Gear / Outdoors / Travel

A love letter

It’s Valentine’s Day.  For every unabashed declaration of love, there is a corresponding cynic decrying the commercialisation of the day with its cards, chocolates and twee teddy bears.  So, here’s my love letter – it’s to my PrAna trousers!

This isn’t a standard gear review – it’s definitely a swooning, lovelorn look at a purchase that turned out better than I could ever have imagined.  Last Easter, during a trip back to the UK, I became conscious that my limited travelling wardrobe had a gap – and so, given my impatience for the selection of women’s clothing in outdoor shops, I took a chance and bought this pair of trousers online through Gear for Girls.  They rapidly became indispensable and even now are elbowing other items of clothing out of contention; they’d definitely be coming with me to a desert island, despite being black.

So, what makes them so great?  Well, I’ve never thought of myself as fashion conscious.  And anyone who has met me in the flesh will testify to this.  But when it comes to buying gear suitable for the great outdoors, some kind of mass sight impairment seems to afflict the designers and purchasers of women’s trousers.  I wouldn’t normally wear a high waisted, tapered leg, with extra pleats to make sure my bum looks especially large – so why would I want to wear trousers like that when I’m out and about?  Especially given the likelihood of photos being taken during whatever activity I might be enjoying.  These PrAna pants (we’ll give them that, they’re American) successfully look like a normal pair of trousers; in fact, the cut is just like a pair of jeans, with a lowish waist, proper waistband and actual pockets.  The leg is straight, and the length is perfect for me (5’5″, if you’re interested), with a normal cut around the ankle – perhaps a bit breezy if the wind is strong, but perfect to fit over boots or trainers.

The fabric is stretchy, providing a range of movement whatever your activity, and also washes and dries quickly.  With nothing much in the way of visible branding, excellent snag resistance and looking smartish even when dried overnight, the trousers have been pressed into use for work – a valuable commodity when living out of a small bag.  And when I’ve worn them in colder weather (often with a pair of thermal tights), the snow simply brushes off.  Here’s me wearing them on a snowshoe trip up to Dog Mountain, near Vancouver:

These trousers get pulled out whenever I climb (indoors or out), walk, bike (like on the trip a week or so ago to Clumber Park, with bike shorts under), snowshoe or do anything which requires me to leave my usual uniform of jeans behind.  With a flattering but unobtrusive cut, they don’t draw attention, and that’s why they deserve this love letter.  I feel less like I am sacrificing my modicum of style to practicality when I wear these; my only concern is what I’m going to do when they inevitably wear out!

Hiking into the Grand Canyon in them.

Walking up a Welsh hill in them, with gaiters over.

Cycling in them with bike shorts underneath. What did I say about not being fashionable?
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