These flattering touring pants let you move freely and do the job when it comes to breathable cold weather protection, but there are a few design quirks that had us scratching our heads
Lightweight and stretchy
Windproof and water-repellent
Ankle zips so you can pull on over your boots
Outer thigh vents
Two thigh pockets
Thigh vents would be better placed on inner thighs
Waist band isn’t adjustable and no belt loops
Thigh pockets are on the front of thighs
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The North Face Dawn Turn Hybrid Trousers: first impressions
Whether you’re venturing into the snowy backcountry in winter or trekking glaciers in the summer months, the Dawn Turn Hybrid ski pants offer both versatility and protection from the elements, though they’re better suited to arid conditions than heavy, wet snow. These medium weight, super stretchy pants are built for ski touring, so they provide plenty of breathability and mobility for sweaty pursuits, but WindWall technology also means you can wear them without thermal underwear in arid conditions and stay comfortable heading both uphill and downhill.
• List price: £250 (women’s £200)
• Gender specification: Men’s and women’s sizing available
• Sizes: Men’s S - XL, Women’s XS - XL
• Materials: Nylon, Polyester, Elastane
• Weight: 17.6 oz / 500 g (women’s small)
• Colors: Optic Blue-TNF Black-Asphalt Grey
• Best use: Ski touring, glacier trekking, mountaineering
Inner gaiters keep the snow out of your boots when you’re hiking through deep snow. Rear zips on the ankles mean you can always access your ski boot mode switch and though the zipped thigh pockets are roomy, we’d prefer them on the outer thighs rather than the front where bulky objects get in the way of hiking. Venting zips let you dump heat on the uphill, but we can’t help but think that these would be more beneficial in the traditional inner thigh locations. They could also use belt loops or an adjustment at the waistband for some users. Bottom line: these pants are really flattering, let you move freely and do the job when it comes to breathable cold weather protection, but there are a few design quirks that had us scratching our heads.
The North Face Dawn Turn Hybrid Trousers: in the field
I received these ski pants all the way back in January and then lo and behold, we had barely a snowflake fall in Scotland this winter which meant I wasn’t able to do any ski touring to test them out. This summer, however, I had the opportunity to go glacier trekking on the Mont Blanc Massif and decided to test them out in those cold, high alpine conditions to see how they held up.
Here’s how they performed:
Sizing and fit
I am a small and I tested a small and these fit true to size. They are slightly roomy, but that's what you want for anything you might layer over thermals. They stay up without a belt, but aren’t too tight around the waist, and though the legs felt slightly too long and flappy, they’re perfect once they’re on over a pair of mountaineering or ski boots. They have a flattering fit that’s snugger around the hips and gets a little wider at the lower leg but plenty of room to wear over thermals, which is just what I want from any pants I’m going to be skiing in.
Breathability and weather protection
I tested these out on a fairly vigorous trek through the snow while wearing crampons and winter hiking boots. It was a summer’s day, but we were also at 11,538 feet and the wind was cold enough that I had to wear gloves and keep my hood up, so I think it was a pretty good simulation of what I’d usually expect ski touring somewhere arid like Colorado. I found these to be breathable enough that the I never needed to unzip the vents, and offered enough wind protection that my legs didn't feel cold.
Speaking of the leg vents, however, I do find it odd that they’ve placed them on the outside of the thighs rather than inside. I don’t know about you, but when I need to dump heat, it’s my inner thighs and groin that are most sweaty.
Also, while they have some water repellency, they’re not waterproof so they’re not ideal for more humid conditions and wet, heavy snow, such as what we usually experience in Scotland, but they’re ample for drier, high alpine jaunts.
Comfort and stretch
These pants are really comfortable to wear and have lots of stretch, which is just what I need when I’m struggling to get crampons or ski boots adjusted, or climbing up a steep slope. They worked well with my mountaineering harness too, with no annoying bunching.
Weight and packability
Because these are designed for ski touring and not downhill skiing, they’re not insulated and therefore are reasonably lightweight. They also roll up to about the same size as my water bottle, which makes them a good choice for traveling.
Features and versatility
Two roomy zipped pockets were ample to hold my phone and map, plus there’s a hidden pocket inside the right pocket where you can stash any small items you don’t want to lose (I used it for the safety guard of my ice pick). The storage is great but the pockets are located on the front of the thigh, rather than the side, and while this wasn’t exactly a problem, I can’t help but think that the more traditional side of the thigh area is more practical when you’re trying to hike or ski. If they moved the thigh vents to where they’re usually positioned, they could move the pockets too.
As for durability, though I haven’t been able to test these out for an entire season, I can say that they help up against my crampon teeth, which is a good testament to their robustness.
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.