MEC Ferrata Ultra Pants
Ferrata Ultra Pants
Gear Guy

Which pants offer warmth combined with breathability for winter activities?

I’m an avid curler in desperate need of pants to wear on the curling rink. They must have a bit of stretch, and breathability is an issue, too. Curling is harder work than meets the eye, particularly when sweeping vigorously. I understand that you probably don't get too many curling questions, but perhaps you are aware of a suitable product from another sport. David Westmount, Quebec

MEC Ferrata Ultra Pants

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

Here at Gear Central, nothing fazes us. Curling is just another cool-weather activity with intermittent bursts of action. In that, it resembles many things, although at the moment, I can’t recall what they might be.

MEC Ferrata Ultra Pants

MEC Ferrata Ultra Pants Ferrata Ultra Pants

For those readers not familiar with curling, let me offer a brief synopsis. Person on ice pushes large smooth rock with a handle on it across ice rink. Team members use brooms to “sweep” the ice in front of rock, changing its direction and pace. Object is to bring rock to halt inside painted circle, knocking opponent’s rocks out of circle if possible. I could not possibly be making this up. The sport has its roots in Canadian military culture, when to maintain their fighting edge the troops would roll cannonballs across an icy pond. That part is, of course, totally untrue. I think.

What you need is a pair of soft shell pants, which are made with material that offers some light insulation, stretches a bit, and resists moisture. On the high end, price-wise, you’d find the Ibex Milo ( pants, made with a wool soft shell material that has four-way stretch and great temperature regulation. They’re US$210, which is basically CA$210 now. How about that?!? These really would be terrific pants, albeit a bit expensive.

I also like Patagonia’s Light Smoke pants (US$199;, which are made with a stretchy synthetic blend of nylon/polyester/Spandex, with a light fleece lining. They’re fairly warm and breathable, and they offer good water-repellency. Sure, they’re not cheap, but a little less than the Ibex pants.

Up your way, Mountain Equipment Co-op ( sells something called the Ferrata Ultra pants. These really are very nice—made with Schoeller Dryskin Extreme fabric, which is really high-performance stuff. They offer a bit of stretch with a little warmth, but not too much. Layer them over light long underwear in cold conditions. At CA$145, they’re quite a bargain. Apparel made with Schoeller Drsykin usually costs more.

Check out the new 2007-2008 Winter Outside Buyer’s Guide, packed with reviews of more than 300 new gear must-haves. It’s available on newsstands this month.

promo logo