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Gear Guy

What wind pants will keep me warm and dry when the weather turns?

O Most Knowledgeable One, what wind pants should I get: the L.L. Bean Guide Pants, made of Schoeller Dryskin, or the Marmot DriClime Stretch Pants? Your pearls of wisdom about the differences in performance are sought. Bill Charlottesville, Virginia

A: Hmmm, let's deal with semantics first. What exactly do you mean by "wind pants"? In most cases, if they're analogous to a wind shirt, these are very light nylon trousers, breathable but not waterproof, yet highly wind resistant. They're usually pretty cheap, too, not being made of exotic stuff. An example is REI's Hurricane Ridge pants ($45), made of ripstop nylon with a water-repellent finish.

This said, neither of the pants you mention are, strictly speaking, wind pants. They're more in the class of the new "soft shell" garments. The Marmot DriClime Stretch Pants ($140) are made of a polyester knit (the DriClime) for lightweight warmth, with front wind panels made of Polartec Power Stretch—kind of a multi-purpose base layer, and suitable as a single layer in moderate conditions. But they're not wind pants, particularly if the wind is blowing up your backside.

Bean's Guide Pants ($125) are multi-condition pants good for all-round use when hiking, climbing, snowshoeing, or whatever takes your fancy. They are very wind- and water-resistant, ruggedly made, and comfortable across a remarkably wide climate range. Probably more broadly useful than the Marmots, but again, they're not wind pants in the strict sense of the word.

So there. I've now thoroughly confused things for you.

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