Patagonia Powder Bowl Pants ReviewMarch 5, 2012
- Waterproof and breathable.
- Articulated knees provide for ample movement.
- Well-sealed zippers.
- Durable scuff guards.
- Two-snap waist closure easily pops open.
- Stiff material does not reshape well in tight spots (such as the seat).
- Doesn’t keep warm on cold days without constant movement.
- No roomy pockets for gear extras.
These well-built, waterproof shell pants are best suited for backcountry touring, spring conditions, and skiers who prefer minimal weight, though the lack of insulation will make them are less ideal choice for cold, mid-winter, resort conditions, especially for skiers and snowboarders who get cold easily.
These shell pants are lined with Gore-Tex (which will seal out the wind and wet), but there is no insulation, making them best-suited for warm days, uphill traffic, and skiers who don’t mind shivering a bit when the temperature really plummets (or just double-up on the base layers.).
During the three weeks that I was testing the Patagonia Powder Bowl pants, temperatures ranged from the single digits to the 30s, and I never got too cold because I kept moving while on the hill and had gondola rides to warm up. However, I always felt the cold—while skiing, while sitting on chairlifts, and while resting.
The Gore-Tex material performed as expected—completely waterproof in wet-snow conditions and windproof while moisture to escape. Gore-Tex’s reputation as an outdoor waterproof-breathable material speaks for itself; Patagonia recently partnered with the brand after vetting Gore-Tex’s environmental practices. Gore-Tex is now Bluesign certified for its fabric supply, which is a nice an environmental badge of honor.
The main drawback I found on these pants was the double-snap waist closure, which popped open nearly every time I bent over to buckle my boots and a few times while skiing with deep leg articulation. That was a little surprising. A simple strong Velcro, or a hook-and-loop closure, would easily solve this problem.
In every other aspect, the pants performed well while skinning uphill and while downhill skiing. They have excellent knee articulation on an otherwise regular-fitting pants, but they don’t bulge or look awkward at the knees. The external thigh vents open the pant completely (no mesh holding the material together inside), providing relief on a warm day or sweaty uphill. The zippers are well sealed and have easy-to-grab tabs to quickly pull open and close. And the bottom cuffs are solidly reinforced to prevent scuffing and fraying. The material is a little stiff—for example, it doesn’t reshape well in tight spots (such as the seat)—but there’s no restriction of movement.
While the pockets are fine for credit cards and a goggle bag, you’d be hard-pressed to stuff your hat or gloves in there during a sweaty uphill. (I prefer having one roomy pocket in my backcountry pants so that everything doesn’t have to go in my jacket).