The Arc'teryx Rho LT was an instant favorite among testers and staff. It's supremely comfortable; the brushed fleece interior is the coziest next to skin feel of any bottom we tested. The polyester/elastane blend offers the most durable fabric we tested and is extremely stretchy. Even though it's advertised as LT or lightweight it is one of the warmest bottoms we tested, second to the SmartWool Merino 250. Versatile and comfortable for all-day wear, it's a perfect all around pant for cool to cold seasons and the only pant that is handsome and inconspicuous enough to wear as an outer layer, like a running tight. With a superb fit, super comfy fleece-lined fabric, terrific quality, great functionality, and solid warmth, the Rho LT was a tight contender for the Editors' Choice Award. The reason that it didn't win the award is the merino Outdoor Research Alpine Onset's superior ability to thermoregulate, breathe and wick away sweat. Read on to learn about this all-star bottom!
Arc'teryx Rho LT Bottoms Review
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Our Analysis and Test Results
A comfortable, warm, and versatile bottom that delivers reliability and our favorite fit, the Arc'teryx Rho LT is at home in cold alpine conditions, shoveling the driveway, and enjoying a good book on your rest day at the lodge all the same.
These are advertised as LT or lightweight but pack a punch for warmth. The 150-gram weight synthetic Torrent fleece is slightly thicker than a traditional merino midweight like the Outdoor Research Alpine Onset but supply slightly more warmth. The brushed fleece interior is warm and super cozy next to skin. These are our go-to bottoms for low output activities in cold weather like resort skiing or winter camping.
Warm enough to be our only layer underneath a pair of non-insulated ski pants. Advertised as a lightweight, we wouldn't suggest these for lightweight use as you'll end up hot and sweaty. These bottoms offered the most warmth next to the ultra-thick and cush SmartWool Merino 250.
For a thicker synthetic layer, these breathe impressively well. The Torrent fleece does a wonderful job of wicking sweat to the outside of the fabric and drying quickly. They do tend to hold onto water once moisture settles into the fibers though as we experienced in our drying test. We put the breathability of these pups to the test trail running in the mountains overlooking Salt Lake City with temps varying from the 40s down to single digits. These tights did a great job balancing warmth and keeping us dry. Hill sprints in 40-degree weather were the upper limit of warmth and output for these; they weren't able to breathe as fast as we were creating perspiration in that warm of a climate, so held onto some moisture but dried quickly once I rested. Running in colder weather they did a terrific job of staying warm and breathing well. If these were more breathable and wicked sweat better, they'd be unstoppable. For a pair of bottoms that are much more breathable and offer similar warmth, check out the Outdoor Research Alpine Onset.
Comfort & Fit
Ooooh, are we excited to tell you about the comfort and fit on these! One word - Superb! An extremely stretchy but tight and comfortable fit paired with a purposeful design and sleek look earn our favorite fit for these bottoms. They wear like a second layer of skin, glued to you. Not the easiest to pull on, they are snug and the fleece lining is sticky but once they're on, it's like they were laser molded to your bottom half. The close fit and stretch allow them to move freely with you and the synthetic fabric wears well all day and use after use, not stretching out like a typical merino layer.
The synthetic fabric is 84% polyester/16% elastane utilizing Arc'teryx Torrent fleece has a sleek and smooth outer fabric that slides easily inside of a layer and an ultra-cozy soft brushed fleece lining that feels like heaven next to your skin. The waistband is comfortable and simple, there is no crotch sag, and a simple and technical seam pattern incorporates a gusseted crotch that runs on the inseam down to the knees for ultimate mobility. These are the only bottoms that don't offer a fly, so you'll be pulling these bad boys down for backcountry relief. The lack of a fly is our only qualm with these nearly perfect fitting bottoms.
Another category winner, the Rho LT proved themselves as the most durable bottom we tested. Made of a thicker synthetic material, they showed some surface wear in our brutal and merciless abrasion test that is notorious for blazing holes through base layer fabrics. Synthetic fabrics are generally more durable than fragile merino, so all of the synthetic bottoms that we tested did well in the durability category. These bottoms aren't cheap but they will serve you for years of hard use. We wouldn't suggest walking through a briar patch or a barbed wire fence wearing these, but we wouldn't recommend that in most circumstances. For extreme warmth and good durability but with the benefits of merino check out the SmartWool 250 Merino bottoms.
These bottoms are best used for low cardio activity in cool to cold conditions. We found that we loved them as a stand-alone layer for trail running in the winter and resort skiing, but these bottoms are versatile and will keep you company and serve you well in most endeavors except super warm weather and crazy high output activities like spring backcountry skiing.
At $89 these are tied with the Outdoor Research Alpine Onset bottoms for the second most expensive bottom that we tested. Although these are a pricey pair of bottoms, we feel with these in particular, you get what you pay for - which is a quality and versatile pair of bottoms that are going to serve you for years of use and abuse.
We are in love with these bottoms for cold season endeavors. Their comfort, fit, quality, and versatility to perform well in varying activities and temps get two thumbs up from us. A thoughtful and handsome design, these are the only bottoms we felt comfortable wearing as a stand-alone layer for trail running. A great pair of bottoms if you need a durable pair of bottoms for venturing out into cold temps and appreciate quality and extreme comfort.
— Roland Mott