Monday, June 27, 2011

Gear Review: Marmot Randonnee Bib Shell Pant

I have the legs of a Hobbit.  This is a good thing for balance and playing soccer, but not so good for finding pants that fit. 

A standard cut for men’s pants is a 32” inseam.  This means that if I want to wear regular people pants I’m either looking like a fool with my pants on the ground, or I need to make a trip to a tailor to shorten the legs.  Amazingly, I’m not the only outdoor enthusiast who is under six feet tall.  Some companies have caught wind of this fact and actually offer pants in “short” sizes.  Luckily, Marmot is one of those companies.

After trashing a pair of REI Taku pants in record time, I was looking for a new shell pant for my winter excursions.  I loved the breathability of the softshell Taku in comparison to my clammy pair of old rain paints but the flimsy cuffs of the Takus were quickly diced to confetti by my ski edges. 

I was already the proud owner of a pair of late model EMS Cargo Ski Pants.   Unlike the new version the older pairs were insulated and thus somewhat heavy and bulky.  This makes them a good option for my resort skiing, but less than ideal for a long distance foray deep into the winter woods.

In addition to something light and breathable with reinforced cuffs, I was also looking for a pant with suspenders and a mesh back panel.  Funny thing about a heavy backpack: it likes to work open a gap between the bottom of your jacket and the top of your pants.  Even with a belt on, you’ll quickly get a plumber’s butt.  This creates a problem when skiing, as any fall into the snow results in a blast of ice cold powder down your shorts and up your back.  The trade off with a back panel is that it traps more heat, and can become soaked with sweat. Therefore a panel made of mesh is key.

Lastly, any winter pant needs to have full side zippers.   This assists with heat management, as well as pant removal when wearing bulky camp booties or ski boots. 

Enter the Marmot Randonnee Bib Shell pant.  At a respectable two pounds, it is fairly light and has all the features needed.  In addition, it comes with removable knee pads for tele skiers and those who are self-conscious about the size of their knee bulges.

After a season of heavy use, I can confidently say that they are rugged.  Between my foray into the impenetrable evergreen fortress on top of Ascutney, to my glissade down scratchy ice in the Gulf of Slides, the pants withstood uncalled for abuse.

Best of all, Marmot pants come in short sizes, which means that no alterations are needed, and I can traipse around the woods without having to pull my pants up every ten seconds.

These get my stamp of approval and highest recommendation.  Now go forth and see if you can get a reasonably priced pair in the off-season.  


  1. Nice review, although Ski Pant review in June?!

    I ripped my ski pants on the edge of my ski during a tumble the last day of the season last year so I'll need to replace them this year. Thanks for the review!

    -Nick (

  2. I know... It's hard to think about the ski season now, but there are some decent deals around at this time of year. They get really good by the end of the summer/early fall when the new season's stuff comes out, although by that time the inventory is pretty depleted. I noticed that some manufacturers have pants with removable bibs. I didn't get too hot in these- even with the bib- despite the warm-weather trips up to Gulf of Slides and Osceola. I would have been toast in my other pants. Thanks for the comments!