Archive for May, 2013

Climbing Pants Review – Outdoor Research Women’s Voodoo Pants

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013
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Outdoor Research Women's Voodoo Pants - Black version

If you’re a climber girl you’ve probably known the pain of finding great climbing pants. I know I have. Sometimes I’d think I’d found the perfect pair only to have them tear or lose their shape. Well, can I tell you how lucky I feel that Outdoor Research sent me the Women’s Voodoo Pants to review?

First off, I loved how they look on. They have a great cut and are flattering. Little details like stitching on the back pockets also help one get away from a look that says “only for outdoors use” to a look that says you can transition to the street too.

Secondly, I loved the feel of the fabric, sort of slick and stretchy in a good way. The articulated knees are a good mobility touch but don’t look too obvious or baggy.

One initial drawback to the pants was that I had requested the wrong size. I have a hard time with pants so went with what I thought was my “normal” size. I had to go one size smaller to get the pants to fit in the waist. I almost didn’t request a replacement though, because I liked the fit elsewhere and felt I could still wear the pants if I wore thick long underwear under them and/or a belt. In the end I did request the smaller size though and was happy to find it fit my waist better and still looked good elsewhere (though of course it was smaller all over).

Once I got to really using the pants is when I really started to love them.

I just got back from a trip to Idyllwild, home of Tahquitz and Suicide Rocks (old school granite climbing). I wore the pants in the varied weather conditions we found there and put them through a bit more than I had expected.

Some things I discovered I love about the pants after wearing them on the trip and out at local crags:

1. The color. The shade of grey was not too dark in the sun and not too light for getting dirty.

2. The water and wind repellancy. During the Tahquitz trip I got on multipitch climbs with a lot of shade. The winds blowing off of the snow at the base of some of the climbs was a bit chilly but the pants did very well in preventing them from blowing right through. I also accidentally splashed a little bit of water on them while trying to drink from a bottle while we were on a rough dirt road. I was able to brush the drops right off.

3. That the pants are somewhat wrinkle proof. I had these crumpled up in my pack on the day we hiked to Suicide Rocks. I wore shorts for the hike then changed into the pants for the multipitch climb. I almost felt overdressed when I put them on. I was also happy to have them in the end because it got chilly.

4. The abrasion resistance. I had a hard time on one of the classics in the area, Flower of High Rank, and fell unexpectedly. I thought for sure my shirt and pants had holes in them but they did not. I actually had an abrasion on my knee (broke the skin) but the pant leg was fine (see photos).

5. Packability. The pants offer nice protection without bulk. This is great for packing to a crag and just packing in general.

Me on the summit of the Larks

Me on the summit of the Larks

6. The pocket on the thigh. This is a zippered pocket in a handy place for accessing a topo map of the route.

Cons of the pants?

I’d say I wouldn’t mind the pant leg bottoms being a tiny bit slimmer and/or there be a way to button the legs up to turn them into capris… though the pants were easy to roll up and seemed to stay up once I did that so that request is more about aesthetics than functionality.

I think an adjustable drawstring inside the pants might be handy. If I lost more weight I’d have to start using a belt or wearing more layers at the waist to keep the pants up, on long trips I notice that I do tend to lose weight so that would be a factor.

My general impression: these are my new favorite climbing pants, and especially shine in multipitch climbing, providing coverage without loss of flexibility (check out the pic of me leading a roof on Whodunit!).

By the way, my Tahquitz trip report is still to come 🙂