Excellent, highly breathable and robust wind- and waterproof overtrousers that perform perfectly in the wettest, wildest conditions. A big investment, but worth it for serious hiking adventures in high-ranging terrain.
Gore-Tex Pro construction for reliable and robust waterproofing
Full-length, two-way side zips
No RECCO reflector
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Haglöfs LIM ZT Shell GTX Pro Pants: first impressions
The price tag of these Haglöfs LIM ZT Shell GTX Pro Pants might make you wince at first glance, but these mega-protective rain pants from high-end Swedish brand Haglöfs are among the best rain pants available. Constructed from Gore-Tex Pro stretch – the toughest type of Gore-Tex out there – they are a hardy and high-performing addition to your adventure wardrobe. Made with mountain challenges in mind, and capable of performing in the most confronting conditions, they are brilliantly designed and robustly constructed. If treated well they should provide many years of solid service.
• List price: £440 (UK) / €490 (EU)
• Gender specificity: Men’s / Women’s
• Materials: Gore-Tex Pro stretch
• Weight (medium): Men’s 510g / 18oz; Women’s 480g / 17oz
• Sizes: S / M / L / XL / XXL
• Colors: Zenith Red / True Black
Completely water- and windproof, the Haglöfs LIM ZT Shell GTX pants laugh in the face of even the most ferocious elements, keeping the wearer warm and dry in the wildest weather imaginable, while remaining impressively breathable.
The material is (as the name suggests) stretchy, and the excellent design also includes a seam-free gusset and pre-bent articulated knees and bum bits to make movement easy.
Generous flight navigator–style thigh pockets on both legs accommodate sheet maps and much more besides, and both pouches close with weatherproof zips. As with the rest of the design, these pockets are carefully placed to avoid getting in the way of a climbing harness.
Full-length side zips make putting the trousers on easy, and also act as vents if you want to get some air to your legs, and enable access to pockets in your under-trousers.
All of the zips on these pants have pull cords that make them easy to use with gloves on. For safety’s sake, there are reflective elements all around these trousers, but they do not contain a RECCO reflector (which some high-end waterproof overpants do). The material used is Blue Sign certified.
Haglöfs LIM ZT Shell GTX Pro Pants: on the trails
I trail tested Haglöfs' LIM ZT Shell GTX Pro Pants on the West Highland Way in Scotland in late October, when I experienced four long days of almost relentless sideways rain. At the end of each day, after I set up a damp camp and crawled into my tent, I thanked these pants from the bottom of my heart as I peeled them off to find my underclothes bone dry. They really are massively impressive at performing their main job: to keep the wearer warm and protect them from wind and rain.
The legs feature full-length, top-quality side zips, which allowed me to quickly and easily pull them on over the top of my undertrousers and boots when the sky began to darken and the heavens opened (as happened constantly on test).
Luckily, once you have them on, they’re so comfortable and breathable that in consistently wet weather – such as I experienced – it makes more sense to keep wearing the LIM ZTs even after the rain wanes and the storm stops, rather than stopping to constantly pull them on and off. Impressively, they are also pretty quiet to walk in, with very little rustling and crinkling while you stride along, unlike some Gore-Tex garments.
Around the waist they are held closed by a couple of poppers, but can be tightened by simply pulling in a couple of Velcro straps. The leg-ends button up tightly around boots, and they synchronize with top-layer jackets in the LIM ZT range, with a storm lock that connects to the back hems.
As noted above, these waterproof pants are a serious investment, but the fabrics employed are highly robust as well as technical, and reinforced panels strategically placed in high abrasion areas such the bottom of the leg will vastly improve the lifespan of these trousers. After my multi-day hike, I just rinsed them off, hung them up to dry, and they looked as good as new. Because they are such a premium product, I wouldn’t wear them on any old drizzly day walking the dog, though – I’d save them for when they’re really required, on substantial treks and mountain missions.
Author of Caving, Canyoning, Coasteering…, a recently released book about all kinds of outdoor adventures around Britain, Pat has spent 20 years pursuing stories involving boots, bikes, boats, beers and bruises. En route he’s canoed Canada’s Yukon River, climbed Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro, skied and mountain biked through the Norwegian Alps, run an ultra across the roof of Mauritius, and set short-lived records for trail-running Australia’s highest peaks and New Zealand’s Great Walks. He’s authored walking guides to Devon and Dorset, and once wrote a whole book about Toilets for Lonely Planet. Follow Pat’s escapades on Strava here and instagram here.