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Hands-on Gear Review
Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Pants Review
Cons: Not quite as abrasion resistant as other models, so-so weather-resistance, Velcro flaps come undone easily while wearing a pack
Bottom line: A fantastic all-around pant with rad stretchy fabric, which offers exceptional freedom of movement and the best breathability.
The Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic is an extremely functional shell pant that just so happens to be the stretchiest piece of rain gear we have ever worn. It has average weather resistance and durability and a few small features like its so-so Velcro waist flaps, which a handful of testers found slightly less comfortable than other models under a waist belt with heavy loads; we also noticed this contender was prone to slipping down. Our testers were impressed by the four-way stretch fabric that offered the best mobility and freedom of movement of any contender in our review by far. The Stretch Ozonic is one of the lightest and most compressible models and packs in a bunch of user-friendly features (like a built-in waist belt) to boot. The Ozonic takes home an Editors' Choice award thanks to its incredible range of motion.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Men's Rain Pants of 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Stretch Ozonic pants have many advantages; in both our real world use and in our side-by-side hose and shower tests, they offered decent weather resistant protection, scoring a 7 out of 10, slightly above average. These pants use Mountain Hardwear's proprietary Dry.Q Active 2.5-layer fabric. While we list Dry.Q as a proprietary fabric as only Mountain Hardwear offers it, the fabric is actually a technology produced by General Electric, who also manufactures eVent.
These pants feature small storm flaps and watertight zippers; while less substantial looking than most of the other models, our real world and hose tests revealed that the Ozonic Stretch lets very little water in. While these pants performed well, we didn't find them to be quite as stormproof as other pants in a similar price range, such as the Outdoor Research Foray and the Marmot Minimalist Pants which both featured Gore-Tex. The Ozonic Stretch were comparable to the Marmot Precip Full-Zip and the Outdoor Research Helium.
Comfort and Mobility
This contender is comfy! As the name implies, the fabric is extremely stretchy, more so than any other rain pant we have ever worn. The Stretch Ozonic is comparable, in terms of stretchiness, to a lightweight softshell. As you might imagine, the best four-way stretch rain pant we've ever put on offered unequaled mobility and sported the best overall range of motion of any pant we've ever tested (or ever seen).
The REI Talusphere Full Zip pant also features a stretchy material which offered excellent comfort and mobility. After practicing extensive yoga poses, pushing the maximum ranges of both pants, we felt the Stretch Ozonic narrowly edged the REI Talusphere out in terms of mobility. While the Outdoor Research Foray's well-designed and articulated pant legs were designed well, they're still a long way from the Stretch Ozonic which are on a completely different level due to offering movement that is not restricted. If you're out and about on an adventure that requires a fair amount of mobility, these pants are tough to beat.
These pants also featured other small nods to comfort like the built-in flat webbing waist belt, which did an excellent job of keeping these pants from falling down. They also sported a micro-fleece lining on the inside of the belt which feels extremely nice against your skin, especially when you're gone on a long adventure. Both features were rarely seen in other contenders.
Breathability & Ventilation
These pants featured the best breathability of any competitor in our review, topping the Outdoor Research Foray Pants and the Marmot Minimalist Pant, which both feature Gore-Tex with PacLite technology, and taking home a perfect 10 out of 10. The Dry.Q fabric is air permeable; unlike Gore-Tex, it doesn't require the wearer to build up heat in order for the process of moving moisture from the inside to the outside to begin. The REI Talusphere Full Zip was close behind, scoring a 9 out of 10; ultimately, the Stretch Ozonic finished at the top, taking home the win for offering the highest performing pant in this metric.
These pants feature full-length side zippers. In light storms or after the rain stops, they offer great ventilation options. Ventilation capabilities are great, though not quite as important as breathability; if it's rainy or wet outside while traveling on a slightly overgrown trail, leaving your pants even slightly unzipped is going to result in a wet body.
Our testing team loved the integrated waist belt! It kept the pants snug around our waist and resulted in being one of our favorite features out of any contender tested. While the Stretch Ozonic fit snugly around boots, the Outdoor Research Foray Pants offered a better fit. A handful of folks didn't particularly like that the pocket that was in the middle of the front thigh; after extended real-world use, we determined that as long as the item wasn't too heavy (which is true for most shell pant pockets), the pocket provided convenience and was easy to access.
The Stretch Ozonic is one of the most compressible models in our review. In fact, it was the only pant that packed down smaller than the micro Outdoor Research Helium Pant, taking up just over half the volume of this pant. The Stretch Ozonic packed down smaller than the Outdoor Research Foray and the Marmot Minimalist Pant and was far more compact than most of the other pants in our review. It was roughly half the volume of the REI Talusphere Full Zip.
The Stretch Ozonic Pants are nearly the lightest rain pant in our review and are certainly the lightest to feature a full-length zipper, weighing in at 10 ounces on our OutdoorGearLab scale. The only contender that was lighter was the 6.5 ounce Outdoor Research Helium Pant; however, unlike the Helium, the Stretch Ozonics feature full-length side zippers. While close in rankings, the Stretch Ozonic remains a few ounces lighter than our other award winners like the Outdoor Research Foray Pants (12 ounces) and the Marmot Minimalist Pants (11 ounces). We found it particularly amazing that when compared to the similarly designed REI Talusphere Full Zip (19.5 oz), the Stretch Ozonic is nearly half the weight.
We used our testing pair over nearly a dozen days, which has resulted in a positive outcome, as we did not tear any holes in them despite rugged use. We do believe that this model is not as abrasion resistant as others like the REI Talusphere Full Zip, the Marmot Minimalist, or the Outdoor Research Foray, though it's important to note that these pants are lighter and feature full-length zippers.
Ease of Use
The full-length side zippers made pulling these pants on over any type of boot, snowshoe, or crampon a breeze. However, our testers found the Velcro flaps at the top of these zippers weren't the most secure and came undone unexpectedly more frequently than other contenders; this performance was comparable to that of the Marmot PreCip pant. We liked that the Ozonic's flaps were smaller and less bulky than most, which resulted in a higher level of comfort when using a backpack's hip belt. Overall, while marginally less secure than the REI Talusphere Full Zip, the Stretch Ozonic's Velcro flaps were more comfortable than the Talusphere or the PreCip Pant.
The Stretch Ozonic rain pants are a very versatile contender that can pull some double duty for most rainy day outdoor activities. Due to their low weight, excellent freedom of movement, easy on/off design, and smaller than average packability, these pants are great for backpacking, hiking, at home mountaineering, Nordic skiing, and snowshoeing. Their cuff isn't incredibly wide and won't fit over very many ski or snowboarding boots, making it a poor choice for these activities. The cuffs are big enough to fit over super warm mountaineering boots.
All things considered, at $150, these pants are a solid value. Offering a higher price point, these pants took home our Editors' Choice award and are on the less expensive end of shell pants in general. They are $25 less than the Outdoor Research Foray Pant ($175) or $15 less than the more durable but less featured Marmot Minimalist. If you like these pants but aren't ready to shell out $150, we would recommend the stretchy REI Talusphere Full Zip which costs$109 (the downside is they are heavier and bulkier).
Conclusion and the Bottom Line
This is a rad rain pant that took home the second Editors' Choice award, as our review staff found it nearly impossible to only choose one. While the Outdoor Research Foray just barely edged out the Stretch Ozonic in our scoring, we do think that its MEGA stretchy fabric is a cool enough difference that for some folks could be more worthwhile. While it only offered average storm worthiness and did wet out faster than other models, the Stretch Ozonic remains the most breathable pant in our review. It also weights less and is more packable than the other Editors' Choice winner, the Outdoor Research Foray Pants.
— Ian Nicholson
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