Backcountry Skiing Pants – Cloudveil

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This post by WildSnow.com blogger  
Cloudveil pants for backcountry skiing.

For this year’s backcountry skiing pants I’m using four choices, all softshell.

For midwinter cold temps both on and off the resort I picked up a pair of Cloudveil Zero G pants. An insulated soft shell (Primaloft), Zero has the features I like in a heavy duty softshell pant: hip wallet pocket, ski boot gaiters and built-in suspenders (as well as loops in case you feel naked without your studded belt). Being insulated and seam sealed, these pants can be a bit warm on the uphill, but in testing over the past few weeks I found that the super breathable Schoeller fabric gives them a wider temperature range than expected. Only gripe is that the cuff zipper is unprotected (weather flap is inside rather than outside), and will no doubt get lunched sooner or later. But the zipper doesn’t look to difficult to replace, and Cloudveil’s customer service is good so I’ll not loose sleep over this. In all, perhaps the most versatile insulated ski pants I’ve ever owned.

When temperatures warm up in late January, an insulated pant is frequently too warm for me. For that scenario I’ll be using the un-insulated Cloudveil Rayzar softshell pant (pictured). These still have built-in suspenders and gaiters, but sadly lack a rear wallet pocket. I guess I’ll have to live with that heinous omission, but doing so is worth it as these really are a fine piece of equipment.

And what about tropical conditions while spring skiing or summer alpine backpacking? Cloudveil’s Switchback pant is the first of my two choices for such. With no gaiters and no suspenders, this is more of a conventional around-town style pant than other softshell bottoms on the market. But that’s the idea; something simple, cool, light. Something that wears as well while getting a sandwich at Subway as it does on top of the Grand Teton. Same goes for my other lightweight fave, the Marmot ATV pant. These are made from slightly heavier fabric than the Switchback but are still light enough for summer alpine use. By having both, I’ve got one pant for really warm temps (Switchback), and one for cooler spring days and warm winter climbing ski sessions (ATV).

We also have a woman’s point of view on the Rayzar, here is Lisa’s take:

Cloudveil has been making softshell active wear for years now and I have been a fan since Lou brought me home a pair of Cloudveil Schoeller pants years ago. They were comfy, good looking and I wore them for years, steadily reeling in complements along the way. Just last winter a friend asked me where he could get a pair for his wife and it was her loss when they were all sold out when he went shopping. But I’ll have to give him a call because they’re available again and lucky me, Lou brought home a new pair yesterday. Now I really can’t wait for ski season to start. I may have to put the laundry aside and join the crew at Montezuma this weekend.

The Rayzar pant is made with Schoeller fabric, a stretch blend that really does what the tag says. It is exceptionally sturdy yet ultra-lightweight and luxuriously soft. High-grade and high-tech, Schoeller is abrasion resistant, breathable, repels water and the most important feature, is extremely flattering. These are truly an exceptional, all-mountain pant and I feel pretty fortunate to have a new pair hanging in my closet. Won’t let them hang too long, though. The slopes are calling and now I’m ready!

Shop for Cloudveil products here.

(Bias note: We can use anything from most major backcountry oriented ski clothing makers, so no “sponsor” bias here. )

Comments

8 Responses to “Backcountry Skiing Pants – Cloudveil”

  1. Scott November 1st, 2006 2:23 pm

    I got some Rayzar’s last year and I like them a lot. I bought them to supplement a pair of BD alpine pants, which I also like, but aren’t as heavy.

    I like the higher waist in the Rayzar’s, since it helps to keep them from riding down, especially when wearing a pack. The lack of a back pocket is a plus in my book since I wear mine while snowboarding (and the obligatory sitting in the snow). It is also a plus if you ever glissade in them.

  2. Mike Marolt November 1st, 2006 6:20 pm

    That’s the best unbiased review of 4 pair of pants i have ever read. Probably saved you a grand. More power to you. (Sorry Lou, I’m a smart a*&).

    M

  3. Handtruck November 1st, 2006 10:36 pm

    “as well as loops in case you feel naked without your studded belt”

    Perhaps the funniest thing I have ever read on your site and even funnier, it withdraws my first reply.

    I must confess, I have been reading your blog with great impetus for the past two seasons. I ski on an old pair of Scarpa Lasers, K2 Shuksans, and Fritchie Freerides. I wouldn’t have that setup without your help. Lou, I only wish you skied less and updated your website more so I would have something new to turn to every hour at work. But then again, that is quite the conundrum. Could you ski more and update more?? Win-Win!!!

    Thanks… and being that I was at Neptune yesterday searching for a new softshell pant (my current hand-me-down-Cloudveils are dying a ‘hole-y’ death) this will help greatly. You are awesome, keep it up and thanks for everything you do. I plan on skiing the ‘Trooper Traverse’ this spring and yes, you can pat yourself on the back for clueing me into that as well.

    Matt

  4. Lou November 2nd, 2006 5:57 am

    I know you’re trying to be funny Mike, but it’s good to clarify what goes on with gear reviews here at WildSnow. I brought up the bias factor because people do wonder if we’re sometimes just being fed gear to blog, without really caring if it’s any good or not. You’d be amazed at how common it is for companies to take criticism poorly. They get involved emotionally and sometimes really go over the top about minor critiques. So policy is that we usually don’t review unless we like the item (and in our rare negative reviews we try to be fair and honest). Some of the stuff we buy, some we borrow, some we end up with as promo comps. Either way, we have quite a bit of choice so we’re not pandering to one particular brand or model. We also try to avoid total fluff, and write about the pros/cons of the items. But again, we usually review gear we like so the pros will almost always outweigh the cons.

  5. steve romeo November 2nd, 2006 2:31 pm

    I second what Lou states about companies getting in a tiff about even slightly negative reviews, so you better like what you review…if you want more from that company. But then again, why would you want more of what you don’t like or doesn’t work anyway?

    My 2 cents…living here in JH, I’ve had a ton of Cloudveil (and other brands) softshell pants and jackets. They tend to always win out in the breathability dept…I think it’s cuz they use Shoeller.

  6. Mike Marolt November 2nd, 2006 2:47 pm

    I agree. WS does keep it real.

    M

  7. Lou November 2nd, 2006 3:59 pm

    Wow Handtruck, I’m flattered. No plans to stop blogging. We’ll be posting almost every day of the winter, but length and detail of posts will vary according to snowfall (grin). Look for more gear reviews, vintage binding posts, trip reports and even some enviro rants coming soon! On the road this weekend so I might skip a day. As always, we thank everyone for your support. We couldn’t keep WildSnow going without you.

  8. Mark Worley November 3rd, 2006 5:47 am

    I’ve only got one Shoeller product, a lightweight jacket, but it’s miles ahead of most other products I’ve tried–ridiculously versatile. I’m ready for some soft shell pants too, but will likely just hammer the old Cloudveil Snaz pants for a couple more seasons. Great blog features and photos lately, Lou.

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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