Growing up in the Bozeman backcountry, one staple of any extended adventure for me, like many people, was a Dana Designs BombPack.
Mine was the model with pumpkin accents. I loved it. Sturdy, simple, and with a great support system for heavy loads, I never managed to kill that pack. Current vernacular may use the terms ‘the bomb’ and ‘bomber’ frequently, but for me, the BombPack sets the high bar benchmark for a bomber piece of gear.
Norrøna Lyngen Gore-Tex Pro Pants
Enter the Norrøna Lyngen Gore-Tex Pro pants. When Niarrøna, the Norwegian brand known for quality products, says its Lyngen touring collection has a goal of “pushing the limits of durable lightweight,” my interest was piqued. I like durable gear. I also shy away from the extra mass and overbuilt qualities that might go hand in hand with durability. I wore these pants skiing roughly a dozen times this spring. While my ability to comment on their long-term durability over a season of use is limited, it seems like it will deliver on reaching BombPant status. But I’ll know more about that next winter.
These are Gore-Tex Pro pants made with a 40D denier (thread thickness) cloth, that is still relatively lightweight– the pants weigh a respectable 440g– and can pack down to smaller than a Nalgene 1 liter bottle. For people that don’t know this material, it is a bit noisy (it can crinkle) and seems especially so when walking inside a quiet ski cabin. However, I did not notice the noise when outside skiing or skinning, so I don’t think it is a detracting characteristic the way it can be for sleeping pads. And the performance is unparalleled. With specs of >28000mm waterproof rating and 3-6 RET breathability, it is the apogee of breathable-waterproof fabrics.
The engineer in me wants to dwell on those numbers, which are informative. Practically, those stats mean a near 100% waterproof piece in the kind of moisture that I assume an Arctic Polar low throws at picturesque Lyngen. Here in North America, if you’re a maritime skier on the wet coast, this item from Norrøna might have a huge upside and range of use. You might find a slightly more breathable fabric in Gore-Tex Active with a RET in the three range, yet the waterproofness is compromised.
With a RET around six, as we see with Gore-Tex Pro, is the ability to dump heat. The pant’s feature set is heat-dump-worthy. The side vents are large, starting high on the hip and extending just below the knee. The vents are not mesh lined, allowing for more ventilation, but they stop high enough that I had no issues with unwanted snow sneaking into the pants while skinning or booting.
I also believe all good designs should be simple and intuitive, providing what you need and leaving the rest behind– in a word, elegant. These pants are well designed. The pockets on the front of the thighs are well placed; one is gusseted to provide extra volume expansion and has an inner stretchy mesh pouch to securely store your phone, beacon, or keys.
The pants also feature a convenient velcro waist adjustment to fine-tune the fit. At the ankles, the pant lower has an internal built-in snow gaiter and an Aramid reinforcement on the outer fabric to protect the lower cuff from ski edges and crampon nicks. As you know, not all ski boots are equal. The freeride ilk are beefier, whereas ski mountaineering boots are leaner. The designers of the Lyngen Gore-Tex Pro pants try to accommodate different styles of boots. For larger or smaller volume boots, the pants lower has a fabric-backed zipper gusset running to the height of the boot top, providing a few inches of expansion, and a simple fold-over, snap system with two options for tightening around the ankles.
And last but not least, these pants are compatible with Norrøna’s mountaineering bib: a ~6-inch tall lightweight mesh stretch panel that zips onto the top of the pants and connects to elastic suspenders. The bib attachment is sold separately. Many of Norrøna’s ski pants come stock with a waist zipper that interfaces with the mountaineering bib. Consider the attachable/removable mountaineering bib a modular piece.
(You might note in several photos a ring of button snaps around the lower waist. Norrøna sells several jackets with a built-in powder skirt that will integrate with the snaps on the pants.)
One thing to know, I have an affinity for Lycra as a die-hard cross-country skier. Lycra tights = great range of motion. Keep in mind that even though I’m reviewing hard shell pants, I will not allow a lackluster range of motion to slide. Right away, I noticed the range of motion was on point, and the use was intuitive. As I warmed up on the skin track, the side zips were easy to find and open with one hand, and I quickly did it without breaking stride. I have not owned bibs before, so I hadn’t expected it, but the bibs add some warmth and make it feel like I was wearing an extra half-layer on top. Hence I didn’t use the bib attachment much this spring. And while the pants lack insulation, I found them to be plenty warm when worn over a pair of tights or thin long underwear.
During March and April, I wore the pants in various conditions and environments; dry cold powder, windy couloir hunting, spring hot pow, and a particularly informative day with 28-degree temps and 2″ and fresh powder; it snowed all day. We kept things safe by lapping a gladed bowl. The pants were awesome, even though I went from zero to two on my count of lifetime total skin failures (a wet Pomoca popped the tail clip and came off cleanly in one slip, leaving what looked like a flattened dead snake in the skin track). The pant vents kept me from overheating, yet the fresh snow stayed out, beading up and running off without affecting my legs and lapping abilities. Unfortunately, I could not say the same for my shell; I am now quite aware I covet a more weatherproof jacket to complement the pants.
I have a few minor critiques, mainly based on the fit. I found the fit is tighter in the waist than the online fit guide suggests. I often wear small or small/medium pants. I’m 5’10” with a 30″ waist. The mediums in the Lyngen fit me quite well despite the online size guide claiming they should be for a 32.7″ -35″ waist. (I know someone at WildSnow HQ tried them on; they are a reliable 33″ waist. The fit was way off, as in way too small.)
Norrøna calls this a technical fit, their “second tightest fit.” I found the pants still could be a little tighter without restricting motion, especially below the knee. The fit flares a bit there; that’s likely to accommodate users with a beefier boot. I was skiing these with a Scarpa F1 and found that the pant cuff is big enough to drape over my Boa turnbuckle, snag it, and pop it open while climbing. This wasn’t a big deal, but it was mildly irritating when the pants would remain stuck over the Boa and then restrict knee mobility. At times I would cuff the pant legs to alleviate the problem, but usually, I could ignore it.
The way the snaps at the hem work requires two hands and is a touch fiddly, but that may have been another solution to the cuff Boa knob issue. But, I didn’t want to add snapping and unsnapping my cuffs into my transition routine though it may be something for me to play with in the future.
One final technical note is about the environmental footprint of these pants and Norrøna products more generally. Norrøna seems to be working hard to promote sustainability and decrease the environmental effects of their products <
Overall I have really enjoyed integrating these pants into my touring wardrobe. They are hard shells. They aren’t ideal for every day, but when you need them, they work beautifully. They vent well and are light enough to have a wider operating range than many three-layer pants. Given my experience with the small waist, I recommend trying them on (preferably with your ski boots) before purchasing or going up a size and ordering from a place with a good return policy. If you’ve had a different experience with the fit of these pants, please let us know in the comments. But at the end of the day, the Lyngen pants feel solid, durable, and impervious without being heavy or stiff. Every time I use them, I am left with the impression that these pants are bomber and they should keep my legs happy for the next 15 years. That is not something I can frequently say these days. We will see if my continued use changes that view, but I think there is a chance that, for me, these could become the BombPants.
The Basic Stats:
Weight of the pants: 440g
Weight of the modular mountaineering bib: 120g
Outer fabric: Gore-Tex Pro
Sizes include: S, M, L, XL. We tested a medium. The waist size runs small in the men’s version.
Women’s pant: A women’s Gore-Tex Pro pant is available.
Price: $479.00 for either the men’s or women’s pant.
Akeo was raised in Bozeman where he became a speedster on skinny skis; he’s won a mattress at the American Birkebeiner, and seeks solace backcountry skiing. Life now finds him in grad school at the University of Washington.