These innovative rain pants employ Páramo’s Nikwax Analogy waterproofing, a membrane-free system that means you can dump your overtrousers and simply wear these all day long, whilst remaining confident that even if you get caught in a rainstorm, they’ll keep you consistently dry and comfortable.
Extremely soft and comfortable
Fabric not the most durable
No back or thigh pockets
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Páramo Cascada II Rain Pants: first impressions
The Páramo Cascada II Rain Pants come froma British brand that has always done things differently – from its membrane-free waterproof systems to its reversible wicking baselayer fabrics. The Cascada IIs are a typically innovative solution to the perennial problem of having to pull on rain pants whenever a downpour threatens, thus earning them their place on our list of the best hiking pants.
They are designed to be worn all day, but these aren’t regular hiking pants. They are completely waterproof, being constructed with the Nikwax Analogy directional system. This combines a closely-woven, water-repellent face fabric with a pump liner that pushes water away from the body to keep you dry and comfortable – from both seeping rain and your own sweat (find out more about this in what is hydrostatic head? and breathability ratings explained).
As a result, they’re a little thicker, heavier and bulkier than most trousers – but since you can wear them without needing to carry additional overtrousers, they actually represent a weight saving when it comes to what you’re carrying in your pack. The lined construction also adds a welcome boost of warmth in cool conditions.
And thanks to virtually full-length leg vents, they’re still a viable option for warmer weather too. In terms of other features, they offer zippered hand pockets, plus adjustable ankle cuffs with plastic snaps to cinch in the lower leg, covering all the bases for general hiking and hillwalking.
• RRP: $215 (US)/ £155 (UK)
• Weight: (Men's M) 481g
• Sizes: Men’s XS-XXXL, women’s XS-XXL (short, reg and long leg lengths in men’s and women’s S/M/L sizes)
• Fabric: Nikwax Analogy (PFC-free 100% polyester), guaranteed Fair Trade
Páramo Cascada II Rain Pants: in the field
When we first pulled on the Cascadas, we found they had a slightly static, clingy feel that took a little getting used to. But that aside, they are extremely comfortable – in fact, the polyester fabric and mesh pump liner are super soft and quiet. Though the fabric has no built-in stretch, the cut is also good enough to ensure plentiful freedom of movement. They’re not as close-fitting or stretchy as dedicated climbing or scrambling pants, so they may not perform as well as some rivals on the most technical terrain, but the Cascadas are perfectly suitable for general hiking and hillwalking. We happily yomped all day in them on mountain paths, staying dry even in heavy rain. They’re impressively quick drying too, thanks to that highly effective pump liner that sucks moisture away from your legs. We also appreciated the extended leg vents, which allow you to dump plenty of heat quickly.
We were a little disappointed to note that after a few weeks of use, one of the crotch seams had started to fail – but that may well have been a one-off. We’ve never experienced quality issues with Páramo gear before, which is generally well made (in many cases, by experienced seamstresses working through a longstanding ethical manufacturing partnership with the charitable Miquelina Foundation in Colombia). But that slightly negative experience does hint at the Cascada trousers’ only real drawback for hard use – since polyester is a comparatively less durable fiber than nylon, they are unlikely to resist abrasion as well as tougher pants. As such, we’d be wary of too much contact with sharp rocks and be inclined to avoid heather or gorse unless wearing gaiters. Still, if you spend more time loping along ridges and trails than you do clambering up gullies and over boulders, and don’t attempt to force your way through too much tangled brush and undergrowth, these trousers should perform well. And if you hate having to wear hot, sticky rain pants, you’ll love them (for more on fit and sizing, check out how to choose hiking pants).
An outdoors writer and editor, Matt Jones has been testing kit in the field for nearly a decade. Having worked for both the Ramblers and the Scouts, he knows one or two things about walking and camping, and loves all things adventure, particularly long-distance backpacking, wild camping and climbing mountains – especially in Wales. He’s based in Snowdonia and last year thru-hiked the Cambrian Way, which runs for 298 miles from Cardiff to Conwy, with a total ascent of 73,700 feet – that’s nearly 2½ times the height of Everest. Follow Matt on Instagram and Twitter.