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Gear Guy

What mountaineering pants won't break the bank?

I'm looking for a pair of Gore-Tex mountaineering pants that I can use snowboarding in the Alps, climbing in rainy Scotland, or cross-country skiing in Norway—all without maxing out my credit card. Any suggestions? Jakob London, United Kingdom

A: Gore-Tex pants are almost inevitably pretty hard on the pocketbook. That's simply because these pants are difficult to make—lots of sewing and piecework goes into making a pair that fits better than your average stovepipes. Plus, I really recommend bibs, not simply pull-on pants. Bibs are more versatile, more comfortable, and much better in deep snow than pants. Alas, they're also more expensive.

In the U.K., Cotswold ( carries the Macpac Mountain Pants. These are a bib-style, all-around outdoor overpant that would work well for all the activities you mention. They're made from Gore XCR, the newest iteration of that long-popular outdoor fabric. Cost is high but not too outrageous—200 pounds Sterling. That's about US$350, which is par for the course. A comparable bib in the U.S. would be something like Marmot's Pinnacle Ice Bib (, which is US$350.

You can always shop for sales and specials, and I'm pretty sure you'll find a better price. In the U.S., for instance, Sierra Trading Post ( has The North Face's Nuptse Gore-Tex bibs on sale for $230, down from a regular price of $335. If you can fit into a small or medium, Sierra also has Mammut's exceedingly nice Eiger Pants, which like the Nuptse bibs use Gore XCR, for a mere US$166—down from $395. Now that's a helluva deal.

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