The Mountain Equipment Epic Touring Pants certainly have a name to live up to and I was excited to try out a pair. Unfortunately the epic touring that they’re intended for hasn’t happened yet this year (come on, snow!) but they have had a few outings of the lift-served variety and a bit of chilly scrambling and hiking too.
The pants are a well-designed mix of ME’s own Exolite II stretch softshell fabric and Gore Windstopper in more vulnerable areas (thighs, knees and bum). This combination is ideal, keeping the pants much warmer and more weatherproof than if just Exolite II was used, whilst staying very breathable, as Windstopper can often get quite sweaty. Combined with the thigh vents you have a great pant for both the uphill and the downhill. Warmth can easily be varied dependent on weather conditions by layering with thinner or thicker leggings.
Technical features on the pants are well thought out, with the pockets being accessible even whilst wearing a harness. The waist closure is a double snap and a belt – this is very secure but possibly a little OTT – I may well remove the belt as the pants fit well without it. There are loops to attach braces if you wanted – personally I can’t stand them!!The cut is great, high enough to avoid snow down your back or the pants slipping down, but not so high that they feel restrictive.
The lower legs have long zips with an extra flap of material inside. These are big enough to go over ski boots (even when your boots are open, with a bit of fiddling), but tight enough for the sticky elastic to effectively seal out the snow (there is no internal gaiter). One of the main problems with any ski pants is that the cuffs are often too large to be used over hiking or mountaineering boots. Mountain Equipment have solved this with this extra-long zip, meaning the bottom of the leg can become quite small when zipped up. I’ve used these effectively over mountaineering boots, proving the pants as a great all-rounder not just restricted to ski touring. A velcro closure is also provided to tighten them further – personally I haven’t needed this and it proves one of the only two things I would change about the pants as the unused velcro just collects snow on it – this is hardly a huge problem though!
The only other thing I would add if possible would be the addition of a thigh pocket or two, although if it was a colder day that you weren’t planning on using the vents, a chocolate or cereal bar would easily fit into these as a makeshift pocket.
All in all, the Epic Touring Pants are a fantastic choice for all round mountain use, tailored to ski touring yet versatile enough to be used for mountaineering and winter hiking too.