With a very reasonable mid-range price tag and good build quality The North Face Dragline Bib Trousers are a capable and practical piece of ski wear. With no fewer than six pockets your biggest problem will be remembering where you put things. Buy them in the limited edition Cole Navin version and you’ll be sure to stand out on the slopes.
Good build quality
Bib style keeps snow out
Lots of pockets
Loud colors won’t be for everyone
Some pockets only secured by Velcro
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The North Face Dragline Bib Trousers: first impressions
The North Face Dragline Bib Trousers are not an easy set of bibs to ignore. Bright blue with mountain scene designs and newspaper headlines strewn all over them, they’re not for anyone who wants to blend in with the crowd. But if you like to stand out, they’re easily up there with the best men’s ski pants.
• List price: $325 (US) / £300 (UK)
• Waterproofing: DryVent 3L shell
• Insulation: None
• Sizes: XS / S / M / L / XL / XXL
• Colors: Norse Blue Cole Navin Never A Face Print / Red-Cordovan
• Compatibility: All mountain
Once I’d got over their garish appearance and started exploring them properly I was impressed by the rugged feel of the fabric and most of all by the huge amount of storage supplied by no fewer than six pockets.
The special edition I tried was designed by pro-snowboarder Cole Navin. For those who find them too in-your-face Dragline bibs also come in a bright red version – although even that’s still fairly vivid.
The North Face have been producing dependable, well-featured ski gear for a long time and the Dragline Bibs continue this tradition, with excellent built quality and an attention to detail.
Why buy a pair of bibs? Their high front help keeps snow from getting under your jacket hem and into your mid layers. This is particularly useful if you frequently bomb through powder, where a fall can leave you covered in the white stuff. The extra coverage increases warmth as well, and the suspenders ensure a fit that never slips.
That said, for most resort skiers bibs are overkill and a solid pair of ski pants will do the job just as well 99% of the time. These North Face bibs make the most of their extra material to cram in plenty of pockets. You get two zippered chest pockets that are perfect for stowing small valuables such as credit cards or car keys. Zippered hip pockets are in the right spot for phone, wallet and tissues. Meanwhile two deep thigh pockets offer storage for larger items. These are only secured by Velcro though, so don’t put anything in there you absolutely cannot afford to lose.
Weatherproofing is good and neither wind nor water is likely to cut through the three-layer fabric – which is PFC free and partly made from recycled materials (see also: What is two-layer and three-layer construction in waterproof jackets?).
The cut is on the generous side, which will appeal to freeriders and boarders.
The North Face Dragline Bib Trousers: on the slopes
I wore the North Face Dragline bibs over a two-week trip to the French Alps, and later in the season at Glenshee back home in Scotland. The eye-popping design certainly makes you stand out from the crowd. Being seen on the slopes is important for safety, though, so bright colors are to be encouraged. I paired the North Face Dragline with a solid-color ski jacket and thought I looked quite dashing.
The high coverage of the bibs provides extra weather and wind protection, and helps keep you dry if powder makes its way into your jacket. On sunny days I was able to take my jacket off while sitting outside at lunchtime and the Dragline bibs combined with a mid layer kept me warm enough.
The suspenders are easy to adjust and there is also an integrated belt to tighten them at the waist. One downside is if you go to the bathroom you need to zip all the way down from the top of the chest in order to do the necessary. On a cold day I made the error of wearing my mid layers over the bibs, requiring me do undo four zips before I could get down to business. A separate fly would be a useful feature.
Two zippered chest pockets and a pair of zippered hand pockets offer secure storage while larger cargo pockets provide even more room to stash stuff. Inner thigh vents allow you to keep cool during spring skiing.
Articulated knees help with freedom of movement and there are reinforced patches around the ankles to protect from sharp ski edges. The Draglines also come with the option of short, medium and long inseam lengths, which means everyone should be able to get a pair that fits them.
Jack McKeown is a Scottish journalist, hiker, skier, runner and beach volleyball player. Having walked many of Scotland’s long distance trails, last year saw him tackle his first ultramarathon. He lives in Dundee and in his spare time Jack and his golden retriever Bracken are often to be found exploring the mountains, forests, lochs and rivers of Highland Perthshire.
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