Judy Armstrong reviews well-designed walking trousers from Berghaus

This review was first published in the April 2018 issue of The Great Outdoors.

Berghaus recently completed a major project on trouser fit for women. These Fast Hike Pants were used as a start point for that work and were the first to be updated in 2016. I’d say they’ve got it right: a relatively high rise (essential when you’re carrying a rucksack), with waist, leg width and length in proportion for the standard British woman (by which I mean, not the very long, lean look from many Scandi brands, or the baggy waist and low rise of some others). Size 14 from Mountain Equipment is now parallel to Berghaus size 12, if that helps. Two fabrics are used: a static, durable nylon with double-weave stretch nylon over the knees and seat. These work well in combination, keeping the shape while allowing free movement. Breathability is good. The surface DWR is effective when new but wore off after a few washes; it can be refreshed with products from brands like Grangers or Nikwax, which seems to work better with this kind of (relatively coarse) woven nylon than with very slick fabrics.

The cut and fit is fairly straight, aided by the stretch panels. The waistband is lined with microfleece, with a single stud above the zip and a webbing belt held in varying widths of retaining loop. There is a sense to that; a cinched-in belt in a narrow loop can rise above the waistband. There are two deep hand pockets at the front, a low-volume zipped thigh pocket and a small rear zipped pocket, enough to stash tissues and a compass or phone. Long thigh vents with two-way zips contain dense mesh, so venting is minimal but it does allow some flexibility in thigh width fit. Ankles are straight, with Velcro tab adjustment which is ideal if they’re slightly too long or you want to cinch the leg in around low-volume footwear.

My only complaint is that the gusset is tiny and in static fabric, and I did notice the seams when I was sitting for long periods travelling. If the gusset was larger and in the same stretch as the seat and knees, these trousers would be faultless.