The golden age of easy on-off insulated pants for backcountry skiing is among us: Rejoice! Stellar Equipment’s Ultralight Down Pants 2.0 are 3/4 length down pants with high function and style points too.
Love comes in many forms. And in my household, my love for insulated pants has been both shamed and celebrated. That’s something to get out front in this review. Also, something to note: style is personal; function, sometimes not.
I’ll ask that you keep an open mind and embrace the possibilities of loving and coveting Stellar Equipment’s Ultralight Down Pants 2.0. (I somehow missed the memo on V 1.0.)
BTW, Stellar Equipment is a Swedish-based company making all sorts of sweet-looking gear for the backcountry. According to their website, they offer a direct sales model through their “own meta channels, that is, in our web shop or in our showrooms.” We have some more gear to be reviewed this season from Stellar, so for the moment, let’s pivot back to the Ultralight Down Pants 2.0.
I’ve written before about insulated pants in the backcountry. I think they are an excellent option to have in the pack in case of emergencies or skinning/skiing in extremely cold weather. But for word count considerations, here are the specs I like about these down knickers.
Weight size men’s L (confirmed): 228g
EZ On/Off with ski boots on: Full side zips
Waist: A comfortable elastic waist that secures with an easy-to-knot drawstring closure
Stretch side panels: Yeah, stretchy side panels which are awesome when fitting over ski pants
Style/Function ratio: Each to their own, but an unequivocal 1:1. Think excellent style and supreme function.
Let’s address the above in order. The pants are light at 228g for a men’s large. They pack down to the size of a grapefruit and are very compressible. Stowing them in a backpack mid-winter should not be a problem.
The pants, at ¾ length, have full side zips. In other words, you can fully unzip each pant leg — this means easy on and off mid-tour. You’ll not stress out trying to slide the pants on or off while wearing ski boots or your favorite hard or soft shell snowboard boot. Unzip, secure the pant cuff above the boot top (top of calf), and zip the pant leg up. Repeat for the other leg. Now enjoy the warmth.
The side zips are YKK zippers, but even these storied zips can fail. And to decrease stress on the side zips, the pants feature 3″ wide stretchy side panels that run the full pant length. In my experience, the side panels are gold. The panels allow tourers to wear the Ultralight Down Pants 2.0 over ski pants with no decrease in mobility and no (to my knowledge) increased stress on the side zippers. (I’ve worn these over an older pair of Arc’Teryx Procline pants and a pair of TNF Futurelight full side zip pants — and always with a ¾ length Lycra baselayer and full length ski socks.) Although there is no insulation on the stretchy fabric, I’ve not noticed heat loss or any wind through the panels.
These insulated pants feature HyperDRY™ 850 fill power goose down and a 10 D DWR-treated nylon ripstop ( 28g/m2). No joke, I feel the warmth as soon as I put them on.
As for the style, and I mean pure fashion, I think I already put this out there; they go to 11. Who needs the extra ¼ length when that means interfering with the ski boot.
Anyhow, don’t confuse these with man-pris or any type of “pris”; they are their own thing, which is pure awesome. I have skinned and descended in the Ultralight Down Pants 2.0 too. So far, only fist bumps on the skin track and the transition zone. If there are any eye rolls I’ve missed, they’ve been discrete.
Let me get ahead of some of you grumbling, “skinning in 3/4 length down pants, that’d be too hot.” I agree in some contexts. But I do run cold. And this past weekend, we had an Arctic cold snap- the pipes froze in our home. Ambient temps while skinning were 10-degrees Fahrenheit with a ripping wind at the ridge top; definitely a below zero windchill. No, I was not too hot skinning, even trending upward at a good clip. And with no loss of mobility, no chance I was taking the pants off for the descent and skin back to the trailhead.
(For Bend locals who have seen a dog accompanying some person skating along the trails at Wanoga in ski-mo gear and sick looking ¾ down pants, that’s my pup Riley.)
More on the Function
For a full day out touring, these pants offer the option of remaining a bit warmer during extended breaks. For example, on a recent hut trip to Canada, I quickly grabbed the Ultralight Down Pants 2.0 out of my pack during lunch breaks and, with no fuss, put them on. And again, I’m not looking at myself, but for real, I love the look of these pants in their midnight blue color, and grid pattern baffles (yes, sewn through). If I were looking at myself, I’d still think the pants slay in the fashion department.
Let’s be real. I also wore these pants inside the hut. As a post-ski accessory to stay warm, they slip right over a pair of boxer-style briefs and are good to go with some hut slippers. And initially, I did get some comments, some of which I’d categorize as verbal equivalents of an eye roll. As the week wore on, I think even the most jaded fashionista acknowledged the full value function and style.
Last about the function: for those reading this that ski-mo shuffle more often than not, the Ultralight Down Pant 2.0 is not a bad accessory item for cold mornings when wind briefs are mandatory.
The Last of the Praise
Love the Ultralight Down Pants 2.0? Yes, I do. So far, the zippers and outer fabric have remained intact and durable. I’ve been using them regularly for two months and going. Would I expect the lightweight 10 D nylon face fabric to survive an encounter with a tree limb unscathed? I would not. I would expect down feathers to emerge. That noted, when actively skiing with these pants on, I’m mindful of how dense the trees are — be warned. But most of you won’t be skiing in these anyhow.
I wrote of full-length (and full-length zip too) synthetic insulated pants last spring. I brought a pair of Patagonia Das Light pants on a multi-day ski traverse. The Ultralight Down Pants 2.0s, as the name suggests, are down. Although the outer fabric is treated with a DWR finish, and the down fill is water-resistant HyperDRY™ 850, I would use these in drier environments or the PNW on drier days.
Those Das Light Pants I used on a traverse weigh 344g for a size large. On a longer trip, like a traverse, where I am likely to encounter snow and possibly rain, I opt for synthetic and full-length insulated pants despite the extra weight.
Stellar Equipment offers several iterations of insulated pants, including a women’s fit in the Ultralight Down Pants 2.0. For fit, I’m usually medium, but I can go either medium or large in the insulated pants I use. In the case of the Ultralight Down Pants 2.0, I sized up to large to ensure they would fit over my ski pants. The large has worked great so far over ski pants or not. I assume the medium would be more fitted; Stellar claims the Ultralight Down Pants 2.0 are an athletic fit. I’d agree.
For those who want to know — I’m a solid 5’10” and a 33″ waist.
If the Ultralight Down Pants 2.0 are any indication, we are emerging into the golden age of insulated pants. I’m grateful I’m around to be a part of it.
More Ultralight Down Pants 2.0 Specs
Down fill weight: S 55 g, M 59,5 g, L 64 g, XL 68,5 g, XXL 73 g.
Garment weight (unconfirmed): S 206,2 g, M 216,3 g, L 226,3 g, XL 241,4 g, XXL 251,3 g.
Zip Fly: Not that I used it, but the men’s version has a zip fly. Worn over ski pants, that’s a tough sell.
Jason Albert comes to WildSnow from Bend, Oregon. After growing up on the East Coast, he migrated from Montana to Colorado and settled in Oregon. Simple pleasures are quiet and long days touring. His gray hair might stem from his first Grand Traverse in 2000 when rented leather boots and 210cm skis were not the speed weapons he had hoped for. Jason survived the transition from free-heel kool-aid drinker to faster and lighter (think AT), and safer, are better.
The only reason I haven’t already bought a set of 3/4 down pants is that I don’t think I would wear anything else if I had a pair.
A.K….don’t be afraid, walk towards the light and don’t look back. Fashion and function have likely not seen progress like this since the Buff.
Back in the day, Buff had a much funner meaning.
As in: scamper out of the sauna and roll all your buff in the snow. Wince and grin.
I recently received a pair of down knickers as a gift. They are incredible. Mine are the Norrona Lyngen Down Knickers and they are very similar to the ones you mention above. They don’t have stretchy material around the zipper but seem to be articulated very well. The seat is also insulated with synthetic Primaloft. Ostensibly to lengthen the life of a high wear area. Dyring the recent cold snap I wore them around town and instead of eye roles got compliments and inquiries! I was in Canada, so maybe they’re more accepting of alternative insulation? I wore them under my shells at the resort and stayed very cozy. One curious thing Norrona did was make the zippers on each side a different color. I imagine this was to help with zipping them over your clothes. Excited to try them skiing, but in the PNW we don’t get too many super cold days. But for early morning fitness dawn patrols they will be, at the very least, cozy to have on while I get my boots on and skis all set.
I was eyeing those as well. They do look sweet. The Primaloft on the bum is a good feature.
Thanks for the excellent review, Jason. Including your height/weight would help in calculating sizing.
Adding info to the review. Thanks for reading.
For those that, like me, run really hot I’ve had good luck with similar pairs insulated with breathable synthetic insulation (tried down, too hot). I currently use and love a set from Strafe. They go over my pants when needed on really cold tours and under my resort pants on particularly cold days when riding chairlifts
for the canuckians who want down pants check out Taiga works
I purchased a bunch of the Stellar EQ clothing for this season, including the down knickers. I LOVE the knickers. Super warm and comfortable. I wear them primarily for riding the lifts.
how’s the rest of the kit? Weight wise and protection wise? I need more reviews of their stuff