I a long-time snowboarder but have recently started telemark skiing as well. Based on the holes in my snowboard pants, theyre not designed for the stresses of telemark. What pants do you recommend instead? Chris Seattle, Washington
My guess is that the knees are blowing out a little, or perhaps the falls you take are putting different strains on the seat fabric than when youre on a board. I will say that most snowboard pants seem to be made more with style in mind than function, so it could be you simply need a more serious pair of pants.
Patagonia Primo Pants
A good starting point is Marmots Randonee Pant ($300; marmot.com). These are made with Gores new Pro Shell material, which is lighter, tougher, and more breathable than the previous-generation XCR Gore-Tex. Theyre suspendered pantssort of short bibswhich is a design that works well when skiing. Cuff guards protect the lower leg from ski edges, and overall solid construction should hold up well. Yeah, theyre a bit pricey, but for top-end pants $300 isnt too bad.
You might also like Patagonias Primo Pants ($285; patagonia.com). Theyre not Gore-Tex, but rather are made with a stretch-woven material (sort of a soft shell) with Patagonias very good water-repellent finish. Theyre more highly water-resistant than waterproof, but in cold weather, thats enough. And the Primos are VERY ruggedly made, with reinforced knees and seat, bar-tacked stress points, edge guards and more. They also have internal gaiters and removable suspenders.
If youre on more of a budget, take a look at The North Faces Foundation Bibs ($170; thenorthface.com). These are made from The North Faces proprietary Hyvent waterproof/breathable fabric, which is pretty decent stuff. Theyre well made, with reinforcements in all the right places, and should hold up well to telemark skiing.
The 2008 Winter Outside Buyers Guide is now online. From snow sports to trail-running to camping, get reviews of more than 300 new gear must-haves.