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Black Diamond Alpine Softshell Pants review: do-it-all functionality

These hiking pants combine lightweight breathability with four way stretch and just enough weather protection for variable spring and fall days on the trail or crag

Black Diamond Alpine Softshell pants
(Image: © Black Diamond)

Our Verdict

These stylish hiking pants will earn the top spot in your closet for their lightweight breathability paired with flattering functionality

For

  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • Four way stretch
  • DWR finish and fast drying
  • Adjustable belt and ankle hems
  • Four zipped pockets

Against

  • Not waterproof
  • Not insulated
  • No zipped vents

Black Diamond Alpine Softshell Pants: first impressions 

These are some of the best hiking pants for do-it-all functionality with impressive light weight material, breathability for warm days, DWR finish for blustery weather and four way stretch for scrambling and climbing.

Featuring a slim, drainpipe fit, the built-in adjustable belt and adjustable hems means you can adapt them to your body, while the extra stretch ensures they won’t rub or get in the way when you meet a steep slope.

Two concealed zip hand pockets, one exposed zip rear pocket and one exposed zip right thigh pocket offer plenty of storage for keys and cards, though none is really big enough for a map.

These pants are ideal when you’re working up a sweat with superior breathability, and the water repellent finish holds up in light rain. Besides, they’re extremely quick drying so they make for a valid option in wet weather and easily keep a cold wind at bay.

Finally, these pants come at a reasonable price too!

Specifications

• RRP: $72 (US) / £99 (UK)
• Sizes available: Men’s and Women’s XS-XL (XS women’s only)
Gender specification: Men’s and women’s specific fit available
• Materials: Four way stretch with DWR finish nylon (88%), Elastane (12%)
• Colors:  Smoke, Granite, Sergeant, Red Oxide
Weight: 12.3 oz / 350g
• Best use: Hiking, camping, climbing

Black Diamond Alpine Softshell Pants: on the trails 

Black Diamond Alpine Softshell pants

Featuring a slim, drainpipe fit, the built-in adjustable belt and adjustable hems means you can adapt them to your body, while the extra stretch ensures they won’t rub or get in the way when you meet a steep slope (Image credit: Black Diamond)

Given my previous experiences with Black Diamond gear, my expectations were high for these pants and I’m pleased to say I haven’t been disappointed.

When I first pulled them on, however, I was surprised to find that while rest of them fit perfectly, the waist was quite loose on me. But handily, they come with a built-in belt and I was happy to find that this really does the trick in terms of making them fit properly and they still manage not to be bunched up around the crotch area. I was worried the belt wouldn’t be comfortable but it doesn’t dig in around my waist at all.

They’re slim fitting and stylish on and the leg might run a fraction long, but with more of a drainpipe fit and adjustable ankle hems, it’s really no problem, and better than too short. They feel really good on – they’re very lightweight and extremely stretchy, so while they’re good for hiking, you also have the range of motion to go climbing in these.

They have ample pockets for my needs – four zipped pockets in total – though if you like to carry anything larger like a map in your pockets then you might be looking for more storage.

I’ve worn them up steep descents on warmer fall days and found the breathability is excellent and more recently, I had them on for a fairly spectacular downpour. I was impressed by how long they hold off the rain, and while they did eventually soak through above the knees, by the time I drove back home and picked up some groceries, they were bone dry again, so I’d definitely choose these over waterproof pants personally. As lightweight as they are, they definitely keep the wind off better than a pair of hiking leggings too.

Overall, these have become some of my favorite hiking pants for spring through fall and even mild winter days.

Here’s how they performed:

Sizing

True to size. Don’t be alarmed if the waist seems too big, the adjustable belt works great, and the slightly longer legs don’t matter with the fit. 

Fit

These are slim, straight leg fit with good stretch, and I find them to be really flattering on. 

Comfort 

Super comfortable thanks to a barely there lightweight feel, loads of stretch, seat gusset and because the waist is cinched by a belt rather than being elasticated, no annoying rub. 

Temperature regulation 

These will keep you cool when you’re warm enough to break a sweat, even without any zipped vents, and though they’re not insulated, they keep the wind off nicely on chillier days. 

Breathability 

Top marks for breathability. In fact, because they dry so quickly, I prefer these over waterproof pants that might not breathe as well. 

Durability 

Nice sturdy fabric and construction, so far I don’t see any evidence of wear and tear though they might not hold up against the most abrasive rock surfaces. My only concern would be the belt breaking since that’s necessary to keep them up. 

Here’s where we tested the Black Diamond Alpine Softshell Pants: 

The Whangie is an unusual-looking rock feature in the Kilpatrick Hills, and boasts wonderful views towards Loch Lomond, the Highlands and the Campsies.

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.