Helley Hansen Legendary Insaulated Ski Pants - initial review

Started by Optimist, April 20, 2024, 05:11:22 PM

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I wanted a pair of snow pants for snowshoeing. I tend do dislike hard shell material as it feels all sweaty and clammy, but snowpants are handy because when the snow gets sticky it falls off then rather than clumping up and sticking like it does with fuzzy materials. I ended up getting a pair of Helley-Hansen Legendary Insulated Ski Pants.

I've only worn these about a dozen times while snowshoeing and shoveling roofs so I don't have a lot of experience but enough to give some initial impressions.

I like the inner thigh zippers. They do help a lot to ventilate and alleviate the clamminess.

I like the built-in gaiters. Not sure if they'll last forever but they seem to be made out of reasonably tough material. The pants are sized to fit over very large boots but these keep snow out.

It's a little latch in addition to the button (which is separate from the zipper fly). I'm not sure if that's supposed to be for extra adjust ability but it's kinda nice to have a second option to keep them closed in case the button pops off out in the field.

It's got a little bit of insulation, but not a lot.  I think this good for something intended for exercising outdoors. I would adjust the amount of insulation by putting on heavier or lighter long underwear (they are still comfortable with regular boxer briefs). To me they are a little on the warm side for sitting around indoors.

The outside is some Helley Hansen variant of Gortex IIRC. I've never found the claims of Gortex being very breathable to hold up. It's probably a lot better than rubber or PVC, btu it still kinda sucks IMO. When it comes to pants this doesn't bother me as much as with tops. Like I said before the thigh zippers do help.

The material doesn't feel the most flexible. It's not terribly stiff, but I did give it a minor tear already. I was kneeling down while snowshoeing trying to see under some trees, and I stupidly put my knee down on the snow instead of on my snowshoe. This meant My knee sunk several inches before I caught myself on my ski pole. I heard a pop and when I checked at home there were a few popped stitches on the inner liner of the crotch but thankfully not in the shell. Hopefully a couple stitches and fabric glue and it will be all good. Note that this was stretched out past normal kneeling as one knee was well below "surface" level. Also I tend to blow out crotches due to my weird body type, more on this later.

The pockets have zippers, which is nice for keeping stuff in and snow out. I think since these are ones I'm going to be using only for outdoorsy stuff I'm going to keep small basic emergency supplies in them like a compass* and whistle. The zippers also give something to dummy cord things to while still being able to zip them nearly closed. It only has one rear pocket, which is a pet peeve of mine. I've never understood having asymmetrical pockets for seemingly no reason. Like, I understand why in specific circumstances (like a shoulder pad on a shooting jacket) there might be asymmetry but there's no reason for this. Another downside to the pockets is that they appear to be on the outside of the insulation. This means I don't think it will work well for keeping things like cell phones and big lighters warm with body heat. I think it would be better if they had mesh pockets that went through the insulation both for keeping things warm but also as another way to ventilate the pants. That might compromise the total warmth a little bit but barely.

There are also velcro sections on each side which can be used to adjust the fit. This would be handy if you don't have a belt (but it does have belt loops too). I'm not sure if this style or an elastic band would be better.

They seem decently well built, but I think I might have made the wrong decision buying them. This mostly comes down to my weird body type. I have a really hard time keeping pants up. I have a spare tire and basically no butt and hips. I have to wear both a belt and suspenders to keep things up. This meant that when I tried wearing these with just a belt they stayed up but I was freezing my buttcrack off. I tried the suspenders I used to wear with my work pants that hook onto the side of belts. They helped but still sagged in the middle, especially if I tried to hang a water bottle pouch from the belt. I bought an inexpensive pair of tool belt suspenders and this seems to have massively improved the situation but I've only went out with them one time. I think the sagging might also be a reason why I blow crotches out of pants so often. I'm sure part of this sagging problem is because I'm fat, but my skinny bean-pole cousins have the exact same problem as me.

Usually I like to wear bib-overalls and this alleviates a lot of the problems I have with pants. I've been wearing Carharrt and ECWS insulated bibs for many years and have liked them. I got snowshoeing a lot in the winter (like nearly every day some months) and I had been wanting to get a better setup for that. I wanted something lightweight without too much insulation, plus a hard shell that would shed snow but with extra ventilation built in. I was interested in bibs with both a zipper fly and a drop seat for going to the bathroom without having the cold and hassle of stripping stuff off. REI had something that I thought looked perfect, but I wanted to try it on before buying (bibs fit funny) and they were very expensive. By the time I got the money together they had been discontinued.

So in researching an alternative I convinced myself that pants would actually be good. There were a lot more options, it would be easier to drop them to go to the bathroom and then I could hang belt pouches off them and not have to deal with a backpack. Unfortunately I think that was probably a mistake and I should have stuck with bibs. This isn't really Helley Hansen's fault, but my own. I'm going to try to make these work for the next year or two and hopefully I'll get them figured out where they're working well for me.

These were relatively expensive at $200. That sounds like a ton, but ski pants tend to cost quite a bit of money. I talked myself into it since I would use them so much. It looks like they're on sale right now for $150.

For a lot of people I would recommend the military surplus Polartec fleece bib overalls. They are great, and CHEAP. They are light, they are tough, and they are warm and they have the drop seat I was talking about before. I own two pairs.They can actually be a little on the too warm side. They also aren't the greatest in warm, wet, sticky snow. A cheap solution to that would be an inexpensive set of rain pants to pull on overtop of them when that's what the conditions call for. Honestly this is what I probably should have stuck with.

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