If there's one thing that dampens a good adventure, it's wearing the wrong clothing. One important piece of any outdoor ensemble is a solid pair of pants. There's a few different characteristics that go into choosing the right pants. You must think about the mobility they offer, the protection they supply, the breathability they provide and the durability they possess. Today we have many options in pants. While jeans may be good for durability and protection, they are horrible for breathability or mobility. Oppositely, athletic shorts are fantastic in mobility and breathability yet provide no protection and the lightweight material normally isn't very durable. However, with the introduction of newer materials, the middle ground between all these characteristics has grown significantly. While most older outdoor trousers used to be made for durability and longevity, that long life and level of protection can now be achieved with a thinner more breathable material. One such material is Tweave Durastretch, a thin soft-shell material with four-way stretch and a DWR (durable water repellant) finish. Still fairly new to the clothing scene, Tweave has been incorporated into the most top of the line garments that used to need a thick soft-shell material but now get the desired effect from a thinner material. Today, I will be covering one of those garments brought to us from the bright minds at Beyond Clothing.
The Beyond Clothing Rig Light Backcountry Pant is more than just a mouthful to say, it is a specially designed garment built with the modern adventurer-athlete in mind. I've been able to wear these for the past year through a wide range of weather conditions and environments and I am extremely pleased. Let's start off with the construction. The Rig Light pants are made of the above mentioned Tweave material and gives the pants water repellent properties. The Tweave also does a great job blocking wind as well. The stitching holding these pants together is top notch. Every seam and stitch is expertly placed and secured. You won't see any shoddy sewing on these pants. Just another benefit of employing skilled Americans who actually want to work. Most every seam that will experience some load bearing is double stitched to reduce the risk of blowouts. The gusseted crotch will enable more natural movements like climbing and stretching to reach a ledge. Want to contort into a pretzel? I'm sure the gusseted crotch will help as well. The fly is a double YKK zipper with one pull at the top of the fly and another at the bottom. This allow you to unzip the fly from the top down to remove the pants or from the bottom up to, well, do your business when you have a big gun belt or climbing harness on. All the other zippers are YKK as well. The only button on the pant is on a nylon bar tape which means no little threads holding your pants closed. The only way this would fail is if the button itself snapped in half which is unlikely, at least I've never snapped a button in half.
This pant has more features than you realize at first glance. Starting at the top, inside the waistband are suspender loops if you prefer to wear suspenders. The two back pockets are zippered and internal which means low profile and more comfortable to sit on. The website posts an image of a metal zipper pull on the back pockets but mine came with a fabric zipper pull. While a fabric pull is more comfortable to sit on, it could come unraveled so I would recommend tightening it down a lot. The side cargo pockets are have no indicators on the outside with the exception of the flap that covers and protects the zippered opening. These definitely don't look like traditional cargo pants. The flap is stitched down on both ends to ensure it stays closed to prevent water from entering the zipper. Don't worry though, the Tweave allows you to stretch that flap out of the way to reach the items in your pocket. The zipper pull on the cargo pockets have a fabric pull with a heat-shrunk rubbery wrap which allows each operation while wearing big gloves. Two hand pockets are placed where they normally are on pants so you can warm up your hands using the heat from your legs if you get cold. The lining of each pocket is comprised of soft mesh to aid in draining of water and sand/dirt. Moving down the pant, the knees are gusseted which means you can bend your knee fully without feeling any resistance from the garment. Inside the knees are mesh kneepad pockets which will accept a wide range of inserts to provide knee protection. I've used Crye Precision's AirFlex inserts in them but they will accept most universal kneepads. Down at the hem of the pant, an integrated ankle gaiter will keep out snow and debris. It is adjustable using internal shock cord to cinch around your shoes.
The first true test I performed on these pants was our hike up Old Rag, you can see the write-up here. Between ascending steps, climbing giant granite boulders and shimmying through spaces barely big enough for me, these pants got A LOT of use. The weather was warm that day and while I did sweat, I feel like I sweated a lot less in these than I would've in ordinary canvas or ripstop pants. I really could've used the ankle gaiters to turn these into shorts by moving the hem up my leg and cinching but I never felt the need to. I was truly impressed at how well the Tweave material held up against the rough, sharp granite. There was a few times where I would scoot down a rock or slope on my butt, using my hands to help. After all that, the material still looks new, even after getting caught on a few protruding sticks and getting driven into the dirt when kneeling. This material is the real deal. What I think helped the most was the four way stretch of the pants. Many times I found myself feeling like Jean Claude Van-Damme trying to reach different footholds and ledges. I would imagine that this is the allure of yoga pants, staying covered and having a complete range of motion. My mobility that day was only limited by my inflexibility. I have quickly marked these as my go to pants for any sort of hiking or climbing.
Another test I put them through was to see how well they did when carrying a heavy pack for a while, sort of a backpacking scenario. I took a 45 lb pack 5 miles while wearing the Rig Light pants with a sturdy belt. I knew what to expect with the mobility and I once again was pleased that I could move however I wanted. When hauling a substantial load, the less I have to worry about the better and these pants came through. They breathed very well but after a certain point, anyone would sweat, even in shorts. I have also worn these around in temperatures from the mid 20s all the way to 110 degrees. In colder weather, I would recommend layering these over a base layer of some sort because while they are wind resistant, they have no insulation, hence the "light" in their name. However, the Rig Lights work phenomenally in warm weather because their so, well, light.
The Rig Light Backcountry pants have quickly become one of my favorites for almost any outdoor activity. I can rest assured knowing they will be able to stand up to any task I throw at them. These pants are currently available from Beyond Clothing and come in Coyote and the Orion Design Group Lupus pattern, which is a great camo and Beyond currently is the only apparel with this pattern. I encourage you to check out the American made Beyond Clothing Rig Light Backcountry pants if you need some new trousers to wear on your adventures.
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