After a high and dry January and February, winter finally returned to Central Oregon in March and April, and as of early May, it’s still going strong. This spring’s frequent storm cycles have offered me ample opportunity to test out Patagonia’s Stormstride pants. It’s a waterproof, breathable “hardshell” pant designed for ski touring and alpine pursuits. In addition to Central Oregon’s backcountry, I brought the Stormstride pants to Europe for a three-week honeymoon and ski vacation. I wore them regularly for touring and riding lifts in France and Switzerland and reached for them on all but the sunniest days. I didn’t even care that the “Catalan Coral” color completely clashed with my slightly-softer pink hardshell jacket and I may have looked like a backcountry strawberry.
The Stormstride pant is built with Patagonia’s H2No three-layer stretch waterproof fabric, which uses recycled nylon from post-industrial waste and postconsumer fishing nets. I found the fabric to feel lightweight and supple, more like a softshell material. The pants were easy to ball up and stuff into my ski touring pack “just in case,” and stretchy enough to allow me to move easily, whether breaking trail in deep snow or kicking steps up a steep couloir. Taped seams inside the pants prevent water from seeping through the stitching. A durable water repellent finish causes water to bead and roll off, keeping the fabric as dry as possible in inclement weather. These last two features are standard in waterproof outdoor gear, but worth noting for their contribution to the pant’s overall performance. The pant also has a sturdier, more durable fabric on the inside of each pant leg, protecting the highest-wear areas from ski edges and careless crampon kicks.
The pants have two front-thigh pockets, zippered vents on the outer thighs offering 14″ of heat dumping potential, and built-in gaiters to keep snow out of boots. The gaiter can be expanded around the boot and secured with a hook-and-loop closure and a snap, which eases access to ski boot buckles. Finally, the cuffs have three different snap-closure options that allow for various leg opening sizes. The widest leg opening provides room for ski boots in walk mode, while the narrower opening is ideal for booting or walking in crampons. I’ve blown out plenty of leg zippers and ripped gaiters while trying to stretch pant legs over ski boots in walk mode, and I’ve also kicked holes in ski pants that were too wide for booting with crampons, so I appreciate having multiple options.
For me, the pockets on a ski touring pant are probably the most important design feature–-and they can make or break it for me. In the past, women’s ski touring pants were notorious for having useless, too-small pockets that were barely big enough for a chapstick. Small pockets, from my experience, create a huge source of frustration for women skiers who want to use their pockets functionally. It seems the industry has heard the feedback because I’ve been noticing improvements in pocket size and design across many outdoor brands. It should be a no-brainer to include a big enough pocket to fit an avalanche transceiver and has an internal cord or loop for securing the transceiver to the pack. Still, in recent history among women’s ski pants, this functionality has rarely been accommodated. I am happy to report that the Snowstride’s front-thigh pockets are large enough for an avalanche transceiver—the right-hand pocket has an internal elastic loop for attaching the transceiver’s cord. The pockets can also easily fit an iPhone 11 or, as I found in testing, a large cookie baked by a friend and gifted to me at the trailhead during a serendipitous encounter. As a result, the pockets on the Stormstride earn it some serious bonus points in my book.
In my experience, Patagonia sizing (at least for women) runs a bit big. That said, the women’s Stormstride pant is consistent with Patagonia’s overall sizing system and its size guide. According to their guide, I am at the upper end of XS, but I can’t imagine ever purchasing a size XS for myself. I went with size S and risked a little extra room, which is fine with me—I would rather my apparel feel a little baggy than tight. I am 5’7 and weigh about 130 lbs, with an athletic build, though not a ton of muscle mass. I’m also fairly evenly proportioned between my torso length and inseam length. Size S for the Stormstride pant fit just right, and I would recommend referencing Patagonia’s size guide in choosing a size for this pant.
In addition, Patagonia describes the Stormstride pant as a slim fit, which means it’s close-fitting yet designed to be worn over baselayers or light mid-layers. I wore the Stormstride over silk weight baselayer pants and had adequate room for unrestricted movement.
The pant has a low-slung, wide waistband with multiple options for adjusting the fit. The waist closes with a front zipper and two metal snaps, and can then be cinched down for a more fine-tuned fit using an internal webbing belt. The first time I gave the webbing belt a tug, the snaps popped open— beware of that. I found the webbing, which pulls from the center of the waistband to my right, cinched down one side of the pant rather than tightening the waistband evenly. I also noticed that once I pulled the internal webbing belt tight, it was a bit tricky to feed the webbing back into the waistband to loosen the fit. So, I’m not sold on the waistband cinch. However, the pant also features belt loops for those who prefer to wear a belt, and the belt loops also appear to accommodate suspenders, though I did not attempt to attach a pair. I usually wore the pants with the simple snap closure and did not tighten the waist further.
After touring in the Stormstride pant over a couple of dozen storm days this spring, I can say that their performance meets my needs as a backcountry skier. They feel light and stretchy yet keep me comfortable and dry no matter the conditions: warm and wet, cold and stormy, or windy (and sometimes all of the above). In particular, I appreciate the adjustable leg openings and the size of the front-thigh pockets and the transceiver attachment in one of the pockets.
I would recommend the Stormstride pant to women looking for a waterproof pant for backcountry skiing or alpine climbing—or for one piece that can do both. I don’t think I’ve had quite enough days in them to speak to their durability truly, but I can say that after a couple of months of semi-regular use, they’re not showing any signs of wear. website.
Weight: 442 g (15.6 oz)
Fit: Slim fit, which means they’re designed to be worn over lightweight or midweight baselayers. Available in men’s and women’s fit. Fit is true to size using Patagonia’s size guide.
General Impressions: Ladies, we finally have a pant option with pockets big enough for an avalanche transceiver (or a cookie)!
Alli learned to ski as a wee grom in Central Pennsylvania before relocating to Oregon more than a decade ago, where she began venturing into the backcountry and up and down the Cascade volcanoes. Although she loves a good storm day, Alli lives for springtime volcano skiing. Alli is an AIARE Course Instructor and is currently an AMGA Apprentice Ski Guide. She lives and works in Bend, Oregon.