Superb hiking pants; breathable, fast drying and with a tapered fit, the VentureLites liberate your legs to take on all manner of terrain
Stretchy fabric for unrestricted movement
Thigh pocket is a little small
Swishing sound when walking
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inov-8 VentureLite Pant: First Impressions
Brand new for summer 2022, the VentureLite range is UK-based inov-8’s first foray into hiking clothing. The award-winning brand from the Lake District are renowned for their excellent footwear and trail running gear. This new venture into hiking apparel has been two years in the making – so, has it been worth the wait? You bet it has!
• List price: £110 (UK)
• Style: Water-resistant hiking pants
• Gender specificity: Men’s and women’s
• Sizes: Men’s XS-XL, women’s 6-16
• Weight (men’s): 380g / 13.4oz
• Materials: Main fabric nylon (90%) and elastane with PFC free DWR (10%)
• Colors: Black graphite and navy
• Compatibility: Hiking, backpacking, scrambling, climbing
Unsurprisingly – considering inov-8’s historic running focus – VentureLite kit is designed for fast and light adventures. Head of clothing and equipment, Helen Stuart, said a key consideration is that the clothing should “include everything you need and nothing you don’t.”
Primed for a spot in the upper echelons of the best hiking pants are the VenturLite Pants. Created with a laser focus on the needs of hikers, they’re designed with protection and warmth top of mind, combined with breathability and comfort. inov-8 employ a recycled, PFC-free DWR finish to ensure water-resistance – crucial in the British hills – while the outer fabric is also highly breathable for those punishing ascents.
There’s also just the right amount of stretch in all the right places. The main 4-way stretch fabric gives pure freedom of movement, perfect for taking on scrambles or when the temptation to run the downhills takes hold. inov-8 were keen to ensure a fit that moves with the body, which is why the Venturelite Pants feature curved, articulated knees.
The back half of the waist is elasticated, doing away with the need for an in-built belt and giving you a lovely fit. The lower leg features an elasticated cuff which, along with a zip, ensures a snug fit with your hiking shoes and makes it easy to put boots on too. You get three secure zippered pockets: two on hip and a smaller one on the thigh.
inov-8 has been striving towards a sustainable future. They believe durable apparel that won’t need to be replaced for many years is key to this. Their main fabrics are STANDARD 100 Oeko-Tex certified, which means they have been independently certified to be free from harmful substances.
On the trails
The aspect that the VentureLites excel in most of all is the freedom of movement they allow. The 4-way stretch, articulated knees and tapered fit all add up to make trousers that are supremely comfortable and move with the wearer. Regardless of whether I was walking, scrambling or running, at no point did I feel hindered in the slightest.
The pants are suitable for year-round wear, though for Baltic winter conditions a fleece-lined option will suit mountaineers better. Nevertheless, they’re fast drying and shed water well thanks to their DWR coating. In really wet conditions, I still supplemented them with my waterproof overtrousers, as the VentureLites aren’t designed to fend off consistent heavy rain. Of course, this is standard for these kind of hiking trousers, so not a criticism. Another plus is that the zippered pockets are easy to open, even with winter gloves on, thanks to their sizeable pull tabs.
It’s hard to pick fault with the VentureLite Pant, but let’s give it a go. The outer fabric creates a swishing sound as you walk – a minor qualm and the kind of thing you won’t really notice once you get into your stride anyway. The other slight annoyance is the size of the opening into the thigh pocket, which is only big enough fit a hand through if you’re coming in at a right angle. It’s quite awkward and tight otherwise.
Alex is a freelance adventure writer and mountain leader with an insatiable passion for the mountains. A Cumbrian born and bred, his native English Lake District has a special place in his heart, though he is at least equally happy in North Wales, the Scottish Highlands or the European Alps. Through his hiking, mountaineering, climbing and trail running adventures, Alex aims to inspire others to get outdoors. He is currently President of the London Mountaineering Club, training to become a winter mountain leader, looking to finally finish bagging all the Wainwright fells of the Lake District and hoping to scale more Alpine 4000ers when circumstances allow. Find out more at www.alexfoxfield.com