The New Version: Patagonia RPS Pant vs. Discontinued Patagonia Simple Guide
The Simple Guide has been discontinued, with the replacement being the RPS Pant. Patagonia provided us the following info about the replacement.
"The RPS Pants are slightly thinner. They use a 4.5oz - 52% nylon/48% polyester stretch plain weave instead of the Simple Guide's 6.2-oz 91% all-recycled polyester/9% spandex double weave. The Simple Guide Pants also uses spandex instead of nylon/polyester and therefore, had a bit more stretch than the RPS pants will have. Both pants had an articulated technical fit. The RPS Pants have 5 pockets, but only one (the leg cargo pocket) is zippered. All of the pockets (4), were zippered on the Simple Guide Pants.
In short, the RPS pants are designed as more of a technical climbing pant, than an all around mountaineering pant, like the Simple Guide Pants."
Pictured on the very left (below) is the Simple Guide; on the right in green, you will find the RPS Pant.
Weight and Materials:
The fabric of the Simple Guide Pant is made of 91% recycled polyester and 9% spandex. These are Patagonia's lightest stretch-woven alpine pants, weighing in at 12.3 oz / 348 g. The fabric is coated with a Deluge DWR treatment which sheds snow and light rain very effectively. It also blocks the wind very well. These are my go to pants on days in the Northeast when it might just rain, snow, or sleet. The material stretches well and is fairly durable; the stretch and give of the material help prevent from rips or tears. I caught an errant crampon point on these pants and there was no mark! The inner lining of the fabric is also very comfortable against the skin and the mesh pockets and waist belt are luxuriously soft.
The inseam of the guide pant is fixed (31.25" for sizes XS-S, 32.25" for size M, and 33.25" for size L-XXL). Patagonia calls the fit "slim" but I find it quite roomy, with plenty of room to layer under comfortably. The cut of the pant is more or less straight from the thighs to the ankles, which means some extra material in the lower leg. This makes fitting the pants over mountain boots a breeze, and also allows for no resistance on a high step.
I think that the waist fits true to size; I typically am a size 33" waist and fit perfectly in a size M (31-33"). The elasticized waist belt is what allows for the range.
Pockets and Features:
The simple guide pant feature four zippered pockets: two front handwarmer pockets, one thigh pocket, and back pocket. The thigh pocket is universal across Patagonia's guide line, and is a perfect size and in a perfect location. Each of these zippers is also DWR treated to be water resistant, which is a nice touch.
The pants feature a two-way fly, for easy access while wearing a harness, as well as the staples of any good climbing pant: articulated knees and a gusseted crotch. They have a button closure and nice, low profile belt loops.
The simple guide pant also shares the same wide hem as the Rock Craft Pant (formally the Rock Guide Pant), which makes rolling the pants up convenient and secure. Part of the reason I like this pant so much is that it does not have a zippered cuff like many of the competing alpine softshells on the market, which is why this pant is so lightweight; it could be considered a "crossover" pant.
My major complaint with these pants is that I can't wear them year-round! They are just too hot to use in the summer months, especially with the darker colors. So, for a general use rock climbing pant, they just aren't as versatile as other pants in the review.
If you are caught out in a downpour, these pants will absorb water, making them much heavier and a little clingy.
There are some signs of wear, a bit of abrasion and "pulling up" of threads in the weave around the thighs in particular. My guess is this is from doing some bushwhacking.
The material in these pants is a compromise between the level of breathability and wind resistance, so depending on your usage you may not find them breathable enough, or not wind resistant enough (more likely). Personally, I don't use these pants for ski touring since the wind goes through them on the descent.
Folks that are looking for a more ordinary look might object to the lack of a second rear pocket. The second zipper on the fly can also make it appear that your fly is unzipped; I've been told a few times!
Finally, these pants are not available in lengths. Either the inseam length fits, or you'll have to hem them, either yourself or professionally.
I think that the Simple Guide Pant is the best product on the market for cool weather rock climbing, whether that means summer alpine routes or spring and fall (or even winter!) cragging. It also works phenomenally well for moderate to high output winter activities.
As a mountain guide these have become my go to pants in fall, most of winter, and spring. I think that they have a very professional look to them; they avoid wrinkling and staining, and allow me to "look the part." I prefer the black color.
This is the highest priced item in this review, but compared to other softshell pants on the market, this is actually on the low end. Considering its versatility and quality, the price tag seems very reasonable.
The Alpine Guide Pant is built similarly to the Simple Guide pant but is heavier, warmer and has features such as zippered cuffs and tie down loops that make it more of a serious mountain pant. Consider this if you are searching for something for winter use primarily.