Extensively tested by mountain guiding group Cairngorm Treks in the Highlands of Scotland throughout Autumn and Winter 2017/18
Trying to find the right pair of outdoor trousers to suit all year round use in Scotland can often be very tricky. There are some great products available but often when you wander away from the main trails and onto rougher ground, they can frequently let you down. This is by either becoming caked in dirt or wearing out quickly, with the latter meaning buying new every season. So when we received the Marmot 'Highland' Pant we had a degree of skepticism relating to whether they would truly live up to the name!
On first view of the product it is noticeable they are more than a simple design, being a fully functional pant with many storage areas… 2 front cargo zippered pockets, two open front hand pockets, and a zippered pocket on the rear. They have robust material reinforcements on the knees, ankles, buttocks, and on the corners of the hand pockets. There are loops for a belt but also an internal drawstring if a belt is not to your liking. Add to this Marmot's M Series SoftShell fabric with a DWR finish and you start to understand why Marmot say, 'The Highland Pant is a functional SoftShell pant with a hard-wearing and highly water repellent face fabric that makes it ideal for any type of back country activity.' Instantly this puts these trousers into the highly innovative bracket, with a large amount of technical features throughout. However, this did split opinion amongst our guides, with some of us usually preferring a less complex approach, wanting trousers that have one job but do this job well, whilst others loved the multi functionality and technical features.
What also split opinion was the choice of colour and feel of the Highland Pant. We received the Forest Night/Caven colour which, if you are a fan of earthy colours they will be an instant hit. Marmot have thought about each personal taste and have included a more low key black version as well as a subtle black/slate colour version. The fit of the pants are a more relaxed comfortable one and are quite wide at the ankles, although these can be narrowed with drawstrings to keep the trousers snug against a boot or tight against the lower leg if wearing approach shoes for example.
They are what we would call a mid-weight trouser of 474 grams in a medium size and although look quite bulky, when worn have a lighter feel and movement with the body is natural due to the incorporated stretch in the fabric. A further brilliant feature is their ability to wick away moisture and dirt. Marmot's M Series SoftShell fabric is truly excellent and easily rivals it's much more expensive competitors that claim to be fully waterproof. In moderate rain and snow moisture is quickly wicked away, and whilst walking through sodden grass and heather they never stay damp for long. Whether on high mountains or lower woodland adventures, they seemed to suit every environment. If you're like us and sometimes find it advantageous to cut down walk time in the valleys by mountain biking in an out the higher hills, they also performed really well, with the ankle cords pulled tight away from any snagging with the bike cranks.
Off path they excel in areas where other products often fail, and this is why we have worn these trousers on nearly every trek over the past months. The reinforced panels mean a brush against thick heather or granite rock of the Cairngorms is of no worries. After 5 months use they remain resilient with little signs of wear. Nothing has been added without reason and it appears that Marmot have spent time and effort to properly research the purpose for this product…fundamentally a hard wearing trouser built for the Highlands. We can imagine during mid-summer they may become a little too heavy and bulky but the Marmot Highland Pant will suit most seasons use. For photographers the extra pockets will be a big hit, allowing lens caps, filters, cloths as well as maps and compass all to be stashed and be in easy reach.
These are definitely going to divide opinion amongst the outdoor community with many people desiring a tighter fitting, simple design for mountain use. However, if travelling off path, scrambling through rock and foliage, and needing a trouser that can take some punishment whilst also being extremely comfortable, then Marmot Highland Pant will tick all the boxes. Without doubt they are a technical trouser offering lots of innovative features throughout but also do the simple things well! Excellent dirt and water repellency means they are also great for multi-day treks. Dare we say they are perfectly built for the Highlands.
Cairngorm Treks is a small family business based in the picturesque village of Tomintoul in the North East region of the Cairngorms National Park. They provide bespoke Mountain Guiding for Single Day Walks and Lightweight Multiday Trekking experiences, including wild camping, in the stunning Cairngorms wilderness and surrounding areas. Whether in the high mountains or lower valleys, their Multiday Treks are equipped with high quality, lightweight camping and trekking gear. They only work with small groups and, whatever your ability, pride themselves on designing your outdoor experience completely to your needs and with professional guidance and expertise. Adventure is waiting...