My portfolio of winter pastimes has expanded greatly since the glory days of just snowball fights and knocking over my sister’s snowman. So I needed to find a pair of fourth season britches that could keep up. Enter the Fusion Pant: they’re a full-featured set of function and protection for my lower half that are fitting for almost all of my snowy pursuits.
Comfort and protection are big priorities if I’m going to be wearing these pants for nearly every outdoor activity I undertake for four weather-heavy months. For those who rack up the vertical miles at the ski resort, wearing your winter hiking pants on the slopes can cause you to look like a tight-jean wearing hipster. The Fusion’s relaxed fit will save you from this travesty, but I’d get pants with a trimmer cut if you’re pursuing more aggressive mountaineering; the extra material that bunched up above my gaiters made for a questionable trip hazard that almost sent me face first while traversing across a snowy incline. Although I’d love to put all my self-arrest training to practice, I’d prefer a more impressive storyline than, “I tripped over myself.”
If you prefer to earn your turns, Sierra Design’s three layer waterproof/breathable Tropozone material breathes well enough on its own, but there are also 16” side zips on either leg to really open up the air flow. On the flip side, the pants are impermeable to moisture when all the zips are battened down; even after enduring a three-day deluge of freezing rain in Kings Canyon National Park while visiting the “Nation’s Christmas Tree”, my legs stayed completely dry. Although the pants block moisture and wind well, there’s no insulation, so you’ll want a baselayer if you’re headed to colder climes. However, the cut makes it easy to fit pretty much any layer underneath (like Mountain Hardwear’s Men’s Power Stretch Tights, a previous review item) without feeling ungainly.
The pants have gaiters permanently stitched on the inside of the bottom of the pants, and when hooked into my boot laces, they easily kept snow out during an early season tour near Big Pine in the Eastern Sierras. There’s also about six vertical inches of reinforced material on the inner side of each ankle to protect against cuts from cross-country ski edges and snowshoes, but if you plan on wearing crampons, I’d still recommend sporting knee-high gaiters for protection, as I put a couple of holes right above the guard while crossing a snowfield.
Other features include pockets with waterproof zippers (I stored my cell phone in them without a problem) and lower leg vents that also allow for easy undressing, even over footwear. I’m the sort who usually removes their boots before doffing their britches, but it’s nice to know I have the option.
Bottom Line: If you need something that can handle almost all of your cold weather fun (snowball fights included), it’s tough to beat the various and sundry wintry applications of the Fusion Pant. In my opinion, they’re a good value too.