These lightweight overtrousers are the best-designed of all the garments tested and also more comfortable and more breathable than most. The fabric is soft and flexible with a matt finish. The outer layer is polyester, which hardly rustles when you walk, unlike most waterproof fabrics. The Dry Q part of the fabric name refers to Mountain Hardwear’s version of the eVent membrane, hence the excellent breathability. EVAP refers to the inner surface which is designed to speed up evaporation of moisture.
The fabric only stretches a little (of course most overtrousers don’t stretch at all) but in combination with the shaped knees this means the cut can be quite slim without the trousers restricting movement. This close fit means there’s no loose fabric to flap or billow – I found this even though the test pair were the regular leg length and too long for me. Although there was some bunching at the ankle it wasn’t a problem. However the cut does mean that the trousers might be a little tight if worn over thick trousers. I wore them over thin nylon walking trousers and slightly thicker softshell trousers and they were fine.
The Stretch Plasmic overtrousers are quite light but still have more features than the other garments tested. They are the only pair with full-length side zips. This means they can be donned whilst wearing crampons or skis, easily vented and unzipped for access to inner trouser pockets. The zips are reversed standard ones rather than heavier, stiffer water-resistant one but they do have flaps inside and out so leakage shouldn’t be a problem.
Overall these are superb overtrousers suitable for year-round walking and backpacking and some of the best I’ve ever tested.