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Mountain Hardwear - Seraction Pants

posted Feb 19, 2014, 8:25 AM by GoOut Project   [ updated Mar 13, 2014, 1:17 AM ]

Constantly searching for the best outdoor gear, Go Out Project first always looks at three fundamental qualities: 1) lightness, 2) minimalism, and 3) versatility. When it comes to performances and "light & fast" style on the mountains, there is no doubt that Mountain Hardwear is one of the leading brands. We have got the chance to test the Seraction Pant, one of Mountain Hardwear's lightest and most minimalistic weather-protective pants. 

Technical Description 

The Seraction pants are waterproof pants designed for mixed, rock, and ice climbing. They use the Dry.Q™ Elite waterproof 
, developed by Mountain Hardwear and their athletes to deliver higher and more prompt breathability during the most demanding climbs. The Seraction Pants feature:
  • Stretch panels on the inner part of the legs and crotch
  • Stretch gusset and back yoke
  • Articulated knees
  • Extra high kick patch for extra protection
  • 1/4-zip hem gusset for leg volume adjustments
  • Full-length side zippers for easy on/off with secure Velcro® closure at waist
  • Adjustable waist with integrated belt for a custom fit
  • Water resistant zippered thigh pocket
Weight: 397g (size M)

Our Test

We tested the Seraction Pants for more than three months during
fall/winter for backcountry skiing/snowboarding, snowshoeing, splitboarding, hiking, and climbing. Given the thinness of their material, we mostly used them in combination with a mid- to high-
weight baselayer (200 g/m2 Merino or Patagonia Capilene 4). We tested them in a variety of weather conditions, but mostly in cold, windy, and snowy days on the mountains.

First Impressions
Some of our first impressions, through the comments of our testers:
  • “Light & fast! These pants are so light, that you feel like you are flying!” 
  • “Very nice pants! They are protective enough and they don't bother me at all, no chafing whatsoever, super comfy!” 
  • “Two sets of zippers on each leg? At first I thought, that's too much! But soon I started to really appreciate this solution. Very convenient when switching between boots/shoes.” 
  • “Finally a hard shell pant that makes me feel free! I always feel like I have maximal freedom of movement!” 
Lightness & Packability
Featherlight: only 397g!
 Among the lightest hard shell pants on the
market, despite having extra large protective pads/insets and full-length zippers. The Seraction Pant can also be folded and packed in a very small volume (about 1L=1000 cm3, see gallery below). The full-length zippers are the bulkiest part of the garment. To save weight there are no gaiters, a solution on which we totally agree, since most of the time you don't really need them! In any case, there are two little loops that can be used to fix the pants to the boots/shoes.

The stretchable inserts running all along the inner part of the legs and crotch and the one placed on the back are a great solution! They effectively enhance freedom of movement and, consequently, the overall comfort. This is something you definitely appreciate, especially when you need to do ample or fast movements, as in climbing, snowboarding, and skiing. The preformed, articulated knees are also very helpful in letting you walk and climb more freely. No chafing anywhere, super comfy!

Fit & Cut
The Seraction Pants are very well designed. Their cut is tapered, a bit more roomy on the thighs to always guarantee ample freedom of movement and tighter toward the ankles, to reduce bulk and to avoid interference with crampons, snowshoes, or boots. Preformed legs are great and functional, since they effectively reduce the resistance perceived every time you flex your legs, which is something we really appreciated in all the activities we tested.  

The Dry.Q™ Elite membrane offers decent breathability, comparable to that of Gore-tex® Active or Gore® Windstopper®, but of course not better than a soft shell. The Seraction pants, however, are still a tad more breathable than other fully laminated garments, thanks to the stretchable panels placed on the inner part of the legs, which are much more air permeable than a membrane.

Weather Protection
The Seraction pants always guarantee full protection against rain,
snow, and wind. The stretchable insets on the inside of the legs and on the back toward the waist are the only weak points, but it's quite unlikely that the water would reach those areas, unless you roll in the snow like a polar bear!

Although the Seraction pants have been specifically designed for climbing, we found them extremely versatile, especially thanks to their very light weight and packability, as well as their high comfort and freedom of movement. They are well suited to all outdoor activities in the snow or rain: great pants for fast climbing and hiking, skiing and snowboarding. The full length zippers and additional 1/4-zip hem gussets for leg volume adjustments ease the operations of taking boots, shoes and pants on and off, therefore increasing the overall versatility of this garment. 

Despite the thinness and lightness of the fabric, after three months of intense use, we didn't notice any sign of wear. The pants are still practically new... just a bit dirtier! Surprisingly, even the DWR treatment, which normally vanishes fairly quickly, is still working
fine, even on the most stressed areas, such as those around the knees. Also the stretchable panels are still functioning well, still preserving their original elasticity. The extra-high kick patches have been of great help in protecting from accidental tear caused by crampons, snowshoes, or boots when walking or climbing.

Our Verdict

The best “light & fast”, weather-protective pants we tested so far! When you need to be fast and performant on snowy terrains or when you need to pass quickly through a storm, forget about any other pants! The Seraction Pants are ultralight, super comfortable, totally weather-protective. The stretchable panels make them a kind of “hybrid” garment, enhancing both freedom of movement and breathability. Their lightness and good stretchability is very much appreciated in all the activities that require fast and ample movements, like climbing, skiing, and snowboarding.

+ Champions of lightness and packability
+ Great weather protection
+ Ample freedom of movement

- In light of minimalism, the thigh pocket seems superfluous 

 Lightness & Packability  10/10
 Comfort    9/10
 Fit & Cut    8/10
 Breathability    8/10
 Weather Protection    9/10
 Versatility    8/10
 Durability    8/10
 Total Score  8.6/10