If you’re looking for a durable, breathable and high-performing waterproof overtrouser at a competitive price point, the Alpkit Nautilus is certainly a strong contender to keep the rough weather out and keep you comfortable on your next mountain adventure.
Reinforced hem and leg patches
Good hydrostatic head rating
Waterproofing kept rain out
Not as packable as others
No belt / velcro adjustment at waistband
Limited color options
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Alpkit Nautilus: first impressions
Are these Alpkit Nautilus some kind of mythical fantasy? Women’s hiking pants that are midweight, comfortable, close-fitting, reinforced in high-stress areas, yet still breathable and waterproof when it matters…? Surely too good to be true?
Alpkit have delivered with their Nautilus pants – active-wear, three-layer, waterproof trousers that boast technical credentials that rate alongside the very best women’s hiking pants. Wet, windy conditions are seemingly tamed, thanks to the highly waterproof and breathable performance (the Nautilus have a 20,000mm hydrostatic head, and 20,000 MVTR rating).
The extra-tough 70D nylon 6,6 outer fabric, combined with the reinforced hem and ankle patches that protect against crampon and boot scuffs, mean the trousers feel strong enough to be able to survive heavy use. In terms of fit, we found them okay, but people who prefer a waterproof trouser with a bit more “give” might prefer to size up. Movement was relatively easy in the Alpkit Nautilus, thanks to a semi-elasticated waistband, articulated knees, a diamond-shape gusset and an element of stretch. They don’t pack down as small as some superlight waterproofs, but they do resemble proper trousers in their construction, which makes them feel luxurious rather than uncool.
• RRP: $180 (US) / £125 (UK) / €150 (EU)
• Style: Waterproof pants
• Sizes: Short (29in) / Regular (31in) / Long (33in)
• Weight: 420g / 15oz
• Materials: 70D 47% nylon 6,6 / 53% nylon stretch / PU membrane
• Colors: Black
• Compatability: Outdoor use on trails, hillsides and crags
Alpkit Nautilus: on the trails
There are four boxes any waterproof pants must tick to deserve the name: they must be durable, waterproof, breathable and practically indestructible. Frankly, I was skeptical that three-layer waterproof overtrousers priced under £150 could deliver on all of these.
However, during rigorous testing, the Alpkit Nautilus waterproof trousers have survived everything from long arduous mountain approaches, scrambling on granite slabs and leisurely plods through Peak District fields.
Their technical features include Extra tough 70D nylon 6,6 outer fabric – beating even my most trusted, traditional, patched waterproof trousers for their all-day comfort.
Size and fit
The Alpkit Nautilus waterproof trousers come in a regular fit – however, if I was going to be wearing full winter layers (merino long johns, a softshell trouser and a , waterproof overtrouser) – my “go to” size felt a bit too tight and restrictive, even though I could do them up.
As someone with a longer torso and shorter legs, I was pleased to see that Alpkit offer a short, regular, and long leg length, and the shortest length was perfect for my 29-inch legs – they didn’t abruptly end, so when coupled with a higher-profile boot, such as a B1, they still managed to cover my legs adequately.
The fit of these trousers includes a slimmer leg profile, rather than the slightly baggier fit of unisex trousers, which eliminates excess material (and perpetual flapping in strong winds), plus there’s a little bit of give to the fabric for high strides.
There was a popper at the bottom of each leg cuff that struggled to close shut when worn with a chunkier B1 boot / ski boot. I felt the popper strap could have could be made larger to close properly, and a slightly bigger lower leg would actually accommodate for a slightly more flared bottom hem to fit around a winter hiking boot.
The Alpkit Nautilus have articulated knees, which means they won’t wear out as quickly. The reinforced leg patches also help stop the mud from sliding up the inner leg – something I get as a person with feet that tend to pronate – and this also helps minimize the chances of the material catching if worn with crampons.
The reinforced inner legs gave the fabric extra durability so that they felt super comfortable to wear when worn in Scottish mixed conditions. These are waterproofs that felt breathable enough to wear in a number of challenging weather conditions, from breaking through heavy snow on the ground to withstanding gusts of wind and rain.
Made with an extra-tough 70D nylon 6,6 outer fabric for season-after-season use, the Alpkit Nautilus waterproof pants aren’t lightweight, easily packable trousers, but they don’t claim to be that. They are resistant to tears and nicks, though, meaning they’ll hopefully resist any accidental nicks from ice axes and crampons both on the stiffened instep patches. The material also beads well, thanks to a durable PFC-free waterproof treatment.
It’s reassuring when you come across a product like Alpkit Nautilius waterproofs that have been properly designed to keep water out. Every function feels well-considered, including the use of a water-resistant, full-length trouser zip (compatible with wearing boots), while internal storm flaps also help keep out driving squalls.
They use a specially developed three-layer fabric treated with a PFC-free durable water repellent, which is an additional bonus when it comes to considering the sustainability of the garment’s production. The fabric’s construction provides reliable, long-lasting performance, and maximum reassurance for the wearer when confronted with heavy rainy conditions.
Alpkit Nautilus have several features that make them a great overtrouser, including useful adjustable venting options. Using three-quarter length, two-way leg zips means they can easily be pulled on over bigger boots and enable easy venting on more vertical inclines when things start to warm up. The material also has a high breathability rating, so it’s reassuring to know that the thicker material won’t trap in moisture, whilst also keeping the rain out.
Alpkit Nautilus are not the lightest waterproof pants you’ll find, nor do they pack down very small – but they are meant to be pants that perform when the weather is bad. For the sake of carrying a slightly heavier trouser – which will, ultimately, keep you warmer and more comfortable – it’s a great all-weather product.
A former brand ambassador for Merrell and current Ordnance Survey #GetOutside Champion, Jessie Leong’s lifelong outdoor odyssey began with Duke of Edinburgh’s Award walks in the Peak District. This segued into long hill hikes in the Yorkshire Dales, multi-day treks in the Lake District, scrambles in North Wales and adventures scaling alpine pinnacles. When not walking, she can be found rock climbing, wild swimming, cycling, photographing, filmmaking, writing and modelling. Jessie’s most recent claim to fame is playing a Miss World contestant in the 2020 feature film Misbehaviour.