These light, comfortable softshell pants are versatile enough to wear on most hikes and treks and tough enough to withstand some serious adventures
Stretchy and comfortable
Plenty of secure pockets
No leg vents (though they’re so breathable they’re not needed)
Cuffs aren’t adjustable
Thigh pocket could be deeper
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Arc'teryx Gamma Pant: first impressions
Arc’teryx has set the bar pretty high when it comes to outerwear performance so when a new item comes along we expect it to be a cut above the rest and once again, we weren’t disappointed with these hiking pants. As softshell trousers, the Gamma pants are light, stretchy and breathable enough to sweat away in on a hot summer’s hike, and tough enough to stand up against any scrambling routes. With water and wind resistance, they have enough weather protection for shoulder season hikes and with enough room to haul them on over thermal underwear, you can pair them with rain pants and wear them in winter too.
• Style: Softshell
• List price: $190 / £150
• Gender specification: Men’s and women’s sizing available
• Sizes: Men’s S - XL, Women’s XS - XL
• Materials: Fortius™ DW 2.0 - 88% Nylon, 12% Elastane - bluesign Approved Material
• Weight: 7.7 oz / 220g
• Colors: Serene, Black Forage, Black sapphire
• Best use: Hiking, trekking, rock climbing
A comfortable, adjustable waistband is designed to ride under your harness without chafing if you wear these mountaineering or climbing, and though the new model doesn’t have adjustable cuffs, they’re tapered to avoid catching on your boots as you walk. For stashing your phone and gloves, you’ve got two zipped hip pockets plus a thigh pocket, though for those who like to carry a map or giant phone, the thigh pocket may be too small. For breathable, quick drying comfort with tons of stretch, it's hard to beat these pants, and though they’re more costly than some, we think they’re well-priced compared to similar pants.
Arc'teryx Gamma Pant: in the field
I first wore these pants during the Arc’teryx Alpine Academy in Chamonix, where the weather was surprisingly tropical. Since returning to Scotland, I’ve put them through their paces against cooler temperatures, wind and rain. In a lot of ways, they remind me of my Black Diamond Alpine Softshell Pants, but for one difference: they’re better.
Here’s how they performed:
Sizing and fit
I always wear a US 4 and that’s what I tested and I’d say these were a good fit. They’re designed to be fitted, and mine definitely have a little more room than some other people who were also testing them out at the Alpine Academy. I would say that those people who wore them with a snugger fit definitely looked nicer than I do in mine, but I like the little bit of extra room. It’s more comfortable to sit down in, and it means I can pull these on over thermal leggings in colder weather.
Comfort and flex
The best way I can describe the comfort of these pants is that they have a ‘barely there’ feel. The fabric is quite soft, they’re light and don’t cut in anywhere, so I can wear them all day long without thinking about them. Ideal, really. The waistband is designed to work well with a harness, which is ideal for mountaineering and climbing.
They’re also super stretchy, and I’ve been wearing them for bouldering lately and having no problems whatsoever moving in them.
Breathability and weather protection
These pants don’t have any thigh vents, but even in nearly tropical conditions I haven’t needed them because the fabric is so breathable. They’re great for warmer weather where you want a little leg protection.
They are water resistant, which proved absolutely no match for a rainy Scottish hike recently where I wore them with rain pants on top, but for a light rain they hold out and dry quickly.
Features and durability
I like how easy the waistband is to adjust – just pull a tab to tighten. The pockets are great, including two zipped hip pockets and a thigh pocket that’s big enough for my phone, though not quite big enough for a map. The ankle cuffs aren’t adjustable, though they have two small holes and I’ve absolutely no idea what they are for.
So far, I’ve worn them for scrambling and bouldering and they look as good as new. Given Arc’teryx’s commitment to quality, I expect these to last for a lot of adventures to come.
Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.