The Arc'teryx Perimeter Pant is an excellent option for both short and extended adventures in climates where the weather could get nasty at any moment. This pant features the best durable water resistant (DWR) coating of any model in this review and effectively sheds rain. Even with this level of protection, it still maintains a lightweight feel that is nimble and quiet, as well as durable. This model is a reasonably simple pant that has just a couple of features, including a few mesh vented pockets that have slightly less storage capacity for carrying trail necessities than the average hiking pant. Regardless, if you know you are going to get wet while hiking, we highly recommend trying on a pair of Perimeter Pants.
Arc'teryx Perimeter Review
Cons: Nylon fabric not very soft, tight front pockets, expensive
Our Analysis and Test Results
In our shower test- meant to simulate the effects of both a light mist as well as a torrential downpour- the Arc'teryx Perimeter Pant was more effective than the rest at beading and shedding water before it could soak into the pants. Its Cresta nylon and elastane blend fabric was also one of the least absorbent fabrics tested, meaning that it also dried out more quickly than any other. These qualities are beneficial if you happen to live in a very wet climate or are planning a more extended trip that involves a lot of potential wet weather hiking.
Despite being the top performer when it came to water resistance, we still want to emphasize that these pants are highly water repellant, but certainly not waterproof. They can shed light rain in cooler climates and will work fine for heavy rains in warm climates, but we don't believe that they are an appropriate substitute for actual rain pants in serious backcountry conditions. If the cost of getting soaked means hypothermia, be sure to carry a separate waterproof rain shell.
Comfort and Mobility
We have to admit that we didn't find these pants to be exceptionally comfortable in comparison to the competition.
We think that the 89% nylon, 11% elastane Cresta fabric is a bit rough, itchy, and not as naturally comfortable against the skin as the similar synthetic fibers of the Prana Stretch Zion or Patagonia Quandary. Typically, we find that synthetic fabrics do not feel as soft and smooth as natural fibers or blends like the cotton in the KUHL Kontra Air, but the Prana and Patagonia pants have convinced us that a similar level of comfort is possible. With this pair, the seams rubbed the inside of our legs, and we also found the fit to be ever so slightly restrictive in the pelvis, upper legs, and seat. While the stretchiness of the material effectively offset these minor constrictions, the overall impression was that this pant was not among the most comfortable.
Venting and Breathability
Arc'teryx claims that the Cresta fabric used for the Perimeter Pant is air permeable and highly breathable, which we can't dispute. However, it has very few venting features, which we have found to be the most effective way to disperse heat and moisture. Furthermore, our black pair of pants was very heat absorbent, making our testers hot in a hurry.
The two small and tight front hand warmer pockets each feature mesh lining, as do the two rear pockets. Only the Patagonia Quandary and Fjallraven Vidda Pro hiking pants have fewer outlets for ventilation, suggesting that the Perimeter Pant will thrive in colder regions and seasons when the threat of becoming overheated is not a huge concern.
As a consequence of the lack of ventilation, the Perimeter Pant is best used in cool seasons or climates, and will not perform as well as the highly breathable REI Co-op Screeline for use in warm weather. However, it is the best of the best when it comes to water resistance, enough so that we recommend it as our Top Pick for that purpose.
With a very similar array of pockets to the simple Patagonia Quandary, the Perimeter Pant would not be the first choice for those who prefer cargo pockets or like to carry lots of items close at hand. Likewise, due to its thin, nylon fabric, we wouldn't choose it over the Mountain Hardwear Men's Hardwear AP pant for working in the yard, or even wearing around town. It is a practical hiking pant for wet and cold climates, but is not a pant that we would recommend for everyday wear.
In our shower testing, it was clear to us that no other hiking pant has nearly as effective a DWR treatment as Arc'teryx uses on the Perimeter Pant. Before our tests, we had worn this pant a handful of days on the trail, as well as around town and for some more intense activities like rock climbing. We also washed it at least four times, so the DWR coating certainly had plenty of time to wear off.
We were delighted with the performance of these pants. Water beaded up and ran off without soaking in, especially in lower wear areas like the lower legs. On the thighs, after probably a full minute of intense dousing, water eventually began to soak into the nylon fabric but never made its way all the way through, as happened with The North Face Paramount 3.0.
Similar to the Patagonia Quandary, the synthetic material of this model absorbed very little water, and it also dried out very quickly. As the highest performer in our water resistance testing and our Top Pick, this is its standout metric.
While we only had minor complaints with the performance of the features found on the Perimeter Pant, the fact is that it is a far more simple design than most we tested and ended up with a low score here.
This pant has two front hand-warmer pockets that are a bit smaller and tighter than nearly every other hiking pant. It also has two rear pockets that suited us just fine. Lastly, similar to the design of the Quandary Pant, there is a single, recessed zippered pocket high on the right thigh, plenty big enough for carrying a smartphone. It has a simple and effective snap-button front waist enclosure, and a front zipper, that much like the Prana Stretch Zion, we thought could have been slightly longer. But besides these few features, there is not a whole lot to this pair.
Since we have recognized them as our Top Pick for Wet Weather, we think that the Perimeter Pant is an ideal choice for those who know that they will get wet. As a result of their limited ventilation, we think they are more comfortable for cool weather than warm. While they are a solid hiking pant, we found them to be a bit techy and not as comfortable as we would want for wearing around town or traveling in.
These pants retail for $119, making them the second most expensive pants in our review. While we think they are of high quality, they are probably only a good value if you need them for wet weather. Otherwise, there are many hiking pants that not only scored higher in our overall ratings but cost less as well.
The Arc'teryx Perimeter Pant wins our Top Pick for Wet Weather because they have by far the most effective DWR coating of any that we have tested. Hikers who live in a particularly wet climate or have an adventure planned in an area known for its precipitation would do well to start their search here. For others, we would first recommend a pant that we found to be more comfortable and more affordable.
— Andy Wellman