Beyond the ski world, “bibs” are known as “overalls,” and are considered a fashion faux pas outside of the Ozarks or Appalachians, unless you happen to be attending an antique tractor pull or mud bogging race.
My father has been the leading proponent in my life of the utilitarian advantages of overalls, finding that the function creates the fashion, suitable for servicing private jets, mowing the lawn, celebrating your Corgi’s birthday; basically anything short of suit & tie occasions.
Me, I’m a bit more sensitive to the prevailing winds of fashion, and have never been able to convince myself that having pants dangling from my shoulders was a look I wanted to embrace. Until I began to fool around in the snow with sticks on my feet, and found that I was collecting powder in places that were never intended to be exposed to frozen water.
The Marmot Rosco pants have a sufficiently hillbilly sound for my low-angle bushwhacking adventures, and have been so utilitarian that I can practically hear my dad, “I told you so,” every time I put them on.
The shortcomings of pantaloons caused me to revisit the pragmatism of the overall design, and put bibs on the top of my list when it came time to shop for a dedicated replacement to my tattered black ski pants that exposed too much of my skin on the skin track, and collected powder in places never meant for contact with frozen water. “Rosco” has a sufficiently redneck sounding ring to it, and I have found these bibs from Marmot to be a satisfying pair of snow overalls.
Think of these bibs as the classic Chevy Suburban of clothing choices. Big, roomy, with plenty of storage, and stout construction. Suspenders and capacious cargo pockets go together like diesel engines and 1 ton drivetrains; it doesn’t make much sense to have one without the other. The support of the suspenders allows utilizing the full capacity of the voluminous cargo pockets, which would otherwise have you sagging like a Toyota with a bed full of boulders.
The roomy fit is comfortable for the relaxed pace I tour at, but it would be excessively baggy if you are more about hustling on the way up. But you don’t buy a Suburban for spirited driving on winding asphalt. That’s the domain of the more trim and efficient small sports car; the Mini Cooper or Volkswagen GTI.
The need for the ankle zips is practically negated by the super steezy sized fit, but it good to know when ’90’s fashion comes back around, I can unzip them for a “JNCO’s on the slopes look.”
The accessibility of the straight flap cargo pockets makes them a great place to stash snacks, an extra pair of gloves, and still have room to accommodate the minimalist gear buddy who is asking, “Hey, do you mind carrying this for me? I don’t have any pockets.” On quick yo-yo laps, it’s a great way to go light without a jacket or a pack, and stash your skins right there in the front cargo pockets.
My dad loves the chest pockets on his overalls, but to be honest, I really haven’t used mine that much, for I usually have a mid layer on over the top of the bibs that interferes with its usability. Perhaps I am still self-conscious about my status in overalls.
Sizing is definitely on the “steezy” side. I chose a Large, but probably would have a better fit in a Medium. Once again, the suspenders come to the rescue, keeping the voluminous folds of fabric from falling in awkward puddles of fabric at my feet. Even give a closer fit, I’d still be grateful of the suspenders, as they mitigate the effect of a pack pushing down your pants on the skin track. The stretch soft-shell material on the upper back of the bibs allows for mobility where a fixed fabric would feel much more confining.
My main nit to pick with the otherwise excellent suspenders is that the D rings on the chest have a tendency to migrate to a vertical position during active use, which effective causes the pants to droop a little more. Maybe rig up some D-ring anchors?
The Rosco bibs offer a good balance between insulation and venting. A thin base layer has been sufficient for most of my use. Standing around at the trailhead on single digit, or colder days, the pants feel decidedly cold against my skimpy base layer, but once I start moving, and keep all the zippers closed, they warm up nicely. Unzipping the inner thigh vents, and hip pockets provides a surprising amount of ventilation on the skin track. The vent zips do not have any screen for keeping snow out, so be sure to check them before heading into the white room.
Taped seams, and PreCip waterproofing have been adequate for the occasionally less-than-dry conditions we experience in Colorado, but it doesn’t cause the water bead up and roll off the way one might expect of gear to be used in PNW conditions.
I went for the “Can’t Look Away Trainwreck Yellow” (not Marmot’s official name) color for the sake of visibility, but as Nosskidamus might have predicted, the gloriously bright color soon transformed into something more like “Floorboard Mustard Stain Yellow.”
For my low-angle bushwhacking walks through the woods, the Rosco bib has been a good choice, one I’d gladly buy again, albeit in a smaller size, and darker color.
Guest blogger Aaron Mattix grew up in Kansas and wrote a report on snowboarding in seventh grade. His first time to attempt snowboarding was in 2012, and soon switched over to skis for backcountry exploration near his home in Rifle, CO. His skill level is “occasionally makes complete runs without falling.” In the summer, he owns and operates Gumption Trail Works, building mountain bike singletrack and the occasional sweet jump.