next step up would be 2.5 or 3-layer hardshell trousers. If you are out in the open or on rough rock all day in bad weather conditions, it’s better to choose one of the more robust models. Both versions are windproof and prevent the body from cooling down too much. The waterproof trousers are therefore an ideal addition to an outdoor outfit in stormy weather.
The ambitious mountain adventure
When the ascent starts getting steeper, sooner or later all mountaineers will start to sweat. During strenuous activities, the waterproof trousers must both keep out water from the outside and reliably transport water vapour from the inside to the outside. As well as the breathable material, side ventilation slits ensure a good microclimate. If there isn’t an extra ventilation zip, you can open the ¾- or full-length zip on the leg.
Hardshell waterproof trousers are perfect for tours in extreme altitudes: as it can get cold very quickly or even snow, the hardshell waterproof trousers can also work as an extra protective layer over softshell trousers. On warm, sunny days, they can be worn as an outer insulation layer over long johns when skiing.
Hardshell trousers with braces are suitable for activities that require lots of freedom of movement, such as climbing. Although the models can’t be put on or taken off so quickly, they offer excellent protection against moisture.
Waterproof trousers for all-weather cyclists
Braces are also important for cyclist.: Due to the way you sit on a bike, your bottom and lower back suffer most from adverse weather conditions. Hardshell trousers with braces keep these areas reliably protected. Specialised cycling waterproof trousers also have reinforced inserts in the crotch and on the seat. Reflective elements ensure better visibility when you’re on the road.
Most waterproof trousers have them, but they’re especially important for cyclists: tight cuffs or adjustable hook-and-loop fasteners on the legs, so the fabric doesn’t get caught in the chain.
You can’t do anything without waterproof trousers
Who hasn’t thought many times, oh, it’s only raining a little? It’ll be over soon. But with waterproof trousers, the rule that applies is: don’t procrastinate! Because once your hiking trousers are wet, it’s too late for waterproof trousers. If it rains, it’s going to be an unpleasant day. When it rains hard, water will run off your jacket and soak the sensitive areas.
Another little tip: your waterproof trousers should be a little longer than your trousers underneath. Or, you need to protect the undertrousers against moisture using tight cuffs. If the undertrousers are longer, they’ll get damp and cold will creep up your trouser leg. One way to help is to fold it over the inner trousers so they stay dry.
If you stay indoors, you miss out
Whether you’re in the mountains, on the bike or in the lowlands: in our latitudes, waterproof trousers are essential equipment for every activity. Especially on multi-day tours and at higher altitudes. So, it’s true, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing. Rainy days on the mountain have their own unique charm: while on busy summer days, you might have to wait in line to reach the summit, in bad weather, it’s quiet and peaceful. But when stones are wet, there’s also an increased risk of slipping So, take care of yourself!